Japanese anime is known for gripping storylines, shocking plot twists, relatable characters, though-provoking dialogues and out-of-the-world action sequences. No wonder it has such a fan following all over the world, in fact, it is quite the craze in some parts of Northeast India as well. And so, in order to bring together the anime fans in the region, Biebe Natso founded the Nagaland Anime Junkies (NAJ).
Cosfest in NE
It started as an anime fan page on Facebook but with time, it grew into more exciting and interesting ventures, one of which is the Cosfest. It has been organized annually for the last five years at The Heritage, Old DC Bungalow in Kohima.
‘After witnessing how anime fans were rising in numbers, we decided to take it upon ourselves to start something which would encourage anime fans and everyone else to take their interest and do something about it, draw inspiration and get creative with it. Thus Cosfest, a celebration of art and culture, took shape in 2013,’ said Biebe.
Of course, it was not without challenges as there had never been a cosplay convention in the Northeast before. Cosplay, for those not in the know, means the practice of dressing up as a character from a film, book, or video game, especially one from the Japanese genres of manga or anime. Creating awareness about the event took a lot of effort. ‘It was difficult to get across to every fan, as it was a whole new thing in the Northeast. We also needed to reach out to people who were anime fans, but not on Facebook. Moreover, we underwent quite a few enlightening sessions educating the older folk about cosplay and anime because anime and manga only became popular in Nagaland during the 2000s.’
Raising the Bar
But the team overcame the challenges with flying colours and the first festival was greatly appreciated by anime fans across the region. Over the years, the fest has grown, thanks to the efforts of the team and also because of the increasing number of fans who attend the fest. ‘It started with 500-600 visitors, but this year, we witnessed a footfall of more than 8000 people. The number of cosplayers have increased rapidly, moreover, they raise the bar each passing year with their passion and dedication to bring out the best of their creativity.’ Now, the festival even has cosplayers joining in from the rest of the country.
‘The Cosfest has been the best thing that has happened to anime fans in the region. It’s amazing how much it has progressed throughout the years. More and more people show up each year, not to mention the amount of hard work and dedication the admins put in to make it happen . It has helped a lot of people (including me) come together as a community to celebrate our love for anime and cosplay. I also love the fact NAJ tries to promote local artistes,’ shares Neise Dzuvichu, an anime fan who is a regular visitor at the Cosfest.
The NAJ Team
Apart from the founder, the NAJ team comprises Akumtong Jamir, Ayim Longkumer, Rongsen Pongen, Alo Semy, Ditsala Anar, Hito Chophi, Liden Longchari, and Akumtemsu Jamir. NAJ also organizes anime meets, NAJ Spring Cos, NAJ Winter Wonderland, interactive meets, and workshops throughout the year. These efforts by NAJ have gone a long way to help fans meet and interact with like-minded people.
‘The first Cosfest went viral on Facebook and that’s how I found out about NAJ. I followed the page immediately, and was thankful that finally there was a way I could connect to people who share the same interests. With Cosfest getting more visitors each year, we get to meet more friends with the same interest. I am so happy to be part of the main department, the administration sector, which allows me and the rest of the team to share in-depth information on anime and cosplay, and also helps us keep up with the latest news and trends in the anime industry. Learning to work as a team and thinking of ways of how we can help educate the youth by giving them opportunities to be different and showcase their talents in a meaningful way has been a wonderful experience. I also found people that are more than friends, they have become like my family, ‘ shares member Ditsala Anar.
The Road Ahead
In the coming years, Biebe and the team want to do more for the promotion of local artistes through the Cosfest. ‘We would like to create more opportunities for young artistes to share their talent with the rest of the world. We still have a long way to go to achieve our goal but every step forward takes us a little closer and we hope that we will get there soon.’
If you love anime and manga then do follow their page on Facebook to get details about their upcoming events and become a part of this wonderful gang.
By Meeta Borah
This article was first published in the Eclectic NorthEast September 2017 issue