Cosplay convention goes to sea
Contest on cruise ship brings together competitors and cosplay stars from the region
Colourful costumes, larger-than-life props and entertaining stage performances by regional and veteran local cosplayers.
These were what passengers got to see on board a four-day, three-night Royal Caribbean cruise ship.
Last weekend, Cosfest, one of the biggest cosplay conventions in Asia, was held for the first time on cruise ship Mariner of the Seas, which sailed from Singapore to Port Klang in Malaysia and back.
Cosfest is usually held at venues such as convention halls or hotel ballrooms.
This convention, aptly named Cosfest Sea: The Rising Tide, saw 24 experienced cosplayers from Asia, including Singapore, South Korea, Japan, Thailand and Indonesia, taking part in the annual cosplay competition Asia Cosplay Meet (ACM).
There was also a parade, where cosplayers strutted down an aisle, and photo-taking sessions with the cosplayers.
Adding to the star factor were popular cosplay celebrities such as Taiwan's Neneko and China's Xiaoxiaobai.
Xiaoxiaobai, 29, who has more than 600,000 followers on Weibo, told The New Paper in Mandarin: "This is my first time attending a cosplay event on a ship after doing cosplay for a decade. It's very special and unique."
Cosfest Sea organiser Stephanie Loh, who has been organising events under the Cosfest brand for the past 15 years, wanted a place where regional cosplayers could come together and interact with each other over several days and she came up with the idea of a ship.
The 33-year-old, who was dressed as ice queen Elsa from the animated film Frozen for the cosplay parade, said: "It's a romantic venue where cosplayers with like-minded interests can hang out.
"Cruise-goers can also watch the Asia Cosplay Meet, which is one of the toughest and most competitive cosplay competitions in Asia."
Indeed, the eight teams, with three competitors each, brought their best to the stage.
As part of the competition, each team had to act out a scene from an anime.
They were judged by a panel of four on their costumes as well as their performances.
The judges included Cosfest Sea co-organiser Takahan Tan and representatives from World Cosplay Summit Taiwan and World Cosplay Summit China.
Team Indonesia acted out a fight sequence between Spider-Man and Black Cat in the doubles category, while Team Singapore impressed with its performance from the Gundam sci-fi series in the group category.
But it was Team Thailand who bagged the championship title and a cash prize of $2,000. The trio stole the show with a hilarious yet entertaining rendition of Japanese webcomic One Punch Manthat boasted intricate, handmade costumes and well-rehearsed acting.
Team member Rujipas Distaprom, 26, who goes by the cosplay moniker Jasper Z, said: "We spent two months on the costumes and trained on our fight sequence for another two months.
"In Thailand, we are one of the best cosplayer teams, but this competition showed us how strong the (other competitors) are. When we won, it felt like we were dreaming."
Team Singapore came in a close second.
Leader Frank Koh, better known as Raistlin, said they spent about nine months making their costumes, which cost $800. They rehearsed their performance for three months.
The 32-year-old, who has been cosplaying for a decade, said: "The ACM is a competition that features contestants of a really high calibre.
"It is anybody's game and we have put in the best that we can, so we are not disappointed with the results."
Mr Koh added that the unique venue resulted in the competition becoming an endurance test. He said: "We had to wear our costumes for about 11 to 12 hours each day, as compared to a normal competition, where we would wear it for a shorter period of time."
Cruise-goer Pauline Loh, a 50-year-old housewife, said: "It was a wonderful and unique event and it's great entertainment for me as I don't usually see cosplayers in action."
Medical technologist Stacey Goh, 31, said she signed up for the cruise because of the event.
She said: "The performances were very creative. I like anime and I thought this was such a novelty."