Cosplayers expected in droves for Anime Expo

July 03, 2013 | 6:30 a.m.
Andrew Olson from Las Vegas removes his oversized mask resembling anime character Corporal Kerero at the 2011 Anime Expo. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Andrew Olson from Las Vegas removes his oversized mask resembling anime character Corporal Kerero at the 2011 Anime Expo. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

With a character in mind, they set out.

Yards of fabric in bright colors come together to resemble animated garb, accompanied by equally colorful wigs, accessories and makeup.

The cosplayers and anime-lovers are getting ready for the second-largest anime convention in the country.

This weekend, more than 50,000 people, many of them dressed as favorite characters or in trendy Japanese fashions, are expected to turn up at the Los Angeles Convention Center for the 22nd annual Anime Expo, a celebration of Japanese cartoons and comic books that includes gaming, comics, concerts, fashion shows, lectures and more.

Event Organizer Greg Hignight said attendance has grown as the Internet has made the Japanese animated content more accessible to American audiences, along with exposure on the Cartoon Network.

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Cosplay and anime fans gathered at Anime Expo 2012 in Los Angeles. (Jay West / For Hero Complex)

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Cosplay and anime fans gathered at Anime Expo 2012 in Los Angeles. (Jay West / For Hero Complex)

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Cosplay and anime fans gathered at Anime Expo 2012 in Los Angeles. (Jay West / For Hero Complex)

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Cosplay and anime fans gathered at Anime Expo 2012 in Los Angeles. (Jay West / For Hero Complex)

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Cosplay and anime fans gathered at Anime Expo 2012 in Los Angeles. (Jay West / For Hero Complex)

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Cosplay and anime fans gathered at Anime Expo 2012 in Los Angeles. (Jay West / For Hero Complex)

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Cosplay and anime fans gathered at Anime Expo 2012 in Los Angeles. (Jay West / For Hero Complex)

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Cosplay and anime fans gathered at Anime Expo 2012 in Los Angeles. (Jay West / For Hero Complex)

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Cosplay and anime fans gathered at Anime Expo 2012 in Los Angeles. (Jay West / For Hero Complex)

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Cosplay and anime fans gathered at Anime Expo 2012 in Los Angeles. (Jay West / For Hero Complex)

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Cosplay and anime fans gathered at Anime Expo 2012 in Los Angeles. (Jay West / For Hero Complex)

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Cosplay and anime fans gathered at Anime Expo 2012 in Los Angeles. (Jay West / For Hero Complex)

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Cosplay and anime fans gathered at Anime Expo 2012 in Los Angeles. (Jay West / For Hero Complex)

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Cosplay and anime fans gathered at Anime Expo 2012 in Los Angeles. (Jay West / For Hero Complex)

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Cosplay and anime fans gathered at Anime Expo 2012 in Los Angeles. (Jay West / For Hero Complex)

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Cosplay and anime fans gathered at Anime Expo 2012 in Los Angeles. (Jay West / For Hero Complex)

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Cosplay and anime fans gathered at Anime Expo 2012 in Los Angeles. (Jay West / For Hero Complex)

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Cosplay and anime fans gathered at Anime Expo 2012 in Los Angeles. (Jay West / For Hero Complex)

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Cosplay and anime fans gathered at Anime Expo 2012 in Los Angeles. (Jay West / For Hero Complex)

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Cosplay and anime fans gathered at Anime Expo 2012 in Los Angeles. (Jay West / For Hero Complex)

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Cosplay and anime fans gathered at Anime Expo 2012 in Los Angeles. (Jay West / For Hero Complex)

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Cosplay and anime fans gathered at Anime Expo 2012 in Los Angeles. (Jay West / For Hero Complex)

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Cosplay and anime fans gathered at Anime Expo 2012 in Los Angeles. (Jay West / For Hero Complex)

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Cosplay and anime fans gathered at Anime Expo 2012 in Los Angeles. (Jay West / For Hero Complex)

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Cosplay and anime fans gathered at Anime Expo 2012 in Los Angeles. (Jay West / For Hero Complex)

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Cosplay and anime fans gathered at Anime Expo 2012 in Los Angeles. (Jay West / For Hero Complex)

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Cosplay and anime fans gathered at Anime Expo 2012 in Los Angeles. (Jay West / For Hero Complex)

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Cosplay and anime fans gathered at Anime Expo 2012 in Los Angeles. (Jay West / For Hero Complex)

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Cosplay and anime fans gathered at Anime Expo 2012 in Los Angeles. (Jay West / For Hero Complex)

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Cosplay and anime fans gathered at Anime Expo 2012 in Los Angeles. (Jay West / For Hero Complex)

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Cosplay and anime fans gathered at Anime Expo 2012 in Los Angeles. (Jay West / For Hero Complex)

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Cosplay and anime fans gathered at Anime Expo 2012 in Los Angeles. (Jay West / For Hero Complex)

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Cosplay and anime fans gathered at Anime Expo 2012 in Los Angeles. (Jay West / For Hero Complex)

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Cosplay and anime fans gathered at Anime Expo 2012 in Los Angeles. (Jay West / For Hero Complex)

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Cosplay and anime fans gathered at Anime Expo 2012 in Los Angeles. (Jay West / For Hero Complex)

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Cosplay and anime fans gathered at Anime Expo 2012 in Los Angeles. (Jay West / For Hero Complex)

