Cosplay: Can a hobby become a "profession"?
In Japan, besides maid cafes or large Anime conventions such as Comiket, Anime Japan, Jump Festa,... you can also encounter cosplayers in Harajuku, Tokyo on weekends.
At first glance, it may appear to be an eye-catching and somewhat eccentric hobby of Japanese, but that is just one aspect of cosplay.
Here’s where I - a "passionate cosplayer" will introduce cosplay culture to everyone through my truest point of view.
Rapid growth in Japan
Cosplay コスプレ is a portmanteau of the two important elements of costume and roleplay, which participants are called player.
You may think cosplay is a cool yet "weird" thing, but for me (and many other friends) it is simply a hobby that costs a lot of money, time, and effort.
You might be surprised to learn that there is even a university in Tokyo offering cosplay training courses (including costume and accessories making, makeup, styling, and acting) with numerous job opportunities after graduation.
These professional cosplayers can become models, actors, players, seiyuu (voice actors), costume designers, …
Currently, the cosplay community has spread not only in Korea, China, Thailand, Singapore, Philippines, America, France, Italy, etc. but also in Vietnam.
From hobby to art
It's not "weird" at all if you realize a moment when you really admire a certain character after binge-watching a series or manga and want to become a cool, cute, or impeccable person just like them.
And cosplayers are those who have the guts, sometimes both the talent and the charisma, to disguise themselves as those characters.
Either the characters are super easy, or you are quite comfortably off, you can order whatever you want from wigs, shoes, costumes to weapons.
Or save on costs by "flexing" your skills of sewing, spray-painting, foam/wood weapon making, and material purchasing at markets. This method may take a little time, but you can make the right shape to your exact expectation, improve dexterity, sharpen logical thinking, and can also reuse materials for the next time.
Don’t worry too much about how to do it as google has quite a lot of tutorials, moreover, sempais are willing to instruct you if asked.
To record a completed cosplay character, just like every other cosplayer, I will capture that moment by planning a photoshoot.
About photoshoot, it is a process of getting used to the lens, posing, choosing face angle, and setting up lighting ^^
Or more simply: dressing up for cosplay festivals, meeting friends, and taking commemorative photos just for fun!
It's hard to believe that cosplay can be either a hobby or a career opportunity for anyone. But there it is!
From my point of view, it's like miniature showbiz.
Unlike in Japan, there are currently no cosplay training schools in Vietnam or "full-time cosplay idols" such as Enako, Reika, ... with income ranging from 100 to 200 million Vietnam dong/month (from selling merchandise, working as a model or event guest). Despite that, many cosplayers view cosplay as their side job since they can still make a lot of money being a guest, a streamer, a PG, or renting costumes out.
Besides, there are photographers, make-up artists, props makers (weapon makers), shopping agents, merchandise sellers, costume makers, and event agencies who have been making money from the cosplay culture.
How wonderful it would be if your daily work could be as an interesting manga: refreshing, sophisticated, and highly creative as every character in Japanese manga.
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