Cosplay Matsuri (CosMatsu) made its much-awaited (or Matsuwaited) return on December 28-30, 2022, at the SMX Convention Center, Pasay City, Philippines. The lively convention was yet another avenue for many con-goers to share and celebrate their respective crafts and hobbies. In theory, Cosplay Matsuri is the finale to wrap up a productive and enjoyable year of cosplay events, but this year hits differently – it is another celebration of physical events that are finally returning to the Filipino anime community.
The quote, “It is good people who make good places,” is what best describes conventions and communities like these. Cosplay Matsuri 2022 featured a cool variety of exhibits, activities, and artists who all shared a passion for anime and cosplay. Some of the main highlights were seeing the special guest Rithe, the Star Avenue cosplayers, crafter Gelo Grayson, and the surprise con-goers: cosplayers Prince De Guzman and Awie De Guzman. (not to be confused with the De Guzman siblings!)
A few of us at Anime Corner who attended the convention had the opportunity to join in on the year-end celebration. It was without a doubt, an enjoyable experience that comes with a bit of sentimentality as the year ends and another begins. And here is how the Cosplay Matsuri 2022 went from our point of view.
A Matsuri to Remember
The word “Matsuri” describes the traditional Japanese festivals and occasions that are often celebrated with dance and music. As I’ve mentioned before, Cosplay Matsuri (or CosMatsu for short) is the last event of the Cosplay Mania series. The organizer, Cosplay.ph, has been making these conventions possible since 2008 and they continued on until the COVID-19 pandemic. Even though a mini Cosplay Matsuri was held last year, Cosplay Matsuri 2022 marked its official comeback as a full-blown year-end festival. In other words, it represents new beginnings for everyone in the community.
It all started with Cosplay Carnival in May, Anime and Cosplay Expo in July, then the flagship event Cosplay Mania in October. Artists, crafters, cosplayers, and ordinary fans traveled far and wide to join. This year, Cosplay Matsuri 2022 expressed the tradition of remembering special moments, emotions, and the growth we’ve all had together – a true festival spirit!
The atmosphere inside the convention was generally lively. Everyone was in high spirits, excited to see different cosplayers and creatives. It was ultimately fun and inspiring to see. Unfortunately, however, the overwhelming response of the con-goers led to congestion and crowds, and even the event ticketing system wasn’t able to accommodate everyone. Nevertheless, CosMatsu was still a place filled with a lot of things to see. Everyone was enjoying the event in their own ways – from roaming around the booths to having photos with their favorite cosplayers to joining many stage games and contests.
Games, Shopping, and Karaoke Everywhere!
The fan-favorite activities are always one to look out for during these events. For starters, Cosplay Matsuri is never complete without its traditional Charms Wall, an activity inspired by the Japanese prayer offering tablets. Con-goers came to this corner to post their wishes for the new year, eventually filling up the entire wall. Many people wished for good grades, money, health, family, and even better love lives! This is one of the most sentimental activities at the convention. Another one following this was the free calendar/poster where con-goers could have friends write their messages to each other and bring them home as a remembrance.
To keep up the festivities, the main stage featured the Anisong It Contest and the Cosplay Auction for all three days. In case you missed it, Cosplay Auction was one of the talks of the event this year. Many con-goers acquired their merchandise as low as P300, while others engaged in an exhilarating bidding contest. For example, the highest bid on Day 1 was a Hatsune Miku tapestry poster for ₱3,000 ($54.) Meanwhile, Day 3 sold Vtuber Kamiya Juu’s standee for ₱7,100 ($128,) and cosplayer Charess’ Yoimiya standee for a whopping ₱25,000 ($450!) Later on, the owner posted a video of the standee with fireworks in the background, aiming to copy the Genshin Impact character’s ultimate attack – a very fitting way to celebrate the new year! (And fairly wholesome, too.)
Other highlights on stage were the Dokuen Cosplay Contest and the Doujin Cosplay Contest where participants competed for the grand prizes, each displaying their talents in dancing and acting their anime characters. Meanwhile, the games had a more casual and spontaneous mood. The puzzle game on Day 1, Pundamonium, was a head-turner as the energetic emcees and players all delivered a puntastic and punny show. The mechanics of Pundamonium involved guessing the blank words on the screen with the help of an anime description and letter clues. It was definitely hilarious watching both witty and struggling players power through the game. I personally shared the audience’s frustration, amusement, and somewhat cringe reactions – the signs of every effective and good pun.
