The Japan Expo says it's all about two things: knowledge and entertainment, which apparently includes manga (comic books) , J-Music (Japanese pop music), cosplay stage shows and even martial.
It is an attempt to display and promote Japanese culture and Japanese pop culture.
To highlight this, there is a batting center showing of Japanese baseball, and areas for Kyudo (Japanese archery - which I sucked at, but do indeed have my own bow and arrow set from Nihon) and sumo wrestling.
Cosplay was not something I was aware had a name until about two years ago. It is extremely popular at Japan Expo... and yet... I do wonder if it is the rest of the world that like pretending they are Japanese video game or manga characters... or is this something the Japanese do heavily themselves. Ugh. More research for later.
Simply put, Cosplay is people dressing up as a character from a book, movie, comic book or video game. And for some reason, it's a big thing to do so as a Japanese character... perhaps because of the outlandish hairstyles or amazing costumes found in Japanese anime and manga.
I can dig it. For 10 years I traveled down to Chicago to the big annual comic book convention down there... and watched how more and more people started wearing costumes... at first it was just the complete nerdy ones for whom anime, manga or western comics were there whole life.
Me - I have over 35,000 comic books and damn near every Warner Brothers cartoon ever made on tape and DVD. I like Star Trek and Dungeons & Dragons and even lived in my parents basement until I was nearly 26.
And yet... despite all that, I was still a virgin until I was nearly 26.
But... I did like women... I dated... I loved to watch and play sports and did so fairly well. And I never, ever started a sentence with: "So who would win in a fight..."
In Chicago... in order to sell copies of Evil Scientist Quarterly, my buddy Steve and I dressed up as Evil Scientists and hawked the book he drew and I wrote down in Artist's Alley. And... we felt normal. No one gave us a hard time, and we loved the friendly interplay with the show's visitors.
As well... by that 10th visit to the show... I noticed that it was no longer just troubled people with no friend but the imaginary ones, but we now saw beautiful and intelligent women wearing sexy costumes showing off their love for the genre.
And then I got it. Cosplay... it was a way to release your inner geek.
I still had a distaste for the folks who appear as stereotypical geeks in my nerdy comic book field... it was why I always tried to blow the stereotype out of the water. Being a man of Indian descent... I hate math, do not work at a Quickee-mart and do not drive a taxi... though I wouldn't have a problem doing that job - looks like fun. I like words and hockey. I'm big, had muscles and long hair, though those last two are written in the past tense.
But... I get the whole cosplay thing... at trade shows... just not for everyday life, of course.
Anyhow... If anyone in Belgium reads this and was there - let us know how you enjoyed it and what you did there!
PS: I have a sick and barfy boy to look after today... and the story I wanted to present - well... I could only find a couple of lines on their biography... so I had to do more and more research... and once I start, I have a difficult time stopping... because I found lots of interesting information to share... but I need a few hours to process it and write it.
PPS: One of my friends is going through a rough patch and seems down... so to her... I dedicate this blog.
The muscles may be gone, but I still have big shoulders to lean on.