Thursday, October 9, 2014

At Last: Cosplay Mania 2014

Cosplay Mania (aka CosMania) is one of the most awaited events of the year. Every year, I also aim to attend this famed event but for the past three years, my attendance was nil.

But I guess this year was different

I was so reluctant about attending this event to the point that it almost became a last-minute decision. I just rose from the depths of midterm exams, and I desperately needed something to release all the stress and tension I've been holding back for a whole week.

For the past month, I've been telling people that I won't go to the event. If you religiously screen my social media, I posted an Instagram photo a day before the event. This actually confused a lot of people, thinking that I was going to go as Morgiana from Magi.

That was the plan. Ohoho.
I was actually curious if people will recognize me in conventions even if they know that I'm not going or I'm going as someone else. The result was, well, I'm still recognizable.

Anyways, back to Cosmania. I was still deciding what to cosplay as in the morning when I logged on to my Facebook account and saw this:

After reading it, I scrambled to get my Chizuru Yukimura costume ready.
I know that I wore this costume a million times already. I was doubtful about it too, because even if I did go as Chizuru, what are the odds that I'll come face to face with this handsome Shinsengumi commander? What are the odds that senpai will notice me? What are the odds?

But then, my mom gave me a lecture about just doing what I want to do and regretting it later. So, to cut the long and cheesy conversation short, I did go as Chizuru.

Shot by Louis
From the entrance, it was a long, hard walk and search for the ticket booth with my brother and friends. It was so confusing because when we asked some guards, they pointed us to the ticket booth for an ongoing K-Pop convention on the lower floor. When we asked where the tickets for Cosmania was, they all but shrugged and said to ask other guards.

Eventually, we found where it was and bought our tickets. We bought the Silver pass, which gave us access to the Freedom Hall, the Dealers' Hall and the Main Stage. The Bronze pass could only access the Freedom Hall and the Dealers' Hall, while the Gold pass is pretty much the same as Silver pass, except that they could attend the Cosplay Jam which was held in the evening. I wasn't really planning to stay in the event until it was late, so I didn't buy the Gold pass.

After roaming through the Dealers' Hall (which was full of booths from sponsors and exhibitors, also shops that sold anime goodies that are drool-worthy), we went to the Main Stage to watch some of the cosplay performances.

Our view from where we stood.
We couldn't see much from our point of view, but thank the cosplay gods because they had projectors set up on either side of the stage to allow the other people a view of what was happening onstage.

Japanese cosplayer, Kaname, as he judges the cosplay performances.
Kaname, while judging the last team, was asking what the team eats to become so agile. One of the members of the team jokingly said 'balut' (Google it.). Hence, Kaname was pushed on by the hosts to try balut and he promised that he would do it (and take a video of it too). I'm still waiting for it.

Reika Arikawa and Orochi X, performing a cosplay skit of Hakuouki.
After the competition, Reika and Orochi performed a short skit of Hakuouki. Afterwards, they were interviewed and they also gave tips and pointers when planning a group cosplay. I made sure to take mental notes of what they said.

Of course, I was such a whore for photos of my beloved idols. I tried and I tried to take as much good photos as I could, but only a few of them made the cut.

The screams of the fan girls (including me) were deafening as Kaname entered the stage
without his jacket on. Don't worry, he did put it on after a while.
Doraemon, Nobita and Shizuka were there too.

Thankfully, my friends were kind enough to take better photos for me. Yes, I have permission to repost these photos. The following photos were taken by Infinity Studios.

Linda Le/Vampy Bit Me as Junko Enoshima!

But getting those shots were not easy, NOT easy at all...

Oh the things we do for the love of cosplay.

After a while, it was time to announce the winners of the Tournament of Champions. The winning team will be the Philippine representatives at the regional competition to be held at Anime Festival Asia.

The nine teams that won the different legs of TorCH,
hoping for the honor of representing the Philippines
My cosplay Daddy, Guy Singzon and his cohort.
The winners: Team Kanor Cubes!
One of the members of the team, Abraham Cruz, was very emotional on his win.
I really love watching cosplay performances, because I think that sometimes, a simple photo is too limited to express a character fully. All the teams that participated really gave it their all to impress the judges and the audience, and it was really exhilarating to watch their exhibitions and acting.

I also met a lot of friends in the event, old and new, and here are some of the photos! 
(Click on a photo to enlarge)

Of course, I save the best for last.

In the beginning of this blog post, I mentioned that I specifically cosplayed Chizuru Yukimura in hopes of meeting Reika. You might be wondering: Aki, did you ever meet Reika?


I passed by Chicharron's booth, where Serendipity Btq was to buy myself a pair and claim my raffle prize. My friends and I were walking and talking, discussing future cosplay plans and the competition we just watched. I was ahead of the group when I saw a commotion and heard a lot of fan girl screaming. I didn't understand for a while, but then it clicked.


