Camilla Micheli

Itaku – Italian Cosplay

Fascinated by the Japanese practice of “cosplaying” (= costume+play), which means disguising like anime (comics) and manga (cartoons) favourite characters, I got in touch with the Italian cosplayer community as soon as I got back from Japan at the end of 2005.

Itaku is a fantasy word which refers to the Italian otakus – and otaku itself was created to describe odd people such as artists and amatorial manga fans in Japan in the late 80’s.

My project idea develops from the word otaku, which means “my place”, “my home” or “my space”. Each cosplayer is shown in a space she refers as her own favourite: in the bedroom, in the sitting room, along the beach or in a wood.

Every girl has designed, sewed and originally accessorised her own costume, copying with the most possible accuracy and detail precision from her beloved character. These girls, aged between 17 and 26, have grown up with cartoons and comics collections and now surround themselves with gadgets and Japanese pop icons. They form a lively and assorted community who communicate within itself mostly virtually and sometimes get together for national gatherings. What I find most interesting about the cosplay practice is the synthesis of peculiarities of the fancy characters with the real person during their performance: the look or behaviour out of the costume feeds itself by the very same passion and culture.