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 manga or anime, known as “cosplay,” as in “costume play.”
These range from video shooting studios to online shops for custom-made costumes, and even cosplay events backed by city governments to revitalize their economies, 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 cherry blossom season or 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 flames from their hands.
Users can then download the videos from a website.
“With this, I can take various shots accordingly with the characters and scenes I like,” a 22-year-old woman from Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture, said during a visit to the studio.
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 overseas as well as from Japan.
In compliance with specific requests and measurements provided by the customer, the company makes costumes and wigs for anime and game characters, and for 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.
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 the shop.
“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.
Municipal governments are using 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, named Shinshukan.
According to municipal officials, the site known for its semicircular structure began attracting an increasing number of cosplay lovers around 2006, with as many as 400 visitors a day.
Fans appreciate being able to take photos or videos dressed as their favorite characters in different settings, such as a tatami room or a corridor with arch-shaped pillars for as low as ¥300 an hour.
To prevent trouble between cosplay visitors and the local community, the city has established some basic rules on manners, such as prohibiting users from being too scantily clothed. Cosplay events are now accepted by locals and are even being scheduled for the same time as festivals.