Inside the world of cosplay in Malaysia

Najjua Zulkefli

In the day, Dzafri Mohd Nor is a lorry driver. At night, he is a predator.

Not that anyone should panic. The 35-year-old is into cosplay despite his daily work with a courier company in Shah Alam. He and other enthusiasts put countless hours and loads of money into becoming their fictional characters and can be seen at every anime or comic convention in Malaysia.

Cosplay, which originated in Japan, is a combination of the words “costume” and “play” where participants called cosplayers wear costumes to represent a specific character whether it be from comics, manga, anime, or other various forms of media. Cosplay started actively in Malaysia when the first well-known anime event Comics Fiesta was organised in 2002.

“At first, my wife thought I was making an outfit. Later, when she saw the mask and knife, she realised I was making a costume” said Dazfri, who works on his samurai predator costume two hours every night. It took him four years to complete the costume.

Despite some sexy characters in cosplay, Muslim female cosplayers in Malaysia tend to settle on characters who do not wear tight or revealing outfits, even by donning hijab while being in character.

Misaqi, who became involved in cosplay since 2013, said she needs to improvise on her costume more than others for her to participate in a cosplay event.

“As a Muslim wife, firstly, I will ask permission and advice from my husband on my costume to represent a specific character without revealing my aurat (body parts required by Islam to be covered) “ said Misaqi, who is also married to a cosplayer.

The duo are among the rising number of costume enthusiasts spreading across Malaysia and who gather at a growing number of festivals to show off their elaborate hand-made creations, the products of hours of loving work, and enjoy their shared passion.

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