The Japanese fascinate me. Everywhere you look on this planet, despite the culture, you discover some common thread with your fellow man; an open air market in Mombasa, Kenya is startlingly similar to the swap meet held in the Aloha Stadium parking lot every Saturday, which is itself easily recognizable to people who regularly hit Manhattan's farmer's market in Union Square. Traffic, Coke cans, couches and the loud guy on the bus; all are things you can cling to in a foreign land as an anchor to the familiar.
There is, however, a country so full of bizarre interests and people that it might as well be a different planet. This place is called Japan. I don't know what losing World War Two did to these people, but it either freed them to truly explore and enjoy the full limits of human existence, or it drove them completely batshit bonkers. What I am going to expose you to today isn't even the tip of the crazy iceberg, but merely the most hazy reflection of their deep, deep crazy. If you really want to freak, check out their porn; or worse, their comics. The line between the two is terrifyingly thin, if it still exists at all. Tread carefully, though, there are things down that road which, if exposed to the unprepared, will melt your face off like that Nazi who looked at the Ark in "Raiders". And never, EVER, click on any link that contains the word "Yaoi". I don't even like typing it for fear of what traffic it may attract. Googling it is akin to saying "Bloody Mary" three times in a mirror; you will come face to face with true horror. You were warned.
On to today's subject you will learn too much about: Cosplay. More->->
Cosplay is huge in Japan. Which is a major red flag. It involves dressing up in costumes of movie and comic characters you like and then, just hanging out. There are parks and bridges where these folks just show up and mill around. Not like a party or a rave or anything, more like places where teenagers hang out. Except they are dressed like cats or cartoon ninjas or something. The major location for this behavior is conventions, apparently, which is at least a little better. I have no problem with any group of similarly minded folks getting together with each other and doing their thing, it is the business of hanging out in public that disturbs me. I wouldn't like it much if plumbers or tile manufacturers started staking out bridges and parks to hang out in either.
Now, before I link to the Information Overload site and throw in some pics, I want to fully disclose the angst Cosplay generates within me. Specifically within my pants. See, I think girls in costume are crazy hot. But, asian girls generally don't do it for me (there are many notable exceptions, hot chicks are hot chicks, but I don't have an asian fetish is what I guess I am saying). So Cosplay is a serious yin-yang experience for me. Even American Cosplay is bitter-sweet for me. Because over here, the chicks who are into dressing like comic chicks are rarely those who you would want to be dressing like a comic chick.
The clearinghouse for cosplay info is japancosplay.blogspot.com . There you will find tutorials, links to magazines, tips and pics. You will also find basic information on the phenom such as:
It is not unusual for Japanese teenagers to gather with like-minded friends in places like Tokyo's Harajuku district to engage in cosplay. Since 1998, Tokyo's Akihabara district has contained a large number of cosplay cafés, catering to devoted anime and cosplay fans. The waitresses at such cafés dress as game or anime characters; maid (or meido) costumes are particularly popular.
Possibly the single largest and most famous event attended by cosplayers is the semiannual doujinshi market, Comiket. This event, held in summer and winter, attracts hundreds of thousands of manga otaku and many thousands of cosplayers who congregate on the roof of the exhibition center, often in unbearably hot or cold conditions.
The commitment to detail is amazing and some of these folks clearly missed their calling as engineers or obsessive compulsives or something that requires a real commitment to detail. This one is spooky, I don't know which came first:
Not just pretty girls, either, also the creepiest guys. Ever. From the Flickr set of the aforementioned Comiket:
Anyway, good luck out there. Hope you have better luck than this guy did finding a costume that hid his fat gut: