Home Cosplay Matsuri 2023: A Celebration of New Beginnings and Nostalgia

Cosplay Matsuri 2023: A Celebration of New Beginnings and Nostalgia

A year-end festival of all things anime and costumes — Cosplay Matsuri 2023 is one of the most special events in Manila because it celebrates the outgoing year while also welcoming the new one. A lot of the con-goers dressed up as their favorite characters. Perhaps others would agree when I say that the SMX Convention Center was most enjoyable, inspiring, and energetic with all these cheerful people in it. Some cosplays were radiantly put together, some more humorous or simple than others, and some even adorning the holiday vibe.

Anime Corner was invited to join all 3 days of Cosplay Matsuri 2023 on December 28-30, 2023. Karla Jan Lacuesta, one of my fellow writers, also accompanied me in my coverage for the event, so I thought it would be fun to share her point of view since this is her first anime convention ever in the Philippines. Cosplay Matsuri marks the finale of the Cosplay Mania 2023 series by Cosplay.ph.

Highlights From a First-Time Cosplay Matsuri Con-goer

From the loud anime music to the colorful costumes — SMX was overflowing with excitement and energy. As soon as we got inside Cosplay Matsuri 2023, I nudged Karla to get one of the freebies at the entrance called the Side Quest Map. For those who don’t know, it is a calendar poster on one side, while the other is a map where the con-goer would collect 10 stamps and then claim a secret prize. It’s easily one way to explore the convention so I encouraged her to try it out, not to mention how it’s an opportunity to connect and interact with the local shops here in the Philippines. Courtesy of Karla, here’s a quick run-through of the 10 stops in the Cosplay Matsuri 2023 Side Quest:

  1. TeAr Aesthetic Haute – a booth that kikay girls would love! It offered different low-cost ready-made earrings and coasters. They also had hair accessories and anime plushies available! It’s good to see products (other than anime merchandise) available at the convention.
  2. DGSJ TOYS x CROW’S NEST – a booth for toy collectors as they were selling a variety of official figures and plushies. (They were challenging to find because plushies covered the shop name.)
  3. Miki-San – another booth meant to satisfy a collector’s hobby!
  4. KYG Shop – a booth that also had anime merchandise and some K-pop posters.
  5. Kaiju Geijutsu – for the One Piece fans and figure collectors out there.
  6. Minty Jade Studio – they had chibi anime keychains, tote bags, lanyards, and mousepads. Also some cute hair accessories.
  7. Hubbyte Toy Store – one of the bigger booths that had a variety of official anime merchandise. They also had blind boxes and gachapons, which can be played for a minimum of about 200 PHP (~12 USD) per pull. You have to be really lucky to get the character you like.
  8. The VOLS Project Booth – a booth introducing Filipino VTubers. I look forward to seeing their growth.
  9. Gamdias Philippines Booth – a booth for gamers! They had their gaming gear set up for con-goers to try by playing Tekken 7. (We met Mercyuyu, a cosplayer who dressed up as Yor Forger.)
  10. Aniporium – another one for the anime collectors with a variety of figures and gachapons available.

While going alone to events has its charm, it’s so much more interesting and fun with company. The shared experience, whether it be excitement for our favorite anime or exhaustion from roaming all day, has all the means to become a special core memory.

For example, Karla shared that she and her partner were tired and lost, but they cheered each other so it was okay. (As for me, I revisited my favorite shops of 2023: Aniporium which supplied my Kirby merch this 2023, and Anpanic where I always went shopping for Bungo Stray Dogs illustrations, and most recently, JJK merch). They also explored the FanFair area filled with creative artworks. Not only is it a way to support local artists, but it also serves as inspiration for our hobbies and interests.

Other than its exhibits and All-Star booths, Cosplay Matsuri also held its traditional auction. I’m already used to its fast-paced and competitive nature — especially with the talented hosts and their many punchlines — but Karla on the other hand was in a state of shock and fascination with the whole thing. Con-goers had insane increments, and even if they were just by 10 PHP, the participants were eager to bid everything they had until the very end. The last item was a big chubby cat plushie that reached 3,500 PHP (~63 USD).

What sets Cosplay Matsuri apart from other anime events is the traditional Charms Wall, an activity inspired by the Japanese prayer offering tablets. Con-goers come to this corner to post their wishes for the new year — some for good grades, money, health, family, and even better love lives! This is easily a very sentimental highlight of the event, and I like Karla’s take on it — a wall filled with wishes for 2024 with every one of them hopeful for it to come true in perfect timing soon.

In the end, I’m really glad to hear that Karla enjoyed CosMatsu 2023. So, in her own words, this is how she described the event. “In terms of enjoyment, I really loved having CosMatsu as my first convention in the Philippines because I specifically enjoyed how campy the hosts of the auction were, how talented and dedicated our artists were in their craft, and it was great to see the effort of everyone in pulling this kind of gathering at the end of the year. While I can’t deny the soreness in my legs the next morning, I will really cherish my memories from Cosplay Matsuri. Celebrating this event marked the perfect conclusion to my 2023 life chapter, making it a truly unforgettable experience.”

Of course, the cosplays are the absolute highlights of Cosplay Matsuri 2023! From anime to games — we saw it all. Head to the next page to see the cosplay gallery.

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