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Costumes & Role-play in the Northeast – Nagaland Anime Junkies

Design Log 04 Sep

Each year, thousands of people gather in the hilly city of Kohima dressed like their favourite characters from Naruto, DragonBall Z, Samurai X and other Japanese anime and manga series. This year, we sneak a peek at what went on at the recently-concluded 5th Annual Cosfest and try to understand the power of Cosplay.

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Six years ago, in 2011, a little fanpage popped up on Facebook. The short ‘About Us’ description made it pretty clear what the page was about. It read, ‘A community formed by few Anime lovers with the aspiration to bring and unite all that love Anime and Manga. 100% inspired by Anime [...] we want to share the kick we get out of it’. Calling themselves (and consequently, the Facebook page) the Nagaland Anime Junkies (NAJ), the group set up by Biebe Natso was started off purely to bring together Anime fans so that they could share their interests with each other.

Over the years, the Anime and Manga scene in India gained a lot of popularity, especially in the North-Eastern region, and Biebe and her team started thinking of a platform where Anime lovers could come together, celebrate and explore this style of Japanese animation. Inspired by the various conventions held abroad, especially BlizzCon, the team put together the region’s first ever Cosplay festival – Cosfest – held in Kohima in 2013. For the uninitiated, Cosplay is the ‘practice of dressing up as a character from a film, book or video game, especially one from the Japanese genres of Manga or Anime’. It is a portmanteau of the words costumes and role-play.

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“Through Anime and Manga, people learn a lot about other cultures, history and most of all, it’s a great form of entertainment. Cosplay allows people the platform to express their interest in the form of art and to nurture their creativity, crafts and skills,” say the NAJ team. For them, hosting the Cosfest for five years has been an amazing experience and one that has consistently grown in terms of scale and popularity.

“The recently-concluded 5th Annual NAJ Cosfest witnessed a footfall of more than 8000 people and more than 100 cosplayers attended the event with their outstanding costumes,” they add. Held on the 8th & 9th July 2017 at The Heritage, Old DC bungalow in Kohima, the audience at the fifth edition of the festival ran the gamut – from elementary school kids to their parents and more. “Cosfest is not only for cosplayers, but it is also packed with various activities such as anime merchandise stalls, food stalls, interactive games, duel master tournaments, gaming booths and live performances from talented local acts that keep the attendees occupied.”

Based on the theme ‘Back To The Future’, this year’s festival saw some interesting additions. “This year, we featured the Nagaland Beatbox Community with a beatbox battle that complemented the energy and good vibes of the event. There was also a busking session by the support team. Besides that, we have the Cosplay competition every year and introduced a new genre this year – The Cultural Crossover – where cosplayers were challenged to do crossovers of cultural folklore with anime”, says Biebe and her team.

When quizzed about their plans for the future and what their motives are behind these Cosfests, the team was quite clear and prompt in stating that they hope they will be able to “create opportunities for young artists from all genres in society to share their talents with the rest of the world. We want this to be a base from which they can turn their hobby into a profession. We want to create a fun and positive environment where people can share their passion and love for art with each other. And we also hope to promote our rich culture through the creative minds of the youth”.

For those of you who haven’t attended a Cosfest but are curious to see what it’s all about, we’ve got pictures from the 5th Annual Cosfest organised by NAJ.

And if this really catches your attention, you can follow Nagaland Anime Junkies on Facebook, here.

Design Log is a weekly design document logging every relevant art and design occurrence in India. 

Image source: Hopong Chang Photography