Last Saturday, 15 October, was a big day for anime fans. Youngsters cosplayed their hearts out as their favourite anime or manga characters at the 'Anime Fest Fall 2022' held in Marriott Convention Centre in Dhanmondi.
Cosplaying was popularised in Bangladesh from the early Comic Cons where visitors dressed as their favourite pop culture icons. This was Comic Con for anime and manga fans. The event was arranged by AE Bangladesh, a group of organisers officially endorsed by the Embassy of Japan and the Japanese Foreign Ministry of Affairs, partnered with clothing brand Sailor.
"Over 3,000 enthusiasts signed up for the event," said Merajul Ninad, CEO of AE Bangladesh.
The event featured various stalls who sold costumes and merchs. T-shirts, keyrings, action figures, masks, etc were all there. But the highlight of the event were the cosplayers and their passion for Japanese culture.
Picture this: bizarre looking anime characters roaming freely among us.
Two sisters, who dressed up as Rem and Ram from Re Zero, said, "Re Zero is our favourite anime and Rem and Ram are our favourite characters. In the show they are twins. We are not twins, but we are siblings."
While upbeat music played in the background, a young girl took to the stage and began singing in Japanese at the top of her lungs, perfectly holding the rhythm and pitch. As an outsider, you wouldn't know what the words meant. But anime fans actually pick up the language by watching their favourite shows, and at the event, if you didn't know the words, you would be in the minority.
"I am playing Naruto Uzumaki because this character inspires me. He wants to become a Hokage (a leader who earns leadership through hard work). This is how I want to be in real life," said Niklaus Rakib Talukdar, one cosplayer at the event.
Tanjiro Kamado, Zenitsu Agatsuma and Hashibira Inosuke from Demon Slayer posed for the cameras as other visitors huddled around them for photos.
"We are very serious about the way we represent these characters in the festival and in photos. It isn't easy to adapt a culture while belonging to another. We had to be extra cautious about how accurately we recreate the costumes," said the three.
When their real names were asked they said they would rather prefer to be called by their characters' names today – for the sake of the fest at least.
"Japanese pop culture has grown phenomenally over the years. It's colourful, it's exciting, it's vibrant and most importantly it's fun. That is perhaps the biggest reason why we wanted to team up with AE Bangladesh as title partner," said Md Akhtar Rafi, Marketing Executive, Sailor.