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Friday, August 21, 2009
Cosplay is wildly popular in China. In fact, ChinaJoy, the organizers of the national championships say more than 20,000 people entered competitions this year across China.
ChinaJoy is the country's largest annual video game exhibition, which also invites people to re-enact their favorite Japanese manga and anime on a game-show-like stage, as you can see in the video above. Competition teams can range from one or two people to 100, and are judged above all on their costumes, but secondly on props, choreography and audience reaction.
AFP reporter D’Arcy Doran described the scene. “The skeleton warriors briefly stumbled backward but kept lumbering toward 23-year-old Zhao Jing as she blasted them with two oversized six-shooters in a battle set to pounding music.”
Zhao's 36-member team rehearsed for 3 – 5 hours daily for months, and she's been competing with similar dedication in Cosplay tournaments from March to August every year for the past seven years. Last year she finally got the chance to represent China at the World Cosplay Summit international championships in Japan. Her team won second place.
At ChinaJoy 2009, female contestants easily outnumbered males, which may partly explain the video above. Zhao’s teammate, Zhang Li explained, "It's about making a dream world come to life." Dressed as a goddess, she shared that she’d been competing for five years, keeping it a secret from her parents…until she needed their permission to go to Japan. They were angry, but then at least she came home with an award. "Now they allow it as long as it doesn't disrupt my life," she said, before stepping on stage to magically repel sword blows with her bare hands.
Cosplay may resonate with young adults in China because the pressure to perform in school means childhoods are often deferred. But when they go to college, every university has an anime club and students have the freedom to invest time and money into it.