ComiCon Tour: A Report On A Chinese Anime Convention
Japanese anime is quite a phenomenon outside its origin country. Thanks to its global influence, a lot of anime conventions have been held around the world. For example, every summer, Los Angeles holds Anime Expo--the world's biggest anime convention outside Japan, so do many other cities such as New York, Chicago and Baltimore.
As Japan's close neighbor, China, of course, gets the influence as well. Every year, major cities such as Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou hold anime conventions. Unlike American conventions which usually happens once a year, these places hold multiple times a year thanks to the burgeoning "doujin" scene. Doujin is actually a Japanese word that means amateur fans. Fans who share the same interest come together to self-publish fanzines, comics and illustration books to continue the lives of their favorite stories and characters, and sell them to other fans at conventions.
Earlier this month, I traveled to Shanghai for the 11th ComiCon. It is one of the biggest anime/doujin conventions in China. This year, it drew more than ten thousand fans to the convention center.
Once entering the center, one could see lines of tables with doujin works piled up on them. Some sellers would also wear costumes to promote their products.
It is worth noting that some American comics recently gain popularity in China. Some doujin novels, comics and related works at the con were derived from the "Avengers." A big banner like this drew my attention:
Shopping doujin works and taking photos of Cosplayers (fans who dress up like the anime or comic characters) were the two major things I did at ComiCon. To some extent, Cosplay has become an industry in China. There are people who make a lot of money by teaming up with wig factories to produce wig from the latest anime series, working with tailors to make anime costumes and sell them online, etc. Moreover, there are people who earn money by making fancy props for Cosplayers and these props usually cost more than a hundred bucks. This is quite different from what I know about Western Cosplayers, who mostly make costumes and props by themselves.
Below are some photos I took of the amazing Cosplayers at the con:
Because more and more young people set feet in the world of Cosplay and thanks to Weibo (Chinese Twitter) which acts as a perfect platform to showcase one's Cosplay pictures and gain attention, many Cosplayers have gained incredible popularity on the Internet. So when they appear at a convention, they would soon be surrounded by cameras and flashlights, such as the two guys in the photos below. It took me a long time to "fight over" the crowd and snap these two shots of them with some other Cosplayers who were also their admirers.
And of course there are Otaku who invented funny ways to hold their camera tight and steady to take photos of Cosplayers in the convention center where lighting is not so perfect.
Another important element of an anime/doujin convention is karaoke. Some people who wore costumes would sing famous anime theme songs on the stage. Interestingly, just like a normal rock concert, the fans under the stage were crazy about these "unknown" singers as well. They would sing along and wave light sticks.
Such anime/doujin conventions usually happen during Chinese national holidays as well as summer and winter breaks. The ticket price is about 30-50 RMB (five to eight dollars) which is not expensive. But consider the varied price of doujin products that artists sell at the con, most attendee would end up spending a lot of money. However, no one would really complain because this is such a wonderful opportunity to meet people with same interest, appreciate beautiful Cosplayers and simply enjoy the carnival-like atmosphere.
I havn't attended any of the big anime conventions in the U.S. yet. But this is definitely going to be happen soon. Hopefully I will write another report about an American convention in the near future and compare it with the ones I have been to in China.