Cosplay: Gender Bending in Nagaland through Anime

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“If you don’t like your destiny, don’t accept it. Instead, have the courage to change it the way you want it to be.“ – Naruto

The term ‘Cosplay’ was coined in Japan in 1984. Cosplay is a contradiction of the words costume and play. It is an art of performance where the cosplayers dress up in costumes and accessorize themselves to look like various characters from anime, manga, video game, t.v. series etc.

Since the 1990’s there has been a rapid growth of interest in in Cosplay and since then it has grown into a massive culture where people of all ages come together and share their love and interest in manga, anime, video games and so on. Cosplay is mostly popular in countries like Japan where Anime was first created. Japan is the birthplace of Japanese animation which is known as anime. It has now spread to other countries such as France, Germany, India and many others as well.


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Anime is special to many people because it is not only about an animation series or movie playing on the screen but it teaches a lot also about certain morals in life like for example friendships, on family, hardships, love, loyalty etc.

Dressing up in costumes, getting the hair and makeup done,  helps the cosplayers or just anyone to feel like someone else for once. They get into character and that helps them to enable themselves to act more like the character itself and helps them in their cosplay.

In India, Cosplay is mostly popular in the North-eastern states. Nagaland is one such state where people have great love for it! NAJ Cosfest is one particular event where people of all ages dress up as their favorite characters from  anime, manga, comic etc. Some of the famous characters which cosplayers display as are Naruto, Kaneki from Tokyo Ghoul, Luffy from One Piece and also characters from Attack on Titans. This became an annual event with more people joining the event each year. This event is hosted by the Nagaland Anime Junkies which is short for NAJ. NAJ consists of a community of anime lovers which started off as a Facebook page in 2011. They wanted to expand it and make it bigger and which led to the organization of this event called NAJ Cosfest in 2013. Since then it has been a huge success, every year it keeps getting bigger and bigger. NAJ Cosfest welcomes people of all ages. People enjoy performances by local artists,  there are stalls where people sell merchandises from outside the country and also local works as well. Inside the event various competitions are also held where cosplayers compete with each other to win the desired titles. The winners go home with merchandises from Japan and also with cash.

People of all ages come and enjoy this event. It is a way of bringing Otakus (anime fans), gamers, comic fans together and to share their love for their interest in them with each other. This love for Cosfest helps in bringing people of all ages together from an 8 year old boy to a grown up man, sharing the same love for anime. This creates a bond which breaks the age barriers within a society. There is also cross dressing in the Cosfest where guys dress up as girls and girls dress up as boys,  breaking the gender barriers as well. This makes this event more special and a place where misfits can also fit in.

This love for the Japanese culture is taking over many countries. The love for Cosplay is also growing at a fast rate. People cosplay for the connection it gives to other people who share the same passion as theirs. Cosplay is not just dressing up in elaborate costumes and trying to look like a specific character from a comic or a manga. It is about sharing your love for a character and expressing a story.

About the Writer : Menule Chirhah

Menule Chirhah is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Arts in English Literature in Patkai Christian College and she has a great passion in writing.

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