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Posted by: NeBuzz Uploaded: 30-Jun-15

Nagaland Anime Junkies (NAJ) organises Cosfest - an annual cosplay event since 2013 - in Nagaland for anime fans across the region. It has caught the attention and imagination of many people and the third edition is going to happen from the 11-12th July in Kohima. 

NeBuzz: Who is the mastermind behind the Nagaland Anime Junkies (NAJ) Cosfest? What inspired you to do this?

NAJ:  We are Biebe and Zulu.

It all started with frustration. We knew that there was a huge fan base for fictional fantasies and art in Nagaland. The only problem was that there was nothing for our kind here to connect and interact with each other. People around the world celebrate their love for anime, movies, games etc. They have big conventions and festivals dedicated to them and it was just frustrating to see that we had nothing. We had the fans and nothing else. We both realized this and had a common dream of creating a utopia for people like us. We started this so we could share, discuss and celebrate what we loved. 

NeBuzz: How did it happen?

NAJ: Ever since we opened our page back in 2011 we have always wanted to organize an anime event. At first, it was just a topic in our wish list. We both didn’t even know where to start or how to organize an event. We were the regular introverts hiding in our caves, watching anime and being the most awesome keyboard warriors. 

In the last month of 2012, while we were chatting on Facebook about our page, we suddenly started talking about the anime event again. And without any clear idea, we decided to hold a cosplay event next year. 

It is funny because we didn’t even know where to start. We were just really determined this time. Then 2013 came and we were at the end of our wits because we had no idea on where and how to start. We had to collect a lot of data and with the help of some awesome individuals and a lot of sleepless fundraisings; we somehow managed to pull off the first Cosfest in Nagaland. 

The response was overwhelming. It was really encouraging for us to see so many people attending our event not just from Nagaland but from other states as well. This boosted our morals and that is when we decided to make it an annual event and make each year better than the previous one.  Our second year was even better. The crowd tripled in number. That is when we knew that we were doing something right. For a group that had been in hiding for years and suddenly trying something so bold, new and risky, one can imagine the amount of relief we got.

Nagaland Anime Junkies 2013 Winner
Image source: facebook.com/naga.animejunkie

NeBuzz: What is the fest about and who are the participants?  

NAJ: The event is designed to be a utopia for all those dwelling in the world of fiction, art, anime, movies, games etc. Apart from the main event, which is the cosplay competition, the Cosfest caters a variety of stalls for food, anime merchandise, clothing, art etc. We organize different kinds of games and art competitions during the event. The event also hosts various performances from bands and dance groups. The place becomes a perfect place for photographers. You will find all kinds of cosplayers cosplaying characters from games, movies, anime etc. One will find almost everything that is described as fun. In short, the fest is very vivid and colourful.

Most of the participants are from Nagaland. We were surprised to see that our state actually had so many dedicated cosplayers. The work, time and detailing they put in the costumes is astonishing. We also have people coming in from places like Assam, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Mumbai, Delhi etc. The fact that people from other states know of our event and come to participate, shows our growth, which encourages us to push ourselves and do even better during our sleepless working hours preparing for the fest. 
NeBuzz: What are the benefits of Cosfest? 

NAJ: If one is open to the idea of learning and recreating new things with a positive outlook then we believe that the benefits here are many. Not only does it provide a platform for different art forms to gain their due recognition but it also encourages people to develop new interests, skills and ideas. To consider the possibilities of what they can achieve by doing the things that they are good at and pursue it with the intention of making a professional career out of it.
One does not only gain the benefits here just as individuals but also as a society. We believe that our Cosfest can one day be a source of tourist attraction. We have had people from different states visit Nagaland in order to participate in our past events and we are expecting more people to attend our Cosfest this year. We believe that the number will keep on increasing if we gain the recognition and support of the State Tourism Department. With their support, we can reach out to more people within and beyond the country. Cosplay is a very popular activity and a good source of tourist attraction in many countries. We can have that happening here if the Tourism Department supports our ambition. 

Nagaland Anime Junkies Cosfest
Image source: facebook.com/naga.animejunkie

NeBuzz: Is there any particular change in Cosfest this year? Do you intend to expand the fest to other places?

NAJ: We are dedicated to making each event precede the previous. We have added a lot of new ideas and activities this year.  All information is posted on our page every week on Thursdays. Our theme is “Tribute” this year. We will be giving tribute to the anime, movies and games that has inspired us. 
Growth has always been our prime focus. We have been holding anime meets and introducing this new concept of anime fans meeting up together and having a great time in different districts. So far, we have visited Dimapur and Mokokchung and we are planning on visiting other districts as well. We would love to extend our event to other states. We look forward to working with people from different states with similar interests. 

NeBuzz: What are the challenges that you normally face while organising or managing the event? 

NAJ: Time, money and work force. And the sad part is that they are all interconnected. Most of the team members stay outside the state and it is only during summers that we get together. This makes it really hard to organize the event.  So, we only get about 2 months to actually prepare. We try to do what we can over the phone and online, but 90 % of the work is home-based which can only be done in one place - home. 

Sponsorship has always been a problem for us. We have been having trouble with that every year. It’s really hard to explain and convince sponsors about what we are trying to do. Mostly because what we are trying to do is something new. And for a state like Nagaland, where sponsorship for events comes mostly from individuals, who mostly happen to be seniors, it makes it even harder for us because of the generation gap. We are always short on budget every year, which limits our preparation and makes it really hard to find services fitting our budget. It can be really discouraging sometimes. However, we are working on being self sufficient and we are slowly getting there.

We have a small but an enthusiastic work force. It’s not easy to find truly dedicated people but the team members are very committed. They love what they are doing and are capable of handling a lot of pressure and work which is awesome. We could use a few extra helping hands though. But we are still very positive with what we are doing and believe we will find a stable ground one day. It’s a process. 

Nagaland Anime Junkies Cosfest
Image source: facebook.com/naga.animejunkie

NeBuzz: If there are so many anime enthusiastics in our region, is there any possibility that we could come up with our own series of anime? 

NAJ: The idea of creating our own anime and manga is actually one of NAJ’s primary goals. If one really looks into it, Japanese anime emphasises so much on their culture and they have blended with modern art and society with their tradition and culture so well. We are no less when it comes to culture and tradition. We believe we can inspire people around the world about our culture though anime. Culture is never stagnant, it is always evolving with interaction and changes around us, adapting to what is new. We believe anime can be an upgrade, merging and transcending with our culture.

Nagaland Anime Junkies Cosfest
Image source: facebook.com/naga.animejunkie

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