Otakuthon Style: Cult MTL’s cosplay gallery

Worn editor Serah-Marie McMahon checks out the madcap fashions at Otakuthon last weekend at Montreal, while photographer Daniel Coyle takes you there with a gallery of cosplay costumes and more.

Otakuthon Style: “Effort” is not a dirty word (image by Serah-Marie McMahon)

Image gallery by DANIEL COYLE

My personal experience with Anime is limited to Sailor Moon reruns and my current Netflix obsession, Ouran High School Host Club, which is a bizarre study in gender politics wrapped in a show made for tweens. And yet, I’ve always had a healthy obsession with whatever Americanized version of Japanese pop culture managed to trickle into my life. Crazy Harajuku outfits are awesome, and I’ll fight anyone who says different.

Otakuthon is, according to their website, “Quebec’s largest festival celebrating Japanese animation (anime), graphic novels (manga), related gaming, and pop culture.” So last Sunday I dragged my 12-year-old cousin Serena off to the Palais des Congrès to check out how crazy the outfits would be. I was not let down.

Serena and I wandered through the crowds, checking everyone out. She preferred the women in “kickin’ ass” costumes — spiky hair, lots of leather, snarly expressions, red lipstick. I am forever a sucker for squishy girls in fancy dresses, and if there is a crown involved, even better. Multiple times we needed to get out of the way because some sort of choreographed anime line dance would suddenly break out to our left, or a epic cardboard sword battle would erupt on the escalator. Each of these would elicit a round of cheers from the crowd. The energy was palpable, and delightful.

There was plenty to do besides the cosplay. There was a massive and complex schedule (requiring cross referencing) for three full days of panels, screenings, video game tournaments, fashion shows, dancing, socials, Japanese karaoke, doll collections, a quiet library to curl up and read manga and a café offering poutine topped with a hot dog cut up to look like an octopus… Otakuthon is serious.

Despite the sweltering heat, an impressively high percentage of the thousands (and thousands) of guests were decked to the nines. A few participants were tentatively made-up (Lolita-esque dress and funny ears) and a few sported thoroughly adorable onesie contraptions in Pokémon flavors. But by far the majority of the participants wore carefully constructed and clearly handmade outfits. This was a space where effort was not a dirty word, and it was glorious. Few things in life make me happier that people reveling in clothing — using what they are wearing to connect with other people, and to find what I can only describe as nerd bliss. ■

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