NAGOYA (Kyodo) A pair from Italy took the grand prize for costume role-players at the annual world championship in Nagoya on Sunday, beating contenders from 14 other countries.

The contest marked the climax of World Cosplay Summit 2010, a signature summer event in the city.

Various entities, including the Foreign Ministry, jointly organized the event to enhance exchanges featuring characters in Japan-originated animated films, manga and video games.

The winning pair, dressed as Link and Ganondorf, characters in the game “The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess,” performed an action-filled three-minute play on stage in front of an audience of about 15,000.

It is the second “cosplay” championship title for Italian contenders since the competition was launched in 2005.

The summit itself, in noncompetitive form, was launched back in 2003 as a way to appreciate the unique subculture that originated in Japan and has garnered frenzied fans around the globe.

“I am happy for winning the title, especially for people who have supported us,” said 43-year-old Giancarlo Di Pierro, who won with 30-year-old Luca Buzzi.

Thai and Brazilian pairs earned the second-highest point total. The Thai pair also won the Brother Award for outstanding costume.

“I was very happy for receiving this award because we worked for six months to make this costume,” said Orawan Aggavinate, one of the Thai competitors.

The pair from Thailand played the roles of Cloud Strife and Bahamut SIN, characters from a game titled “Final Fantasy VII Advent Children.”

Hundreds of cosplay enthusiasts took part in the event that began Saturday. The 15 countries represented were Australia, Brazil, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Thailand and the United States.

Prior to Sunday’s contest, people wearing samurai outfits with swords gave performances during a spinoff event called the World Samurai Summit at the same venue.

The samurai summit was held to promote understanding of the culture surrounding ancient Japanese warriors as the region produced powerful warlords such as Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi, as well as the shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu, according to the organizers.

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