CosMatsu Day 2 and 3 featured Ano Na Wa, a quiz bee that tested your anime knowledge, from lore to music to voice actors. One of our media team members, Rob from Seiyuu Corner team, stood up to the challenge and joined the game. Naturally, and to my amazement, Rob perfectly got all the voice actor-related questions right. Congratulations again to Team Fullmetal for winning the game!
Later on, there was also the Bilibili Creator Awards which honored its platform’s most talented anime and gaming content creators. (In case you missed it, there was a lovely proposal on stage too!) Meanwhile, the Stardust Metaverse segment on stage introduced itself as a virtual place for anime, manga, and cosplay – in other words, a virtual city.
It’s a fact that Filipinos love karaoke! Sony Music Philippines was a definite highlight of Cosplay Matsuri 2022 because they offered a J-Pop karaoke service for con-goers. It was even snuggly placed near the food stalls for people to sit, watch, and vibe while someone sang their favorite anime opening and ending songs. Some of the most booked songs include “Silhouette” by KANA-BOON (Naruto), “Mixed Nuts” by Official HIGE DANdism (Spy x Family), “A Cruel Angel’s Thesis” by Yoko Takahashi (Neon Genesis Evangelion). On the last day of the convention, we even saw someone sing the iconic “Hare Hare Yukai” (Haruhi Suzumiya) while their friends danced along to it.
The Stars of the Show
Cosplay Matsuri 2022 welcomed back Rithe, an internationally recognized cosplayer and gaming video creator from Singapore, who first visited the convention back in Cosplay Carnival 2018. For each day of the event, Rithe cosplayed as a different character: Saber from Fate/Stay Night, Rosaria from Genshin Impact, and Yor Forger from Spy X Family. Her Meet-and-Greets were also visited by a lot of her fans.
In her stage appearance, Rithe enthusiastically shared how honored and thankful she felt to the Philippines for welcoming her with love and support. She also shared how much she loved Polvoron (Filipino milk cookie), motorcycle riding, and gaming hobbies. Lastly, Rithe shared some words of encouragement with fellow cosplayers and anime fans. Her advice to everyone is, “You will only be young once so enjoy your hobbies!”
Another special guest is Ethereal (8THiR3AL Projekt), a dynamic group of VTuber creatives working together with aspiring live streamers to promote and showcase Filipino talent to the world. Kamiya Juu, Azashi, and Shouta Ren, together with the other special guests Urodia, MIQX, Night Shifters, and Kana, all had stage appearances.
Fun Budol and a Supportive Community
One of the best parts of a convention is having the opportunity to roam around the place, meet people, take photos, and engage in conversation. Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, the idea of fitting in a place is always a good feeling! It could be one person or an entire community to open that door for you. This year, we give our appreciation to the people who make the place better.
If it’s one thing Filipinos all laugh about at conventions, it’s the fact that one can get spend money and get broke too quickly. In modern Filipino, the word “budol” is used to playfully express how one gets influenced or convinced to buy something unnecessary. So… you can just imagine the amount of budol that happens in shops at the convention – people end up buying a lot of stickers, art prints, merchandise, anime figures, and so on and so forth. It is both stressful and fulfilling since in the end, the people you support are simple creators and artists.
For example, the people at SSKAIT (who we previously interviewed in Cosplay Mania) are known for their enthusiastic budol strategies to sell merchandise in support of the artist. We were able to have a quick chat with Mr. Ralph, the older brother of comic artist AJ, and he shared how happy he was that most of the items, the talong (eggplant) plushies, in particular, were sold out. Mr. Ralph was genuinely cheerful about his brother’s art creations and is even excited about their future projects in the next year. The support that Mr. Ralph expressed for his younger brother was something that I particularly found very heartwarming at the convention.
If you’ve been around long enough, you’ll also recognize the well-known Hubbyte Store, an online shop that sells authentic figures and collectibles aiming to “deliver happiness to hobbyists (or to deliver “hobbiness.”) In fact, they’ve grown so much that their attendance at local conventions is a must! This year at Cosplay Matsuri 2022, Hubbyte offered a “P1 Nendoroid Promo”, a very budol buy for figure collectors. A lot of other stores also displayed plenty of affordable merchandise, like DenDen Otaku Shop’s Neon Genesis Evangelion Ichiban Kuji raffles to Anpanic’s wide array of anime trinkets. In fact, an authentic gachapon machine was actually present at the con, courtesy of Aniporium!
