Cosplay Mania 2022 made its epic comeback on October 1-2, 2022 at the SMX Convention, Pasay City, Philippines. It was definitely jam-packed with exciting exhibits, shows, and con-goers who were all celebrating each of their cosplay-related passions throughout the weekend.
There were a lot of memorable moments at the event, including the catchy theme of “Re: ignite Your Passion.” A few of us at Anime Corner who attended the convention felt a wave of nostalgia, yet at the same time, somehow looking forward to the new innovations that technology can offer to cosplay and anime fans – from hand-sewn costumes to automated and digital embroidery; from cardboard boxes to having 3D printing machines; from watching anime and events on your television living room, to basically watching it anywhere from your smartphones. We truly have come so far, and Cosplay Mania 2022 showed us that despite the pandemic, people have learned to be more creative than ever.
At conventions like these, it’s the people who are the life of the party. You have to appreciate the passion behind the crafters and the cosplayers, and on special occasions, a crafter cosplayer! We had the opportunity to meet a certain Chainsaw Man cosplayer, and without a doubt after hearing his story, was the whole reason Cosplay Mania felt very well-rounded and wholesome. Thus, without further ado, here is a summary and report of our CosMania 2022 experience.
The Comeback of the Largest Cosplay Event!
In case you didn’t know, Cosplay Mania has been around since 2008 and continued on until the COVID-19 pandemic. This makes this year’s convention extra special because two years’ worth of energy is poured here! While the convention’s goal is to always “catch the best of everything related to Anime, Cosplay, Games, Collectibles, Virtual Idols, and J-Music at a Convention like no other,” Cosplay Mania 2022’s specific goal was to “rekindle the love” you have for everything mentioned above.
This proved to be true as many excited con-goers in full costume and gear gathered at the SMX Convention Center. A handful of shows this year were cosplayed like characters from Lycoris Recoil, Chainsaw Man, My Dress Up Darling, Spy x Family, Jujutsu Kaisen, Vermeil in Gold, Date A Live, Ya Boy Kongming, Call of the Night, and the Fate/Grand Order, among others. There were also game cosplays, like Honkai Impact 3rd, Punishing: Gray Raven, Azur Lane, and of course, Genshin Impact.
The heat, crowds, and long lines were only some of the troubles, but the con-goers were just as patient and excited to get inside the halls to make the most out of the event! (Kudos to everyone, especially the staff who helped with the organization!)
Conquering Cosplay Mania 2022
Whether you’re a cosplayer, gamer, anime fan, art fan, merch lover, or even a first-timer, Cosplay Mania 2022 welcomed all to join in the fun. Con-goers received a “Cosplay Conquest” card, a passport with nine spots that must be stamped to receive gifts and freebies. It was a nice way to easily guide the convention trip while also allowing con-goers (and for you, the reader, right now) to learn about the different exhibits. For example, Globe’s Sugoi Society presented a number of fun activities and photo booths so that people can have “sugoi moments.“ Here, we met Juries, who donned a very epic and “moving” Chainsaw Man! I was also able to sit down and chat with him, so if you’re interested to know his crafting and cosplaying story, please continue reading on.
There were also exhibits by the Tower of Fantasy (MMORPG), Kanpai (Anime & VTuber Inspired merch), Rotobox (Gaming products), and Codashop (Game top-up), as well as Aniporium (who are excited for the grand opening of their physical store), who each gave unique experiences and freebies. I was mostly unlucky with my draws and got freebie pens while others brought home bigger merch, like anime figures.
One of the most attention-grabbing exhibits at Cosplay Mania 2022 was by Brother which had so many high-tech sewing machines. It was an amazing display of modern possibilities, which also brings me to my next stop: the digital ACG streaming platform, Bilibili.
Bilibili’s Rising Community of Anime, Comics, and Games (ACG)
Bilibili has been around for quite a while now, but seeing them in person for the first time really hits differently! In case you didn’t know about them, Bilibili is an online “video community designed to enrich the everyday life of the young generation through Anime, Comics and Games (ACG) videos and more.” It originates from China, so seeing it here in the Philippines makes its expansion feel more real than ever.
I’m sure a lot of people get my amazement, especially if you follow the platform whenever they announce which seasonal animes are available to watch in South East Asia. Just like subscription-based streaming platforms, like Netflix and Crunchyroll, Bilibili also offers legal and licensed anime to watch, except that in their case, it’s absolutely free.
