Posts Tagged With: illustration

Things to do: Dress up in cosplay character and have your picture taken

cosplay-japanese-

Cosplay (コスプレ kosupure), short for “costume play“, is an activity in which participants wear costumes and accessories to represent a specific character or idea from a work of fiction. Cosplayers often interact to create a subculture centered on role play. A broader use of the termcosplay applies to any costumed role play in venues apart from the stage, regardless of the cultural context.

Favorite sources include mangaanimecomic booksvideo games, and films. Any entity from the real or virtual world that lends itself to dramatic interpretation may be taken up as a subject. Inanimate objects are given anthropomorphic forms and it is not unusual to see genders switched, with women playing male roles and vice versa. There is also a subset of cosplay culture centered on sex appeal, with cosplayers specifically choosing characters that are known for their attractiveness and/or revealing costumes.

Cosplay costumes vary greatly and can range from simple themed clothing to highly detailed costumes. Cosplay is generally considered different from Halloween and Mardi Gras costume wear, as the intention is to accurately replicate a specific character, rather than to reflect the culture and symbolism of a holiday event. As such, when in costume, cosplayers will often seek to adopt the affect, mannerisms and body language of the characters they portray (with “out of character” breaks). The characters chosen to be cosplayed may be sourced from any movies, TV series, books, comic books, video games or music bands, but the practice of cosplay is often associated with replicating anime and manga characters.

Cosplay of Lineage II andMirror’s Edge at IgroMir 2011

Most cosplayers create their own outfits, referencing images of the characters in the process. In the creation of the outfits, much time is given to detail and qualities, thus the skill of a cosplayer may be measured by how difficult the details of the outfit are and how well they have been replicated. Because of the difficulty of replicating some details and materials, cosplayers often educate themselves in crafting specialties such as textilessculptureface paintfiberglassfashion designwoodworking and other uses of materials in the effort to render the look and texture of a costume accurately. Cosplayers often wear wigs in conjunction with their outfit in order to further improve the resemblance to the character. This is especially necessary for anime and manga characters who often have unnaturally coloured and uniquely styled hair. Simpler outfits may be compensated for their lack of complexity by paying attention to material choice, and overall excellent quality. The process of creation may then be very long and time-consuming, making it a very personal journey and achievement for many. This taxing and often expensive process is known to unite cosplayers and is considered a part of the culture of cosplay.

Cosplayers obtain their apparel through many different methods. Manufacturers produce and sell packaged outfits for use in cosplay, in a variety of qualities. These costumes are often sold online, but also can be purchased from dealers at conventions. There are also a number of individuals who work on commission, creating custom costumes, props or wigs designed and fitted to the individual; some social networking sites for cosplay have classified ad sections where such services are advertised. Other cosplayers, who prefer to create their own costumes, still provide a market for individual elements, accessories, and various raw materials, such as unstyled wigs or extensions, hair dye, cloth and sewing notions, liquid latexbody paint, shoes, costume jewellery and prop weapons. Some anime and video game characters have weapons or other accessories that are hard to replicate, and conventions have strict rules regarding those weapons, but most cosplayers engage in some combination of methods to obtain all the items necessary for their costume; for example, they may commission a prop weapon, sew their own clothing, buy character jewelry from a cosplay accessory manufacturer, buy a pair of off-the-rack shoes, and modify them to match the desired look.

In order to look more like the character they are portraying, many cosplayers also engage in various forms of body modificationContact lenses that match the color of their character’s eyes are a common form of this, especially in the case of characters with particularly unique eyes as part of their trademark look. Contact lenses that make the pupil look enlarged to visually echo the large eyes of anime and manga characters are also used.[4] Another form of body modification that cosplayers engage in is to copy any tattoos or special markings that their character might have. Temporary tattoospermanent marker, body paint and, in rare cases, permanent tattoos, are all methods used by cosplayers to achieve the desired look. Permanent and temporary hair dye, spray-in hair coloring, and specialized extreme styling products are all utilized by some cosplayers whose natural hair can achieve the desired hairstyle.

Purpose

The Psychology of Cosplay panel at the 2012 New York Comic Con. From left to right: Psychologist Dr. Andrea Letamendi, journalist/cosplayer Jill Pantozzi, costume designer/cosplayer Holly Conrad, who appeared in the film Comic-Con Episode IV-A Fan’s Hope, and Bill Doran, who runs the cosplay business Punished Props.

