By DANIEL SUBRAMANIAM and JOANNE CHUA
JAPANESE costume player (cosplayer) Kaname never reveals his real name in interviews.
Widely recognised by cosplay fans for his accurate and realistic portrayals of characters such as Cloud Strife from Final Fantasy VII Advent Children, Kaname will be gracing the Anime Festival Asia (AFA) Malaysia on June 9 and 10 at the Putra World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur.
The Japanese pop culture festival is already in its fifth year, but this will be the first time it is being held in Malaysia. There will be a “Super Anisong” concert, featuring acts like Flow, Kotoko, Maon Kurosaki and Kalafina. There will also be an appearance by blogger Danny Choo, who is well-known in the world of anime for his articles and coverage on Japanese pop culture. He is also the son of Malaysian shoe designer Jimmy Choo.
Other things to look out for at the event include the “Ultraman Live Show 2012”, maid and butler cafes (where the wait staff are dressed as, well, maids and butlers), the Malaysian preliminaries for the regional cosplay championship, and of course, a special appearance by Kaname.
Kaname, 34, has been attending the AFA in Singapore for the past four years, but he has only been to Malaysia once before this, when he was still a child. Speaking to the BRATs after the AFA Malaysia launch in KL last week, Kaname said he has no reservations about appearing and performing at the event, saying he approaches every event as if it were his first.
“I think coming to AFA Malaysia will be like going back to the first time I attended an AFA event. It will be a start from the beginning,” he said through a translator. “To the people of Malaysia – please look forward to my performance.”
He also promised to cosplay a new character exclusively for AFA Malaysia. He hopes to bring something new to AFA Malaysia and hinted at the possibility of cosplaying an original character. For Kaname, cosplay is both a hobby and a passion.
“When people have an interest in cosplay, they can become deeply involved in this culture. Some people take more time to work on it, and sometimes it even becomes a business,” he said. He encourages those who have never tried cosplay before, but yet have an interest in trying it out, to not be shy or hesitant.
“When you start cosplaying, you will feel embarrassed or shy initially. But when you go to big events like AFA Malaysia, for example, the atmosphere will make you feel like you belong in the community.”
He also believes that cosplay can serve as a welcome break from reality for some.
“Don’t be afraid to go to an anime festival in costume. Don’t be shy. When you try on a costume, just believe that you will become cool or cute,” he added.
Although most people indulge in cosplaying just for the fun of it, there is also a competitive side to it. AFA Malaysia will be hosting a preliminary cosplay competition where the winner will compete in the regional cosplay championship in Singapore. Kaname’s advice for local cosplayers hoping to join the competition includes researching your character and getting into the character you are playing as much as you can.
“Cosplay is not just about doing the cosplay itself, but also doing research about your character, and creating the outfits required for the cosplay. It makes sense to cosplay your favourite character from your favourite anime series. Knowing the character’s background will improve your understanding of how to cosplay the character and bring him or her to life,” he said.
Lastly, Kaname said that cosplayers need to be confident.
“When you feel uncomfortable, it will reduce your stage presence. Don’t do that. Just put on a good show of confidence and become your character.”
*For more information on AFA Malaysia, head over to www.animefestival.com.