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Otaku Festival And Cosplay Party – Japan’s Wilder Side

“Otaku” and “cosplay” may be unfamiliar to you. But they refer to young Japan’s hippest hobby, as you’ll memorably grasp at our festival and party to celebrate it, on Saturday, March 4, between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm.

“Cosplay” comes from “costume play.” It describes making up and suiting up to adopt – and in the most extreme cases, even live out – the activities of characters in Japanese cartoons, anime movies, music videos, and manga comics. The most obsessed, full-time fans form a genuine subculture that Japanese social scientists call “otaku.” In essence, it is performance art.

Southern Arizona’s own lively cosplay community will party down at Yume in flashy ensembles, elaborate headgear, and glitzy accessories of all kinds. You can mingle with cosplayers in outlandish outfits inspired by Japanese pop music stars, inspect others in flouncy skirts and petticoats in imitation of “Lolita” comic characters, and watch a screened showing of cosplay favorite Hatsune Miku, a “vocaloid,” or humanoid persona voiced by a singing synthesizer application.

Rounding out the day’s activities will be an origami workshop, a display of action and musical Hatsune Miku figurines, a show of flamboyant Japanese street fashion, and an exhibition of another of Japan’s latest enthusiasms: BJDs, or poseable dolls with ball and joint sockets. They have a distinctly Asian aesthetic with often eerily lifelike features, and are customizable and collectible.

Admission to the Otaku Festival and Cosplay Party is $10 per person. Show up in costume yourself, if you’re so inclined.