cosplay

The Fox (What does the fox say?) is this year’s Halloween furry fantasy

I know some plushies and fur-chasers who are going to go crazy for these Nordic goof balls.

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I am starting to watch the series Sekaiichi Hatsukoi. It’s a Boys Love anime about first love by the creator of Junjou Romantica. BL is basically man-on-man (or girlish male adolescent-on-adolescent) romance written by and for women. Oddly, I learned about it from my male cosplay friend, Bangin Sensei. He claims he cosplays BL stories only as “fan service” for his female otaku audience. Really?

Japanese street fashion

The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City is displaying an exhibit called Japan Fashion Now. It sounds like lots of fun with attention to designer, street, sub-culture and cosplay fashions. Plus photos of street fashion. One of the photography contributors is Kjeld Duits, whose website Japanese Streets includes images of men’s and women’s fashion (see above for men’s). There’s also Tokyo street photos by Gannet Design. The Yale University catalog includes curator Valerie Steele’s essay, “Is Japan Still the Future?” Thanks to my mom for tipping me off to this exhibit.

Ni-chome’s omasturi photos

Ni-chome, Tokyo’s gay bar district in Shinjuku, hosted a summer festival, or omatsuri, the day after the Tokyo Pride Parade two weekends ago. Lots of color: traditional omikoshi, or portable shrine carrying; drag and summer yukatas; foreigners looking Japanese and Japanese looking foreign; some youths who look alien in their highly processed hair; an odd World War II cosplay (even more bizarre since the date was August 15, which marks Japan’s surrender); and a variety of frozen ice, giant sausages on sticks, and plenty of beer in cans.

Kirsten Dunst “Turning Japanese”

Super fun video of Kirsten Dunst vamping through Akihabara singing “Turning Japanese.” She’s in full cosplay outfit, dancing, greeting and flirting with maids, salarymen, and cute youth. Thanks Christophe for sharing this!

http://www.veoh.com/browse/videos/category/music/watch/v19838048wrs3Dgdy

Behind the scenes cosplay

Struggle under me: Your body is the collateral for the loan

Last weekend I helped my online moe language teacher, Bangin sensei, with his cosplay for the third time. Unlike the past two times– one in a small park, the other in a cosplay event– this time I would photograph Bangin and his friend Keith doing a Boys Love cosplay.

I love how Bangin originally explained his request by email:
Because this cosplay is BL, I would have to pretend to touch, kiss, or rape(not really of course!)…whatever. My friend is sure about this, so if you can accept it, I would like you to help us.

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“How come I am uke?!”

Bangin cosplays Kyon on Otome Road

On Monday, I had the supreme pleasure of helping my internet friend Bangin, the master teacher of otaku vocabulary for the English-speaking world, cosplay Kyon from The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi.

Bangin’s idea was to have Kyon, the narrator, provide a tour of Otome Road, the fujoshi (female geek) world capital in Ikebukero. My role was to take hundreds of photos. It was great fun since I’ve long admired Bangin’s blog, and I’d watched seven English subbed episodes online between the time he asked me and when we did the cosplay.

A brief summary of the manga and anime story: Kyon, the narrator, is a high school freshman who is trying to grow up. He falls under the spell of a dominant female classmate who organizes the SOS Brigade to make contact with extraterrestrials, time travelers, and ESP experts. Basically, she’s looking for magic in the mundane world, a lovely concept. The story has plenty of otaku moe (school girls in uniform, including one who is used as sexual bait to gain a computer, new members and attention), and a slash fan story of Kyon’s romance with the “mysterious (male) transfer student Koizumi.”

My National Science Foundation and Fulbright-sponsored university research with Rio de Janeiro drag queens in the early 1990s only partly prepared me for the role of cosplay photographer. Make-up, costume, fantasy, role-playing, utter seriousness, a depth of knowledge and passion– all to be expected.

What surprised me was the concern to not be “too loud” or too noticed while performing. I had thought it would be fun to interact with the butler cafe doorman, or the many fujoshi pulling their wheelie bags full of manga and doujinshi (fan slash manga). This was not Bangin’s idea at all. And, oddly, no fujoshi approached us to ask about Kyon.

Here you can read Bangin’s post about Otome Road. It’s even funnier than I anticipated because Bangin writes the whole travelogue in Kyon’s voice– being “forced” by Haruhi, and warned by Koizumi about the catastrophe of closed spaces. His introduction ends with, “Today is going to be my worst day in all of my life. Will you follow me? I will show around.” There are many photos, observations and explanations!

The finale of the tour is very amusing. Across from the dozens of shops catering to fujoshi is a small, somewhat uncared-for-park, where the young customers open up their purchases (and homeless people make their home, which reminded me of San Francisco).

The photo at the top of the post shows Kyon’s shock and horror that he is the subject of a Koizumi x Kyon doujinshi. Bangin provided the quote, “How come I am uke?!”

Fan service (ファンサービス) or Fan Sābisu

I came across this delightful maid anime while learning about the term “fan service.” To answer Scott’s question about Nakano maids (“What kind of maids are these”), a question that was not a question for Christophe, I will introduce the term “fan service” here.

Fan service are gratuitous visual elements in anime and manga “that are unnecessary to a storyline, but designed to amuse or sexually excite the audience.” In anime, these include shower scenes and holiday trips that feature bikinis. They can also include costume play (コスプレ kosupure), particularly ones related to traditional Japanese fetish characters, including school girls, cat girl, bunny girl, maid, mako, kimono, race girl, policewoman, and waitresses of the “Anna Miller’s” (アンナミラーズ Anna Mirāzu) type.

In the spirit of fan service, what images will please the readers of this blog? Kosuke was certainly a crowd pleaser. Any suggestions?

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