Monday, April 11, 2011

I'm Not Most People

This was originally written back in 2006 in my now defunct Vox blog and was republished in the first CPH mini-magazine during the 2006 National Cosplay Competition held by the people behind Ozine and CPH. I've edited some grammar but the info is mostly intact and original. If you change the dates from 2006 to 2011, you'd be surprised the gist is still the same.

Recovered this file using the Waybackmachine, just thought I'd publish it here.


"Hi, my name is Robert, and I'm not most people."

Unfortunately this line, which was a statement of non-conformity back in 2000 to 2002, has lost its unique appeal given to the fact that what a few people did then has become the norm now. What am I talking about? Cosplaying of course.

Cosplaying has been one of those very unusual hobbies in the Philippines due to the fact that it involves people dressing up in garments similar to 2D cartoon characters and acting like them... in public. Yep, these little bunch of crazies would arm themselves in little groups, go to the mall during conventions, and wear costumes of their favorite anime idol. Its not what most people would do, or even touch with a ten foot pole. This hobby is within the realm of the underground minority at that time: the misunderstood, the rejected, the geeks, the freaks. Yep, they're called Anime Otakus.

Cosplaying is like the next step, a loud if not alarming statement to the public at large: "I'm wearing a costume, I love my anime, kiss my ass or bite me fools!"

So like i said, we were not most people.

Fast forward to 2006. Every anime network and gaming corporation known in the Filipino sociosphere is holding a cosplay event, as a means to attract their "target market". What was once exclusive to the world of brainy geeks and fantasy freaks is now in the hands of the other extreme end of the spectrum: basically everyone else.

Thanks to the media, cosplaying has become an accepted means of realizing your fantasy. But fantasizing is no longer limited to just being your favorite anime character, that very fantasy has held a certain tangible promise. The promise of fame, fortune and being kick-ass.

Now these things are not without help. For better or worse, some otakus early on decided that to stop the awful stereotyping of cosplayers being in the loser's society of bizzare fat hairy guys in sailormoon costumes, these few peeps decided to spread the idea of cosplaying to anyone who dared to be interested. They made websites, forums about cosplaying and cosplaying tips, they held gatherings, emailed each other and went en mass to every dark and dreary corner of Divisoria to find the cheapest and most affordable materials for their costumes.

Soon, almost everyone had access or knowledge on how to cheaply produce their costumes. And they told their friends about it. Then those early cosplayer vets who finally graduated from school, landed jobs at these very anime network and gaming corporations, spreading the influence that cosplaying is the thing to make their image more friendly and attractive and often end up personally organizing these corporate activities. And guess what? They were successful. So much that everyone else was convinced it was the most fun thing to do on planet Earth.

Things got complicated afterwards. When it was still considered a minority activity, everyone usually agreed on one thing: cosplaying is for fun. The innocent kind of fun where wearing a costume no matter how tacky it looked meant you were the ultimate hard core anime fan, and your fellow otakus will love you for it. And they all agreed to that philosophy.

Now I remember my sociology professor mentioning something about The Melting Potphenomenon. People from different sorts of backgrounds come together and try cosplaying. People with different sets of goals and philosophies. Differences meant conflicts. Conflicts result to Factions. So we end up having different sets of people with different views on how cosplaying should be done. Some even had a word for this: Cospolitics.

Its hard to imagine a fractured set of groups still flying under the same cosplay banner, but its there, and they still cosplay. Its interesting to note each group follow a similar path in which they believe cosplay will lead them. Its like religion in its most basic sense. One group would stick to what they believe "is the old school ideal" which is to basically have fun. Another group would cosplay for the sake of being known, a chance to show off, to be famous. Thanks to networks, that can easily be achieved if you have the best kick ass costume, you get to be on TV. Others want to be celebrities. Extreme ones call for costume perfection if you want to be a boni-fide cosplayer. And then there's others with less than honorable ideals.

So what now? What is the future of Philippine cosplaying now that it has reached what most people view as the zenith of its life cycle? Just like every behavior that involves entropy, everything goes back to its most simple form. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, and in the end only the otaku is left standing.

Could have been worse.


In retrospect, this was written almost 6 years ago. What happened now? Is the cycle still the same? Discussions are welcome, although the usual rules regarding spamming, flaming and trolling still apply.

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