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Monday, April 25, 2016

Fantasies come to life at Myanmar ‘cosplay’ convention

Myanmar cosplayers perform on stage and pose for photographs at a cosplay festival in Yangon. (AFP photo)

Yangon April 25

Purple-haired princesses, wolves and dolled-up maids mingled at a ‘‘cosplay” fantasy costume festival held this weekend in Myanmar, where the global role-playing craze is building up a cult following.

Hundreds gathered at the twoday convention in Yangon to enter singing competitions and chat with others sporting the colourful garb, elaborate make-up and exotic hairstyles of their fantasy idols.

In cosplay, short for costume role-play, enthusiasts gather to imitate characters from anime series, comics and video games, many drawn from Japanese pop culture.

Chuu Kay Khine, who attended the event dressed as a Japanese anime character, told AFP she was still eager for more fantasy fans to play with.

‘‘The more people that know about it and the more friends we have the better,” said the 21-yearold. ‘‘Then we could have even more fun.”

Many of the eye-popping costumes on display in Myanmar's biggest city were imported from neighbouring Thailand and China, while others were homespun or specially tailored for the occasion.

The cosplay fad has swept much of the world but is still relatively new in Myanmar, where young people are racing to catch up with international trends a few years after Internet restrictions were lifted. 

This year's festival is the eighth since the hobby first found a footing in the Southeast Asian country in 2012, shortly after a reformist government began loosening the military's grip on freedom of expression.

It is now one of a host of new subcultures mushrooming across Myanmar as it hurtles into a what promises to be a new era of freedom under a recently elected government.

Yet like fringe fads everywhere, Myanmar's cosplay scene has not been met with universal enthusiasm.

‘‘The main difficulty is trying to get people to accept the culture of cosplay in our country. We have to keep explaining it,” Lin Aung Kyaw, a 24-year-old who helped organise the event, told AFP.

‘‘Some animated series are just as good as films, with very meaningful plots,” he added.

The Myawady Daily

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