COSPLAY gives new meaning to the term, dressing up. For it’s not just about looking good at some grand occasion. Rather, it’s about immersing oneself and becoming a whole new character entirely.
A portmanteau of costume play, the performance art sees enthusiasts don costumes, wield accessories and imitate mannerisms to represent a particular character or idea of their choosing.
While primarily centered on characters from Japanese manga, anime and video games in its early days, the hobby has gradually expanded to include those from movies, books, applications and even real life personalities.
One such example, Hatsune Miku, a female character from the singing synthesizer computer application Vocaloid, grabbed first place in the recent Cosplay Contest at Gurney Plaza in Penang.
Coming to life and roaming amongst shoppers, the character’s bright blue-green hair piqued the curiosity of many. She even serenaded the crowd with a Japanese song and posed for pictures.
When not masquerading as Hatsune, Jamie Ooi, 24, from Penang, is an administrative assistant by profession. She revealed that she first got into cosplaying some three years ago.
“There are a lot of characters out there and since I had the opportunity to imitate them in a contest, I decided to go for it.
“I love singing and dancing, and am cheerful like her. So, it suits me.
“I just try my best to be her,” Ooi said, adding that she spent over RM300 for her outfit, some parts of which were tailor-made while others were purchased online.
Another Vocaloid character, Megurine Luka, played by Ayumi Goh, 23, an accountant from Ipoh, grabbed second place. Her bright red hair and gold-accented costume was equally eye-catching as her dance.
A fan of anime since her schooling days, Goh had no hesitation journeying all the way to Penang to participate in the contest and took about a month to choreograph her dance routine.
“It’s my favourite character. We have the same personality, height and even body built,” Goh added.
Proving that looks can be deceiving, kindergarten teacher Magan Khor, 19, won third place with her portrayal of Ling Xiaoyu from the fighting games series, Tekken. With her hair tied up in dual ponytails, the pint-sized lass impressed the crowd with kicks and punches.
Breaking planks with ease with her hands, she ran into some difficulty while trying to do the same with her feet. Unperturbed, she shrugged it off graciously.
“When I first got interested in cosplay, I didn’t know where to start. Then I met some friends who shared the same interest and started joining contests.
“It can be quite challenging to replicate the character’s personalities,” said Khor, who is from Kulim in Kedah.
The self-confessed fan of fighting games said she made her outfit herself and enjoyed mingling with friends during such contests.
Ooi, Goh and Khor took home vouchers worth RM2,500, RM2,000 and RM1,500 respectively.
Jade Goh, who played Elizabeth of Gin Tama, and Soo York Chong, playing Hibari Kyoya from Katekyo Hitman Reborn, won the Most Humorous and Most Faithful Recreation awards respectively.
Many other cosplay enthusiasts also turned up for the chance to masquerade as their favourite characters but did not participate in the contest.
The event was jointly organised by the mall and Malaysia Cosplay Toshokan (a non-profit organisation). It also featured a guest perfor-mance by Asia Cosplay Meet 2010 finalist Tan Yee Gim.