Monday, November 4, 2013

Kawasaki Halloween 2013-Photos and Observations

Halloween VS Valentine's Day, who you got?
According to a recent Mainichi article, sales for Halloween paraphernalia have surpassed those of White Day and are set to overtake Valentine’s Day at this trajectory. Valentine’s Day in Japan distorts the practice into a one-sided affair where women give chocolates to men, be it out of love or obligation. Men then have a month to weigh their options and possible escape routes before reciprocating with sweets on White Day. The common denominator for all three events appears to be confectioneries. But don’t be tricked--Halloween has nothing to do with kids receiving treats and everything to do with adults being obnoxious in costume.

Halloween is Comiket for non-nerds. It’s the one night of the year where people can try out new personas without fear of public scorn. Ah, a guy crossdressing as a schoolgirl--sure, it’s a joke, whatever you say buddy. A mom pushing a baby stroller dolled up as naughty Little Red Riding Hood with a skirt shorter than Shibuya gyaru--fair enough, you still want to taste the thrill of teasing the Big Bad Wolf. Visual kei goth kids go from social pariah to the center of attention--exactly the point of their ridiculous fashion. Alright people, you're free to let it all hang loose and be yourself!

Being yourself can also mean being a complete asshole. Halloween events start out friendly enough with friends in team costumes mugging for the camera and parents offering up their children to the strangers’ shutter--an amazing lapse of prudence for a country that won’t post their own face to Facebook out of fear for their privacy. The costume transforms the wearer into a superhero whose only ability is the power to stop acting Japanese for the day. And as the night stretches on, people get bolder, drunker and ruder.

The whole thing degenerates into packs of guys either cruising for chicks or looking to start fights. Basically, it plays out like any other Japanese festival. And that’s how you know, even without the Dentsu think tank telling you so, that the holiday is here to stay. Once the public accepts the rules of engagement for a new form of mass insanity it becomes a cultural norm. Look at Christmas--somehow a health conscious and romantically conservative nation convinced itself that fried chicken and trysts at luxury hotels were the most appropriate ways to celebrate the birth of Christ.

Who knows--given enough media prodding, maybe Japan will even restart the Yamanote Halloween hijack. For the time being, adolescent Tokyoites and displaced foreigners will have to settle for the Shibuya Center Gai street party or share space with families at the 3000-strong Kawasaki costume parade. No matter where the guys and ghouls end up shuffling, TSB will be there to capture the chaos on film.

Now that you've seen what's behind the mask you can never unsee it.
This awesome group costume was robbed of the Grand Prize that, predictably, went to an Alice in Wonderland family.
Lots of high-concept low-budget outfits on display. When did The Amino Acids turn in their theremin for a shamisen?
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Grinding in Monster Hunter feels less meaningless when you're doing it surrounded by others. At least stay in character buddy.
The Romero-esque irony of a zombie schoolgirl fumbling with her cellphone during a social function is not lost on me.
Want to cosplay but your outfit isn't worthy of Comiket? Then Kawasaki Halloween is for you!
Yokai costumes are cool enough, but ones inspired by ukiyo-e prints? Get 'outta town!
No way Bowser could take pole position with his slow acceleration given all the lightning bolts and blue shells zipping about that day.

Even werewolf flashers look classy with portrait lighting.
The street performers Creepers were out in full force.
Babies and half-dressed girls have nothing on a pooch with sunglasses and the right amount of swagger.
These Dollers were all smiles as they gave out panty shots.
This JoJo-inspired copper had it going on. Check out the gekiga shadows drawn on to accentuate the, uhm, lines of her body.
This Kyonshi could be the cover of any 80's B-horror flick.
Japan does kitsch Americana better than America.
Quick, get La Carmina on the phone: Split tongues and jewelry implants are the next biggest youth craze since bagel heads!
Extras from the Japanese remake of The Return of the Living Dead.
Shironuri schoolgirls, been there, done that--now a Morrigan crossplayer, that's scary!
Yeah, this guy's hand really comes off. No, I don't know how he gets it back on.
Marilyn Manroe's bodyguard was on full alert for the Red Creeper we saw above.
Very cute father-daughter team--until you realize that Sirene is six years old and walking around in her underwear.
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Unfortunately we weren't able to ask these gas-masked machine gunners what the name of their idol unit was.
Harajuku cyber rockers were partying like it was 1999.

Remember when potbellied pigs where a fad? The next big thing in small livestock is pygmy goats. Seriously.
Bloody bandages and a Kyary Pamyu Pamyu monster mouth make any girl into marriage material.
Too bad this one was already taken! Babies continue to be a must-have fashion accessory this year.
Thanks to the city of Kawasaki for another great event and to the visual effects artists for bringing some much needed gore back to my daily grind.

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