Zimbabwe Comic Book Characters come to Life at OTAKUKON 2023

I think it’s safe to say one the best feelings for any creator within the comic book and general fiction space is to see someone make the effort to recreate their character and show them to the world. Indie creators the world over always have the best time when someone cosplays a character that they created. Zimbabwe has a very young industry when it comes to comic books, manga and animation and as a result we rarely get to see the characters in the world. Recently, Zimbabwe held it’s first ever Anime Convention, OTAKUKON, on the 22nd of December 2023. It was at this event that we saw Zimbabwe comic book characters come to life and we’ve gotta say, it was surreal.

To give background, OTAKUKON hosted 3 mini conventions and a cosplay masterclass in 2023. It was in that build up to the final event of the year that it became evident that cosplay was growing. To facilitate more growth in the Cosplay sector, we worked with it’s partners to create three separate cosplay competitions for Zimbabwe’s first ever anime convention. These sections were:

  • Casual Cosplay – A competition for fun loving cosplayers who bought or made parts of their cosplays but were really in it for the fun of it.
  • DIY Cosplay – A competition for die-hard cosplayers, requiring costumes to be handmade and at least 80% to have been made by the cosplayer.
  • Local Cosplay – A competition that would require participants to dress as a character created by a Zimbabwean artist. This is how we planned to have Zimbabwe comic book characters to come to life at OTAKUKON 2023. This competition also had the largest cash prize for the day.

As cosplay is still fairly young in Zimbabwe, and DIY cosplays are even less popular, we weren’t sure anyone was going to show up in local character cosplay. The cosplays at OTAKUKON 2023 were mesmerizing, beautiful vibrant colours and contrast filled the grounds at Green Screen Cinema. It truly felt like we were inside our favorite Japanese shows, watching the characters live their daily lives. Jujutsu kaisen, which was at peak popularity because of the Shibuya incident episodes was the most represented anime and of course we got to see the Akatsuki gang; a convention staple. No local cosplayers were seen.

When the time for the cosplay competition presentations came, we got word of two people registering for local cosplay. We were excited! This was exciting! Top it off, the participants were two of the three most identifiable DIY cosplayers so we knew it would be good. Wallflower cosplay and Boyroc Ota came and took our and everyone’s breath away. Wallflower dressed as Captain South Africa, the creation of Bill Masuku. She adorned the South African flag variant of the suit. Boyroc came as a character from Mutupo, the comic by Kudakwashe Rwizi. It was great to see the artist stand next to their creation. A full circle moment that not everyone can understand. We’re not crying, you are.

We are excited to continue seeing more cosplays and hopefully to continue seeing the huge impact of local comic book and manga artists through cosplay and other media.

Before adorning his Mutupo Cosplay. Boyroc (left) in Goblin Slayer cosplay, Wallflower (middle) as Captain SA, and Tari Sharko (right) Cosplay as Jinx

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