The cosplayer’s purpose may generally be sorted into one of three categories, or a combination of the three. Most cosplayers draw characteristics from all three categories:

  • The first is to express adoration for a character, or in feeling similar to a character in personality, seeking to become that character. This type of cosplayer may be associated with being a fan and is often labeled as an otaku. Other characteristics may be an enthusiastic manner and less attention to detail and quality. Such cosplayers are also most likely to adopt the character’s personality and are known to criticise other cosplayers for not having a full knowledge of their character, or not also adopting character mannerisms.
  • The second is those people who enjoy the attention that cosplaying a certain character brings. Within the cultures of anime and manga specifically, as well as science fiction and fantasy, there is a certain level of notoriety that is attached to cosplayers. Such cosplayers are usually characterised by attention to detail in their garments and their choice of popular characters. They are also noted by participation in cosplay competitions.
  • The third is those who enjoy the creative process, and the sense of personal achievement upon completion. Such people are more likely to have a greater budget dedicated to the project, more complicated and better quality outfits with access to more materials. They are also more likely to engage with professional photographers and cosplay photographers to take high quality images of the cosplayer in their garment posing as the character.

Photography

Some cosplayers choose to have a cosplay photographer take high quality images of them in their costumes posing as the character. This is most likely to take place in a setting relevant to the character’s origin, such as churches, parks, forests, water features and abandoned/run-down sites. Such cosplayers are likely to exhibit their work online, on blogs (such as tumblr), social networking services (such as Facebook), or artist websites (such as deviantART). They may also choose to sell such images or print the images as postcards and give them as gifts. What is more, some cosplayers choose to take photos themselves and become cosplay photographers too.

Marika Oyama shows her self-made props for cosplay photo shoots at her Studio Angle in the Marunouchi area of Okayama's Kita Ward.

Marika Oyama shows her self-made props for cosplay photo shoots at her Studio Angle in the Marunouchi area of Okayama’s Kita Ward.

Marika Oyama turned the hobby she loved into a full-fledged business.

Cosplay fans in the Okayama city area in Okayama Prefecture and beyond flock to her special photo studio that helps them with costumes, makeup and props as they portray their favorite anime and manga characters.

The 27-year-old Oyama had no previous business experience, but she took a monthlong course in entrepreneurship before opening Studio Angle in January in the Marunouchi area of Kita Ward.

Studio Angle has become a real success story, and Oyama says she has found repeat customers in and out of the prefecture.

Studio Angle is housed in a building near the prefectural government office. The studio comprises two rooms, one white, one black. Each room is equipped with a dressing room and a dresser. Customers can also use hair irons, makeup removers and other items provided by Studio Angle.

Chun-Li-Cosplay

Most of Studio Angle’s customers are girls and women in their teens and 20s who dress up and do a makeup before having their photographs taken.

A longtime anime fan, Oyama studied illustration and computer graphics in high school. One day, she stumbled upon costumed fans at an anime event. Oyama gave cosplay a try and she loved it. She soon realized that photographs of cosplayers at anime events can often have unwanted distractions in the backgrounds, and that regular photo studios were way too pricey.

“I thought what cosplayers needed was a studio that caters just to them,” Oyama says.

To prepare to start her own business, Oyama took a business start-up course offered by the Okayama Chamber of Commerce and Industry to learn the basics.

She came up with a business proposal that was so convincing that the local bank gave her the green light for a loan to get Studio Angle off the ground. The studio opened in January. and is off to a flying start.

Some customers have come from neighboring Hiroshima Prefecture and even across the sea from Kagawa Prefecture, Oyama says.

“It’s been fun to be able to turn what I love into a job,” she says.

The fee for a three-hour session on weekends is 7,000 yen ($70). In addition to fake swords and model guns, Oyama’s other self-made weapons and props are also available, as well as photography services.

Check out Studio Angle’s official website at (http://studioangle.web.fc2.com/).

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Categories: Japanese customs, News about Japan, Stories about Japan, Things to do | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Anime fans offer prayer tablets featuring favorite characters

Anime votive boards2

Anime enthusiasts are flocking in droves to Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples, but not in a spiritual pilgrimage or prompted by a sudden interest in religion.

