JEREMIAH FAJARDO WRITES – When it comes to making friends abroad, sometimes a pink-haired manga fan beats officially-sanctioned cultural exchanges.
That’s proving to be the case in Japan with this summer’s 11th annual World Cosplay Summit (WCS) in Nagoya’s Osu district.
Since the 1950s, anime and manga have been core to the country’s media culture. The government itself has used both as a sort-of soft power tool, appointing in 2008 the popular character Doraemon as a “cultural ambassador” abroad. The extent of manga and anime’s popularity, and arguably effectiveness, is also evident in the dozens if not hundreds of conventions held around the globe each year. And atop this food chain — at least for cosplay — is WCS.
Cosplay, for the uninitiated, refers to the hobby of dressing up as a favorite character from any form of pop culture media, ranging from anime to popular shows such as Game of Thrones.
According to The Japan Times, one of the nation’s leading dailies, organizers this year hired famed artist Meru Kishida to illustrate four unique characters. Kishida said the theme he wished to convey was the unification of cosplayers from across the globe. To that end, the summit will host competitors from more than 20 countries who’ve made it through preliminary rounds at other gatherings, as well as those who just want to admire the talented handiwork.
World Cosplay Summit is scheduled to start July 27 and will run through August 4.
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