Dedication to the cos

Dedication to the cos

With costumes and lots of practice, city's cosplay champs get a shot at the world summit

In a distant land called the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, two mighty warriors wage an epic battle with giant swords and guns. Then a fighter in golden armour protects the world from an evil monster.

These were some of the scenes at the annual C3 x Hobby Expo on Sunday as the city's anime and manga fans celebrated all things animated.

Thousands of visitors, many dressed as their favourite characters, enjoyed booths of merchandise, musical performances and live shows, which included Ultra Hero this year. But the highlight had to be the cosplay competition.

While the fighting was scripted, the battle to find the city's top cosplayers was very real. Eight pairs competed to earn a chance to represent Hong Kong in the World Cosplay Summit in Nagoya, Japan, in August.

In the end, Lui Lai-hing and Kong Hoi-ting came out on top as their nearly perfect replica costumes and energetic battle featuring moving props clearly impressed the judges.

This was not their first venture into cosplay. Lui has been doing it for 15 years; Kong, for eight. Their love of it grew from their love of anime. The opportunity to pretend to be their favourite characters appealed to them.

"We're so happy to win. This is the first year Hong Kong has taken part, and we've worked really hard for the chance to represent the city," Lui says.

Lui and Kong practised their sword fight every day for a whole month. Kong actually moved in with Lui to have more time to rehearse.

The two joked about handling full-time jobs and not sleeping to have more time to practise. Their dedication is no laughing matter.

"Our entire costumes cost about HK$4,000 to $5,000," Lui reveals. "We made everything ourselves. The costumes took about two weeks, but the props took more than three months."

They chose to portray Yatogami Toka (Kong) and Tobiichi Origami (Lui) from the anime series Date A Live "because they fight as soon as they see each other".

The team can't wait for the opportunity to show what Hong Kong can do in Japan.

"There are a lot more people into cosplay now. It's been growing for the past four, five years," Lui says. "I think if you like watching anime or reading manga, you naturally want to cosplay. And it's fairly easy to do it because you can go on Taobao and purchase a ready-made costume."

They also noticed cosplayers are starting younger, which raises the issue of getting parents' approval.

"Some parents don't understand what cosplaying is, and think it's a bad thing. To us, it's just like any other interest or hobby, like playing football or singing karaoke," Lui says.

Lui's advice to aspiring cosplayers: "You have to really know and understand your character. If the character is quiet and stoic, you can't be all smiles when taking photos. You have to stay in character."

Head over to yp.scmp.com for our bonus footage from C3

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