World Cosplay Summit 2019 and in retrospect

World Cosplay Summit 2019 Team Philippines, performing a skit from Sengoku Night Blood. [Screencap from WCS YouTube]

It has been a long time since I wrote my opinion regarding the World Cosplay Summit. All the time, I was jumping to places where I have never been before — and before I knew it, I have spent a lot of time, money and resources to share the news to you.

The journey so far

In 2018, I went to Davao to cover the National Preliminaries at the Nippon Industrial and Cultural Exchange. This was the first time that I covered an event outside Manila — and I am so stunned with my experience that I consider it as a milestone… a keepsake, if you will (nudge, nudge).

In that same year, I saw myself traveling to Singapore for my first overseas trip — I am lucky to see Singapore’s National Preliminaries at C3AFA Singapore 2018:

Of all the teams, Karlonne and I were fixated on the last two teams: Rithe & Kai, and Melanie Joanne & Gearchi. Both are impressive, belting out their efforts in making the crowd awe.

In the end, I’m still firm in my bet that the former will win this one. I was right.

Lastly, I was in Cebu for my first event visit there — Otakufest 2019 — which is also a host to the Cebu Qualifiers:

The performance of both teams have made their mark in the judges’ eyes as well as the audience present in the area. This is evident especially on the part of Class S, to which the judges got surprised with their scene execution.

The story so far

Between duty and devotion, I have to put duty first — and this is why I have not talked that much about the Summit’s development in the country.

The only time I talk about this is during the actual Championship, in which teams from 40 countries have competed for the coveted title. Unlike the past Championships, this one made me think so hard of guessing who will be the champion — there’s no definite pattern.

Last year, it was “winning by nostalgia,” executed by Team Mexico as they performed the arcade classic “Street Fighter.” In 2017, it was China’s Blood+ “blood streak” effect that awed a lot — and look, no kidding, we see that effect being executed by some teams even from this year’s tournament.

With 40 countries in the pool, the organizers must do something so as not to prolong the whole process, and that brings us to this year’s championship format:

  1. Tokyo Round — all teams will be doing a cosplay catwalk. Eight teams have been selected to qualify automatically for the final round, but they have to pass the…
  2. Costume judging — for two days, all teams have their costumes checked and judged.
  3. Nagoya Round — perhaps the longest on-stage round in the tournament, this had me glued on my phone as I watch on YouTube for around four to five hours at most. Sixteen teams have been selected to proceed to…
  4. THE FINAL Round — which will put all 24 remaining teams in the bout for a spot at the podium.

Last year, it was just a qualifying and a final round. They sure made a lot of adjustments along the way.

If we will check in the Wikipedia entry for the Summit, by 2016, the “Observer” status was no longer in effect, paving way for new representatives to be in the competitive level equal to other competitor-countries. The last countries to have this status in 2015 were Canada and Sweden.

My viewpoint on select teams

Now that we have talked about my story, let’s shed light on some teams:

Malaysia

In Malaysia, their National Preliminaries was overshadowed by what I perceive as politics.

The Agence France Presse (AFP) posted a story about the said qualifier being entered by police amid immigration issues. This has been picked up by local and international news sites including Singapore’s CNA and Coconuts. Just a few months ago, a similar incident happened there. My references are leading me to the conclusion that the latter incident is in retaliation to what has happened in the former, to which my info is still inconsistent.

Nevertheless, the team still pulled up a great performance, and I believe they applied the strategy of the 2018 Champions (winning by nostalgia), reflecting on the medium they worked upon — Classic Tekken is Classic. I watch my brother play that game through the PSOne we had at home.

Above all of these alleged politicking are the few good men who helped sorted this issue out, something that mainstream media (I’m especially looking at you, AFP) will not be able to tell you in detail.

One notable name is Solomon Freeman, and I’m glad to meet him in person at C3AFA. Simply put, he extended his hand along with the organizers to help sort out the issue and assist the guests out of the country to safety.

I may be wrong in interpreting this whole issue altogether, and I’m looking at my references online, so if you have beef with me about this, please say so.

Philippines

Our Team Philippines went through a lot as well. As I see it, the award-winning Team Class S has solid support from their peers in Cebu and Davao.

What I need everyone to pay attention to is that our delegation received a lot of raves from viewers online. This is how I see it:

Philippines GIF – Find & Share on GIPHY

Discover & share this Philippines GIF with everyone you know. GIPHY is how you search, share, discover, and create GIFs.

This team showed the craft they refined for so long — from the actions, the moves, the fearless sword swings, and even the slow-motion part — I am floored by this performance.

This makes me say, “Ah, this will be the future of the Philippines in the WCS. I’m confident that we will be at the podium with this kind of performance soon enough.”

Of course, coming from the Philippines, I believe our delegation deserved some form of recognition. Especially of this kind. I remember them saying that they do their best to fulfill the expectations of people in Nagoya, where their characters were born and made history.

Australia

⭐WCS Behind-the-scenes tip: MAKE A GOOD… – AmenoKitarou (A.K. Wirru)

⭐WCS Behind-the-scenes tip: MAKE A GOOD INTRO VIDEO. “ねええええ~ 知ってる? Heyyy did you know?” Before every WCS performance, the teams appear on screen to…

If there’s something that Team Australia taught us how they got their first WCS Championship, it’s this:

K Cosplay and I have extensive experience interacting with Japanese people both socially and professionally. We gathered that they generally enjoy seeing two things in international visitors:

  1. People who have a strong spirit and flavour of their home country AND/OR
  2. Foreigners who are more involved with Japanese culture than even the average Japanese people.
Having grown up with traditional Japanese martial arts, language and cultural studies, K and I chose to appeal to the latter…with a hint of deadly Australian animals of course ?.

