Well, Tokyo’s first ever Comic Con is not off to a very inclusive start.
According to Anime News Network, Tokyo Comic-Con has specifically banned males cosplaying as female characters—a.k.a. crossplay—with the ban listed as an official guideline alongside other restrictions like no real military costumes, excessive exposure or transparent costumes. Also notably, the ban does not apply to women who want to crossplay as male characters.
However, this type of ban isn’t anything new in Japan. Most cosplay events in Japan prohibit Male to Female cosplay and, if that type of cosplay is allowed at an event, the appearance of these Male to Female cosplayers is heavily regulated. You are supposed to look as feminine as possible and cannot look unsightly to the eye. Having a bunch of men who cannot “pass” as female crossplaying would be seen as damaging to the convention. For many Western convention go-ers, this is not something we are used to at our conventions. Hence, the outcry overseas…
If you are familiar with the culture of anime in Japan, this ban on male to female crossplay makes total sense from a cultural perspective. You very rarely see non-feminine looking men in Japanese pop culture crossplay unless they are being used as comedy relief. Other than that, they are seen as unsavory or unattractive if they try to crossplay in pop culture because they don’t adhere to the “flower boy” appearance that is more coveted in Japan. As for why it’s okay for females to crossplay as males, there is a particular fixation on feminine looking men in Japanese pop culture. Having females dressing up as males is seen as more attractive than males dressing up as females from a cosplaying standpoint.
Since there was an international outcry over the ban, officials at Tokyo Comic Con have appeared to lift the ban and amend the rules in a way that works with them. However, I’m not entirely sure if this is a better solution. The amended rules, which can be found here, are as follows:
via Tokyo Comic Con website
Mind you, my Japanese is definitely not as good as my Chinese, so my translation won’t be 100%. Basically what it says is that they have made the decision to lift the ban. However, on the day that they hand out registrations, each person will get a colored card that correlates with their gender. People must show these cards when they enter the bathrooms or locker rooms within the convention vicinity.
I’m not entirely sure if this solution is the best solution, but it’s better than an outright ban. What are your thoughts on the situation? Should males be banned from dressing up as females? Should crossplay even be allowed? I think people should dress however the heck they want, but I know opinions differ. Let us know in the comments below.
The very first Tokyo Comic-Con will be held from Dec. 3-4 and so far features appearances by Jeremy Renner, Matthew Lewis, and Stan Lee.