Cosplay Lovers Descend on Anime Central 2018
• Since 1997, the event has been an occasion for Japanese anime and manga fans to get together and share their love for Japanese pop culture. In its second year, 1,203 people gathered in their own costumes; the number reached 31,469 in 2016, with the total attendance of 88,927. Last year, 30,122 cosplayers participated, with the total attendance of 84,633.
• In addition to showing off unique, handmade costumes, fans in the event have an opportunity to meet the creators of their favorite anime characters from Japan. Among this year’s guests from Japan were illustrators/animators including Mamoru Yokota, Takahiro Yoshimatsu, Mitsuo Iso, Kenichi Sonoda and Shuzilow.HA, and comic artists like Takeshi Nogami, as well as voice actors and musicians.
• Local groups such as the Japanese Culture Center and Tsukasa Taiko also participated, featuring kimono/Lolita fashion presentation, Japanese drum performance, martial arts demonstration, traditional Japanese dance of the Fujima School of Shubukai, and more.
Meet Colorful Cosplayers
• Jennifer Cozzens from Detroit, Michigan came in an
elaborate mermaid costume, which took her two weeks to make.
• Kimmy Kay from Wisconsin showed up in an eye-catching
light-blue Cinderella costume. She ordered the custom-made dress online.
• A dentist named Emilia was dressed in a perfect Lolita
fashion, which she said is of her own design taken after the fancy design
• Taylor Devich and Charlie Zwierzynski were part of
the cosplayers’ group from Madison, Wisconsin. The group members regularly
get together and prepare for the convention.
• Ximena Varenzuera dressed herself as Kaori Miyazono, a violinist character in manga. “I play the violin, so Kaori is my favorite character.”
Kimono and Lolita Fashion
• A Japanese kimono lovers’ group, Chicago Wahoo Club,
and a Lolita fashion group, Chicago Street Fashion, joined together for
the second time to make a presentation after their March collaboration
at the Japanese Culture Center.
Guests from Japan: Illustrators
• Illustrators/animators Mamoru Yokota and Takahiro Yoshimatsu
participated in seminars, Q&A sessions and press conferences.
• At a seminar, fans and future illustrators packed around
Yokota and Yoshimatsu while they demonstrated drawing.
• Yokota advised to read and understand what the tutoring
books say rather than copying the illustrator you like.
Interview with the Guests
Yokota and Yoshimatsu, along with artist/illustrator Rosuuri from the Philippines, answered questions during the press conference about their careers, methods, and current anime/manga trends in Japan.
Q: How did you start your career as an illustrator? What were your family’s reactions?
Yokota: When I was younger, I worked as a cook at a Chinese restaurant to pay back debts. After that, I enrolled in an animation school, and after six months there, I joined a company that supplies illustrations. I was creating animation drawings when my classmates from the school graduated and started their professional career. My mother – she was like, “whatever,” so I’ve been sticking to this line of work, doing illustration, animation, games, etc.
Yoshimatsu: I always loved to draw and wanted to become
a manga artist. I also loved animation and made amateur animations with
my friends at school. One of my friends was amazingly good at drawing
manga, and I couldn’t compete with him. That’s why I chose animation.
I ended up doing many illustration assignments, too.
Q: What do you have to do to become a professional illustrator?
Yokota: Not just drawing things alone, but you should
show your work to other people, by submitting it to publications or taking
it to illustration companies. You can also use the internet today.
Yoshimatsu: To find your selling points is important. Find out quickly what’s your appeal and is that what sets you apart from others, and expose it to gain recognition.
Rosuuri: I began with online submission. My work is mainly about anime girls. If you maintain the online contact long enough, someone eventually start wanting to see your portfolio. Without the internet, I probably wouldn’t be here today.
Q: What kind of impact do you think the American and European audiences have on your work?
Yokota: We create characters according to our client’s
orders, and it’s the producer’s or director’s job to worry about what
the overseas audiences like. Once we agree on what’s wanted, we just do
our very best so that the viewers, whoever they are, can enjoy our work.
Q: What are the trend in manga and anime in Japan today?
Yokota: Some of my favorite works are doing well recently, including [the manga series] Golden Kamuy. The regulation on expression is getting tighter in Japan these days, and as a reaction, we see an increasing number of manga and anime that deal with social taboos, narrowly avoiding the regulations. That brings out good-quality works. Today the manga genre itself is more diversified – even over-diversified - with a wide variety of themes like political and social satire. So the trend in Japan today is more like what the customers enjoy – what’s the real trend doesn’t matter.
Also we have more gay-themed manga today, dealing with “soft” homosexuality, both in girls and boys manga. An example is YuruYuri in anime and Dokyusei (Classmate) in film. Another one is a live action TV program called Ossan’s Love. This is about older guys in love.
Manga on the internet is also rapidly growing, gathering a growing number of readers. Since it’s regulated more loosely than the print media, I heard from the internet distributor that a lot of people are accessing to excessively violent, scary or gross manga online, like stories depicting the underground Japanese Mafia, outlaws and so on.
Q: Thank you very much.
Kimmy Kay (C) shows up in an eye-catching light-blue Cinderella costume.
Jennifer Cozzens comes in an elaborate mermaid costume.
Emilia dresses a perfect Lolita fashion, which she designed and sewed.
Taylor Devich (L) and Charlie Zwierynski (C)
A Japanese kimono group, Chicago Wahoo Club, and a Lolita fashion group join together for the first time at the Anime Central.