Lausanne, Switzerland (GenevaLunch) – This past Sunday 4 April, instead of the Easter bunny, my family and I were surrounded by Narutos, Mimikkos, Ilpalazzos and other “Japanese inspired characters” I had never met. The people wearing wigs, platform shoes and carrying fake swords were in “cosplay”, which is short for costume play, at the sixth annual Polymanga festival in Lausanne.
Polymanga is a three-day festival featuring mangas, anime, video-games, cosplay and a tribute to Japanese culture that includes tea ceremonies, origami and Japanese calligraphy. The founder and president of this event is 26-year-old David Heim. “In 2005 there were 6,000 visitors and 15,000 in 2009.” Heim told GenevaLunch that the 2010 Easter edition which ended 5 April was even larger.
“Our success is based on the fact that we do not repeat ourselves. It is never the same. Every year there are more people attending because we bring new things and artists wo have not been seen at other French-speaking festivals.”
Heim says the French-speaking Swiss are especially keen to manga because they are “directly influenced by the French.” According to the young director, four hours a day of anime on TV since 1978 have helped shape several generations of French-speaking fans.
Although most of the people in costumes at Polymanga were in their teens there were plenty of dressed-up grownups as well. The costumed protagonists went around posing for scores of fans and responded in character, cosplay at its best.
Heim who is also a teacher and owns his own communication agency, says he doesn’t yet know what the festival will bring next year. “We brought Sean Maxwell for the first time in 11 years to a French-speaking country. We will bring someone else who has not been invited to a French-speaking festival. If they have been seen or heard at other festivals, then that doesn’t interests me.”