Saturday, 3 November 2012

Cosplay, it's more than just dressing up

It's been more than a year since the last time an article about cosplayers in Brunei appear in the newspaper... the last article was published 28th May 2011 in the Borneo Bulletin... and since then, lots of cosplay activities happened... then on 27th October 2012, another article of cosplay finally published in the Borneo Bulletin... so before the article disappear from Borneo Bulletin website, I'll just post them here... 8D

Enthusiastic, fun, creative and social... These choices of words best describe the group of individuals who formed the foundation for a new subculture in Brunei - cosplaying. Embracing the art form originating from Japan, the Brunei Cosplayers, as the group is called, first came on the scene in the year 2009 and has expanded to a total of 711 members.

Recently, the Bulletin had the opportunity to interview the admins of the Brunei Cosplayers group regarding the group's history, experiences and activities.

First things first, for those who are new, 'cosplay' - a portmanteau of Costume and Role Play - is a type of performance art in which individuals don costumes and accessories to represent a specific character or idea such as from animes, mangas, video games or any other form of visual media. Any entity from the real or virtual world that lends itself to a dramatic interpretation may be taken up as a subject.

In cosplay, it is not unusual to see genders switch; with female playing male roles and vice versa. However, there is a different term for it - 'crossplay'. There are significant differences between crossplay and crossdressing. In crossdressing, one will only dress up as the opposite gender, while in crossplay, one will portray a character of the opposite gender. This is possible as characters in animes or mangas tend to have androgynous features.

Speaking with two of the admins - Jdee and Abu Hurairah - they briefly described their role in managing the group activities and communications.

Abu Hurairah, telling of some of his most memorable moments, said, "The first one was during the 8th Consumer Fair at ICC. It was one of the major events attended by the group and at that time, I cosplayed as the Grim Reaper, which to my surprise, drew a lot of fans asking for photo opportunities with me, and I had to be escorted everywhere I go by 'MilSim' (Military Simulation - group of individuals specialising in military style cosplay) led by Combat Kun, a member of the Brunei Cosplayers." Other than that, he highlighted that he gave the performance of his lifetime cosplaying as the Joker from the Dark Knight movie during EACon 2011, which won him the 'Best Male Cosplayer' while also bagging the first prize during the 'Charity Auction Tolong Mindanao and Bazaar 2012'.

On the notable accomplishments of the group, Jdee disclosed that they received several certificates for participating in events. The group also saw some of the members took part in cosplay competition overseas. The group is also constantly gaining publicity courtesy of Borneo Bulletin and other media sources, he said. However, Jdee stressed, the most important thing is not the accomplishments but the opportunity to have fun while meeting new friends. "It is amusing how, at one moment, we can be strangers to one another, and then the next thing you know, we are buddies," he said.

Meanwhile, the Bulletin also interviewed some of the Brunei Cosplayers group members for their personal opinions on cosplaying.

Commenting on their pet peeves regarding cosplaying, member Brian Neo said he is bothered by the fact that people cannot differentiate and tend to mistaken cosplay with dressing up or being a mascot while another member, Cherry Berry, said that she is annoyed when cosplayers do not know anything about their own cosplay. "Wearing just the outfit is not enough. Cosplayers should adopt the mannerism and personality of the characters they portray. The true essence of cosplay is to stay 'in character' when necessary, isn't that what made them who they are? It can be difficult at times, but practice makes perfect," she commented.

Following up with those remarks, the Bulletin put up another question on whether 'clashing' cosplays with others bother them, is there any jealousy? Member Hong Li answered with certainty, "No. I am happy to meet someone in the same costume, because they are offering a different perspective on a character we both love. It's better to celebrate than compete." As for member Alex De Hiro's reply, he joked, "The more the merrier!"

When queried on some of the challenges met while cosplaying, Brian Neo highlighted problems such as make up, uncomfortable wigs, heat and sweat while in costume, props building and others, while Cherry Berry merely answered "people's assumption".

Talking on media publicity and being in front of a camera, all four members said that they welcome publicity. In fact, Hong Li revealed that he enjoys the exposure to media, saying, "I was really excited when I first appeared on the newspaper." On fans asking for photo opportunities, "We welcome that too," they said. However, for some time, it can be awkward, commented Cherry Berry, but they still enjoy and appreciate the gesture of support regardless.

Asked for their own definition of 'good cosplay manners', Brian Neo stressed on commitment and mutual respects, to which Cherry Berry and Alex De Hiro also agreed on. "Respecting other cosplayers, and don't be judgemental. Do not talk bad about fellow cosplayers as it would just make everyone look bad. Take care of the group's and your own reputation," Cherry Berry stated. They also added that it is best to ignore when taunted, as it is easy for others to mock art but being a cosplay artist, one has to take pride in their work.

As for how long they are willing to continue cosplaying, without second thoughts, they replied in sync, "for as long as we can".

Before concluding the interview, admin Jdee reminded that there is an upcoming event to which the public can expect to see the Brunei Cosplayers in action. It would be the EACon 2012, which was a success in the previous year and is back due to popular demand. The event is organised by TFF and sponsored by Chong Hock Toynation.

It is these features - expression of oneself, making social connections, and having fun - that are central elements of the cosplay life. Cosplay is the ultimate form of personal expression and it creates the strongest connections with others that share the hobby. All in all, the rule is simple, enjoy yourself while cosplaying.

For those interested in joining the group or take up cosplay, visit the Brunei Cosplayers Facebook page by searching Brunei Cosplayers group. (Actually there is two page with the name Brunei Cosplayers in Facebook... Brunei Cosplayers Group Page is where most of the interaction with other cosplayers took place. While Brunei Cosplayers Fan Page is currently administered by me, which one day I hope I can pass to the right candidate to take over coz I'm currently in the process in making a page of my own. And the Brunei Cosplayers Fan Page is where any cosplay related stuffs, whether it is video, picture or article are posted.)

Cosplayers at EACon

Cosplayers at STGCC

Cosplayers at MACGCon

some of my cosplay photo shoots...

And as I mentioned earlier, between last year article and the recent article, there were lots of event involving the Brunei Cosplayers which I was fortunate enough able to cover... and here are the lists...

Then there are also some photo shoots that I did too...

And not to forget, there are also a few local cosplayers who joined an international Facebook-based cosplay competition - the Otaku House Cosplay Idol 2012.

Owh, just for your info, EACon 2012 is coming soon, so mark it in your calendar if you wish to meet/see the local cosplayers.

And if you are interested in cosplay, I even make some post on tips on how to cosplay and where to get costume in Brunei. Hope it can help you... cheers! ^^v

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