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With schools in both Japan and abroad on summer vacation, we’re right in the prime seasons for pop culture events like San Diego Comic-Con and Chiba Prefecture’s Wonder Festival. We recently attended both, snapping pictures of all the cool cosplay costumes, but the hobby’s most prestigious gathering was yet to come.

Last weekend the 2014 World Cosplay Summit was held in the city of Nagoya. Our own cosplay efforts aren’t quite competition-level, but that didn’t mean we couldn’t enjoy all the awesome costumes that were, so we grabbed our camera and hopped on the Shinkansen.

2014 marked the 12th year for the World Cosplay Summit, and the event has grown so big that it moved into a new home at the Aichi Arts Center. Many cosplayers still use the old venue, the Nagoya Sakae Oasis 21 entertainment complex, as a sort of staging area, though, so we made it our first stop.

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Despite the sweltering heat, we found dozens of cosplayers congregating on Oasis 21’s outdoor lawn and patio. We were already sweating in our normal street clothes, so we can only imagine how hot the girl in that frilly maid outfit must have been feeling.

Looking to cool off, we headed into the air-conditioned basement level of the complex, where we found even more costumed fans.

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Compared to the surface-level cosplayers, down here we saw more outfits that incorporated masks, full bodysuits, and complex headgear. It was easy to understand why, since even if you’re dressed up as a monster of super-powered alien, inside you’re still human, and more than a few minutes sweating away inside one of these complex costumes would be about all you could take before keeling over.

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With almost three decades worth of unforgettable films, it was no surprise to see plenty of Studio Ghibli characters.

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Moving from a Japanese icon to an American one, we also came across this Marvel duo.

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In some cases, it’s the cosplayers who’re from overseas, even if the characters aren’t like this pair we saw after moving to Osu, the otaku neighborhood of Nagoya (and also the workplace of the country’s most energetic convenience store clerk).

▼ Always good to know King of Fighters still has fans.

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Osu is also where we crossed paths with this dashing Jigen, the right-hand man of master thief Lupin III.

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▼ Porco Rosso, the Crimson Pig, supplying even more Ghibli goodness

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While cosplay is typically thought of as a young fan’s hobby, we also encountered this group of full-grown gentlemen. We asked one his age, which he gave as, “About 55.”

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We were a little sad to find out that they actually weren’t here for the World Cosplay Summit, though. Instead, they were performers working at the Gifu Prefectural Products Trade Show that was also going on that day. Still, since they’d stopped to watch the cosplayers, plus let us take their picture, we think they can feel at least a little kinship with the anime fans who were participating in the Osu Cosplay Parade.

Speaking of the parade, under any other circumstances this would have been shocking to see.

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Thankfully, this wasn’t the first wave of an invasion, but just a group of first-person-shooter gamers, inspired by the graphics of one of the many games with “Battle,” “Duty,” or “Honor” in its title.

Call of Modern Honor Field-fare, or something like that

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A second military-styled group was the self-proclaimed Home Protection Special Forces Unit, a tongue-in-cheek reference to the shut-in NEET (Not in Education, Employment, or Training) lifestyle.

▼ Although honestly speaking, we’re not sure how effective a fighting force with no education or training would be.

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Going from warfare to digital crime, the Eiga Dorobo/Movie Thief character from Japan’s surrealistically silly anti-piracy ads also graced Osu with his presence.

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▼ It’s like he’s bootlegging us!

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Maybe the oddest costume of all was the guy who dressed up like Ronald McDonald. Sadly, he wasn’t handing out free burgers.

▼ He did bring a double-order of blood-curdling terror, though.

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On the other hand, Mario looks a lot friendlier, even when he’s packing heat.

▼ Although to be fair, the original plan for Super Mario Bros. was for Mario to shoot enemies with a gun.

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▼ The dude on the left gets extra points for dressing up as post-fire flower Mario. Also, we’re a little worried that Vega is about to sneak up on Luigi and shank him in the pancreas.

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We can see why so many people choose to cosplay as Mario. He’s almost universally loved, instantly recognizable, and the costume is comparatively easy and cheap to put together. At least, it’s cheap until you decide that a hat and plush turtle shell aren’t enough, and decide to upgrade your accessories to a real-life Mario Kart.

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It goes without saying that the day was a lot of fun for fans of costuming, anime, and video games alike. You can add one more group to the people who were glad they came, though: amateur photographers.

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If you want some practice shooting human subjects in a variety of different clothes, it’s hard to think of a better opportunity than this.

▼ Even some of the photographers were cosplaying.

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Ordinarily, asking someone to dress up in tights and strike a fighting pose so you can take pictures of them will get you a slap in the face and/or some questions from the police. At the World Cosplay Summit, though? It’ll get you a smile and “Sure! How’s this?”

Photos © RocketNews24
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