Friday, May 21, 2010

Have you played dress-up lately?

Have you seen or heard of CosPlay ~ short for “costume play”?

A trend which merely goes around teenagers in Japan, and it is dressing up like popular or cult figures from manga, television, games or other media, including fast food franchise branding, and interprets them as dress-up. Dress up is not necessarily reserved for a special occasion, it's part of the fabric of self-expression. They call it otaku culture. Kids meet at special places like Harajuku, or conventions to show off their hand-made creations. Make new friends with another character that looks exactly like themselves while dressed-up, this whole phenomenon intrigues me! What about you?

So why CosPlay??

The CosPlay phenomenon quite related to, though not a direct extension of the whole rebellious attitude of dressing in Japan. Grey and blue suits still predominate the urban landscape, white shirts and ties still are the norm.

Cosplay is a restrained form of self-expression. It is easily undone. Most of the piercings are either fake or very discrete. Most of the tattoos are washed away at the end of the day.
If you go to Harajuku early enough, you'll see the kids changing into their outfits, because there's no way they'd walk around their home neighborhoods in that garb.

Wild hair color is pretty normal in Tokyo, so much that even the elderly often sport a green or purple 'doo. It's interesting to note, though, that the top selling hair colors for young Japanese are the natural blacks and browns, because kids know that if there's a wedding or a funeral or a job interview or a visit from a rich relative, respect must be shown with a return to conformity.

So I guess what I'm getting at is that unlike the US, Japanese kids are having fun playing dress-up, not forging some sort of self-styled identity like their American counterparts. Although that is just one opinion, there are many others who believe there is a deeper sense of identity crisis, not knowing where to belong, attention seekers and looking for a moment of fame.

To me, it's an escape for these kids, a chance to stand out from the crowd and get a bit of attention for their creativity and sewing skills - it's weird, but it gets their picture in the Asian edition of Time Magazine about once a month which may be all they're really after... And it is FUN and cute!!

There are shops and magazines to order these costumes in Japan, but the real fan likes to make the costume herself/himself, putting a lot of effort into the details and materials used. The purpose is not to alienate the mundane masses (though that happens inevitably), it's just to look pretty in an incredibly elegant and detailed way.

What do you think of this kind of hobby? Dangerous or innocent, weird or funny? Artistic, creepy or just a way to have something to do during the weekends? Hang out with same kindred spirits? At least I got some ideas for Halloween for the girls.. LOL, but I am not sure they are into this kind of CosPlay??

Have a Fantastic Friday!


Miss Footloose said...

Sounds like fun to me! I had not heard of this and got a kick out of the photos.

I suppose there is always a way it can be used in a negative way, or to get "addicted" and not develop a sense of self, and so on. But I like the creativity of it, especially if they make their own costumes. Better than hanging out in front of the TV.

Leah and Maya said...

hmmmmmmmmmmmmm I'm not sure, its very interesting. I always thought the culture seemd surpressed so maybe it is a way for them to break out of the norm and have fun. At least they have respect for family thats something thats lacking here.

Jeremy said...

I have always thought it is very FUN! of course we still have dress up parties with our friends at Halloween! Kim

Anonymous said...

只用微笑說話的人,才能擔當重任。 ..................................................

Annie said...

Well it looks like a fun way of expressing themselves and honestly they do it very well and with great detail! I will make a small confession, back in HS, I was really into the "new wave" thing (oh wow! I am giving my age for sure!) so, I would have probably done something like this.... :)

Maci Miller said...

Wow, that's really something. A couple of those girls are dead ringers for the one they are dressing up as! Me, I still love dressing up, Halloween, costume parties...but rarely have an excuse! Loved having to don a Thai outfit for Songkran! (Look for one for me, too!) Still have to do that Indian themed party some day and make everyone wear Saris! When I used to sing I'd have a ball getting dressed. I'd spend hours picking out a gown, carefully applying and doing hair and make-up, sometimes hair extensions and eyelashes. Also used to do photo shoots and it was always so fun to make yourself look totally different to capture a style or image. Not quite the same as these girls, but the same idea and lots of fun!

Mireille said...

I can see you Annie dressing up new wave, you are a person who would get into this if it was in your age time to do this. And you too Jen, I can see you getting into this seriously... now this is for the younger generation, but I also love to be another personage for a day ;-) That's why my purple wig :-)


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