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Swiss bring manga, anime, video-games characters to life

Swiss bring manga, anime, video-games characters to life

Colleagues at the factory where Michel Parchet works may not quite imagine him as a ninja. But on Saturday, the 27-year-old put on a yellow spiky wig and an orange tunic, turning himself into the manga character Naruto.
Parchet was among hundreds of others who were cosplaying - dressed up in costumes and role-playing - at western Switzerland's anime, manga and video games festival Polymanga.
"It's really just for fun," said Parchet, who had turned up with 24-year-old Denis Fontannaz, also dressed as a character in the same manga series that features the young ninja Naruto.
The two apparently looked their part, as they were repeatedly asked to be photographed by others attending the three-day festival, now in its sixth year, which celebrates Japanese contemporary culture. While it started with just 6,000 enthusiasts, organizers are expecting this year to pull in 16,000 people, ranging from children to adults in their thirties. But beyond the vendors peddling the latest mangas, screenings of animes and interviews with guests such as the creator of popular manga Kenichi, Syun Matsuena, what is perhaps the highlight of the event is the cosplay competition.
Saturday's competition was jampacked with visitors, many of whom stood along the aisles for over two hours, to see participants of the contest bring to life their favourite manga, anime or video game characters. Under the rules of the competition, the costumes have to be hand-made. And indeed participants used their imagination to recreate characters from the cuddly wood spirit Totoro of the celebrated anime by Studio Ghibli, to an impersonation of Jack Sparrow of the Hollywood film "Pirates of the Caribbeans," to Lightning Girl of the videogame "Final Fantasy 3."
They sang, danced, acted or mimed, some even moonwalked Michael Jackson-style.
One participant, Sylvia Verdon, told reproters that she spent some six months putting together her character which comes complete with purple feather wings. "I have always been interested in dressing up," said the 29-year-old, who had just finished her studies and who is about to start her first job as a medical assistant.
Likewise, 18-year-old Camila-Loure Chacon, who was dressed up as the character Nightmare from the "Soul Calibur" playstation game, spent some six months pain-stakingly making her character's elaborate costume by hand. It came complete with a huge lobster hand and a human-sized knife.
organizer of the show, David Heim, noted that the popularity of the event was due to the fact that the Japanese anime and gaming culture had entered the mainstream, particularly in French-speaking western Switzerland. "There is an enormous number of people here who grew up with manga," he said.
As the first manga anime was screened on public television in 1978 in France, the culture also filtered over with time to the Swiss francophones.


Updated : 2021-08-02 19:07 GMT+08:00