Israelis got a chance to dress up as their favorite anime character last week, as hundreds of fans attended Animatsuri, an anime and manga convention in Jerusalem that celebrates Japanese popular culture.
For those unfamiliar, cosplay is referred to as “the practice of dressing up as a character from a movie, book, or video game; anime refers to computer animation originating from Japan. Manga refers to comics or graphic novels that also originate from Japan.
The event was held at the International Convention Center in Jerusalem (ICC) by the Association for Manga and Anime in Israel (AMAI), a nonprofit organization promoting Japanese culture in Israel. AMAI has been working for over the past 15 years to promote anime and manga in this country.
The event, held in cooperation with the Japanese Embassy of Israel, was attended by thousands of Israelis of all ages and backgrounds. The convention was very family-friendly, with some attendees bringing their children along to experience the event together.
The cosplay spectacle at Animatsuri
Cosplayers came in costumes from numerous famous anime television series such as Demon Slayer, Attack on Titan, One Piece, Chainsaw Man, and others. Despite the convention mainly focusing on anime and manga, cosplayers were spotted wearing costumes from other intellectual properties outside of Japan. For example, Israeli attendees were spotted wearing outfits worn by Barbie and Ken in the recent Hollywood blockbuster Barbie, which made headlines for being a box office hit and for generating strong reactions to the film’s plot.
Other cosplayers came dressed in superhero costumes such as Spider-Man. Others cosplayed as characters originating from video games from Japan such as Kingdom Hearts.
Many attendees of the event asked for photographs with cosplayers who wore particularly accurate and well-made costumes. Many cosplayers also came to the event together as a group, all cosplaying as different characters from one intellectual property. For example, Thursday’s event saw people cosplaying in groups as multiple characters from Avatar: The Last Airbender and Demon Slayer.
Booths and stalls were set up at the convention for business owners, artists, and game shops to sell their merchandise that is related to Japanese pop culture media.
One owner of a stall at the event, Yarden, who manages a card shop called Sirolynia, has frequently attended numerous pop culture conventions in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem to promote his business.
“As an owner of a stand, it gives me a lot of exposure. A lot of people come and learn about the card games,” he said. “Many times, I see people who have bought from me before. I love it. It’s so much fun.”
Booths include various retailers selling retro video games, jewelry, clothes, posters, paintings, and figurines. Other booths were run by book and comic stores Steimatsky, Comics and Vegetables, and Comicaza – where they sold manga.
Additionally, there was an event held in a separate room where participants could play card games with each other such as Yu-Gi-Oh, Pokemon, and Magic the Gathering.
One of the largest events at the convention was the cosplay competition, where participants with the best cosplays would act out their characters on stage in small skits in front of a large audience.
Cosplays and skits performed included characters from Final Fantasy, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Super Mario, and The Legend of Zelda. The competition was also divided into categories such as singles and groups. Most participants had made their costumes themselves.
Another notably large event at the convention was Animini, an animation contest that was held at Animatsuri for the first time in collaboration with the Israeli Animation Guild, intended for both beginner and professional Israeli animators. The animators had to create an animation between 5-60 seconds long that showcased original characters.
At the end of the convention, there was a special fan screening of the anime film The First Slam Dunk, which was released this year. The screening was held at Cinema City, just a short walk from the ICC. The film was shown with Japanese audio and Hebrew subtitles.
AMAI also holds film screenings, lectures on Japanese pop culture, and karaoke events throughout the year.