WHAT IS OTAKU
The epitome of an otaku is someone with a strong interest, to the point of obsession, in a certain topic. Outside Japan, the term otaku is directed at anime and manga fandom. The degree of interest may range from someone who spends some of their free time reading anime and manga, to the extent they are able to quote from them, to those who spend an inordinate amount of time watching anime, reading manga and collecting memorabilia. Another phenomenon commonly associated with otaku is the practice of dressing up as a favourite character, or ‘cosplay’, but not all otaku enjoy this activity. Some may prefer to watch cosplay performances, or take photos of cosplayers in action.
The anime TV series “I Can’t Understand What My Husband is Saying”, gives a good insight into otaku. The main character, Kaoru, is married to one. Kaoru explains her husband as a lifeform that will die if it is unable to watch anime. The best part about watching this series is trying to figure out how many anime references there are in each the three-minute episode.
Cosplay is short for “costume play”. It is considered a performance artform in which the performers dress up in clothing resembling, or representing, a chosen character. Cosplayers are a subculture whose activities are not limited to stage performance. It is not unusual for cosplayers to dress up for events, or for fun.
Engaging in cosplay is a bit like getting dressed up for Halloween. Costumes are not gender specific. In fact, it is quite common for performers to tweak their costumes to keep the main features and colour of the original character’s appearance, while changing the gender to suit the performer.
Cosplay is also an activity that performers may take quite seriously. Dedicated cosplayers take pride in their work and may spend many hours over weeks hand-making their costumes for an event. The World Cosplay Summit (WCS) is held every year. Preliminary competitions are held around the world. The prize for winning national teams is a trip to Japan, including a week’s accommodation, to take part in the WCS.
Popular cosplayers travel internationally to participate in conventions, host panels, publish photo books and host signing events. They also have fans who will attend an event just for a meet
and greet session with their idol.
WHERE CAN YOU FIND AN OTAKU?
Popular events to attend in Sydney frequented by otaku include SMASH! Sydney Manga and Anime Show, Supanova Pop Culture Expo and Oz Comic-Con. Immerse yourself in this wonderful subculture and enjoy the fun!
SMASH! SYDNEY MANGA AND ANIME SHOW 2015
SMASH! Sydney Manga and Anime Show is our very own pop culture convention dedicated to promoting and gathering together artists, creators and fans of the genre. Founded in 2007, it is now a yearly event that goes for two days over a weekend and has attracted crowds of over 10,000 each year for the last couple of years. The event line up is diverse and the show is jam-packed with activities. SMASH! schedules are usually posted on the event’s website before event day and are sorted according to activity areas and times. Different guest speakers are featured in the Panel Room each day. Throughout the weekend there are many ongoing activities to participate in. Check out the art workshop area to make your own origami, or test your vocals in a karaoke competition or at free singing sessions in the Live DAM karaoke room. SMASH! also runs several competitions over the weekend. In addition to the karaoke competitions, expect quite a few console and card gaming tournaments and cosplay competitions.
Pick up an events guide on arrival and check out the activities you are interested in. Plan your other activities, such as shopping and viewing exhibitions, around them. There are some activities that are extremely popular, such as cosplay events, Maid Café and signing panels. For these events in particular, it is best to plan ahead and arrive at the location ahead of schedule.
Every year a cosplay “maid café” is hosted at the SMASH! show site. It is usually booked up quickly. Your best bet is to make a beeline straight for the café on arrival at SMASH! to book your preferred time for the café experience, before moving on to other activities.
Perhaps the most popular activity at SMASH! is the cosplay events. In fact, most showgoers turn up all dressed up, even if they do not intend to compete.
There are two main cosplay events. The Madman Cosplay Competition is a local comp in which contestants perform a prepared script, or answer a few questions from the emcee about their costume and character.
The World Cosplay Summit (WCS) Australian preliminaries are held at SMASH! The winning team represents cosplayers of Australia at the final WCS event in Japan.
In the Gaming Hall there are a few competition blocks to attend, depending on the games in which you are interested. Registration opens an hour before each competition starts, so if his is your cup of tea, head towards the registration booth in the Gaming Hall. If you do not wish to compete, there are also free-play sessions held across the day.
FOOD AND SHOPPING
In addition to booths hosted by major exhibitors such as Madman Entertainment and Hobbyco, there are other vendors operating booths featuring popular culture and anime related merchandise. In the artist’s circle, many artists display their drawings and creations, which are also available for sale. Besides the Maid Café, there are quite a few caterers on site supplying food to the hungry masses, so if you are unable to secure a session at the Maid Café, there is no need to worry about dining.
Who is SMASH!?
SMASH! is a non-profit organisation created and managed by fans for fans. The organisation’s objective is to bring together like-minded individuals and create an open and affordable event that encourages creativity and community spirit.