Cosplay lovers united: Japanese pop culture celebrated

Shonen Infinity is a Pakistani platform which encourages young Japanese pop enthusiasts to share love for music and arts
Updated 04 Oct, 2015

KARACHI: A girl disguised as a samurai warrior here and a young man appearing to be a guardian spirit there — all this and much more was happening at ‘Edo Japan’ — the first event of Shonen Infinity — held at the Japanese consulate on Saturday morning.

Shonen Infinity is the brainchild of Hyderabad-based J-pop enthusiast Balach Rasool that encourages fans of Japanese pop culture to come together.

The inaugural programme honoured the Edo period (1603-1868), the era of feudal military government, when art and culture flourished and were at a pinnacle.

Divided into segments of live Japanese music performances, cosplay and Edo artwork display, the programme started with introduction to Shonen and the concept of costume play, popularly known as cosplay, that started initially in Japan.

Geisha cosplay caught everyone's eye! — Photo by author
Geisha cosplay caught everyone's eye! — Photo by author

A treat for auditory senses, two Shonen members Shahzeen and Osama sang three Japanese songs, as Osama played his electric guitar to add zest to the numbers. The upbeat songs were focused on the theme of friendship as well as struggle in life to achieve a goal.

The music session was followed by the Edo cosplay walk where participants had donned appearances of different characters from the era. It was interesting to notice that there were no gender limitations as many girls chose to be Samurai warriors as well.

Shahzeen and Osama perform upbeat Japanese tracks. — Photo bu author
Shahzeen and Osama perform upbeat Japanese tracks. — Photo bu author

Some of the characters included folk character Kaguya Hime, Edo police squad representative Shinsengumi and Tengu, and the guardian forest spirit that uses fan to cast away evil forces. Some girls also looked petite as geisha while one looked resilient as human Katana.

Tengu, and the guardian forest spirit defends against the evils! — Photo by author
Tengu, and the guardian forest spirit defends against the evils! — Photo by author

The members of Shonen had also worked hard to make a Sakura tree that is otherwise known as cherry blossom. Symbolic of Japanese roots, the tree represents the arrival of spring and is used metaphorically for the transient nature of life and swift death.

Sakura tree. — Photo by author
Sakura tree. — Photo by author

Balach Rasool who is the founder of Shonen, explained the idea behind the initiative that it was about time that all J-pop aficionados got together:

“The main idea behind Shonen Infinity is to promote Japnese pop culture that is not very popular over here but our job is to make sure that those who do love this art, which are a considerable lot over social media, are given a voice and face. This will also help in boosting talent."

Quite a few  J-pop aficionados showed up!. — Photo by author
Quite a few J-pop aficionados showed up!. — Photo by author

He added, "Shonen is a Japanese word that means youth and it implies that youth never dies and want to transfer this art to our generations. I want to thank the consulate as they were very flexible with their dates.”

Shehzad Zaman, consultant for Shonen Infinity, told Dawn that the group was formed in June when the members got active. “We collect the artists and musicians and help them channel their artistry and creative energy through Japanese pop culture,” he said.

Shahzeen, who is an aspiring dentist, highlighted the need to create awareness of the culture so that other people could also get inspired:

“There are some barriers, too, because there is lack of awareness and many people deem these activities as a waste of time that young people should solely focus on studies. What they don’t understand is that we live in times when most people are stressed and these things help us in performing better by getting rid of stress."

"The reason why I am inclined towards this and make sure to take out time as well is that Edo era is so diverse and rich that once you get into it you get lost and want to explore it further,” she added.

Artists' work displayed at the event. — Photo by author
Artists' work displayed at the event. — Photo by author

The Edo artwork display featured graphic and traditional artists from places like Quetta, Lahore and Abbottabad as the artists drew Samurais, geishas as well as architecture from the glorious period.

Published in Dawn October 4th, 2015


Flavian Rego Oct 05, 2015 01:30am
Rasool San, Gambattay Kudasai ( Good Luck) in your future plans to promote the values of the EDO period. I had the good fortune to have lived in EDO( Tokyo) on assignment with PIA from 1985-1988. I knew Japan from the Western point of view mainly WW 2 and the " transistor Radio" 60's period . When I landed in this beautiful country I was simply overwhelmed with the politeness from the airport to everything else. My three years in Japan gave me an opportunity to delve in its history ( the movie SHOGUN was a great help) , arts KABUKI theatre, calligraphy. I immersed myself in local traditional Japanese living by meeting and mixing with NIHON gin ( people) . I learned enough Japanese to make my self understood in stores , bars , and hospitals( I had a heart by pass in Tokyo1987).... blame it on the good life! Now the Pop scene... Harajuku, a suburb of Tokyo was my hangout on Saturday afternoons just two stations away from my home in Shinanomachi. It is an experience of a lifetime., not to mention the Sakura( cherry blossom festival) in UENO park in Tokyo , where every Japanese family has a picnic and is happy to share their food( and beer) with you ! I made friends with fishermen families who brought the best sushi in town to poets who told me I have a "foreign ( gaigen) exterior, but a Japanese ( Nihonjin Kokoro) heart and soul! Just because I made an effort to speak Japanese to the best of my ability. Don't be fooled ..Most Japanese .... They speak and understand English, but are shy to speak for fear of making a mistake! I treasure his words and the good will of the Japanese people till today! Best Regards Flavian
white noise Oct 05, 2015 03:24am
ok, good effort, but guys, you really need to research your topic before you put it on display. I have seen many imitation of sakura tree and this could have done better. kimonos are also done rusty.