Sunday, February 24, 2019

Pune’s Otakus come out to Cosplay


PUNE: Pune has officially caught the anime and magna fever! The Japanese animation and graphic book phenomenon - that has been dominating mainstream pop culture for a while now - has quite a few fans in the city.

And their love for all things Naruto, Deathnote and more was on full display at a Indo-Japanese cosplay event recently organised in Viman Nagar. Pune’s Otakus (which is anime-speak for Manga fans) turned out in large numbers to live out their fantasies at the Pune Matsuri Festival, where Rukia Kuchiki from the anime Bleach and Kyoshi from Avatar could be seen rubbing shoulders with Batman from The Dark Knight and Oda Nobunaga (from Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings).

“I grew up reading manga comics and watching anime shows, but today I got to be one in real life!”, a cosplayer from Manipur, told us excitedly at the event. “For an avid anime fan like me, it was a great opportunity to be a part of a fantasy world. I was glad I got the chance to be quirky, weird, and completely out of this world.”

Nishad Nadkarni, who was dressed up as Splicer from Bioshock, told us that he designed and created his whole costume at home. “It took me three to four days to put it together. The Splicer costume is difficult to make, as the character has two weapons in its hands. I made the entire outfit using foam and a wooden base,” he said, adding, “What I like about the character is that it appears to look like a statue, but then it can surprisingly strike back against its enemies.”

Meanwhile, Evangelin Retnamony took two weeks to create the Oda Nobunaga (from the Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings series) look. She said, “It is fun to dress up as, and play the part of, a villain. In real life, we have to follow what our parents and teachers tell us, but through these characters, we get to know the twisted world of the villains, who are quite powerful in the manga culture.” She added, “I used EVF Foam and managed to put an amazing costume together with the help of my friends.”

For the people of Pune, cosplay and comic conventions are relatively foreign terms, while the anime community in the city is still quite small. Which means that they rarely -  if ever -  get a chance to participate in an event of this scale. “We are looked upon as geeks and nerds for loving anime and manga,” said Evangelin. “Such platforms allow us to be who we want to be, without any judgement,” added Aditya Kalebere, who went as Batman from The Dark - a costume he too made on his own from scratch. Ambhahlang Pakyntein, a student, also called the experience “liberating and incredible”. “For an hour or two, we got the chance to enter the world of manga, and to live like these characters.

“What I like about the manga world is the fact that these series don’t keep their focus solely on superheroes who save the world. In fact, in manga and anime, all sorts of people - heroes, villains, and the whole spectrum of the weird, awkward and diverse humanity — gets a platform. So, there’s so much to look forward to,” said Rajeev Bhatt, an anime fan from Delhi.

Bharat Murthy, an animation film director and comics artist, who was judging the main cosplay contest, said, “I’m glad to see that the city’s cosplayers are getting such platforms right here in Pune. In Asia, the anime and manga culture is celebrated with fervour and enthusiasm, but youngsters can’t always travel to Japan to perform cosplay.” The organiser of the event Farhat Chagla added, “This was an opportunity for young cosplayers to express themselves and to give them a creative platform.”


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