Instead it’s worship of a different kind, a devotion to fictional characters from their beloved animated works. At the shrines and temples, these anime buffs are dedicating mountains of votive picture tablets, called “ita-ema,” containing drawings of their favorite characters.

On one weekend in July, an incessant wave of young visitors was seen at Oarai Isosakijinja shrine, which overlooks the Pacific Ocean in Oarai, Ibaraki Prefecture.

After praying at the worship hall, the young “pilgrims” made frequent stops at a nearby area that was offering picture tablets for sale, where hand-drawn images of young girls far outnumber the usual tablets, which typically carry prayers about entrance exams and love.

“Katyusha is here,” said one excited visitor, who had spotted an image of one fictional character. “Wow, there are so many,” exclaimed another, merrily photographing the magnificent spectacle.

Girls und Panzer,” an anime set in Oarai, was aired from October through March. Themed around sports and youth, the serial work centered on high school girls in tanks battling as a martial art.

Views of the town, including of the shrine, were reproduced with precision in scenes of the anime that depicted the street fighting, part of the combative “bouts.”

One male visitor from Ushiku, Ibaraki Prefecture, said he has dedicated more than 30 picture tablets of his own drawings.

Anime votive boards

“It’s fun, because some people learn about my tablets on the Internet and come to see them,” said the 31-year-old. He said he makes a point of adding one phrase to his drawings: “For the development of Oarai.”

“I like the atmosphere here, so I hope the passion will continue,” the man said.

A shrine official spoke approvingly of the recent wave of visiting anime enthusiasts.

“They are real master illustrators,” he said. “I was surprised at the outset, but I am grateful for them, because they do care about Oarai.”

The word itaema, which has taken root among anime followers, was coined after “ita-sha,” which refers to cars carrying flamboyant paintings of fictional characters from the owners’ favorite anime or video games. That style of expression is believed to have originated from Washinomiyajinja shri

ne in Saitama Prefecture, where “Lucky Star,” a popular anime series from 2007, was set.

“It represents one form of fan culture, whereby you leave behind proof of your visits for others to see, much like you do in cosplay,” said Takeshi Okamoto, a lecturer of tourism sociology at Nara Prefectural University, who is studying the “pilgrimage” of anime enthusiasts.

Each shrine designates a special area for visitors to offer their votive picture tablets. That makes it easier to see that many fans are visiting, so the inspired enthusiasts compete to draw more votive tablets, offering more visual fun to their fellow anime fans, Okamoto said.

Jorinji temple, a stop on the traditional, 34-temple pilgrimage route in the Chichibu area of Saitama Prefecture, was featured in “Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day,” a serial anime aired in 2011. A feature film version has been showing in theaters across Japan since late August.

Jorinji sells official votive tablets that each carry an image of a female character in the work. While many “Anohana” enthusiasts buy them to take home, a large number of them dedicate the tablets to the temple after adding their own drawings and messages to the blank sections.

Hiroya Yoshitani, a professor of religious folklore at Komatsu College, studied 635 votive picture tablets that were offered on the temple grounds in February. He found that 24 percent of them carried conventional types of prayers, such as for success in exams, whereas an additional 25 percent carried prayers about developments in “Anohana,” such as luck in love for fictional characters in the anime.

What drew Yoshitani’s attention were the unconventional “novel” types of prayers that were carried by many of the remaining half of the votive tablets. One said, “May happiness prevail on everybody who comes here,” whereas another said, “May peace prevail in the world,” Yoshitani said.

“Anohana” was aired in the immediate aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, which claimed more than 15,000 lives. It features a girl who dies in an accident and later returns to her childhood friends. That storyline probably inspired the novel types of prayers, Yoshitani said.

Something similar is found at Oarai Isosakijinja shrine of the “Girls und Panzer” fame, where many votive tablets carry prayers about recovery from the disasters of March 11, 2011. Oarai not only had its coastal areas swamped by the towering tsunami, but the town has also been plagued by harmful rumors about radioactive fallout from the Fukushima nuclear disaster, which followed the March 2011 earthquake.

“Votive picture tablets are typical examples of worldly desires, which are egotistic,” Yoshitani said. “But fictional works with the power to inspire have engendered altruistic and all-embracing prayers that go beyond personal yearnings.”