I got to meet cosplayers Hanamih and Ryuxei who brought to life the Aniporium mascots, Maika and Kaito. They shared how they were handing out flyers and inviting con-goers to try their luck with the gacha machines. Even though the store did not booth at the convention, Aniporium was still able to give fellow otakus a sneak peek of their store, as well as a chance to experience the anime gacha.
Hanamih shared her fun experience with me. She said, “Being able to cosplay for Aniporium was a huge honor. Cosplaying for fun is already a blast and being able to do it as a job feels super cool.” Meanwhile, Ryuxei said that “It was great having to cosplay the Aniporium mascots with Hanamih. I thought Kaito and Maika’s designs are cool, and cosplaying them felt even cooler. I had a blast joking around, interacting, and encouraging people to roll at the gacha machines. There are also a lot of different funny reactions of people when they hear the word “gacha!”
Ryuxei said that con-goers would either light up with excitement or run in terror from their gacha invitation. As someone who loves anime merch (and Genshin Impact), I relate to the mixed feelings that gacha gives. Well, folks, this is an example of a scary but exciting budol. It’s fun to hear that in these small things, the interactions that Hanamih and Ryuxei had with con-goers were simply relatable and silly. Hanamih added that “Seeing the congoers’ reaction on pulling or not pulling their desired selection was a lot of fun, and being able to interact with people who share the same interests was a joy.”
Another personality at Cosplay Matsuri 2022 was Mr. Gelo Grayson, a cosplay craftsman famous for his incredible and intricate workmanship. He has designed a number of amazing (and functional) cosplay props, and continues to create more at his very own workshop. Aside from his cosprints and merchandise at CosMatsu, Mr. Gelo was also offering cosplay repair services for con-goers who experienced mishaps with their costumes…for free! It was one of the most wholesome spots of the convention because Mr. Gelo was so friendly with everyone who came to say hello. He wasn’t greedy in sharing his crafting techniques, 3D printer stories, and even his favorite handy glue!
“Of course, you can ask me for advice! My advice is free!” were the animated words that stayed with me throughout the convention. Perhaps I can speak for everyone when I say that Kuya Gelo is truly an inspiration to the cosplay and crafting community. It was even a wholesome moment when Juries Kean, the young cosplayer and crafter who we featured in Cosplay Mania 2022, was praised and recognized from the viral Anime Corner video. Gelo and Juries immediately vibed and began talking about crafting technicalities. I honestly did not understand much, but nevertheless, it was a great learning experience when the people around are so passionate about it.
It’s something like what another cosplayer who introduced me to the community said about having encouraging friends. I had the honor of meeting gaming content creator and cosplayer Mr. Cholo Tolentino again at Cosplay Matsuri 2022. We first met at ACX and he was very enthusiastic in telling me about his work even though I knew nothing about it yet. Seeing him again is a full-circle moment for me, and when I asked how he does what he does, Cholo shared a few kind words. He said, “I’ve always been a performer! When I was in first-year high school, I started writing, producing, and singing my own original music. This actually led me down the path of loving performing arts! I eventually took up music/business management in college and it’s there that I started hosting as well. At some point, I realized I could combine my love for games and anime with performing through cosplay! I started performing skits on stage, hosting events in cosplay, and having shoots. I just fell in love with the hobby and now it’s become sort of a career for me!”
Cholo also shared how he stays inspired. “During this journey, I met and befriended people like Zack, Eli, Rox, Prince, Awie, and everyone in New Game+. Honestly, they’re what keep me inspired! I mean when your closest and dearest friends continue to not only encourage you but improve and evolve themselves, how can you not be inspired? It always feels like we’re all pulling each other up to get better at something. They’re the reason one where I’m at and why I’ll keep on going!”
Another fun surprise and my favorite part of the event was when cosplay couple Prince and Awie De Guzman appeared on Day 2 of the convention dressed as the one and Oni, Arataki Itto (Genshin Impact), and the striking Raiden Mei – Herrscher (Honkai Impact 3rd)! Seeing them again in person was amazing, especially when everywhere they went, the place lit up with so much cheer and laughter. As seen on their CosMatsu 2022 vlog on YouTube, Prince was especially animated interacting with fans and friends. He was also very friendly meeting fellow oni cosplayers and even poked fun at other Genshin characters. The couple’s presence at the convention was a highlight moment for a lot of Day 2 con-goers. The big positive energy they were radiating was difficult to miss!
