Well, another San Diego Comic-Con has come and gone, and the staff of J-List is tired but exhilarated from all the fun we’ve had here. As usual, one of the highlights of the show was looking at all the thousands of cosplays, from Maki from Love Live to McThor to the cutest Rey ever. The word “cosplay” is a good example of 和製英語 wasei eigo or “made-in-Japan English,” coined in the June 1983 issue of My Anime magazine, which included a special feature on “hero costume play” that had to be shortened to “cosplay” on one page to fit into the layout. The first anime cosplay is said to have taken place at a science fiction convention in Yokohama in 1978, when a judge mistook a fan cosplaying a character from the cover of an Edgar Rice Burroughs novel as being from an anime called Triton of the Sea; the error was never corrected, and suddenly fans got the idea of bringing 2D characters from anime into the 3D world. These days it’s not hard to find “cosplay idols” like Kipi or Necoco or our favorite Jessica Nigri who create the most amazing costumes for us to enjoy, capturing every minute detail of the characters with remarkable skill.
We live in a complex world in which everything around us is becoming more and more global, including marriage. My Japanese wife and I are an interesting example of an international marriage, with both sides bringing different things to the table. After 25 years of living in Japan, I’m certainly fluent in the language, but that doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally use the wrong word in an embarrassing situation, or get completely lost if the topic moves to something I have little experience in. Like everyone in Japan today, I almost never write kanji by hand anymore, instead typing it on a computer or keitai (cell phone), which makes it extra challenging when I have to fill out an insurance form in Japanese that has to be absolutely perfect or it won’t be legally binding. While my wife understands enough English to watch on occasional episode of Cold Case without subtitles, her skills aren’t perfect, like the time she asked my family for “gross lipstick” for Christmas. (She meant “gloss.”) Once she found a box of cake mix I’d brought back from the U.S. the previous summer and decided to bake it. Unfortunately her brain mis-read the word “batter” as “butter,” as in “add two cups of butter to the bowl” (when the recipe didn’t actually call for any butter at all). The result was remarkably similar to the “lethal chef from hell” meme commonly seen in anime.