November 2010Archive


I recently visited one of Japanese cosplay photography groups preparing to release a new collection of photos in The Comic Market. The upcoming event runs from December 29th - 31st 2010 in Tokyo and will draw hundreds of thousands of attendees. The photo collections are created by both cosplayers and photographers. Many of these organizations begin as unofficial social circles consisting of student clubs or small private clubs, and have no publishing company. The most talented groups go on to become famous within the Japanese cosplay community.

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I visited a famous photographers' group and had the opportunity to look at their work. They were shooting pictures in a big full-fledged production studio and being very professional about it. Their seriousness made me fully realize their love for original books and their works. Above all, the cosplayers and the photographs were beautiful!

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You can see my cosplay photography video here on even before the collections are available and released in Japan! I hope you enjoy this early holiday gift from us.

Today, I feature the cosplay situation in Japan, which is one of the most important parts of Japanese Otaku culture.

When surfing some information sites you often see cosplay photos, not only on sites for American Otaku, but also on blogs for Japanese Pop culture. I guess that cosplay has become gradually popular in American Otaku culture. However, compared with Otaku culture in Japan, the way in which Americans have fun with cosplay seems quite different, I suppose.

I guess no one who likes cosplay in the U.S. go to cosplay parties or events every week. I'm not surprised because you don't have weekly cosplay parties,even if it's in NY or LA. In contrast, we do each week in Tokyo or Osaka. Even provincial cities have a party every month! Can you believe this?

Cosplay came from people who sold Doujin-books in small booths (or in the corner of the venue) in the Comic Market events at the beginning. Cosplay didn't start from showing photos that they had taken, but gathering face-to-face because at that time the internet didn't exist. On the other hand, in the US cosplay culture started from taking pictures and uploading them onto sites.

Back in those days, the Internet wasn't used yet, nor digital cameras. Developing
thousands of photos was too costly. You couldn't retouch on the computer yet either. Taking pictures was only a hobby for some people. People who had expensive singlelens reflex cameras back then took photos of the Otaku element. (I was one of the guys.) Some of the people began to take photos of cosplayers at Otaku events. These amount of these people gradually increased and they became indispensable because cosplayers wanted professional photographers to take good quality photos. We called a "professional photographer" a Cameco and they specialized in cosplay photography. Then they became essential for cosplay events. Some Camecos have received offers to take photos from well-known cosplayers. They have taken photos of cosplayers, developed film, printed handsome images and handed them to the cosplayers.

Before long, Camecos made an independent network to link themselves and cosplayers. Later, Camecos and cosplayers produced a 'cosplay pictures' Doujin.

They also produced cosplay photo collections (which were printed at first because at that time neither DVD nor CD-R existed!), and these photo collections became one of the most important contents that are sold in the Comic market.

Cosplay culture in other countries emerged after digital cameras and the internet were invented. It is different from Japan in that Doujin was produced deliberately with heart and soul in Japan by people who really like to cosplay, who like to make costumes, who like to do makeup, and who like taking photos. We couldn't start cosplay culture like a hobby that everyone can start easily.

Soon the internet and digital cameras became popular and Camecos began to make their own sites on the web. They go to cosplay events almost every week, take vast number of pictures, upload them to their sites and provide them for the blogs of cosplayers. They also release cosplay CD-Rs or DVDs of picture collections on their own if they are one of the top photographers. They also may rent a full-on studio and produce a pieces of work with time and effort. will be covering a cosplay picture collection productikon circle pretty extensively at Comicmarket79 this winter. I will report about studio shooting next time! Don't miss it!
Last Sunday on October 31st, a biannual Doujin music festival "M3" was held in Tokyo. In addition, a big Halloween parade took place in nearby Kawasaki city. I visited both events and want to share my fun experiences with you!20101107_1.jpgAlthough I had never done any music Doujin activity before, this was my first time
participating in M3. The venue for the convention was a big warehouse in the Tokyo bay area, with over 500 exhibitor booths. It was extremely crowded, comparable to Times Square on New Years Eve. Because of the congestion, neither exhibitors nor visitors have been allowed to cosplay since the last spring event.

If you were there, you could see various interesting performances, including eastern ethnic music. Some participants traveled all the way from China to experience the festival. To my surprise, an elderly woman set up a collaboration movie booth with music and drawing a sword art (one of the martial arts using Japanese sword). I enjoyed M3 because of the emphasis on cultural diversity. Unfortunately, videotaping was also prohibited, but the M3 official website has pictures from the event.

20101107_2.jpgThen, what's more Halloween than October 31st? The Halloween parade in Tokyo is held on "Omotesando" that is the avenue like the Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, New York. However I visited to "Kawasaki Halloween" It was held at near the M3 exhibition site. Large groups of cosplayers get together there each year, including many of my friends.

The Halloween event was held over three days at cinema complex in the center of Kawasaki city. In addition to the parade, there were also concerts, a movie festival and dance party. The festival reached its climax with the Halloween parade. During the parade, hundred of thousands of people walked from the cinema complex to the city hall. It took two hours. Participants in the parade were required to register in advance. If you were there, you would feel such Halloween excitement on your bones! Here are some pictures and videos from the event.

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