News Column

FEATURE: Cosplay popularity spurs new businesses, enlivens local economies

July 14, 2014

Asako Takaguchi

The popularity of Japanese anime around the world has triggered the growth of a variety of businesses targeting those who like to dress up as a favorite character from a comic or anime, known as "cosplay" in Japan as in "costume play."

These range from video shooting studios to online shops for custom-made costumes, and even cosplay events backed by the municipality to revitalize the local economy, just to name a few.

At Cure Studio of Cosset Ikebukuro Honten run by Hacosta Inc. in Tokyo, for example, users can shoot and compose videos in which they themselves appear in a virtual world of movies, anime or computer games.

Users can choose from six types of video backgrounds, such as a castle in the cherry blossom season or scenes like outer space that create an entirely different dimension from real life.

Using a combination of six cameras, users dressed up as their favorite characters can also coordinate their poses and movements with computer graphics to create special effects, such as being surrounded by shooting stars or unleashing a ray of flame from one's hand.

"With this, I can take various shots accordingly with the characters and scenes I like," a 22-year-old female company employee visiting the studio from Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture, said excitedly.

Completed videos can be downloaded from a website for users.

The new service, launched in April, is gaining popularity among cosplay fans as videos feel more real than still photos.

"We hope (users) will enjoy this kind of professional shooting using cutting-edge technology," said Tomoko Miya of the Tokyo-based company Cure.

Meanwhile, Cosplay Costumes Japan, an online store that produces made-to-order cosplay costumes, is seeing growing business from fans not only in Japan but also from overseas.

In compliance with specific requests and measurements provided by the customer, the company makes costumes and wigs such as for anime and game characters as well as those worn by people in show business.

With its designers paying attention to even the smallest details and using a wide variety of materials such as cloth and urethane, the shop's costumes are often praised not only for their looks but also for being comfortable to wear.

Currently, about 10 percent of the store's total sales come from abroad, according to S.H.C. Japan Co., the Tokyo-based company that runs it. "As the cosplay boom is spreading even overseas, we would like to make full use of our advantage as a player from Japan, home to (cosplay)," said the company's president, Minoru Okamoto.

Furthermore, some local municipalities are utilizing cosplay-related businesses as a way to stimulate the local economy. In Miyashiro, Saitama Prefecture, for example, cosplay photo shooting events are held almost every weekend at the town's cultural facility Shinshukan.

According to municipal government officials, the site known for its semicircular structure began to attract an increasing number of cosplay lovers around 2006, with as many as some 400 visitors a day. Fans apparently enjoy being able to take photos or videos, dressed up as their favorite characters, in different settings such as a Japanese tatami room or a corridor with arch-shaped pillars at Shinshukan for a fee of as little as 300 yen an hour.

To prevent trouble between cosplay visitors and local residents, the town government has established some basic rules on manners, such as prohibiting users from being too scantily clothed. By now, the cosplay events are well accepted by the community and are even scheduled to be held at the same time as local festivals.

"This is a great opportunity to promote Miyashiro to people all over Japan," a town official said enthusiastically.

For more stories covering arts and entertainment, please see HispanicBusiness' Arts & Entertainment Channel

Source: Japan Economic Newswire

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