5 things about cosplaying on the high sea

If you think squeezing into a 2.3m-tall robot costume is tough on land, try doing it on a ship. Here are five things we learnt about cosplaying on board a Royal Caribbean cruise

The sea-crets of cosplay
The sea-crets of cosplay
25 Feb 2016

The sea-crets of cosplay

The annual cosplay competition, Asia Cosplay Meet, usually takes place in convention halls like ones at Suntec City. But this year its organisers, Stephanie Loh, 33 and Takahan Tan, 40, decided to take the event out to sea, literally — it’s held for the first time on board the Royal Caribbean cruise ship Mariner of the Seas. “I wanted to hold my events in a unique place and a cruise ship is [suitable] for cosplay ’cos it’s like a fantasy setting,” explains Loh, who named her latest event, Cosfest Sea: The Rising Tide (sounds like an action movie, no?). During the four-day, three-night cruise — which sailed from Singapore to Port Klang, Malaysia, and back — eight teams from countries around Asia gather to compete for the title of the region’s top cosplayers, which Thailand eventually won.

(Pictured above) Finding her sea legs: A sailor on a ship is a common sight, but not when it’s the winsome Taiwanese celeb cosplayer Neneko (nee Kuo Wan Rou) who counts 275,000 fans on Facebook. The ship’s two swimming pools also proved irresistible for some Thai female cosplayers, who took plenty of photos there in their teensy sailor outfits.  

1. Choose your weapons wisely
1. Choose your weapons wisely
25 Feb 2016

1. Choose your weapons wisely

When competing out at sea, the first obstacle cosplayers have to clear is Customs, who decide what elaborate costumes, props and ‘weapons’ (like wooden swords) are allowed on board. “It’s very difficult to organise a cosplay event on a cruise,” shares Tan. “Customs might not allow some things like swords. We can’t bring prop repair tools like hammers, or even irons and hair straighteners on board.” And the judging criteria for the competition, which takes place over two rounds, is no less stringent. Tan, who’s also on the judging panel, adds, “I’ll look at every detail down to the cosplayers’ manicures.”

2. Pack like a pro
2. Pack like a pro
25 Feb 2016

2. Pack like a pro

“We’re like karang guni men,” declares Frank ‘Raistlin’ Koh, 32, the leader of the Singapore team. “We’re always on the lookout for big cardboard boxes people throw away after buying electrical appliances to pack our props.” Frank, alongside teammates Sebastian Cho, 21 and Evie Tan, 23, later clinch second place by re-enacting a scene from the Japanese Gundam anime series. It featured a collapsible 2.3m-tall robot costume (right) which Sebastian fashioned out of soft cardboard so it was easier to pack and he could put on the costume piece by piece.

3. The early bird catches the good show
3. The early bird catches the good show
25 Feb 2016

3. The early bird catches the good show

At nine on the first two mornings, celeb cosplayers gather for an hour-long session known as ‘Cosplay Cafe’. It involves the cosplayers serving fellow passengers pastries, not unlike the infamous maid cafes in Tokyo’s anime-centric Akihabara district. We are served a blueberry pastry from Taiwanese celeb cosplayer Neneko herself, who makes it a point to be kawaii the whole time. Definitely better service than your grumpy kopitiam auntie, okay? 

4. Match your outfit to the occasion
4. Match your outfit to the occasion
25 Feb 2016

4. Match your outfit to the occasion

During the course of the cruise, cosplayers dressed as Jedi, Spiderman and Elsa prance around the ship. Then there’s Captain Jack Sparrow, aka Jokumi, 32, a cosplay hobbyist from Singapore who has been in the scene for 15 years. He joined the cruise as he is friends with the organisers. “I usually cosplay Japanese anime characters, but I wanted something relevant to being on a ship, so I chose Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean. The other passengers were stopping me every 5m, asking for photos,” he tells us. “My fake moustache fell off during lunch today, but I couldn’t eat without it ’cos I won’t look like Jack Sparrow.” 

5. Stay in character at all times
5. Stay in character at all times
25 Feb 2016

5. Stay in character at all times

Unlike the typical cosplay event where you get to go home after a few hours, you’re scrutinised for the entire trip by curious onlookers each time you step into the ship’s common areas in costume. Especially if you’re playing somebody as iconic as Spiderman. We watch as ‘Spiderman’ in his skintight spandex suit loads up on fried rice at the ship’s buffet restaurant, and peels off his sweaty mask to eat. Hey, we know Spidey needs sustenance too, but what would Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield say?

(Pictured above) Boot camp: (From left) Meet Team Singapore’s Sebastian, Evie and Frank. As they are walking to this photoshoot, the sole peeled off from Frank’s boot. “See, this is why you always bring glue with you!” he laughs.


Blonde ambition
Blonde ambition
25 Feb 2016

Blonde ambition

We try our hand at cosplaying and borrowed from the organiser a costume of Kugen Tenko, a character from the anime Our Home’s Fox Deity. Due to time constraints, we have to change in the ship’s crowded public toilet, which is not an uncommon practice for cosplayers who are used to changing in small spaces and have got it down to an art. As we contort into the kimono outfit and pull on the waist-long blonde wig without stepping on it, we can only imagine that this is sort of what Lady Gaga goes through backstage at her own concerts.

This trip was made possible by Royal Caribbean Singapore and the Singapore Cosplay Club. For more info on its cruises, go to royalcaribbean.com.sg 

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