A Fan-tastic Matsuri: Jamaican Cosplayers show off intricate costumes

From left: Best Performance winner, Saunjay Laurence as Deku from My Hero Academia; 2nd runner-up, Jerome Wilson as his own original character, a Horseman of Pestilence; cosplay competition winner, Sebastian Thomas, as Mortal Kombat X character Kotal Khan; 1st runner up, Jeremoene McCaloohey as Zenitsu from Demon Slayer; and crowd favourite Shania Waul cosplaying Kanao Tsuyuri.

Jamaican cosplayer Stephanie Singh has expanded her brand with a second event, Fan Matsuri, that was held on January 26 at J2 Garden Restaurant in New Kingston.

“A few years ago events had kind of died out, so I wanted to try and bring that back so people who are into cosplay had the opportunity to do it. Now that I’m back in Jamaica for a while, I decided to have another event. Usually, we have one in the summer called Fantasy Beat, but since I’m here, now, we could have a new year’s celebration. Matsuri means festival,” she explained.

Wigs and costumes

The inaugural Fantasy Beat was held in the summer of 2016. Singh hopes Fan Matsuri will become an annual event as well, complementing the original. Singh, who has won numerous cosplay competitions in Jamaica and the Caribbean, was happy with the turnout.

Yang Novelties and their line of Gunplay and anime-inspired models were among the several vendors at the first-ever Fan Matsuri.

“Before this, you couldn’t buy wigs, or costumes, or things like that, but now people are sourcing things like the materials to make the costumes, and it’s now at a higher level now,” said Singh, adding that she has been trying to keep cosplay alive in Jamaica.

She was impressed by the quality of the costumes that took part in Fan Matsuri’s main event, a cosplay competition. The three judges, including Ricardo Carter of the Jamaica Cosplay Club, whittled down the many entrants to the top five and then the top three. Sebastian Thomas, as Mortal Kombat X character Kotal Khan, emerged the winner.

“It feels awesome to win at the very first Fan Matsuri,” smiled Thomas.

Good turnout

Thomas had created the costume for another event and it took him a month to complete, mostly due to the intricate detail needed on the most difficult piece on the costume, the helmet.

Fan Matsuri cosplay competition winner Sebastian Thomas, as Mortal Kombat X character Kotal Khan receiving his prize package from Fan Matsuri event organizer, Stephanie Singh.

“He is one of my favourite characters from the game, but he’s not exactly top tier. I just love his voracity for leadership and conquest,” Thomas said.

Runners-up were Jeremoene McCaloohey and Jerome Wilson. McCaloohey cosplayed as Zenitsu from the Demon Slayer. Wilson was his own original character, a Horseman of Pestilence. Shania Waul as another Demon Slayer character, Kanao Tsuyuri, was the crowd favourite. Saunjay Laurence gained the best performance award as Deku from My Hero Academia.

“I think the event went well today. I’m happy with the turnout. Everyone came with their booths and their merchandise. We had a lot of activities,” Singh summed up.

As a gracious organiser, Singh doesn’t compete in her own events, instead playing a managerial role. Still, she hasn’t given up the thing that brought her the fame she has in the regional cosplay community and plans to enter the other competitions during the year.