European Cosplay Gathering - March 2011
Report by Sj bonnar (sjbonnar) posted Friday 4th March 2011
Sjonnar interviews Emily Bastian about Bunkasai and the European Cosplay Gathering; a new Europe-wide event with its final at JapanExpo in Paris.
Sjbonnar: Ok, so first off, the real basics. Can you tell us what exactly the European Cosplay Gathering is?
Emily: The European Cosplay Gathering (or ECG) is a cosplay competition bringing together cosplayers from different countries in Europe. There are many differences from other competitions in the way the ECG is being organised and judged. For ECG, one individual and one group will be chosen for each country and costumes from Western films and comics are permitted.
Sjbonnar: I guess one of the most important questions in many people's minds then would be...other than the prestige of winning such a competition, what is the prize?
Emily: The winning individual and group will win a week-long trip to Paris and a 4-day VIP pass to Japan Expo! I think this is a really nice prize, since they will have a chance to meet other cosplayers from around Europe and Japan Expo always has exciting guests from Japan. Plus the overall winners at the final will be awarded another prize - I'm not allowed to say what that is yet, but it's a biggie!
Sjbonnar: Wow, considering the prize for the UK qualifier is a week long trip to Paris, the final prize must be quite exciting! Are there any special entry requirements? I'd assume entrants would need a valid passport to start with due to the nature of the prize?
Emily: Yup, you have to be over-18 and holder of a UK passport to enter. I know, this is a shame for younger cosplayers and cosplayers from other countries living in the UK, but we have to make sure the winning cosplayers will be able to travel to France without any problems with their visa or getting parental permission, etc.
Sjbonnar: I'm sure many Cosplay Island members will have heard of Japan Expo, but for those who haven't, could you tell us a bit more about it?
Emily: Well I'm a big fan of Japan Expo - anyone who knows me will know I go there every year and never stop going on about it! It's the biggest event of its kind in Europe with around 180,000 attendees, and takes place at Parc des Expositions just outside Paris, France.
However, it's not just an anime convention - the show also has huge video game, Japanese culture and sci-fi areas. There are always famous guests from Japan (the past two years have seen Morning Musume, X-Japan and even CLAMP appear!), not to mention a full-size concert venue attached to the venue. For cosplayers the facilities are incredible - two huge stages with projectors, a 20m catwalk and changing rooms with food and helpers provided.
Sjbonnar: Sounds like a vastly different cosplaying experience. And that's where the ECG finals are being held?
Emily: Yes, the final will be on Japan Expo's main stage in front of an audience of 4,000 people.
Sjbonnar: Ok, we know a lot about the grande finale, but what about the event where the UK qualifiers are taking place, Bunkasai, could you tell us a bit more about that?
Emily: It's the sister event of the Japanese Art Festival, taking place in London on March 5th. However unlike JAF, it's more of a traditional Japanese festival than an anime and manga event. Both events are organised by Akemi Solloway, which many cosplayers will know from her Japanese culture panels at Amecon and London Expo.
Sjbonnar: March 5th? The announcement has been cut rather fine hasn't it?
Emily: Yes....unfortunately the UK ECG selection was supposed to take place at another event later this year, which recently changed its date to take place AFTER the final in July. ECG's sponsors insisted that the UK selection should take place in London, and luckily Bunkasai stepped in at the last minute.
However, we will ask the judges to take this into consideration when choosing the winners. The winners can also improve or change their costume and performance before the final in July if they wish. So, you can enter a costume you have worn before and make something new for the final if you get through.
Sjbonnar: Thank you very much for speaking with me about this, hopefully it should drum up even more interest for what looks to be a very interesting event!
Emily Bastian (a.k.a. Orihime) has been cosplaying for 10 years. She is the co-organizer of the Grand Cosplay Ball and runs the cosplay events for Hyper Japan, JAF and Bunkasai.