LUMBERING around in their bulky costumes, Naoki and Aramill looked clearly relieved when they were finally seated on comfortable sofas.
“Wow, let’s take a breather first. This is all too exciting,” said the beautiful Naoki, her face beaming with excitement.
Hailing from Thailand, they were in Singapore to take part in the Regional Cosplay Championship, one of the major highlights at Anime Festival Asia 2010 (AFA X) last weekend.
The Championship is the biggest of its kind in the Southeast Asian region. A team from each country was selected as finalist, each represented by two cosplayers.
The cosplaying team must choose to cosplay characters from the same Japanese intellectual property, be it from anime, comics, games or novels and perform a three -minute skit on stage.
Naoki and Aramill or Drachen as their team was known, beat four others to bag the first prize for their impressive take on the popular Capcom game, Monster Hunter.
“I’m really happy and excited we won. We didn’t really expect to win because the other teams did very well too. We did have a little hope to win second or third place as we put in much effort to finish our costumes and come up with the script for the skit,” said Naoki, who spoke for the team in an exclusive interview with thesundaypost.
In the skit inspired by the game, Naoki cosplayed as Beriolos Blademaster while her compatriot cosplayed as Akantor Blademaster and the Akantor Monster. Aided by a video recording as the backdrop, Drachen came up with a very entertaining performance that provided some comic elements as well as exciting fight scenes.
Drachen’s skit garnered positive responses from the judges and the multi-national crowd who were there to support the teams from their countries.
The panel of judges was made up of Japanese superstar cosplayers Kaname and Aira, past Championship contestant and popular Filipina cosplayer-model Alodia Gosiengfiao, past Championship winner Clive Lee and Canon regional marketing manager Carol Lim.
They collectively agreed Drachen did a good job in giving many careful details to their costumes and props to create a realistic feel.
“The character change part was impressive. In a team of two, they managed to play three characters when Aramill ‘transformed’ into the Akantor Monster halfway during the skit. Overall, it was an engaging performance,” said the internationally renowned Kaname in his evaluation of Drachen.
According to Naoki, they took about one month to finish the costumes.
“It was very rushed for us to finish them for this event but we managed. Our armoured costumes are made of rubber foam which we bought in parts. We then used colour sprays to fill in the finer details. These are, by far, the most difficult costumes we ever did as there are many elaborate details,” said the 20-year-old student from Samut Songkhram.
She said they chose to cosplay a game for the Championship because they are both big fans of Monster Hunter.
“We’re now waiting for the third Monster Hunter game. I want to analyse the female armour more and do a cosplay out of it,” enthused Naoki, who first started cosplaying at the age of 12.
“I first got interested in cosplay after reading the manga series Rave Master. I strongly felt I wanted to wear clothes like the characters in the manga. That was also the first series I did a cosplay of.
“Back home, I try to take part in many cosplay events. The three major ones are Thailand Game Show, Big Festival and Oishi Cosplay. I first met Aramill at a cosplay event in Bangkok,” she said.
Aramill considers himself fairly new on the cosplay scene — with four years experience.
“My first cosplay was Dante of Devil May Cry. I think it’s obvious we’re fans of Capcom games,” said the Nakhon Ratchasima native.
This cosplay event was their first outside Thailand.
“It’s also our first time at AFA and I think it’s an opportunity for us to meet in person all the friends whom we got to know online, especially other cosplayers and anime enthusiasts from other countries.
“During this short time, we shared a lot of experiences and knowledge. The best thing is we’re having great fun together,” Naoki noted.
They won two return air tickets to Tokyo (courtesy of All Nippon Airways), and a Canon Ixus digital camera.
“I would like to take part in cosplay events in Japan someday. I think it will be a very interesting experience. But for this trip, we were just going to have lots of fun,” Naoki beamed, adding that right after the AFA weekend, they would be heading back to Thailand where they plan to make more Monster Hunter armoured costumes.
Meanwhile, the first runner-up prize went to Team Komutoku from Indonesia for their elaborate armoured characters from the live-action series Garo while the second runner-up team was the Singaporean duo Zeph and Kaika for their efforts in re-enacting scenes from the manga Defense Devil.