The Japan Day cosplay battle
In our younger days, we were avid fanatics of one common thing — animé, the Japanese term for animated cartoons, which we first encountered on television and later in the movies and computer games.
From discovering the mystery of a magical kingdom, to chasing the adventures of pirates searching for the world’s greatest treasure; from learning fighting techniques in the world of ninjas, to choosing a side in a heavy metal clash among robots, we played their stories and characters tirelessly until a new batch came along.
We were hooked by these characters through their fighting skills, weapons, settings and most of all their tumultuous stories that added more excitement and thrill to the virtual lives of our favorite animé.
According to Wikipedia, animé is a style of animation originating in Japan, characterized by colorful graphics and often featuring themes intended for an adult audience. The word is the Japanese abbreviated pronunciation of “animation.” Animé, like manga (comic animé), has a large audience in Japan and has gained recognition throughout the world.
Not all animé is pure fantasy; some of them are related to the real world, such as animé for sports, children, love and romance and adventures. Others verge on the extraordinary with marvelous stories and awesome characters such as aliens, high-tech robots, sorcerers, monsters, space rangers and, yes, even ghost slayers, and other mythical creatures that inspire our imagination.
Aside from these, one reason we stuck with our favorite animé characters was their out-of-this-world costumes — we even copied these colorful and flamboyant outfits of theirs and aped their speech and other mannerisms.
Therefore, it was only fitting that in celebration of Japan Day and in commemoration of the fifth anniversary of the Philippines-Japan Friendship Month, a cosplay event, or the contest for animé character look-alikes, would be held, and one was in fact hosted last July 21 by the SM Mall of Asia and in cooperation with Hero TV channel and Toei Animation Co. Ltd.
Wearing their animé signature costumes, complete with hairstyles, accessories and weaponries, cosplay contestants gave life to their chosen characters with, of course, their trademark moves and stunts, before the eyes of both Filipino and Japanese audience.
Some of them are kids’ favorites, such as characters from Hunter X Hunter, Naruto, Bleach, Final Fantasy, One Piece, Gundam and Final Fantasy. Some were classic like Voltes V and Voltron. Contestants who made it to the top 15 were Haruhi Suzumiya, Ranman Saotome, Voltes V, Gokaiger GokaiRed, Esther Blanchette, Aizen Final Form, Tifa Lockhart, MG Sinanju, Raidou Kuzunoha the 14th, Kanatsugo Naoe, Kuroro Lucifer, Kamen Rider Nadeshiko, Nargacuga Blademaster, Ciel Phantomhive and Voltron.
Ivan Valerio, a 30-year-old costume and props maker who played the most well-known robot Voltes V, said he chose the character because it was an old-time favorite of most Filipinos. He took pride in his collection of robots and monster costumes, which he created himself. He won the third prize in the cosplay tilt.
A cosplayer since 2010 and an ardent tokusatsu (special effects) fan, Ma. Lourdes Lugue believed that one should know about character and not just style a well-crafted costume. She portrayed the character of Kamen Rider Nadeshiko in the animé Kamen Rider Fourze Movie Megamax Special.
A 10-year-old Grade 5 student of St. Mathew Academy stunned and amazed the live audience with his Voltron costume. Izaiah Luke Buelos carried his heavy robot costume cockily and that’s why he was declared the cosplay champion.
In the middle of the contest, the crowd was surprised by the appearance of the cute and funny mascots Noveta and Doraemon, who flew in all the way from Japan, and taught the audience the rudiments of Japanese.
Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Toshinao Urabe related that in his youth, he, too, was an avid fan of his country’s animé, particularly Astroboy, while his kid liked Dragon Ball Z.
“I thought only the Japanese liked animé and manga, but I can see Filipinos love it, too. Culture is not in nationality. We play baseball. Is it because we are Americans? No! We play it because it is fun!” Urabe said.
The envoy expressed his gratitude to Filipinos who continue to support Japanese culture and artworks. He believed that through these activities, fans will further strengthen the long-standing friendship between the two countries.
Aside from the cosplay competition, Japan Day was marked by the 2012 JPOP Animé Singing Contest, film screening of animé movies and the concert of one of the Japan’s hottest pop opera bands, Le Velvets, which surprised the audience when they sung the “Lupang Hinirang.”
In addition, this year’s Friendship Month is characterized by the Japanese Embassy’s outreach to the provinces, with many events to be held in Baguio, Cebu and Davao in cooperation with the local governments and various organizations.
Indeed, we have been invaded again by the Japanese not in a warlike way, but through their customs and culture beloved by Filipinos and Japanese alike.