Saturday, May 5, 2012

Otaku over running Sakura Matsuri

I quickly checked my tumblr and came across an interesting article from MangaTherapy's Tumblr on an article referring to the growing 'Otaku' concerns with a Japanese cultural Festival Sakura Matsuri held in New York. Here is the link to the article.
As my background in events is 'Otaku' related and I do run the cosplay and Japanese fashion events at the Experience Japan Festival which I blogged about I wanted to share my insight into this topic. :)

I do see the concern here of growing anime interest at a traditional Japanese festival. Over the last two years Experience Japan want to encourage more Japanese pop culture as in the past the festival was mainly focused on traditional culture. I remember last year I got a phonce call from an Experience Japan committee member asking me to be on the committee to run the cosplay events as they would like cosplay to be exposed. I was a good person to be asked as they knew my cosplay reputation from Eirtakon. I was delighted to be asked yet somewhat surprised as I thought they would of looked down on cosplay. Cosplay is very well percieved by both the Japanese and Irish community that attend this event. Cosplay was one of the main focus at our festival and people really appreciate the craftmanship that goes into the cosplays. We also had a graffiti wall which you may have seen in my earlier posts which had Anime art.

I personally think it is good that a Japanese cultural festival aims to promote all aspects of Japanese culture and not just focus on the one area. Cosplay is seen as an art in Japan and they take it very seriously so that is why I try to be careful to keep that high standard while doing the cosplay showcase so people don't look down on it and see it as "fancy dress." I see no reason why cosplay shouldn't be promoted as well as Anime at a Japanese cultural event if they are part of the pop culture. I understand the concerns though that you wouldn't want one to over write the other and you must keep the balance. You also don't want the event to lose it's meaning which is a big flaw with niche events that grow more broad eg San Diago Comic Con (which was originally a comic convention but extended into film, anime and other media and now lost it's original meaning) and Electric Picnic and Oxygen which are two major music festivals in Ireland. Oxygen is mainstream which has many of the mainstream bands performing and Electric Picnic ran on a large scale but has niche bands and is more educational focused. They are plans of merging both of these music festivals into one which target different audience. I see this as a big flaw. When promoting cosplay and Japanese fashion we are very careful how we do it and stay away from using Anime convention activities eg a cosplay masquarade. We just do a stage show where cosplayers of high quality were chosen to show off their costume to the audience and Fiona and I interview them on the culture so people can learn about it. We make sure to keep the balance of both culture generations.

I have to say I was alittle offended by the article as it made out that cosplayers were loud hooligans. They could of been as I wasn't there and can't say but if that was the case then that is not on as people need to respect others around them. I felt the article made it out that anime fans and cosplayers should not be welcomed at a Japanese cultural event. If they were no harm then I see no problem having them there. The main thing again is to keep the balance and keep the meaning of the event. The article also had me thinking of an artistic cosplay and Anime exhbition I want to run in Dublin it is the event I am working on for college. I will go more into detail about that another time. :)

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