Abu Dhabi: If cosplay is an art, meet the artists

The latest edition of Middle East Film & Comic Con in Abu Dhabi was filled with cosplayers from across the world. We speak to a few of them to learn more about the art of cosplay

by

Husain Rizvi

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Maya and Ing dress up as popular characters from 'Genshin Impact'. Photos by Neeraj Murali/KT
Maya and Ing dress up as popular characters from 'Genshin Impact'. Photos by Neeraj Murali/KT

Published: Sun 11 Feb 2024, 6:20 PM

Last updated: Sun 11 Feb 2024, 6:21 PM

Picture this: All your favourite characters from the world of entertainment - anime, movies, video games, series, and comics - in one place. That's one way of summarising the recently held Middle East Film & Comic Con (MEFCC) in Abu Dhabi.

More than the celebrities like James and Oliver Phelps, the Weasley twins from the world of Harry Potter, Oscar Isaac, and several others, the real heroes at MEFCC were the horde of cosplayers parading the event. Decked up in costumes that took them hours of preparation, some cosplayers even arrived from across the world to showcase their art, the art of cosplaying.

Kim So Hui, nicknamed Ing, travelled from South Korea specially for the convention. The professional cosplayer, who has been in this space for 11 years, dressed up as Neuvillette, a playable character from the popular game Genshin Impact. "It took me three hours to complete my look," Ing tells City Times at MEFCC. "But cosplaying is my means of living, and I enjoy meeting many lovely people when I dress up as these popular characters."

Genshin Impact has caused quite the rave in the entertainment community. As of January 2024, the game has over 64 million players. Its popularity is evident as we witnessed several cosplayers dressed up as characters from the game. Maya, another cosplayer who arrived from overseas, put on the Keqing "Opulent Splendor" costume from the video game. Explaining her costume, she said, "I cosplayed Keqing's skin from Lantern Rite, since it would be fitting for Chinese New Year." The Philippine student took two hours to get ready, and she enjoys cosplaying, she said, as it helps her "gain self-confidence."

"For me, cosplaying is a way of expressing myself through art. I also enjoy the process, from putting on makeup to styling wigs," added Maya, who just got into cosplaying last year.

Ing and Greenii
Ing and Greenii

Veteran cosplayer, popularly known as Greenii (refrains from using her real name), also jumped on the Genshin Impact bandwagon. She has been cosplaying since late 2008. Dressing up as the Aether 'Traveller' took her three to four hours, that includes putting on makeup and the costume. "I love dressing up because it shows my creative side," said Greenii, who also arrived from overseas. "It is my favourite hobby. I also love meeting new people with similar interests. Cosplaying has made me more social, so it means a lot to me and it makes me happy."

That's about it from the Genshin Impact cosplayers.

Vaibhav Mall as Flashpoint Batman
Vaibhav Mall as Flashpoint Batman

Next, we've got Flashpoint Batman, the caped crusader from an alternate universe where Bruce Wayne isn't behind the mask, his father Thomas is. Batman fan Vaibhav Mall is the person behind the mask. "I dress up to express my admiration for the characters and show the world what I love," said the UAE resident who has been cosplaying for almost two years. He often cosplays as characters from video games, shows and comics.

Sharjah resident Ibrahim Al Nemer as Black Rabbit Brotherhood
Sharjah resident Ibrahim Al Nemer as Black Rabbit Brotherhood

Ibrahim Al Nemer, a Sharjah resident, portrayed Black Rabbit Brotherhood, a villain from the game Lies of P. The hand-made costume took Ibrahim about three weeks of preparation, he said, with six hours of work per day. "Cosplaying is my passion," added Ibrahim, who has been cosplaying since 2016. "I get to be my favourite characters and seeing fans of such characters appreciate my work puts a smile on my face."

Ibrahim Al Nemer as Hades
Ibrahim Al Nemer as Hades

Video game enthusiast Al Bronzy Sami went to MEFCC dressed as Hades, the main antagonist of Disney's 1997 animated feature film Hercules. The character appears to have flaming blue hair and to perfect that look, Bronzy had his wig delivered from Riyadh, and then adjusted it with a piece of cloth. "Cosplaying has been my hobby for the last 10 years," he said. "I get very happy when people take pictures with me."

Lastly, and perhaps one of the best cosplayers at MEFCC was Yuliana Grasman, a gamer and streamer based in the UAE. She perfected the character look of 2B, one of the primary protagonists from the popular game NieR: Automata. "There are a lot of details in this costume which has its meaning," said Yuliana. "The costume is an expression of the true angel of death. The accent on white and black colours, the sleeves featuring crow wings, and more."

Yuliana Grasman as 2B
Yuliana Grasman as 2B

The icing on the costume, however, is the blindfold. Yuliana navigated her way across the convention blindfolded, carrying a katana, though, aided by her friend. "2B doesn't need to see, she uses her sense to target her enemies and accomplish her missions," Yuliana explained.

It didn't take long for Yuliana to dress up, but once she did, she embraced her character. "It activated in me a behaviour," she said. "I felt like I was 2B, I walked like her, and I felt the power, even with the blindfold."

Yuliana started cosplaying a couple of years ago after making the shift from being a professional Arabic drifter. "Cosplaying as a hobby is very powerful," she said. "It makes me feel like the character through the way I dress up. It is something I really like."

There it is; If cosplaying is an art, we met some of the artists at MEFCC.

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