Saturday, December 9, 2006
COSPLAY = Costume Players!
Summer is here and so is COSPLAY! Every summer if you head out to parks in the Taipei area you’ll come across the regular sights of families going for walks amongst the flower gardens and shady trees as well as couples getting their wedding pictures done at places such as the Taipei Water Park, YangMing Mountain, ShiLin GuanDi or CKS and SYS Memorial. But if you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of the growing number of cosplayers sprouting in Taiwan.
Cosplay is a term and concept developed in Japan. It’s a kind of counter culture centered on dressing like cartoon/animation (anime in Japanese), comic (manga in Japanese), video game and movie characters.
It’s easy to dismiss this as childish antics but you could say it’s similar to feeling of Halloween, when we get to be the thing we’ve always wanted to be, or to the legions of Star Wars or Star Trek fans who dress up like their favorite characters.
Even former ROC President Lee DengHui got on the bandwagon by posing as as the fictional character Edajima Heihachi of the anime series Sakigake!! Otokojuku. It’s no secret that Lee is a pocket ‘Japanophile’. He was educated in Japan and can speak Japanese quite fluently (he was given a scholarship to Kyoto Imperial University). His cosplay was widely seen as a way to shore up support from young people for his Taiwan Solidarity Union party’s Taiwan independence platform.
Cosplay certainly does appeal to the kids. Lee is also in his eighties and eighty year olds are not often so in touch with the younger generation (his cosplay character is also in his eighties). The strange thing is, if Lee were really trying to cultivate a Taiwanese identity, then why did he dress up as a Japanese character??? It’s all a part of the murky Taiwanese-Japanese post-colonial relationship (Lee is Hakka Chinese but grew up under Japanese colonial rule).
But I’ll write something about ‘Japanophilia’ and the split in Taiwan society about the nature of Chinese-Japanese relations later. For now, get those cameras snapping! The cosplayers are out in numbers!