Monday Feb 6, 2023
Monday Feb 6, 2023

Cosplay trend catching up in Nepal

Time to let our imaginations run wild

2021 May 23, 7:34, Kathmandu
Photo: Majin studio

“Cosplay was a turning point for me,” says Wataru Oikawa Shrestha. “It was through cosplaying that I have gained confidence.”

Shrestha fell in love with the ideas of expressing through characters and added, “Thereis no ‘yes or no’ in cosplay. It is pure unadulterated joy.”

Shrestha is a visual artist and the initiator of Majin Studio that creates wearable art including jewellery, fashionwear, prop designs, cosplay and character designs. He has been working with production companies like jazz and fuzz factory production and his prop designs can be seen in the videos like Nepenthe(s) by kamero.

Born to a Newari father and Japanese mother, Shrestha’s childhood was filled with cross-cultural aspects of both Nepal and Japan. Living in a multi-ethnic environment was difficult as he was confused by the diverse forms of communication. This disorganised pattern of communication eventually led him to visual arts to escape the conundrum. He started expressing himself through art.

Photo: Majin studio
tsunade Photo: Majin studio
Jwellery design by Majin Studio,.
Photo: Majin studio
Jwellery design by Majin Studio,. Photo: Majin studio

“I love to create. I love the fact that we can create something out of nothing. Something that is straight out of our imagination. I find it fascinating,” he shares. Shrestha recalls those moments spent making dough in the form of dinosaurs and his mother cooking pittas (rotis) in those very shapes. He mentions that he was introduced to art at a very young age as his father was an artist and taught him all the basics of art. Apparently, his love for arts and creations started blossoming from childhood itself.

Growing up in a cross-cultural family was not always a good thing, Shrestha relates. “At times I started facing an identity crisis and I had very low self-esteem,” he shares. To overcome this situation he started to explore solutions and it was the influence of Japanese anime and mangas that finally allowed him to express things the way they were.

Photo: Majin studio
Photo: Majin studio

In recent years, the cosplaying subculture has started attracting many people in Nepal with events like Otaku jatra and Comic Con Nepal, where fans dress up as fictional characters from movies, mangas, video games, anime and comics. “The cosplay subculture in Nepal is growing rapidly and I am very happy to see people being more expressive and sharing their artistic freedom,” he says.

However, there is a dark side to this subculture, says Shrestha. Incidents of body shaming and cyber bullying are on the rise, he says, adding that they do receive hate comments too. “These incidents are natural as cosplay is a new culture to Nepal and any new idea is always a threat to some people who are stuck with their stereotypical mind frame,” he mentions.

Photo: Majin Sudio
Photo: Majin Sudio
cosplay of Lanzhan 
Photo: Majin studio
cosplay of Lanzhan Photo: Majin studio

“Cosplay breaks a lot of social and traditional norms so we do face problems but I admire cosplayer and anime lovers for continuing and taking this culture to a point where anime events are much awaited now,” he shares. “In a small way it is also creating a society that feels free to express.”

Shrestha reminisces about his high school days saying that for his +2 he had taken up science despite not liking the subject. “Science is all about facts and logic and I feel it confines a person’s feelings but I studied science back then as I thought it was the only subject that would assure me a job,” he shares.

Jwellery design by Majin Studio.
Photo: Majin studio
Jwellery design by Majin Studio. Photo: Majin studio
Prop design by Majin studio.
Photo: Majin studio
Prop design by Majin studio. Photo: Majin studio

However, those two years of studying science were enough and as soon as he completed +2, Shrestha enrolled for a course at the Kathmandu University of Arts. “It was here that I entered a world where I always wanted to be in.” He mentions that his perception and style of art evolved tremendously once he was surrounded by people who actually loved and appreciated the subject.

Shrestha has not limited himself to only one form of expression and has over the years delved into different mediums. After completing his Masters in Fine Arts from Boston he took up jewellery designing.

Whenever I am designing anything I believe in the process of it all. ‘Trust the process’ is what he believes in. He says that he admires the connection of props and characters which is the process of understanding the movements of the body and later altering the prop accordingly.

“When I am working on wearable art just creating something doesn't complete my work,” he says. “The act of wearing is also a process and when my creation becomes a part of the person whom I have created it for then I feel my work is complete,” he adds.

Being an artist in Nepal is a difficult proposition according to Shrestha. “We are bound by so many social norms and traditions that we do not get enough space to express ourselves and be creative,” he shares. “It is time we let our imaginations run wild.”

Wataru Shrestha at BFA exhibition.
Photo: Majin studio
Wataru Shrestha at BFA exhibition. Photo: Majin studio

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