Watch: Cosplay, the growing subculture taking over SA

For some fans video games, comic books, merchandise and movies are not enough. They need to become the characters.

In between the screens and stalls at the 15th rAge gaming, technology and geek culture expo in Johannesburg this past weekend superheroes moved alongside ordinary mortals.

Cosplayers are fans who immerse themselves in a fantasy universe by dressing up as their favourite fictional characters.

Noorie Jamie a.k.a. Cosplay Cartel defines cosplay as doing what you did as a child “except you’re older now”.

“I’ll be doing this when I’m 50,” Jamie said.

“You still get the strange looks, but dressing up in a costume is the funnest you can ever do.”

Jamie believes costumes “allow us to reveal ourselves to each other”.

Tayla Barter a.k.a. Kinpatsu Cosplay is a full-time cosplayer who has made over 60 costumes in the last five years.

“When I came out of university I was so stressed and so lost I didn’t know what to do.”

It can take up two months to create a costume depending on what material you use.

She says there were only about 30 cosplayers at the rAge expo in 2012, but this year there were about 300. She has travelled abroad and returned this week from an international convention in Japan.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re from Turkey or from South Africa or America. Everybody can relate to each other. Everybody gets along, because you have this thing in common.”

Jamie’s most expensive costume he ever made cost was Thorin Oakenshield from The Hobbit and it cost about R5000.

“Everything had to be perfect in that costume.”

He said his first costume cost about R20 and was made from cardboard and LED lights. He encourages first-timers to not feel deterred, because they are worried about the quality of their costumes.

“We all started there. We all started making costumes out of the things that we had.”

Anchen de Wet a.k.a. Michiko Cosplay is a wedding and events planner. She is a part-time cosplayer and considers her hobby a form of expression.

“Work can get stifling. Life can get a bit too much. It is a form of escape.”

Barter said: “I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen in the next five years of cosplay.

By Abigail Javier and Nico Gous – TimesLIVE



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