A glance into Japanese culture

  • 2010-04-29
  • By Anna Kravcova

Playing out Anime character dreams.

RIGA - If you have ever taken interest in watching Japanese animated movies, it will be curious for you to know that this weekend animated heroes will step out of the movie screen straight onto Riga’s streets. On May 1 – 2, the World Trade Center “Riga” will open its doors to all admirers of Japanese culture. Every interested person will have an opportunity not only to enjoy the best of Japanese cinematography on the big screen, but also to watch and participate in all kinds of exciting competitions. The Anime Festival takes place in Riga now for the seventh time, and every year it gathers more and more people, fascinated by the beauty and charm of the event.

As the organizer of the festival, Aleksandr Rostov, said in one of the interviews given on the threshold of the first anime festival in 2004 to Latvian daily Neatkariga, the purpose of the event was not only the entertainment itself, but also in making people familiar with the Japanese culture. He emphasizes that anime films are often mistakenly associated with simple cartoons meant for children. In reality, these are fully adult movies, with a deep sense. Sometimes they even contain erotic scenes or violence, which is actually forbidden for children to see. Now, he believes that for six years this aim has been successfully achieved. “This event helps us to break away from the workday routine, and think more positively. In Estonia there is also such an event called ‘Anime Festival.’ However, our counterpart is more advanced, as in Estonia it is limited only to movie previews, while here we have much more fun,” comments Aleksandr.

The most prominent and remarkable part of the Anime Festival is the Cosplay contest. It is a kind of a masked ball, where people put on colorful masks and fancy dresses devoted to Japanese culture. Usually, every mask represents a concrete protagonist, taken from anime movies or comic books. It includes not only putting on a dress and make-up, but also warming to one’s role by adopting the manners and the specific characteristic features of the chosen protagonist. The procession of Cosplayers on the central streets of Riga will become the opening part of the Anime Festival. This will be an introduction to the actual contest, when every participant has a chance to demonstrate the advantages of the chosen image. Later, they will also perform short role-playing, dancing and singing.

Another interesting competition which gives anime fans a chance to show one’s worth is the AMV contest. AMV is the abbreviation for anime music video - a self-made video which contains pieces of various anime movies and computer games, rendered with music. The contest will start with the preview of the best videos of the previous year, and will proceed with the evaluation of the new material.

The central part of the event is dedicated to Japanese cinematography. While during the previous years Cinema “Riga” was demonstrating anime films for the entire day, this time the usual program is significantly shortened, leaving on the screen only three movies, and evidently giving the upper hand to quality rather than to quantity. On May 1, festival visitors will be able to watch the anime science fiction film “Summer Wars,” which was awarded with the Japan Academy Prize as the Best Animation of 2009. On May 2, “Riga” cinema will preview the first computer animated film “Yona Yona Penguin” and the 2009 movie “Blood: The Last Vampire,” adapted from the classical anime of the same name.

The festival will conclude with “The Coscar” awards ceremony for the best Cosplay costume of the year. Apart from public acknowledgment, the best Cosplayers are also promised to receive special prizes from the sponsors. In order to determine the winners, every visitor will be given a questionnaire, where they will be able to vote and express their opinion.

All in all, the event, which once upon a time was considered to be rather extraordinary and outlandish among the usual Latvian entertainment, now has grown into a beautiful tradition, which welcomes every interested person to join the ranks. The admission for one day of the festival is 5 lats (7 euros), which includes both contests and visiting the cinema. Tickets will be available at the World Trade Center “Riga” box office.