In addition to anime, Bilibili also has other plans. They were very passionate about inviting visitors and content creators to Bilibili and said that they were very eager to have more people join the growing community.
Bilibili also successfully provided a live stream of the entire two-day event on their app last weekend. This gave people who were at home, at work, or even on the other side of the hall a chance to see Cosplay Mania 2022 from their smartphones.
The Guests of Honor at Cosplay Mania 2022
In case you missed them, the convention welcomed cosplayer Yosuke Sora from Singapore, Thames Malrose and Onnies from Thailand, and Hiroto Kuramasu from Japan, on the epic stage of Cosplay Mania 2022. In addition, Seishin Kakumei, Festa, LoveSo, Mju:z Kiss, and DNE were also among the special guest performers. The other half of the guest lists included Vtubers Ayunda Risu, Kureiji Ollie, Pavolia Reine, Moona Hoshinova, Yashin Live, and Kiichan. The epic JAM Concert performers were MindaRyn, Pavolia Reine, and Moona Hoshinova.
Although we wanted to see everyone, a few of us at Anime Corner who attended the convention were, in all honesty, most excited to see the Thai anisong singer, MindaRyn, and the esteemed voice actor, Nozomu Sasaki. The event did not allow photography, but nevertheless, it was a truly memorable experience.
Discovering the Hard Work Behind Anisinging & Voice Acting
At MindaRyn’s live stage event, the singer shared a fun bit about the origin of her stage name. It is apparently inspired by her nickname, Mind, plus her love for Mandarin-flavored cup jelly, which makes “Mandarin” a happy word for her. She also shared her passion for anisongs and described her challenges as something akin to “adventurers gaining experience in a dungeon with Level 100 monsters”, which makes her want to keep improving so she can keep her singing dream alive. MindaRyn also shared her happiness in visiting the Philippines. She specifically expressed her delight in the Filipino dish, Sisig, and said that it was perfect with beer.
During the second day of Cosplay Mania 2022, Nozomu Sasaki appeared live on screen for his special event. Although he wasn’t able to appear in person, hearing his voice live on stage was enough for all of us in the audience to be star-struck! Perhaps I speak for everyone in the hall, but it was like a blast from the past to meet with the voice behind our childhood anime. There was even a group of Ghost Fighter cosplayers in the audience that he wholeheartedly commended and thanked.
In the interview segment, Nozomu Sasaki shared how he unexpectedly got into his voice acting career. He said that he had to pursue a lot of practice, especially when mastering the voices of his characters. When asked about work-life balance, he said that it’s hard to separate himself from the character while incorporating his voice into it. It is, however, also a lot of fun. He also expressed that he is a big fan of the Filipino boxing champion, Manny Pacquiao!
Lastly, our very own Rob from the Seiyuu Department was also able to ask his own question regarding Nozomu Sasaki’s experience as Johan Liebert in the Monster series. Nozomu said that it was a special challenge because he had to learn to change his voice to achieve a different range. It was a truly spectacular moment for not just Rob, but for everyone present in the hall as well.
Exciting Competitions, Concerts, and Japanese-Filipino Programs
The epic fun at Cosplay Mania 2022 happened simultaneously on the Exhibit Hall and the Special Hall stages. One of the most anticipated events was the Cosplay Mania Cup, where champions who competed brought their A-game with their costume and acting creativity. This included copycat Mokujin from Tekken demonstrating his wide set of martial arts (who also trended on Twitter and was even noticed by game director Katsuhiro Harada) and Rengoku from Demon Slayer re-enacting the movie’s emotional battle (though it ended with him eating a donut.)
Another competition among champions is the Cosplay Karaoke Cup. Some of the performances include theme songs from One Piece, Jujutsu Kaisen, and an especially charismatic Daddy! Daddy! Do! from Kaguya: Love is War. Other competitions on stage were the Cosplay Anisong-It Challenge, Facepalm The Music, and the Hall Cosplay Masquerade.
Vtubers also rocked the center stage at the EX Hall. DJ Dasu from Yashin Live had an electrifying performance on Day 1, while the Cosmic Fox girl Kiichan also delivered an energetic concert. Kiichan made a physical appearance and wore a costume of her Vtuber Avatar. She also sang her multilingual version of, “This is What Falling in Love Feels Like,” which really made the crowd go wild as they sang along.