 

 

Categories: history of Japan, Japanese customs, Stories about Japan, Things to do | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Only in Japan: Old fart prances around town living out his “school girl fantasy”. Check out his youtube video!

Growhair

Dressed in schoolgirl’s uniform, “GrowHair” has become has an Internet phenomenon in Japan over the past five years, and he’s a regular sight in Tokyo’s über-trendy Harajuku/Shibuya district.

According the website dedicated to him (Google Translate):
said-openGrowHair enjoys walking the streets wearing a sailor-suit school uniform where he is widely known as ‘Sailor Uncle.’ In born 1962, his real name is Hideaki Kobayashi and he has master’s degree in Mathematics from the prestigious Waseda University [Japan’s equivalent of Stanford or MIT]. He works as an image-processing software engineer at a printing company.said-closed

Yes, Mr. Hideaki Kobayashi or “Growhair” or the Japanese schoolgirl uniform wearing middle aged man on reddit or “Sailor Suit Old Man”. You may have seen him on some message boards or social medias (and may have performed a self lobotomy to forget the rancid image).
Well, he was recently interviewed for a Japanese website. Now you too can understand the inner-machinations of a cross-dressing old Japanese man…

When and why did you start cosplaying(?) as a schoolgirl?
I have had an inclanation for women’s clothing since primary school, and I started enjoying secretely wearing garments at home from about college. And although I was fulfilling my own narcasism, I understood that objectively it wasn’t socially acceptable, so I knew I could not go out and show people.

The chance I finnaly got to come out was at the 2010 “Design Festa”. I had a booth of various photos of dolls, and I heard that Candy Milky (a famous crossdresser) was going to pay a visit. I knew I had to dress aptly in respect, hence I dorned the schoolgirl uniform. Surprisingly, it really caught on, and became a sort of a specialty of Design Festa. Since then, I have participated in every Design Festa in the uniform.


So originally it was a cosplay for the event. Why did you decide to go public with the attire?

It was on June 11th 2011, when I went to a ramen shop called “Ramen Shop Takanashi” in Tsurumi. There was a campaign “if you are over 30 and come in dress as a schoolgirl, your ramen is on the house”. It goes without saying, I was the first to take up the offer! lol

You wouldn’t normally dress up in a schoolgirl uniform for one bowl of Ramen. Even so, why a schoolgirl uniform?
Well… That’s a difficult question. I didn’t really think too deeply about it… Because it suits me, I guess? I have had a few people tell me “the outfit suits you” with a straight face. Originally, I wanted it to be like a cruel joke. The uniform has many associations with the “kawaii” (cute) culture. I thought that I would become the antithesis of “kawaii” by doning the uniform.

What sort of reaction did you get when started wearing the uniform out on the street?
From my point of view, it seemed as though there wasn’t really any reaction, people just past by me. But behind my back, something interesting was happening. Some people were really stunned, often taking a second look. It’s become a real thing this past month on the internet, and a lot of people have recognized me and come up to talk to me. Some people ask to take a picture with me. I’ve been doing a lot of posing.

Despite the extravegant school uniform, your responses are very straight. I guess this must be because you work at a respectable well-known company as a dayjob. Despite having the “GrowHair” artist persona, how does the company feel since you don’t hide your face? 

So long as I don’t mention the company name, they give me a lot of freedom. I dress like this when I go out drinking with my coworkers so everyone in my department knows. They are quite supportive.

Oh, what freedom! Your coworkers are very open-minded!!

 By the way, aside from being a photographer, Mr. GrowHair is also a producer of a Highschool idol group called “Chaos de Japon”. 
Well, I’m just one of the producers, I also do the photography and I am also a member.

What? A member!? I don’t really understand what you mean but they do have a live on May 19th at the Design Festa, details on their official facebook page.

The photographer Hitoshi Iwakiri has this to say about Mr. GrowHair.
“This presence is astounding. One look and you have your eyes pinned on him. He fills people with joy, his auro trascends cosplay. I consider him a modern day icon.”

It is said that Mr. Growhair is very popular is France. The day might come when Mr. Growhair becomes the embassador of the “Cool Japan” government movement… maybe!? (Interview by Nobunaga Shinbo)

Categories: Japanese customs, Must see, News about Japan, Stories about Japan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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