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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.

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