I told my brother to follow me and I ran as fast as I could to catch her. I tried to overtake her, in hopes of getting a picture or a simple handshake. I got stepped on twice (it was painful) and my left wooden sandal slipped off while I was running. I grabbed the sandal and just carried it until I caught up with Reika at the Cosplay Shop booth.

She was waving to the fans and smiling for the cameras as she took refuge from the swarm of fan girls inside the booth with her security guard and translator. I was snapping away at my phone, while my brother took photos with our camera.

The translator said that Reika won't sign anything because she's only allowed to sign stuff for the meet and greet. It was a bummer to most, actually. Then the translator said that we can buy a photobook or a print of hers, and Reika would gladly take a picture and shake hands with us. She also said that we can't take a selfie with Reika.

Without any hesitation, I asked for the price of the Krieger photobook. I've been meaning to buy a copy of Krieger for the longest time. If you don't know, Krieger is a collaboration photobook of Reika, Kaname and Yuegene and it's all about Shingeki no Kyojin or more popularly known as Attack on Titan.

Alas, the photobook was too expensive. I settled for a print instead, and there were three designs displayed. I couldn't choose one, and the helpful and nice lady who manned the shop told me to get the Levi (SnK) one, because there were only four copies left.

I immediately bought it and she gave me a stub, telling me that Reika will hand my print in person. She told me to get in line so that I can get my print and take photos. I nodded and told her thanks, and I hurried over to get in line.

I was anxious. There were three or four girls who went ahead of me (and they looked very cute, by the way. I think they were cosplaying Love Live.) and I was nervous. I told my brother to hand me my Instax camera as I held on to the stub.

When it was my turn, the security guard said that only one person could enter. Meaning, my brother can't come in with me to take our picture. My brother urged me to go in and said that he'll just wait outside the booth.

Luckily, they had a guy assigned to take our photo for us. I handed him my Instax camera and told him how to take the photo before heading over to the table to meet Reika.

She greeted me with a smile as I gave my stub to one of the marshals. The marshal gave her a print, but he accidentally picked up two copies. Reika made a small 'ah!' and then returned the duplicate before handing me the Levi print.

Chizuru and Toshizo~
Sneaky shot by my brother.
Then she leaned closer to me and we both smiled for my camera. I was about to thank her and grab my camera (because my brother looked squished outside the booth because of the huge number of fans crowding in) when Reika suddenly said "wait, wait!"

She pulled out her iPhone and gestured me to come closer for a selfie. I was shocked, but nevertheless, I leaned in closer to her and smiled for her phone's camera. I thought she was meaning to take only one photo, but then she changed her facial expression and moved in closer for another shot, so I did the same as well.

After that, she smiled and me and said "Chizuru-chan, arigatou gozaimasu!" I smiled back and said "Arigatou gozaimasu, Toshizo-san!"

The marshal handed me my camera back and told me that I'm very lucky as he accompanied me out of the booth and gestured the next girl to come in. As I exited, I was greeted by jealous comments from other fans. (PS: She didn't post the selfie. oTL)

Just to make this clear: I am not affiliated with Reika in any way. I did not ask her to take a selfie with me. She did it on a whim and I simply obliged to her request.

By the way her iPhone's case is pink. (Encircled in the photo.) Just in case you wanna know. (Oh god that was lame.)

Anyways. I was squealing like a dying pig, waiting for the photo on my Instax to show up. I was really happy, a little shocked, but HAPPY! I felt really lucky for this wonderful chance... and to think that I thought that Reika would never notice me! 

Although I doubt that she'll remember me (maybe she will, because we have a photo in her phone? Idk.) I'm just really happy to have the chance to meet her in person.

Mushy Reika feels aside, we went out of the event to meet up with my parents. After getting stopped for pictures, we headed to the mall area to look for a rest room so I could change out of my costume. We passed by this small hallway where we could quietly go crazy.

"You failed to bring me yaoi!"
Group photo!
L-R: Lourd, Louis, Gabby, Aki, Venjo
Now, we shall move on to spoils I received from this wonderful convention.

New contact lenses for my peepers!
As always, thank you Serendipity Btq :)
Silver pass, baby!
Reika as Levi 
Reika and I ^_^
I was really impressed with the crowd this time because not all of them were very whiny and they were really obedient when it came to falling in line (which is a big problem in crowds and I commend the marshals and security for handling this issue well). The number of people who attended Cosmania was indeed amazing, and I can see that everyone was enjoying even though they were simply hanging out in  the Freedom Hall or even just outside the event's door.  The lines were tolerable, as well. I am looking forward to the next Cosmania (October 3-4, 2015 at SMX Function rooms 1-5) and I also look forward to joining Tournament of Champions in the future.

I had so much fun in Cosmania! It was my first time to attend this convention and I can say that it is an awesome event to be. I'm really happy to see everyone again and I hope to see and meet more people at the next conventions.

Thank you for reading! :)
Bye-bye :3

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