September 21, 2013

So I Went to Tokyo Game Show

My dog

My dog

Sorry this is a tad late.  I went to Tokyo Game Show today and I had to wake up at 4AM to actually get there on time (comes with the territory of living in the middle of nowhere).

Anyways, let me start from the beginning of the week and move to today because today was amazing and made up for how bad the beginning of the week was.  Saturday, Sunday and Monday were incredibly difficult days for me.  On Saturday night my mom informed me that my dog, Daisy, had died.  I was obviously very upset by this.  But no matter, my friend and I were going to go to Tokyo Game Show together and cosplay from Jojo for my “Japan Cosplay Debut.”  NOPE!  Turns out my friend was diagnosed with heart disease and is currently very sick.

Marlene First cosplaying from Shingeki no Kyojin/Attack on Titan and Tokyo Game Show

Me cosplaying from Shingeki no Kyojin/Attack on Titan and Tokyo Game Show

So I was going to go out and have some “me time” in Shinjuku and Ikebukuro. Once again, no.  Why? Because there was a typhoon.

Typhoons are like hurricanes. They shut down the trains and cause a lot of chaos momentarily and then leave.

Anyways, this really threw my week out of whack.  So while trying balance this emotional whatever, on top of ton of homework, a paper, and 600+ papers of reading, I decided last minute to change my cosplay for TGS.

Marlene First with friends she made at Tokyo Game Show

Friends I made at TGS

I think that TGS is culturally important because we actually have events like it in the United States, but it’s either misunderstood or looked down upon.  In Japan, America, and almost every country in the world, there are cosplayers (Please see this blog I made for my film and media studies project on what cosplay is).  However, in short, cosplay is the Japanese contraction between the words “costume” and “play.”  It can denote anything from wearing costume uniforms to making and modeling outfits from your favorite series in international mass media.

A woman dressed as a character from Shingeki no Kyojin

This was the first person who took my picture. She was a huge fan of Shingeki no Kyojin and really nice.

I cosplay a lot in the United States, but this was my first time cosplaying in Japan.  I was worried about how things would go when cosplaying alone.  American cosplay has a lot of negative connotations from the International community’s standpoint.  We are known for being ugly, unkempt, fat, poorly presented, obnoxious, lazy, slutty, in poor taste etc.  So honestly, I was really worried.

But a lot of people were really nice!  I was able to make some new friends and was super shocked that such a beautiful person was the first one to want my picture.  It made me realize, “hey, these people are fans too!” and helped me ease into the situation a lot easier.

Joseph Joestar, a cosplayer from Jojo's Bizarre Adventure

Joseph Joestar cosplayer from Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. I also cosplay this character.

There are a lot of differences between American and Asian cosplay at events too.  The biggest differences are changing at the event and what can only be explained as the “idol scene.”

First, changing at the event.  It’s exactly as it sounds.  You go to the event site, wait on the line, go into a giant room with a bunch of other girls, and then change.  No privacy.  Just change.  In America we all have hotel rooms and just come and go and change as we please.  I never understood why Asian countries had these rules.  But I can’t imagine having this sort of method of changing in America.

Two Ace Attorney cosplayers.  It's a video game where you get to be a lawyer.

Ace Attorney cosplayers. It’s a video game where you get to be a Lawyer.

Japan has a lot of same-sex public baths, and showing skin to others of the same sex isn’t seen as big of a deal here as it is in America.  It’s a huge cultural difference.  I was alright with the changing actually for a few reasons.  1) I cheated and wore some of my costume underneath my clothes–something that isn’t really allowed.  2) I have been to Japanese onsen before so I have some experience with the whole “being naked around other people” thing.  Though honestly, unless you change in a really obnoxious way, it’s hard to be stark naked when changing in and out of cosplay.

A woman cosplayer from Jojo

Another amazing cosplay from Jojo

Another HUGE difference is the “idol atmosphere” that Japan has with cosplayers.  In America, when people cosplay, everyone is incredibly social with each other.  People bond over their favorite characters, series, and just something they like in general which their normal friends and family may not understand.  People in America will have photoshoots, both in event spaces and in public (I shoot a lot in NYC), they will hang around, meet new people, etc.

In Japan, it’s a lot different. There seems to be this wall between every cosplayer/group of cosplayers and then another wall between the cosplayers and the photographers/normal attendees.

A woman cosplayer dressed as Ema/Chii from Brother's Conflict

Ema/Chii from Brother’s Conflict.

Cosplayers will literally line the “cosplay areas” and photographers and passer-bys will form a line to take their picture.  In Japan, idol groups have events where fans can line up to shake their hands.  It kind of reminds me of that.  Of course, being the “dumb gaijin”  I am, I made it a point to be a little more social with people–including photographers.

But I wasn’t used to the attention.  It was a little uncomfortable having crowds/lines around me.  I went in there expecting very little.  My cosplay wasn’t that showy–but it was the main character from the most popular anime of this year (not something I would usually cosplay).

Two woman cosplayers portraying  Sarutobi Sasuke and Kasuga from the Sengoku BASARA video game

My favorite cosplayers I saw. My dream cosplay is as one the girl on the right is doing. Sarutobi Sasuke from Sengoku BASARA (and Kasuga from the same game).

It was also last minute and noticeably incomplete.  But I had people taking pictures of me and even coming up to me and talking to me!  It was a great way to practice my Japanese too.  I had to explain to people how much I loved their cosplays after all.

One last thing Japan has that America doesn’t is incredibly strict-and enforced-rules on modesty and cosplay.  Both genders are required to wear nude tights/shirts/bodysuits to cover up too much exposed bare skin.  In America, you see people flashing themselves all the time, but in Japan most of the cosplay choices do not show a lot of skin.  I am also surprised that it’s enforced that much for both genders.  Not surprised in a bad way though.  It’s interesting to see Japan enforcing male modesty as well–considering it’s such a male-dominated culture.

Anyways, I really didn’t do much this week otherwise.  I am super tired now though.  This post really wasn’t all too significant for “study abroad” purposes, but it’s actually important to me.  Much of my life has revolved around the American cosplay and Anime culture, and it was interesting seeing where it originated from–and just how different it is.  School wise,  most of my life is occupied with either homework, commuting, or classes here.  It’s stressful, but having fun events like this one to look forward to makes everything better.  Anyways, before I go, I will post one more picture.  I thought it was a really well done cosplay and really cool and something most Americans with any sense of “childhood” should know:  Master Roshi from Dragon Ball!

A male cosplayer portraying Master Roshi from Dragon Ball Z

He was so cool!!!

Anyways, that’s all for this week!

posted in Marlene First

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  1. Thank you for sharing your experiences. I think that your explanations of different approaches to cosplay in the US and Japan as well as the differences in modesty are part of what study abroad is about. How are we alike and how are we different? It wasn’t so long ago that US changing rooms were less modest. Department stores had single large changing rooms rather than individual cubicles.

    says Beth Katz
    September 22, 2013 at 1:58 pm
  2. Hey, I just RANDOMLY stumbled upon this and recognized your face! You’re in my cosplay video!

    says Don
    September 24, 2013 at 6:03 pm
  3. Haha! I find it so funny how you found me through my college sponsored blog! Thank you for your time at TGS ^^

    says Marlene First
    September 25, 2013 at 7:33 am

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