In the pop culture world, there are a variety of festivals that cater to different niches. Pop culture has a habit of infiltrating every culture and one of my favourite events of the year is the Doki Doki Festival in Manchester. A celebration of Japanese culture, Doki Doki brings together people from all walks of life. Anime, manga, comics and history are housed under one roof. The 2018 event featured a diverse set of talks and stalls, ranging from Japanese woodcut prints to cosplaying.
I was excited to go to Doki Doki 2018 because of the focus on cosplay and pop culture writing. One of the highlights was listening to Helen McCarthy talk about the history of cosplay and how it developed over time. Having investigated the phenomenon for several years, Helen had a great amount of knowledge to share. She compared the cosplay culture of America and Japan, noting the similarities. According to Helen, the phrase was coined in 1983 by a Japanese man named Nov Takahasi. It didn’t enter into the English speaking world until the mid-1990s.
I thought it was interesting how a misconception had developed that cosplay was invented in America. Cosplay existed in Japan since the 1970s, but it became popular in western culture as well. It was wonderful to see Helen’s passion for cosplay, as I believe the beauty of it is how it can unite people from different backgrounds. I had the pleasure of talking to Helen about her work and she left me feeling inspired about writing Japanese related content.
In the afternoon, I listened to the Japanese Pop Culture and Writing About Anime For A Living panels. Helen was joined by freelance anime writer Andrew Osmond and blogger Sophie Carroll (who I’ve interviewed). It was great to hear about what Japan meant to them and how they got into writing about anime and pop culture. What stood out to me was Andrew and Helen’s advice on pitching to magazines and other publications. It took them years to build their reputations, which is a reflection of their passion.
Doki Doki 2018 had plenty of geeky stalls and delicious Japanese food. I’ve recently developed a craving for matcha, so it’s safe to say I got my fix with a matcha latte and match red bean bun. The scrumptious concoctions were provided by Sweet Octopus and Sugar Salt respectively.
My inner history nerd was also satisfied by the presence of authentic samurai armour and weapons, provided by Circle Martial Arts. The representative I chatted with was highly knowledgeable on the history of the weaponry. For example, he mentioned a lot of warriors came from farming backgrounds, so they crafted tools like nunchaku and shurikens out of anything they could find.
In my opinion, Doki Doki 2018 was a huge success. I came away with a better understanding of Japanese culture and I’m looking forward to coming back in future!