Japan’s pop-culture has been trending all around the world. One of the pioneers of this “Cool Japan” movement is Yui Kanan, member of the cosplay group YUIMINO+.
In 2008, she won the first place at Japan’s Cosplay Summit and third place at the World Cosplay Summit; that suddenly made her known among followers of cosplay worldwide. She then established ONIGIRI+ Co., Ltd. to publicize cosplay around the world. The promotional strategies she has helped develop through her company starring Japanese cosplayers have gotten a response from Japanese media.
Actually, I was shy and withdrawn, and I had few friends. At that time, I got addicted to home-cos (to enjoy cosplay secretly at home). That enabled me to become cheerful and led me to participate in events. My number of friends rapidly increased and I steadily became able to communicate with others. The very act of doing cosplay saved me and I wanted to spread it to everyone. Therefore, I now have a promotion company that works with cosplayers from all around Japan.
The latest activities of YUIMINO+ are related to “the light town Anan” campaign of Anan, Tokushima Prefecture, where cosplayers performed with costumes fitted with LED lights. They also worked in a campaign for the nearby Tokushima city called “Anime city, Tokushima” using cosplayers.
YUIMINO+ has also used the power of cosplay to help with the revitalization of Fukushima Prefecture, following the events of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. They released a song with the theme of the reconstruction of Fukushima for the Animanga Festa event held at Fukushima Prefecture. These activities arouse the sympathy of the youth all around Japan, contributing to regional revitalization.
More than 150 talented cosplayers have registered with ONIGIRI+, the organization I manage. The male and female cosplayers have been actively participating even in the smallest of events to revitalize local towns and villages. Though the cosplay culture and industry have many difficulties such as an issue with copyrights, cosplay can entertain people and disseminate Japan to the world. This motivates me to try my best.
The stages at which cosplayers perform are not only in major events such Comic Market. They also perform at various small live events, festivals and street corners around Japan. As an icon of “Cool Japan”, each cosplayer is playing an active role in representing this coolness to the world. I want to become a leader to support them.
Now, to solve problems such as copyrights, she has been scrambling to make new rules.
Writer / Toshihiro Arima Photographer / Masaki Komatsu Photos provided / ONIGIRI+