You didn't know there was such a thing, did you? I certainly didn't! Apparently, over the weekend of August 1-2, there was a World Cosplay Summit in Nagoya, Japan, which is just a short train trip from where I live... and I wasn't invited! And during that elite conclave of bright and creative minds and bodies, a Japanese pair dressed as samurai from a Sony Playstation video game kept the cosplay crown here in Nihon, where it belongs.
That's right. Where it belongs. Because in my admittedly limited experience as an observer of cosplay (never a participant, dammit all), I've come to believe Japanese cosplayers are truly the world's finest. Not that other nationalities haven't represented well. For example, Star Wars cosplayers. A stormtrooper uniform might seem pretty prosaic because of how many there are these days, but a lot of those babies are hand-crafted. I mean, seriously-- store bought helmets and armor and whatnot don't cut it with the hardcore stormtrooper cosplayers. So even the ubiquitous stormtrooper suit requires a massive investment of time, money or both. But have you ever been to a cosplay costume shop in Tokyo? They have multi-colored contact lenses there, for crying out loud!
To me, that's pretty freaking extreme. I'm scared enough of just ordinary, vision-correcting contact lenses. And don't get me started on how disturbing I find the old "injury to the eye" motif in film and literature. So I have a shuddery respect for someone who will risk blindness in order to look like a cartoon weirdo.
Plus, in Japan there are professional magazines devoted to cosplay available at mainstream bookstores. Seen anything like that in Borders or Books-A-Million or whatever mega-bookstores are still in business back there in North America these days? If you go to Harajuku on a Sunday, among the lolis and the decora, the Nigerian dudes shilling for nightclubs and restaurants and all the tourists and shoppers, you'll spot a few stray cosplayers out for a stroll. Heck, I've seen them in Hamamatsu Castle Park during the summer. Just walking around in broad daylight dressed like anime, manga or video game characters.
All hail the winners. And remember-- in cosplay competitions, there are no losers. Just some amazingly creative people having fun.