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Cosplay and anime fans gathered at Anime Expo 2012 in Los Angeles. (Jay West / For Hero Complex)

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Cosplay and anime fans gathered at Anime Expo 2012 in Los Angeles. (Jay West / For Hero Complex)

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Cosplay and anime fans gathered at Anime Expo 2012 in Los Angeles. (Jay West / For Hero Complex)

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Cosplay and anime fans gathered at Anime Expo 2012 in Los Angeles. (Jay West / For Hero Complex)

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Cosplay and anime fans gathered at Anime Expo 2012 in Los Angeles. (Jay West / For Hero Complex)

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Cosplay and anime fans gathered at Anime Expo 2012 in Los Angeles. (Jay West / For Hero Complex)

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Cosplay and anime fans gathered at Anime Expo 2012 in Los Angeles. (Jay West / For Hero Complex)

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Cosplay and anime fans gathered at Anime Expo 2012 in Los Angeles. (Jay West / For Hero Complex)

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Cosplay and anime fans gathered at Anime Expo 2012 in Los Angeles. (Jay West / For Hero Complex)

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Cosplay and anime fans gathered at Anime Expo 2012 in Los Angeles. (Jay West / For Hero Complex)

“Because the world is flattening, it’s a lot easier for people to discover international content,” Hignight said. “When anime fandom began, it was all word of mouth and it was these little clubs and college organizations sprouted up in the ’80s, and they basically traded videotapes … that’s how the seeds were planted.”

Highlights of the Expo, which runs Thursday to Sunday, include premiere screenings, nightly concerts and dances and appearances by creators and stars, among them directors Masaaki Yuasa and Kazuhiro Furuhashi, writer Mari Okada, producer George Wada and actors Christopher Sabat and Kyle Hebert.

Hignight said the event’s theme this year, “Connect. Create. Culture.,” reflects much of what the fan base in the Southern California area is looking for in an anime convention. Thousands of participants will create costumes that resemble their favorite characters in a practice called cosplaying.

A successful cosplayer will make his or her outfit by hand and will come as close as possible to replicating the outfits in anime cartoons or in manga comics.

“It’s really evolved into an art, both in Japan and here. By and large it’s all user/customer created, it’s all built from the ground up,” Hignight said. “And that’s sort of part of the mystique and I think it’s a source of pride — everyone wants to create the most accurate representation of these anime characters.”

Others will connect to Japanese culture by modeling fashions such as “Gal” and “Lolita,” which are subculture fashion movements in Japan.

With artificially tanned skin, bleached hair, colored contact lenses and eyelash extensions, Anz Falcon of Los Angeles feels more natural, more herself.

Cosplay and anime fans gathered at Anime Expo 2012 in Los Angeles. (Jay West / For Hero Complex)

Cosplay and anime fans gathered at Anime Expo 2012 in Los Angeles. (Jay West / For Hero Complex)

The fashion blogger and native of the Philippines is one of the many other “Gyaru” fashion-lovers who find joy in wearing certain brands and styling their hair and makeup a certain way to attain a younger, cartoon-inspired look.

The “Gyaru” fashion movement began in the 1970s based on Gal brand jeans in Japan, which touted the slogan, “I can’t live without men.” Unlike cosplayers, whose outfits come out only for special events such as Anime Expo, these young women wear their distinctive makeup and apparel on a daily basis.

“It’s the passion for it,” Falcon said. “You want to look different. It’s just something you enjoy doing. You feel empowered. I know I feel empowered when I wear it.”

Falcon explained that “Gal” fashion is about breaking with traditional Japanese style in favor of something drastically different.

2011 Anime Expo attendee. (Jevon Phillips)

A 2011 Anime Expo attendee becomes Ciel Phantomhive from “Black Butler.” (Jevon Phillips)

“The girls who started it didn’t want to go to school, or work or get married, so they tan their skin and bleach their hair and try to look childish,” Falcon said. “They don’t want to grow up.”

Oli Rivera, an Angeleno who wears “Lolita” fashion, a Victorian Era style, said she and her friends started wearing petticoats, bloomers and blouses a few years ago. The inspiration came from another feature of the anime conventions: collectible dolls.

“People saw that they were putting these outfits on dolls and started looking for them in bigger sizes so they could wear them too,” Rivera said. She noted that summer in Southern California is an unfortunate time to sport Lolita, though, because it requires wearing many layers.

Falcon and Rivera said they look forward to the Anime convention and to seeing the newest styles in their respective fashions and buying them without a middleman. The Japanese styles carry high price tags, in part because of the cost of bringing them directly from Japan.

Hignight said there is value in finding a connection through fashion or anime or any aspect of the Expo.

“Any time someone catches on to the pop culture exports of a different country, or culture, part of the appeal and the reward is that it helps you see the world through a different lens,” he said.

– Dana Ferguson

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Comments


3 Responses to Cosplayers expected in droves for Anime Expo

  1. kigukawaii30 says:

    This events have high expectations to their fans, and so am I. Joining the anime expo will be fun and fulfilling. There are a lot of cosplay ideas out there, sometimes it's better to consult cosplay experts like http://cosplaysushi.com/ if you haven't decided anything yet.

  2. M Contard says:

    The big red guy in the top photo is my nephew!!! You go Andy!!!

  3. Fan says:

    It's Corporal Giroro, not Keroro. Keroro is the sergeant and he is green.

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