Comic culture is rising in China. Statistics suggest that the number of keen cosers has already reached 59.53 million, and that of general cosplay lovers has already reached a staggering 219 million, which is about 62.9% of all the young Chinese born after 1990 and 2000. For some of them, comic culture can be a great outlet to find themselves.
In TMTpost Photo Gallery 028, we’d like to focus our attention on this group of people in China by interviewing four cosers: one senior high student, one college student, one professional coser and an entrepreneur in the industry. It is our wish that you could get to understand this group of people through their stories and find out how they struggle between the real world and the ACG one.
After going to college in Beijing, Lusan became a professional coser. In the above picture, she was the dressing up like the character Great Monkey King. When her roommates were not in the dorm and she received a new set of clothes, she would dress up and practice. Generally, it took her an hour and a half to dress up.
Lusan was highly-recognized in the cosplay circle for the verisimilitude when she dressed up like the character Great Monkey King. In addition, she’s over 10.8 meters tall, which gave her an advantage to play Great Monkey King.
Lusan (the girl on the right) occasionally talked with her roommates about cosplay, but they were not quite interested. She fell in love with cartoons in primary school and entered the cosplay circle in middle high school. Lusan enjoyed living in the ACG world, and her roommates were the only friends of her who live in the real world like any other ordinary people.
Lusan had no choice but to pile up her costumes on the corridor beside her dorm since it was too crowded inside the dorm.It cost her around RMB 4,000 to buy all these customers, mostly from Taobao. Her parents gave her RMB 2,000 every month, and she could earn around RMB 1,000 herself by doing part-time job. However, half her money was spent on cosplay, so she had to pinch and scrape.
Among all the characters, she loved dressing up as Great Monkey King most, because she desired to be as disobedient as Great Monkey King. She was told not to do so many things when she grew up that she wished to be more masculine. When dressing up as Great Money King, she felt another side of her released.
Waitou was making cosplay costumes in the above picture. She was a senior three student, but decided to give up sitting for the college entrance examination and get pre-enrolled in the cartoon department of a vocational college. He met another coser called “Hundan” (which can be literally translated into “asshole”) and decided to open a cosplay costume studio together. They not only helped their friends make costumes, but also sold costumes on Taobao at the same time.
It took Waitou three days to make this spear for a coser of World of Warcraft characters. “I received the order on Taobao and could sell this spear for RMB 800. Most cosers suffered a great deal in the real world,” Waitou explained, “Oftentimes, cosers are very sensitive. They might be isolated or bullied a lot in middle high schools, and finally find a sense of belonging only in the ADG world, so most of them will probably never leave this world.”
Yunxiao attracted lots of attention from passers-by in Dongfeng Park. “I chose to dress up like a character who is shy and feminine,” Yunxiao explained. She seldom talked with others when dressing up like this. In the real world, Yunxiao worked in the support and service unit at the airport. However, she never dared to dress up as a comic character in the real world and revealed what she really was to her colleagues. It was only in the ACG world that she felt relaxed to have a drink or smoke cigarettes.
Yaotong was posing for a photograph album in the above picture. “The comic world has already become quite segmented: from photographers to cosmeticians, from costume designers to prop masters, and even micro-film producers,” Yaotong explained. She saw an opportunity and chose to build a social platform for cosers to interact with each other. “There isn’t a comprehensive platform in the Chinese comic world to unite cosers together,” Yaotong explained why she decided to build a platform focusing on exchanging cosplay techniques, incubating innovation and making full use of resources.
Four professional cosers were play onstage for the premiere of World of Warcraft film at Wanda Film Theatre. They could earn over RMB 1,000 each every day. There are lots of opportunities like this, and they are often invited to premiere events of blockbuster commercial films.
Before the show, they grabbed a lunch in the hall of Wanda Film Theatre. To ensure the quality of their “weapons and dresses”, they would spend 3-4 thousand RMB purchasing these stuffs, so they often made up themselves to lower cost.
Cartoonist Nacha was drawing in the above picture. He started drawing mostly illustrations, but now he mainly drew for comic films. “Demand exceeds supply in comic film sector,” he explained. “When I first came to know the ACG world, cartoons were showing more positive stuffs than negative ones,” he recalled. When he looked back, he still liked ACG in the past, and as his experiences accumulated, he began to gradually get rid of comic features in his works, since he started to believe that good ACG works should be closer to the real life.
Mr. Zhou’s shopwas the only cosplay costume shop left in the SoShow shopping mall in Beijing. He ran the shop himself, but the traffic was not at all busy. Young people seldom go to offline shops to buy cosplay clothes. Although there were professional tailors who could make customized costumes for cosers, most people preferred to buy costumes on Taobao, since it’s generally 50% cheaper online. Mr. Zhou also prepared some clothes he bought from shops on Taobao, but those costumes were poorly-made in comparison.
These models were hand-made of resin, and priced at a couple thousand RMB each. However, most cosers were students who could’t afford such luxury. So buyers of these models are mostly adults who wanted to buy these stuffs to pay tribute to the past days.
Several new video game stores were opened on Gulou Street, and most customers were regulars who were born in the 70s or 80s. Most products in these stores were directly imported from abroad, and the average price of each game CD was priced at around RMB 300.
The audience were watching a cosplay show in the first Beijing Dream Comic Show held on June, 10th, 2016. The show attracted over 5,000 people to buy tickets, among whom students born after 1990 or 1995 took up 90%. These bunch people were obviously willing to pay for their interest in ACG.
Most of the 100 stands on the Dream Comic Show were rented by cosers who sold hand-made “weapons”, models, cards or posters. They had to pay RMB 150 for the stand every day, and kept of rest of what they earned to keep their cosplay habit.
A coser who hadn’t had time to remove her makeup was heading for the subway with her boyfriend. However, they didn’t think they were quite different in the crowd.
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[The article is published and edited with authorization from the author @Zhu Lingyu, please note source and hyperlink when reproduce.]
Translated by Levin Feng (Senior Translator at PAGE TO PAGE), working for TMTpost.