Dressed to thrill, cosplayers bring fantasy to life at comic expo
Fans of animation and video games descend on convention centre for five-day event
Sexy, silly, cute and outright bizarre sums up the atmosphere at the Convention and Exhibition Centre on Friday, the opening day of the annual Ani-Com & Games Hong Kong fair.
The event showcases the latest trends in comic books, animation and computer games, but has also become a stage for Hong Kong's burgeoning cosplay culture.
"I feel more likeable, unique and cute when I am dressing up," said 15-year-old Lai Oi-ying, who arrived dressed in a Pikachu costume, one of the main characters from the Japanese series Pokemon.
"I love Pikachu's personality and character and want to make him better known to others by bringing him to life."
Kiki Fung, a 15-year-old cosplayer, came dressed as the eyepatch-wearing femme fatale from the Japanese anime Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions.
"After putting on this costume, I feel like I'm a totally different person," Fung said. She spent about HK$600 on her outfit, most of which she bought over the internet. "It's also kind of nice because I've never had so many people want to take photographs of me," she said.
In leather trenchcoat and shaggy blonde wig, Jennifer Sora Bae, 16, was living out her interpretation of Belphegor from Katekyo Hitman Reborn.
Video: Cosplay fans talk about their obsession
She said cosplaying was less about fashion and more about socialising. "I think it's fun to dress up as your favourite character, entertain people and make new friends."
More than 170 exhibitors have registered and organisers are expecting over 700,000 visitors over the five days of the event.
Despite an amber rainstorm warning, thousands of diehard comic book and anime fans lined up outside the fair in the early hours. Security guards had to corral visitors into waiting zones before the doors opened at 10.15am.
Edmond Tsoi Chi-wai, who was the first person in line for the 12th year in a row, grabbed his spot at 2am on Tuesday. Freeman Yu, 16, joined the queue at 6am yesterday. He said he was prepared to spend about HK$3,000 on comic books and related merchandise.
The fair comes four years after the government invested HK$55.5 million in the animation and comics industry, in a bid to nurture creative talent and support start-ups, according to Andrew Wong Ho-yuen, permanent secretary for commerce and economic development.
Cheng Hon-yee, chairman of the Animation, Comics & Games Expo, said the investment reflected changing attitudes towards the industry. It has gone from being "outcast and discriminated against in society to being widely accepted and respected".
The fair is promoting a family deal that allows one adult to bring two children for free. In previous years, media reports had focused on what was perceived as the sexualisation of female icons. It ends on Tuesday.