LIFESTYLE - Article
13:53 - 29th April 2013, by Mary-Ann Russon

COSPLAY ABROAD: ANIME 2013

If you'd like to have an unusual kind of holiday, consider attending a convention away from home in Europe. Every year, thousands flock to London to attend conventions like the MCM Comic Con, drawn by the excitement of being in London, the standard of cosplay and the exciting international tournaments. This year, you could turn the tables and become a cosplaying tourist yourself. We spoke to Dutch event organiser Niels Viveen about Anime 2013, an event which runs from 31 May to 2 June at World Forum, The Hague, The Netherlands.

Anime festival is the longest running anime and Japanese culture fan event in The Netherlands, and this year marks their 15th anniversary. Started in 1999 with just over 130 visitors and previously held in Almelo in the east of the country, this year the convention location has been moved to a more accessible west-Coast venue; the World Forum in The Hague, the third largest city in The Netherlands.

Given the history and culture of The Hague, a holiday there for any reason would be exciting enough, but it's quite fitting that a city with a great tradition for international politics will also be holding international cosplay tournaments too.

"The most important things people need to know about us is that we are non-profit and not an Expo but a real convention. Of course, we do have dealer space, but our main feature is our 2200 seating theatre where we hold preliminary rounds for MCM Comic Con's EuroCosplay, Japan Expo's European Cosplay Gathering and the World Cosplay Summit on our 60 feet wide stage," says Niels.

"To celebrate our move to The Hague, we've set up an additional cosplay event called 'BorderCos'. This event is open to anyone who wants to join, so UK cosplayers, come sign up!

"There is a small catch though - in order to participate, you have to form a team of two to ten cosplayers. At least one of them needs to be from a different country than you are. In theory, your team can consist of people from ten different countries."
Aside from cosplay, Anime offers four different high-definition video streams, a karaoke corner that is open 24 hours a day during the three day event, and a huge game room with many arcade cabs. Anime also throws a ball on the Friday night of the event, a disco on the Saturday night, and includes a maid and butler café as well as an all-night bar.

"We always fly in a top music act from Japan, in collaboration with Avex Trax," says Niels. "Last year m.o.v.e from Initial D fame were our guests. Our entire event is hosted in English, movies are subtitled in English, and over 90% of our staff speaks English."

According to Niels, there are many good reasons why cosplayers should venture beyond their own shores. Besides a cultural exchange, it's great to trade cosplay tips, and share knowledge about new types of materials to make props and weapons. An obvious example is a foam product called "Worbla", which is a well-kept secret in some European countries, which foreign cosplayers are only just discovering.

"My experience with going to the finals of events like ECG, WCS and ECC is that for cosplayers, the coolest thing is meeting likeminded people from different countries. We are trying to support that at Anime 2013 by giving all contenders for previous editions of these championships free tickets for our event," says Niels.

"If you come to Anime 2013 this year, you will have a chance to meet at least 60 different cosplayers from various parts in the world. Cosplayers for the UK should not be afraid to meet people from different countries, because most of the cosplayers you meet in Germany and Denmark or The Netherlands will be able to speak English with you and mostly they're not scary to speak with!"

Check out the site at http://www.animecon.nl for more information about this event.
This is an extract from a longer feature which originally appeared in NEO issue 109. Image picture is Misha from Pita Ten by Evadoll, photographed at the Tulip Fields. Photo © Niels Viveen.

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