Ms. Awie was also kind to share her thoughts with me on how she stays inspired and driven in her craft. She said, “For the past years of doing cosplay, I learned how fast pacing it is and how it affected me. Believe me, I came to the point of quitting because I feel like everything just comes and goes. I didn’t have time to appreciate, focus on my work, or do characters that I really like...
So to be able to continue [cosplay], I learned not to put too much on my plate … follow what I really like and not what other people tell me to do.”
According to his socials, Mr. Prince expressed that Cosplay Matsuri 2022 was an unforgettable experience and that it was the debut of his Arataki Itto cosplay. He roamed to see everyone around the convention, including the ones outside. Lastly, he shared his appreciation towards his fans and released his energetic CosMatsu vlog in time for the new year.
A Cosplay Count at CosMatsu 2022
It is evident to see that the cosplay community in the Philippines is ever-growing and supportive. Even though many things have changed already, one thing remains the same — we all love to celebrate our favorites! No matter how cheap or expensive, young or old, game or anime, canon or non-canon — cosplay is cosplay. It is an artistic expression of a hobby that gives a lot of enjoyment, fun, and fulfillment. Especially when it’s among people who feel the same way too.
My colleague, Rob, was determined to count as many characters and animes as he could throughout the three-day event. It is with much admiration that I present you this. According to his finds, the one with the most number of cosplayers is the gacha game, Genshin Impact, with an approximate number of 1,093! (Special shout out to Genshin Mania PH for being a very fun and passionate cosplay group!) 2nd place goes to Chainsaw Man with 1,021 cosplayers; Spy x Family in 3rd place with 902 cosplayers; Jujutsu Kaisen in 4th place with 806 cosplayers; and Demon Slayer in 5th place with 699 cosplayers. You can see a pie chart of his estimated counts below:
Cosplay Mania 2023 Event Series Revealed
Cosplay Matsuri is not complete without its exciting announcements for the next events to look forward to in the next year. Organizer Cosplay.ph announced that Cosplay Carnival will be held on May 1-2, 2022 with the theme of “Re:born a Dragon.” The special guest cosplayer was also revealed to be Kael, a well-known cosplayer from Thailand. There were no ticket information announcements made during the segment.
The Cosplay Mania Event Series 2023 teaser video also revealed that after CosCarni 2023, the Anime and Cosplay Expo “Re:born a Chimera“ will follow on July 15-16, 2023. The flagship event, Cosplay Mania “Re:Born a Machine,” will be taking place on September 30- October 1, 2023. Lastly, Cosplay Matsuri “Re:Born an Oni” will be held on December 28-31.
In the closing program and in a Facebook post, the organizers thanked everyone who supported the event. They said, ” Cosplay Matsuri 2022 was not just another event, it was a reunion. It was reconnecting with old friends and making new ones. It was the merging of many worlds, and, even on the convention floor, we reconnected with people we haven’t seen for a long time...
To the cosplayers and con-goers, we are always eternally grateful for your patronage. As we move into 2023, you can look forward to bigger things with the Cosplay Mania 2023 Event Series Isekai Re:Born. We hope you can join us as we build a new vision of what events could be in the future. Until then, we wish you a belated Matsuri Christmas and a Happy New Year!“
A Pasion Reigniting Year Comes to an End
After the stage blasted the heartwarming My Hero Academia’s “Hero Too” song, the last day of Cosplay Matsuri 2022 officially ended. You can watch a video of CosMatsu’s highlights below:
As the year came to an end, I became sentimental as I looked back at all the events and people I’ve come across. It has been really fun and memorable. If it’s one thing I learned from these creative conventions and the people who make the place, it is that passion inspires purpose. I feel incredibly honored to have had the opportunity to meet (and write about) so many talented and hard-working people who have found their passion and continue to stay inspired in each of their own crafts. It is a lot of good energy shared in this community– one that makes the new year more hopeful than ever.
Thank you to Cosplay.ph and to everyone who made Cosplay Matsuri 2022 possible. Another big thank you to our media team — Marvic, Rob, Richie, Francis, and Kuya Ian (Naixworks)– for their contribution with photos and research. Special thanks as well to our editors. Belated happy new year to all!
Disclaimer: Anime Corner was a media partner for Cosplay Matsuri 2022.