Isekai – the fantasy genre in which a character is transported into an otherworld adventure – we got to experience but… we got transported to Cosplay Carnival 2023! The anime and cosplay convention took Filipino con-goers through an eventful roller coaster ride, from map questing to cosplay showdowns to meeting the legendary all-stars. A few of us at Anime Corner had to privilege of joining the event, and needless to say, it is really another one on the list for us to remember. Perhaps I speak for everyone when I say that the Philippines’ cosplay community is thriving now more than ever.
Cosplay Carnival 2023, or CosCarni for short, took place last April 1-2, at the SMX Convention Center, Pasay City, Philippines. It is the first event of the Cosplay Mania series and the theme for this year was “Re:born A Dragon.”
Before we begin the formal coverage, I’d like first to tell you a story. I never really got the chance to fully experience these local events until last year when the COVID-19 restrictions were lifted. At the time, I felt stuck – like time stopped still for three years and nothing was the same as before. However, I followed this gut feeling to see Cosplay Carnival 2022 and that was when everything kicked off. I had a good cosplayer friend with me, and together, we met so many people who were just as desperate and happy to be there. It was altogether inspiring and fun. I actually asked our editor (thank you Tamara) if I could write my own article about what it felt like to join an anime convention for the first time in a long time.
What I mean to say here is that communities are what make a convention. The creative and hard-working cosplayers, artists, merchants, and other people who make the event a blast despite the difficult situation are the ones I truly admire. Before coming to this year’s Cosplay Carnival, I thought hard about this. I also honestly could not understand the theme at first, especially with its lack of dragons everywhere. But when I was tired and fulfilled from the two-day event, I came up with my own answer – an escape from our everyday mundane life and into a friendly place where we can relive our favorite fantasies and dreams.
As a writer, I want to capture everyone’s feelings and express them in written words so I can show you the highlights of these events. And so without further ado, here is how Cosplay Carnival 2023 went from our point of view.
Truck-kun at Cosplay Carnival 2023
Summer is officially here in the Philippines and the sun is hotter than ever! That said, a lot of people flocked over to Cosplay Carnival 2023 and some even fully dressed in cosplay gear. Hydration was one of the key reminders of the organizers so it was noticeable how lines were accommodated inside the SMX Convention Center rather than outside.
The doors officially opened at 10:30 AM, and true to its theme, Cosplay Carnival 2023 had a Truck-kun. As in the same one that apparently transports you into another world. Con-goers easily had fun with this as they played and had photos with this popular anime reference.
The Stars of the Carnival
All the way from Thailand, Kael PK was Cosplay Carnival 2023’s featured international guest. He appeared briefly onstage on both days and had meet-and-greet sessions. If you missed it, he shared that he likes Filipino Cassava cake, horror games but not jumpscares, and how he loves gaming and streaming. “What keeps me motivated is my love for gaming. It keeps pushing me to play the games I like. Right now I’m really into the Resident Evil 4 remake. I haven’t finished it because I have to be here but when I get back I will play again.”
Another highlight that I personally want to share is Irisé, a trio (Kana, Sal, and Mira) with an immense talent for singing, performing, and my favorite, dressmaking (Kana Mori). These ladies were the opening act of the first day’s program and they also had their own booth at All-Star Avenue, radiating their cheerful vibes to everyone at the con.
It’s also worth mentioning that All-Star Avenue was overflowing with enthusiasm and passion this year. Liabear, Cholo Tolentino, Roxanne, and Zackt were among the familiar faces who continued to deliver amazing artistry. There was also Miho, NewGame+, Mira Rae, Jane Yu, Hani, ELIJ, Katiecakey, Sowon, Nahoko, Vanilla Ikanamii, and Melpi.
The highlight of the All-Star Avenue is the newest addition to the lineup – Awie and Prince De Guzman’s booths. Many fans were excited to see and support the couple that came into last year’s Cosplay Matsuri by storm. Awie and Prince are beaming energies of love and inspiration in the cosplay community, one that you cannot miss both online and in person at Cosplay Carnival 2023.
If you’ve already noticed our featured photo, Awie was so awiesome to come with me and have photos with Truck-kun. Here she is looking for her next victim–er, isekai hero!
Cosplay Carnival’s isekai adventure doesn’t end here. There’s a lot more — the stage show, map stamping, and the featured art and hobby booths were also major highlights of this event. It’s all on the next page for you to see.