Amidst the stage and cosplay fun, Japan Foundation also decided to have their segment in full cosplay! That’s right – the Akatsuki came in to introduce the Japanese-Filipino culture and friendship! They talked about arts, education, Egasai or the Japanese Film Festival (JFF), and many more. They also played a catchy music video by Reese Lansangan which tells the story of the Japanese language learning journey – “a journey filled with hardship, but also the excitement of discovery, meeting new people, and learning new meanings and culture.”
Although they did not make a stage appearance, a related subject to Japan Foundation’s dedication to language exchange is the Japan Embassy’s promotion at Cosplay Mania 2022. That’s right, the Embassy of Japan in the Philippines was also there! They had a booth where they gave away booklets for Filipinos interested to study and teach in Japan. Some of the scholarships and programs include the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports and Technology (MEXT), Japan-East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youths (JENESYS), and Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET).
The Evolution of the Cosplay Scenery
With more than a decade on their track record, it really is nostalgic to be back in the acclaimed “largest and most anticipated cosplay and J-pop culture event in the country.” So many things have changed, and yet, so many still remain the same. For example, fans will always stay passionate about what they love. And even though social media and technology continue to change our world, welcoming these new things is what makes these conventions an experience to remember.
As we mentioned above, Brother PH‘s exhibit at Cosplay Mania 2022 was a head-turner. It was everything any dressmaker could dream of! The machines were very modern and some of them even had touch screens. With one click, you could easily embroider Genshin Impact element symbols on any cloth or do more complicated patterns.
Another special mention at Cosplay Mania 2022 is Makerlab Electronics and its amazing 3D printers. Introducing their product to cosplayers and crafters while also making it accessible really changes up the game! Can you imagine the possibilities? People can invent, create, and easily do a week-old project in just a day now with this technology. We were able to have a chat with 3D Printing Specialist, Mr. Voltz Gaviola, and just as was written on their boards, they explained that “Makerlab sells authentic, high-quality, and affordable products locally to Filipino designers, developers, hobbyists, students, and enthusiasts with their projects.” To prove this, he let me wield a very sturdy 3D-printed sword and axe that according to them, was more or less two days’ worth of printing. This definitely brings cosplay to a new level!
Attending the Cosplay Mania 2022 is Tankobonbon who introduced us to a lovely “free manga and light novel reading lounge.” We got to speak with Ms. Bon and she said that the convention was enjoyable. As a manga and light novel store, she said that she’s glad to be the bridge between books and Filipinos! Ms. Bon also added that it was especially fun that new con-goers got to see actual physical copies of their favorite titles readily available. It certainly beats any virtual experience.
We also had a fascinating meeting with SAO’s Asuna cosplayer. (My colleague, Marvic, is an avid fan.) Her name is Ms. Rhiona, and she later introduced herself as a member of the Cosplay, Dance, Gaming, Arts Group (CODAG) – South East Asia Cosplay Communication Organization. She shared with us how the members all share a passion for the cosplay community. There are people from Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines. As the local representative here, Ms. Rhiona enthusiastically promotes the group at local conventions like Cosplay Mania. She said that cosplaying and being a part of the group has become “a part of her life.” If you missed CODAG at CosMania 2022, they also did photoshoots with some amazing cosplayers at the convention.
We also bumped into another cosplay organization called Cosplay Cutie PH. Like us, they also love all things anime and have been watching since the 90s! (Shout out to Tagalog dub kids!) We got to speak with Mr. Hie and he said that the starting company is into photography and videography, while also recreating anime scenes into real life. Their goal is to turn “dreams into reality” with every project they create. It’s certainly an inspiration to see them so passionate despite having separate lives outside of it. And then at the same time, they’re also honing their own skills and abilities with it. If you missed Cosplay Cutie PH, they went around the convention doing photoshoots while also interviewing cosplayers.
Genshin Impact is no doubt, beloved by many. In fact, Cosplay Mania 2022 was flooded with most of its merchandise and enthusiastic fans. That said, we also got to meet Genshin Mania PH, a group dedicated to both cosplay and Genshin Impact. The organizer, Ms. Sharlene, shared with us how they started out in Cosplay Carnival 2022. (Yes, they’re apparently the same cosplayers we also featured!) Fast forward to the present, they now have 55 members joining in their photoshoots. Other than group cosplay, Genshin Mania PH also has an upcoming event called Café Teyvat, a two-day maid and butler café. All in all, they seem to have built themselves a small Genshin community– a comfort place for them all.
