“We’re freaks,” “Get Sasuke,” and “Free hugs” are probably the three phrases I heard that best summed up expo this time around. I spent the entire queue waiting to get in next to a diabolically devilish Shigure from Fruits Basket. If you’ve been to an expo, you’ll know what to expect: anime, manga, gaming, cosplay and the usual amount of trouble. For this blog entry I will be focusing exclusively on the trouble end of that sentence, because let’s face it, trouble is always far more entertaining.
But before I get to that, the real stars of the show were the cosplayers. This year’s collection included: Full Metal Alchemists, Neko kitties, parasol toting kimono ladies, Gothic Lolita’s and furry fluffy creatures. You can never tell who’s going to be the most popular cosplay, but this year, a little surprisingly , it was a hoodie wearing Pikachu dressed in shorts.
You can’t really go to expo without eating some Pocky, I mean, there are rows and rows of the stuff everywhere. Just by standing around you get to notice and hear the most unusual things. In front of me was a kid who bought ten boxes of Pocky. The eyes of the sales assistant bulged open in surprise. Next was the random discussion of ‘What makes Men’s Pocky suitable for men?’ Apparently I’m told it tastes more bitter than regular Pocky, what this has got to do with men, I have no clue.
At Expo’s, cosplayers are often divided up by tribes: Your Alchemists, Death Note and Bleach groups and cute Lolita ladies. Scanning the hall I spotted one group you don’t see very often, yaoi fanboys who were pretending not to be yaoi fanboys. Waiting by the loos you can’t help but play the ‘Guess the gender of the cosplayer game.’ First approached a gloomy looking Sasuke who I was certain was a boy, but he turned out to be a she and went into the ladies. If that wasn’t confusing enough, five minutes later a Sakura with pink hair and red dress headed to the men’s loo’s. Just as I was saying, “Excuse me, that’s the men’s…” did she turn around sporting glasses and a beard. Sheepishly apologizing I decided to stand back, this year’s cosplayers were far more androgynous than usual.
Cosplayers are a crazy breed, speaking as one, I should know. Out in the forecourt two renegade Sasuke’s started a human chain and the Cosplay Rave ended in a game of musical statues. Then there were the dance routines. No amount of instructional videos on YouTube could help this cosplayer dance properly to Hare Hare Yukai. Back in the expo hall, the Masquerade included a chibi dancing Host Club with L, Sweeney Todd and the usual amount of on stage snogging. (I will leave that to your imagination.)
Later on it was whilst dodging a skateboarding Sasuke did I bump into my most surprising find of the day, two boys cosplaying characters from Loveless. Surprising because guys never cosplay Boys Love characters… okay, that’s a lie, apart from Yuki from Gravitation, but that’s only because he’s blonde and gets attention from the ladies. Anyway, back to the point, before I could ask them any questions my attention was grabbed by a small Ritsuka who glomped me, wrapping her arms around me tightly! Cosplay is a hazardous occupation, I tell you!
Pimpled teenage boys with hand made ‘Free Hugs’ signs were everywhere. Out by the riverbank, one such free hugger finally got more than he bargained for. Yelling out, “Free hug,” he was swamped by at first ten people which grew to 30 in less than half a minute. This year’s expo was by far a surreal experience, the real fun happened away from the main expo hall outside in the warm sunshine. Costume’s, antics and a J-rock soundtrack – perfect ingredients for a cosplay summer.