Come, play with us: Chennai’s first ‘Animecon’

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Cosplayers in glitzy costumes, music video contests, and voice workshops — comic nerds and geeks unite for the city’s first Animecon

“Oh man, I have to watch this one, I started it but never got around to finishing it,” said a young man in his 20s, to his friend, almost breathing down my neck given how crowded the Palladium’s atrium was. He was referring to the fan-made One Piece music video playing on the big screen.

The music video contest was a part of Animecon, the three-day event hosted at Phoenix MarketCity and Palladium over the weekend. Participants had to make a music video, overlaying scenes from their favourite animes with their favourite songs. Not only had people gathered in large numbers in front of the screen, some were also leaning forward from the first and second floor balconies to catch some of the action.

In one of the videos, we see Parasyte’s Shinichi Izumi trying to grasp the meaning of his humanity after his right hand is infected by Migi — which, you should know, is a parasite that eats human flesh — to the tune of Avicii’s ‘Wake Me Up’. When the late Swedish DJ’s voice booms, “So wake me up when it’s all over, when I’m wiser and I’m older” it is difficult to say if the outburst from the crowd is for Shinichi’s dilemma or commiseration for losing Avicii.

All dressed up

Everything anime under the sun found a place at the event, including the major attraction: cosplay. Harley Quinn, D Va, Auriel, and Deadpool, were strutting about the mall, drawing curious glances from passers-by. More often than not, they would be accosted by fans demanding a photograph with them.

“I never knew Chennai has such a big community of anime enthusiasts!” exclaims Onnies, a cosplayer from Bangkok. She’s not alone. Given the puzzled faces of the rest of the shoppers, even a majority of Chennaiites were unaware of this underground fanbase.

A few anime enthusiasts wore their love for the culture on their sleeves. Literally, in the case of a particular cheeky young fellow with a shirt proclaiming he was, “Kawaii on the streets, hentai in the sheets.”

Have some tea?
  • The Westin hosted a traditional Japanese tea-tasting ceremony at Palladium. The kimono-wearing servers, with their legs folded under them, passed around a steaming hot cup of tea. Matcha tea and lavender green tea were served to those invited. The guests were provided with blue kimonos to wear and umbrellas to hold for the ceremony. Chefs also taught the guests how to make sushi rolls and edamame cheesecakes.

The Wire Room was host to Maid Café, where patrons were attended to by cosplayers in butler and French maid uniforms. Channelling a side kinkier than any of us thayir sadam folks are used to, bunny-ears donning blue-eyed women and men were serving the customers there from 3 pm to 7 pm.

Meanwhile, back at Palladium’ atrium, Itanagar-based cosplayer Juno Pinggam is heading a anime voice workshop, showing how you can utter a single word: ‘Onii chan’, (big brother) with different emotions. When you are angry, you scrunch up your face. “Onii chaaaaan,” she screams.

“When you are happy, you squeal. Onii chan!,” she gushes adding a giggle. “This workshop won’t be enough, though. You have to keep practising after you go home,” she advises the participants.

Juno, along with Onnies, also headed a cosplay making workshop. They are giving the participants DIY tips on stitching their own costumes, using a sailor costume they crafted hours before the workshop as an example. “The fabrics you use during photoshoots and stage performances are different.” reveals Juno. She has further tips on how to use the same wig in different colours, using alcohol based dyeing agents and on how to untangle wigs. There was also a Manga drawing workshop and competition.

A new side of Chennai

The three-day event came to an end with cosplay performances at the open-air auditorium in front of Phoenix. Cosplayers got on the stage to enact iconic battle scenes, songs and dances from animes. “We had over 100 cosplayers, and about 30 of them had come from various cities of Kerala, from Hyderabad, Bangalore and the Northeast. But almost 70 of them were from Chennai itself, which was pretty surprising!” says Nitesh Rohit, founder of Animecon.

This was the first Animecon hosted in Chennai and Nitesh brands it a success, “What I liked about Chennai is that in other cities, like Delhi, people need to be in full costumes to act. But here, people jump up on stage to act even without costumes. They are that in sync with the anime culture!”

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