Monday, November 23, 2009

Japanese comic heroes come to life at Cosplay

Japanese comic heroes come to life at Cosplay
PRINCESSES in flowing ballgowns, pilots of futuristic vessels and gigantic robots competed

on a level playing field at the national Cosplay championship at the weekend.

The grand final of the "costume play" event, held in an Albert Park hotel, brought together

Australia's most fervent supporters of Japanese comics and cartoons, better known as manga

and anime. Rather than just read or watch, people like Adelaide's Jenita Naipal spend

hundreds of hours making costumes of their favourite characters and then parading about in


"I've had 3½ months to make it - that's a short time in the costuming world," the 24-year-

old said, struggling out of her robot suit from Laputa: Castle in the Sky.

"The arms are 190 centimetres, the head would be another 30 centimetres on top of that. I'm

five-foot-one-and-a-half [155 centimetres] so I'm walking with my hands above my head … I

was dying in there."

The fifth-placed Naipal won products from anime distributor Madman, which put on the event.

"I can definitely improve," she added.

Melbourne's Nicole Collis, 21, has just finished a digital arts course at RMIT, but her life

has been "full-time costume pandemonium" since then. The competition's runner-up is widely

known as Siera, her pen-name on internet forums, and she portrayed Rue from Princess Tutu, a

manga with a similar story to Swan Lake.

"I love the performance, being in character, it's a unique and creative way to express

yourself," she said, twirling in her pink and burgundy ball gown.

Her parents and friends were not particularly surprised by her hobby, she said. "They think

I'm a bit more than just crazy."

The competition's winner, Christie Lee of Sydney, was overjoyed with her prize: a trip to

Japan to attend next year's Tokyo Anime Fair.

"It hasn't really sunk in yet,'' she said.

In two outfits - a blue Victorian dress and a tight red number - the 21-year-old explained

how her favourite series was like a "twisted version" of Lewis Carroll's Alice in


"I did a character named Alice from Pandora Hearts. Pretty much a girl who has a super power

and turns into a demon killer bunny," she explained, casually.

The surfing story

SURFING has taken seven-time world champion Layne Beachley around the world, but she never

thought she would end up in an exhibition.

A new collection celebrating the sport opened at the National Sports Museum at the MCG

yesterday, thrilling the wave-loving Beachley.

"I know, I was in a surfing museum before I was dead," she said, laughing.

"Never in my wildest dreams did I think that boards would be hanging up at the MCG."

Collections manager Jed Smith said The Long Ride: 100 Years of Australian Surfing traversed

the origins of the sport through to the professional circuit of today. The exhibition

stretches back to 1909 when Manly's Tommy Walker brought a board from Hawaii and started to

ride. (It was previously held that Hawaiian champion Duke Kahanamoku was the first to ride

local waves in the 1920s.)

Until interest spiked in the 1970s and '80s, surfing was amateur and recreational, he said.

"So to get hold of boards to see the evolution, it's quite extraordinary."

Beachley said her first boards were thick, wide and long. "We'd be encouraged to learn on

'moving sidewalks'," she said. "Now the craftsmanship is just amazing, and it's great to see

it be honoured and admired and appreciated."

The exhibition runs until the end of February.

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