Imagine an entire convention hall full of weird people shrieking and shouting Japanese greetings at each other. Sporting their Neko ears, electric blue wigs and twin katanas they seem to come straight out of your favourite manga or anime. Wouldn’t you just love to be in their shoes and try on your favourite character’s signature getup? The art of cosplaying was born from this very spirit and is now a recognized art form among otakus all over the world.
Bangladeshi anime fans finally got the chance to cosplay at Mazecon, Bangladesh’s 1st Anime Convention, held by MazeCity, Bangladesh’s 1st Anime Community. There, anime fans of our own motherland dressed up as their favourite anime characters. However, one serious cosplayer, Shadab Shayeree Ahmed, has taken the meaning of cosplay to a whole new level.
This very enthusiastic chap is determined to take cosplaying in Bangladesh to an international level by taking part in the Otaku House Cosplay Idol competition himself. Shadab is an active member of Mazecity- the first Bangladeshi anime community and a founder at Anifinity- the first Bangladeshi Cosplay Community that helps potential cosplayers with equipment and merchandise. Cosplaying as the infamous Hidan from Naruto, we must say that Shadab has done quite an impressive job impersonating him. To find out more, we decided to have a little chat with him.
UNaB: When did you first feel that you can’t do without anime?
Shadab: Well I have been watching Anime since I was a kid. But the addiction really took hold when I was in seventh grade. And ever since Animax came I became so addicted that a day without Anime would like kill me. That’s in the past though. Now I have watched enough Anime to live without it for a few days *chuckle*. If I am not mistaken my current count is around 800 individual series.
UNaB: Why Hidan and nothing else? Would you have chosen another character had you a little more time?
Shadab: Well, I get that a lot. My answer is pretty straightforward- I was not born with a Japanese face hence I can’t really do characters like Naruto, Ichigo, Natsu, etc. and expect to pull it off. But with Hidan I can cover all that up with paint. That is why I chose to do his black/white version instead of his regular one. I probably would have tried Mystogan from Fairy Tail if I had more time and money, but hey- isn’t Hidan badass enough?
UNaB: Tell us about your inspirations and what made you decide to cosplay.
Shadab: Hmm inspirations….. there’s so much to say. Almost everything inspires me from people to movies to those little things that ignite my fuel. But come to think of it, nothing in particular really. My first cosplay (it was actually a big mess) was at an event calledMazecon 2011 held by MazeCity. Since then I have been quite interested in cosplaying and was constantly wondering why people in Bangladesh never take it up seriously. I mean even if anything is unpopular in a certain country you would at least expect one person to do it seriously. Most fans are happy with a mediocre level cosplay which is fine for a local event but can’t really be bragged about in an international level. And worse they believe it’s not possible for a Bangladeshi to compete at in international level. I always place huge faith in my skills even though I mess up pretty badly at times but this time I had a feeling I could pull off an epic cosplay at least at an entry level in terms of international standards. So with 3 days of almost no sleep and hard work, 5 hours of nonstop painting as well as 10,000 Taka spent on everything- my Hidan cosplay came into being. It was about time the world would see Bangladeshi cosplayers and actually say “Damn they are good”. That’s exactly the reaction I got in the Otaku House Cosplay Idol 2012 competition.
UNaB: Tell us a little about Anifinity, what you guys do and how you do it?
Shadab: Well AniFinity was an idea I came up with after attending Mazecon 2011. I thought maybe it’s time someone opens a shop where people can actually get Anime merchandise, especially a place where I can help them make their custom costumes. It was started with only a 4000 Taka investment on February 4th 2011 and as of today we have sold merchandise worth over 80,000 Taka. Most of our profit goes into bringing new things which our fans or customers can see we do almost every month. A large part of it also went into the Hidan cosplay, as cosplaying is not cheap depending on who you are cosplaying as. Plus if we just brought the costumes and show no one cosplaying, it would not have much of an effect on the fans. So we believe in showing people that it’s possible! It is mainly run by me but one of my best friends helps me out with merchandise-hunting and finding suppliers. We simply run across the city at potential places looking for manufacturers who can make Anime related stuff or those who already import some. In most cases we turn out successful. We give order dates on Facebook at various places and take preorders for our merchandise. After about 2-4 weeks we distribute them at the same place.
UNaB: What things should one keep in mind while cosplaying?
Shadab: I believe that the most crucial thing is character choice. Even if we love some characters like Goku, Naruto, Luffy, etc it is simply not possible to cosplay as them unless we have a similar face and build. As we are not born Japanese we have to compromise with makeup and other stuff to pull off a certain look and that is not possible with some characters. So give up on your favourite characters and choose the ones which you look like or can pull off with some makeup, face paint, masks or armor.
Secondly you need to spend a lot of money on it. Most of the awesome characters have pretty complexly designed swords, armor and what not. Making costumes, buying wigs and making the armor don’t really come cheap. You also need to have some knowhow and talent. Yes talent, it is not something you can acquire. If everyone had a knack for cosplaying and making the accessories themselves then we would be seeing tons of epic cosplayers. But honestly it takes a great deal of judgment skill. After cosplaying seriously for the first time in my life I have realized how amazing those epic cosplayers are to make things look so flawless and simple. It will take me alteast a few more attempts to reach that level. The reason is sometimes for some characters you can’t buy the costume and definitely not the accessories.
This is where your natural talent in making the things comes up. Or where you brain is put to the test to explain to someone else on how to make them. Trust me when I say this- I almost gave up 10 times in the 5 hours painting process for Hidan simply because I was losing my mind and this happens when the cosplay needs a lot of preparation. Last but not least wigs are very important depending on your character and the small details on the costume or accessory that you think doesn’t matter actually does on an international level. Because the closer you get to perfection the more people will pick on the little things. So in simple words cosplay a character you know you can pull of perfectly, spend time researching on it, spend money on making it as perfect as possible, don’t forget the little things and as always have fun while doing it. If you don’t have fun then it’s really not just worth doing.
If you have enjoyed our conversation with Shadab, do show him some love by voting for him in the Competition!
UNaB is proud to announce that Shadab Shayeree Ahmed has secured third position in Otaku House Cosplay Idol in Asia Pacific category. He obtained a total of 1751 votes in the final voting round which is only 150 votes less than the winner of his category. Don’t believe us? Here’s proof-