Features Music

Escapism in Japanese style

{mosimage}In brief, cosplay (short for “costume
play”) simply means dressing up as your favourite anime or manga character.
Escapism has never been this colourful.

The success of cosplay relates to the
spread of Japanese popular culture. The growth of interest shows. For example,
there are currently more than twenty associations in Finland that consist of the people
who share an enthusiasm in anime, manga and cosplay.

“Japanese pop culture is currently in a
state of growth and will be for a couple more years,” tells Kyuu Eturautti, the person in charge of
the sponsors of the Cosplay Finland Tour. “I’d like to believe that the
collaboration of the devotees has had a great significance.”

In addition to the growth of the
consumption of anime and manga, more and more people have become aware of
cosplay, too. “In Japan
cosplay emerged during the anime and manga boom in the '80s. The phenomenon
travelled to the West in the '90s”, Eturautti explains.

Cosplay Finland, the Finnish association
for cosplayers, was founded in 2002. The association organises meetings and
workshops for its members. The cosplayers meet each other nationwide in anime
and manga conventions, or 'cons' for short. The next opportunity to cosplay
will be at the Tampere Kuplii comic festival in the end of March.

In Finland there have been cosplay
enthusiasts since the '90s. It wasn’t until the '00s, however, when the hobby
started gaining more attention. “The first happening with dozens of people
dressed up was Animecon II in Turku
three years ago,” says Eturautti. He continues by saying that competing isn’t
the main reason for the hobby. “Only a small percentage of the cosplayers
participate in competitions. Having fun and meeting likeminded people is more

According to what one sees in cons, it’s
easy to distinguish cosplay as something teenage girls would do. Eturautti
agrees. “The typical cosplayer is a girl between the ages of 13 and 17. In
total, eighty to ninety percent of cosplayers are female.” Eturautti sees this
as a larger phenomenon. “There haven’t been that many comics for teenage girls
before manga.”

There are of course boys who cosplay, too.
Eturautti, a 27 year-old consultant finds it a good counterbalance to
nine-to-five day job. “Cosplaying is a permission to be another person and
literally to experience what it feels like to be in someone else’s shoes. All
you need is a suit, a wig and some make-up.”

As simple as that.

Features Music

Ourvision, (Y)our Music!

OurVision, Caisa’s new enterprise and its biggest production to date, is a song contest for all the artists coming from the continents ‘left out’ of Eurovision.

It was Caisa’s director Johanna Maula who first considered the possibility of organizing a musical contest that would offer artists from non-European countries the chance to perform live.

The host of the contest will be California-born TV star and model -and member of OurVision steering committee- Aria Arai, who’s been living in Finland for 12 years. She explains that the catchy name of the competition, OurVision, indicates that musical talents from every corner of the globe are invited, and suggests a wider and less sterotyped musical scenario.

The deadline for submitting entries to the competition is December the 11th, while OurVision will start on the 19th of January. The participants, who don't necessarily need to have previous experiences in the field, will go through a series of trials and semifinals, organized according to their area of provenance: musicians from Latin America, Arab countries, Asia and Africa will perform in the LatinVision, ArabVision, AfroVision and AsiaVision trials and semifinals.

The winners will be declared on the 5th of May during a final gala evening, held at Caisa, just like the trials and the semifinals. Red carpet and VIPs and cameras flashes, just like a fancy music award gala!

While the possibility of a CD release, either a studio compilation or a live record, is still being discussed, it’s official that the May the 5th final will be aired by Lähiradio.

“We’ve already received a huge number of entries and we think that the AfricanVision might turn out to be the most crowded trial”, says Martta Louekari, Caisa’s information officer. “We look forward to great musical variety, as the group or soloist taking part in the competition can perform either in their own or in any other language, and they can choose to perform covers or their own compositions.”

The artists taking part in OurVision can count on a top-quality jury.

{quotes}The grand old man of the jury is the legendary Finnish jazz musician and composer Heikki Sarmanto{/quotes}. A different perspective is granted by the presence of Tidjan, leading vocalist of the Finnish supergroup Kwan. Other members of the jury will mirror the different musical ‘flavours’ of the competition.

Winners of OurVision will certainly get to be famous in Finland, but who knows if the next Youssou N’ Dour lives in Helsinki or the next Cheb Khaled in Tampere…

Entries for OurVision will be accepted up to the 11th of December.