Their gathering at Cosplay Mania 2022 was very busy with all the cosplayers having their solo and group photoshoots. At the end of it, Sharlene also said that the group is currently inviting interested people to join them and that she’s hopeful to have a photoshoot with all the Genshin characters someday! To the beginners out there, Sharlene shared a few words, “Just keep doing what you love. This is a community, and we’ll always help each other.”
Suffice it to say, Sharlene and her friends are truly inspiring. Seeing them in a community while sharing their hobbies and passion fills our hearts with joy. It’s a “Reignite-Your-Passion” kind of Cosplay Mania 2022 moment. The cherry on top, however, is the Chainsaw Man crafter and cosplayer that almost everyone talked about.
An Animated Craft and Cosplay Like No Other
This year, Globe Sugoi Society featured Kean Juries Conrad, a 20-year-old crafter and cosplayer. With the rising popularity of the best-selling manga and the upcoming anime, Juries’ Chainsaw Man cosplay was one of the best and most unique sights at Cosplay Mania 2022. It’s not just the cosplay that grabs your attention – it’s the craftsmanship, the dedication to authenticity, and his overall characterization.
Whenever the motor and chain moved, people cheered! “How is that even possible?”, they said. A lot of people admired it and did not hesitate to ask for a photo. Throughout the two-day event, Juries shared snippets of his cosplay story with me. At first, he had no words to express his joy, but eventually said, “Feeling ko po sa ngayon is super speechless and happy po na napapangiti ko ang ibang tao sa gawa ko po… and ayun po nakakaproud po, deep in my heart, I really love cosplaying! It’s really heartwarming!” ( English Translation: Right now, I feel super speechless and happy that I got to make people smile with my work… It’s a proud moment for me, deep in my heart, I really love cosplaying! It’s really heartwarming!”)
I first met Juries in the recent Cosplay Carnival as a simple cosplay medic. He had a cardboard sign, a backpack full of tools, and a friendly disposition. We would encounter him again at ACX and Conquest as he personally crafted on the spot and delivered his commissioned cosplay props. According to Juries, being a free-hand crafter is a lot of work (especially finance management) but has since gained a lot of experience since he started the hobby. He recalls his first attempt to cosplay Zoro from One Piece with an SM Store wig and a cardboard sword but was too shy to continue.
Everything changed, or “ignited” rather when he attended Cosplay Mania Clark Crash 2014. He was so inspired to see the “amazing cosplayers” that afterward, he decided to really pursue the hobby. He made himself a Kaneki Ken mask out of tricycle leather mats and recycled materials. It’s an interesting parallel with the Chainsaw Man cosplay now, which also has parts of the same material! He has since then been crafting and trying new cosplays, like his favorite Octane (Apex Legends) cosplay. Up to now, he still vividly remembers how he delivered his first crafted commission in 2017 from Pampanga to Manila.
When asked about his favorite moments and challenges of cosplay, Juries said “My best and most challenging one is Chainsaw Man! This is my first cosplay prop that is motorized and with smoke! I researched about it for months and had to build the structure from my imagination … there, I made it in less than a month while doing commissions! I saw that he was my best one because people loved him! I couldn’t move because there were plenty of people asking for pictures, but I love the experience. I like making people smile!”
Juries is also an anime fan and he said that Genos from One Punch Man inspired him a lot. He said that he learned crafting techniques from friends and YouTube videos, like Kamui Cosplay, Odin Makes, Adam Savage, and Punished props academy. Although he doubts it, Juries also stated that his ultimate dream is to join the Gyeonggi International Cosplay Festival (GICOF) PH or the World Cosplay Summit.
Lastly, we asked what advice he could give to aspiring hobbyists. He enthusiastically shared his heartfelt piece and said, “My advice is don’t be shy to let out your talent – yes, cosplay is a talent! It’s also very fun at conventions whenever you meet old friends and meet new friends. It’s also very fun at conventions whenever you meet old friends and meet new friends. What I can say is just enjoy cosplay, okay? Let out our creativity! This is what we love!“
He also continued to give special advice to aspiring cosplayers and crafters. “For the new cosplayers, don’t worry, you don’t need an expensive costume, you can even just use clothes from your closet or from thrift stores. That’s how I actually started because I was really broke before … I mean, I’m still broke even now. Hahaha!“
For those who want to start crafting, you can use recycled materials like things you see at home, especially cardboard boxes! I made an Attack on Titan 3D maneuver gear with recycled materials way back in 2016, and I also made a Genos’ arm from OPM that same year. [It] turned out well! Same with you, just believe. Just let out your creativity and love. Keep cosplaying everyone!”