 

If you watched their performance during THE FINAL Round, their story starts from failing a quest, which leads them to train more to succeed, which they did.

Their strategy to create a better impression to the judges from the first look, topped with their carefully-executed happy-ended Monster Hunter performance, led them to victory royale.

Guys, we may have found a way to be noticed by the judging panel and be at the top. they will be also sitting as judges in the Championship Finals by next year, so let’s see where this goes.

What I think will be the future of WCS?

If I remember correctly, during the Opening Ceremony, the committee said that they were preparing the Summit for a year. This year’s summit has just been concluded and they’ll need more manpower to support them for next year along with the rest of the activities and the additional activities in line with their advocacies, notably their campaign against ocean waste (umigomi) in partnership with The Nippon Foundation.

Their umigomi campaign is just one advocacy the WCS Committee will be focusing upon, but I believe they won’t stop there — they will sure have two more advocacies to shed light in the years to come.

The World Cosplay Summit is keen on adding more countries each year — just by looking at their brochure [PDF], we have 30 countries waiting to be included. It is one thing to gather cosplayers from around the globe, but it’s another thing to organize a tournament participated by 40 countries.

There’s no stopping WCS — born in 2003 and started with only 5 invited individual cosplayers — in expanding to attract most if not all countries to participate.

In retrospect

If I am allowed to speak about my personal life for a moment — loving and doing what I do best and doing what is necessary for me to live are two things that I always juggle…

The thing is, what I’m doing for a living is what supports me to do the things I love, and I am thankful. Yes, I am thankful, but even I am thinking my efforts were not enough for me to be satisfied.

As I look back, I realize I may have forgotten the footprints that led me to who I am and what I stand for today.

For example, I got an interview with WCS Organizing Committee Chairman Tokumaru Oguri when the Nationals was held at the SM Mall of Asia in 2015 — this I believe left my other friends from the media with a few questions to ask:

We’re Covering…: Hero Face Off 2015 (Part 2)

This is a video from The Deremoe Archives. For more videos, check out keepsakes. on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/jayagonoy

In 2014, I was able to talk to that year’s Champion — may I ask you to focus on the one I’ve spoken to first:

That lady right there is MingMiho, who will eventually be one of the ambassadors for this year’s Summit in Tokyo, as well as receive a lot of gigs.

I believe her popularity in the country is not at par with the likes of Alodia or Myrtle Sarrosa, but I believe she is one heck of a personality outside of the country, and that’s why I believe she is underestimated here.

Fast forward to 2018, I saw Oguri-san at C3AFA Singapore along with the competitors for the Singapore Preliminaries. (Now this one is part of my Singapore travelogue, maybe you have free time to watch the full release. ?)

Going back to 2017, I met Ping and SJ of Team Eurika Ai as they hopped to Manila for the Asia Pop Comicon. This, after I first met them in 2015:

AFTER TWO YEARS I FINALLY SAW EURIKA 愛 AGAIN [Interview – Jay Agonoy / keepsakes.]

After two years, I was able to see Ping and SJ of Team Eurika 愛 again – this time, at the third day of the Asia Pop Comicon Manila 2017. More on APCC Manila on my story here: https://jayagonoy.xyz/asia-pop-comicon-manila-2017-df7345f20294 Part 2 of our APCC Manila 2017 special.

These are those little things that make a big difference to me, as a self-proclaimed advocate of the Summit in the Philippines. This gives me the motivation to share more stories about the development of the World Cosplay Summit in the Philippines.

To cap off this piece, let me share what AK Wirru of Team Australia 2019 posted just an hour ago after I finished writing this:

[…] So it’s important that we remember to believe in our own work, our time spent and our achievements. It’s important to remember exactly what shit talkers, gatekeepers, armchair experts and the like are worth: less than the dirt beneath our feet. […]

[…] Success is an iceberg. Unfortunately most of it is destined to be submerged. But. Trust in your own work. Trust in your support circle. Trust in your time. Trust in your failures. Trust in your success.

Hard work doesn’t lie. Hard work never lies.

This piece was supposed to be written with a focus on our country, but I can’t help adding other things.

I hope you endured reading my story up to this end, and I trust that I have conveyed my feelings to you, my friends. Thank you very much; let’s keep in touch.


Another sidenote: I’ve shared a draft of this to my friends prior to posting, and one of those who have seen this is my friend Naru (who once competed for the WCS Philippines), who suggested maybe we can discuss the experiences WCS participants had during their trip.

I admit, I wasn’t that much focused on their trip, but I can suggest a documentary about WCS Alumni uploaded on YouTube last year. At that time, TaeYeon was managing the alumni side:

Welcome Back – World Cosplay Summit Another Story

“World Cosplay Summit (WCS)” is the biggest contest of cosplayers in the world. This is a documentary film behind the scenes of WCS. コスプレの世界一を決める大会「世界コスプレサミット」の舞台裏にせまったドキュメンタリーフィルム。