Cosplay Boom in Beijing
   2014-04-10 09:23:11      Web Editor: Luo Chun

A cosplay enthusiast flaunts her costume at the Jie Cao Cosplay Convention. The April 6, 2014, event at Beijing's Olympic Sports Center Gymnasium attracted over 10,000 attendees. [Photo: Wang]

By William Wang

Not only has comic book culture survived the internet revolution, it has thrived in counter-intuitive ways. This past Saturday's Jie Cao cosplay convention showcased a booming sub-culture that doesn't show signs of stopping anytime soon.

The term "cosplay" is a hybridization of the words "costume" and "play," and it generally refers to fans of comics dressing up as their favorite characters. The Beijing cosplay event was held in the Olympic Sports Center Gymnasium and, according to one organizer, the number of attendees was much greater than 10,000. The crowd was heavily sprinkled with "cosplayers." The dramatic (and sometimes provocative) costumes are either lovingly, and painstakingly, assembled, or bought for a price. Wigs with bright hues, colored contact lenses and oversized swords were almost the standard. Lolita fashion and school uniforms were also popular ways to get into the spirit of the event, as was dressing up as a character of the opposite sex.

And those who dressed up were definitely not camera shy. The upper floor offered a collection of "studio" backdrops where cosplayers quickly proved themselves adept at striking theatrical poses and staring down camera lenses.

The Jie Cao event was only in its second edition, but its growth surpassed all expectations. The 5,200-square-meter center was quickly filled to capacity, resulting in a massive, circuitous line-up outside. Inside the premises, the afternoon's performances were all canceled due to safety fears that people could be crushed trying to view the show.

"The event today is a little chaotic," admitted Xuan Lu, who helped organize the convention. "So many people came -- so many people who love comics. We didn't expect it; we should have done more preparation."

Naturally, Xuan Lu was pleased to see definitive proof of how the Anime, Cosplay and Games (ACG) culture had grown in Beijing, but he was still mindful that Beijing has a long way to go to reach the heights of ACG culture in Japan.

"Japan is a country where oriental and western cultures are well integrated," he began. "Japan adopted a constitutional monarchy and a lot of western culture is imported to Japan. We should learn from that; the comic industry in Japan ranks top in the world. Only by promoting communication and cooperation can we develop this industry further. This is an industry we love, so we should be devoted to it."

Xuan believes that more professional comic and dubbing studios based in China will support the scene's growth locally. "If this industry keeps this momentum up, and we do everything we can to promote it, it will develop into a great cultural industry."

Zhu Haoyang, a vendor at the convention, felt that more needed to be done, since, unlike in Japan, the Chinese government doesn't specifically support cosplay culture. "Compared with the situation in Japan, I can only say that the Japanese government and the Japanese people are more likely to accept this."

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