Juries is already planning his next craft and cosplay. In the meantime, he is focusing on delivering quality crafted commissions which he also posts online on his Facebook page.
A Beloved Comic Artist’s Advice on Staying Creative
At its core, Cosplay Mania 2022 is a convention for all – beginner and veteran cosplayers, gamers, artists, merch collectors, and ordinary con-goers – to gather together to indulge in the creative cultural event. First-timers or the less experienced, however, have it hard. For example, cosplay is a pretty complex hobby that requires a lot of work (and money.) On top of that, there is the role-playing part you have to deliver. What’s a novice to do in a crowd of other, better, more talented people? Well, there’s a particular piece of advice that local comic writer AJ, also known as SSKAIT (pronounced skate), shared with us during an interview at the convention.
“What’s important is to just start.” Short yet very meaningful. Although he speaks in relation to digital art and comics here, the advice can also be applied to all the artists and hobbyists out there. AJ continued to say that even if the work isn’t perfect, uploading it and introducing your art to people is your first step.
No matter how conscious we get, AJ said that “the first people to support you are the people who love you, like your family and friends. At the end of the day, passion is what fulfills you inside.“
He went on to describe that loving to cook doesn’t necessarily mean having to be good at it. It’s the fulfillment of doing it that matters. “Just keep doing it because at the end of that, if you keep doing one thing, again and again, you’ll gain a skill from that … My art was different at first but I was able to hone it through the years. It’s not an overnight, “Wow it’s instantly perfect.” No – it’s an accumulation of habits.“
If you’ve visited SSKAIT’s booth, you would have also seen his wide collection of sticker art featuring simple day-to-day relatable life, work, and cosplay struggles. His favorite anime titles include the two Full Metal Alchemist titles, One Piece, and his most recent, Spy X Family. He also shared with us his funny encounter with three Yor cosplayers visiting his booth at the same time. He loves Anya very much, and if he ever saw an Anya cosplayer at the event, he would give free Stellas for their “road to imperial scholar.”
Connecting with the Convention Experience
Taking photos with cosplayers is one of the experiences to get from conventions like these. Con-goers can also get as creative with the shots, planned or unplanned. My colleague, for example, Jersey, brought a plastic bat for requesting “bonk” photos. He was shy but decided to go with the flow of the convention’s excitement. In the end, he and the cosplayers he met shared some good laughs.
As long as we continue to practice proper etiquette, the cosplay, crafting, and anime community as a whole can remain a fun, safe, and enjoyable place for everyone. Towards the end of the convention, there was even an open mic at the stage for courageous con-goers to use. My personal favorite was when everybody sang Brook’s Binks Sake from One Piece. It definitely felt like a nakama moment that a lot of people bonded over and enjoyed.
With its 15th year anniversary approaching next year, it’s amazing to think about the community Cosplay Mania has built and provided through the years. The organizers also made a post-convention post expressing their thanks for the continued support. However, a lot of interested con-goers previously expressed their frustration online regarding the messy announcements, the lack of information for con-goers to make an informed purchase, the struggle with limited tickets, and the price worth regarding free and paid programs. As said in the post, Cosplay Mania apologized for the tardiness of schedule and line-up announcements, and then further explained that it was preferable late than to constantly change and cause confusion.
Cosplay Mania also confirmed the dates of their next and last convention of the year. Cosplay Matsuri 2022, the “amazing year-end celebration,” will be held on December 28-30, 2022. They promise to provide enough notice regarding ticket selling. Details will be announced at a further date.
A Cosplay Mania Comeback To Remember!
All in all, Cosplay Mania 2022 was an explosion of energy and passion, and we hope you had as much fun as we had. Having the opportunity to do our hobbies and sharing them with fellow people who understand their value is what makes the convention experience all the more meaningful.
It is just like what everyone we met described in their stories, but most importantly, like what MindaRyn said when she talked about her passion. “I’m just a girl who has a dream [and] I’m just trying to protect that dream… Just keep believing in what you believe. Sometimes there [are] ones who are not understanding..they’ll question ‘What are you doing? What’s your future?’ Don’t listen to anyone else’s voice other than your voice! [Do] everything you love and just have the passion … and it will surely go back to you for sure. Do what makes you happy.”
Thank you to cosplay.ph and to everyone who made Cosplay Mania 2022 possible. Special thanks as well to Marvic, Euridel, Jersey, Rob, and naixworks for their contribution with photos and research.
Anime Corner was an official media partner for Cosplay Mania 2022.