I don’t know much about Anime. The last one that I remember faithfully watching is Ghost Fighter back in my college days. I like Alfred better than Eugene, I think his mishaps and mannerisms humanize the whole series and of course he is hilarious. Last time I checked, Naruto Shippoden is the latest craze back home and I don’t know what is the newest these days. One thing for sure, Hollywood can produce loads of CGI based Marvel movies but Anime is a culture and here to stay.
Most Japanese love affair with Anime (or manga)is not limited to watching the series, buying the figurines or hanging the posters on their bedroom wall. Like a true Otaku, they give the world another uniquely Japanese and now internationally practiced form of characterizing a dream alter ego – Cosplay (kosupure). Forget about Lonely Planet and other travel websites suggested location on where you can find them (not Harajuku), just go to Asakusa then head to Hanayashiki Street. My encounter with them is totally by chance as I was looking for the Edo Shitamachi Museum and a bit lost understanding the map. I was just standing there and watching the Space Shot ride from the small amusement park on the same street when I saw this kid dress as Naruto and doing some hand gestures. I asked him if I can take his photo and he willingly say yes. I told him that I will show this picture to my little cousin (Sean) who is obsesses with this cat-face character.
I continue my walk and can’t help but smile as I am now officially in Cosplay haven (there is an official “Cosplay Haven” with 1500 yen entrance fee, located at the other end of the amusement park). So I began my courteous strategy of approach and photo request, to my delight all are more than willing to pose. I usually began my conversation with them by asking what character are they portraying and most are something I never heard of, while some enthusiastically explain to me the title of the Anime series and the special “powers” of each character. I jokingly and honestly told them that I only knew Ghost Fighter, Dragon Ball and Sailor Moon. To add up to the teen spirit of the street are performance artists and a radio booth of Asakusa 83.7 FM.
One reminder though, Cosplayer don’t appreciate stolen shots. It is impolite to take their photos when they are not in “character” and if you continue to do so, you will be approached by a friendly, some sort of “moderator” reminding you about the unwritten rules.