MONTEVIDEO – Anime and manga aficionados gathered once again this year in Uruguay’s capital for J-pop karaoke and cosplay contests featuring an applause meter and a kilo of rice as a participation prize.
The event at the Ateneo de Montevideo cultural center marked the 12th time that the Japanese Embassy in Uruguay has invited citizens of that South American country to take part in this Japanese-language karaoke contest.
The competition was particularly challenging because no screen was provided to help with the lyrics, although the youngest contestants shyly read off of their own sheets of paper.
“We at the embassy have put on this event so (people) in Uruguay learn about our culture. Young people are our treasure. My hope is that both youth and adults can enjoy it together,” Tomoto Kuboka, counselor at the Japanese Embassy in Uruguay, told EFE at the outset.
The novelty this year, besides the lack of lyrics on a video screen for the karaoke competition, was a cosplay contest in which people dressed up as their favorite manga, anime, comic book and video game characters.
The winner was determined by a clap-o-meter, with the audience choosing the best costume with their applause.
By contrast, a jury whose members included Japan’s ambassador to Uruguay, Tatsuhiro Shindo; and Lucia Leite, a voice instructor at the University School of Music of Montevideo, evaluated the musical talent.
The ambassador said prior to the start of the J-pop contest that it was a pleasure for him to be involved and that he was “happy that so many Uruguayans appreciate Japanese culture.”
The goal of the event was for “everyone to enjoy themselves,” Shindo said.
He added that he hoped that the contest would “further strengthen ties of friendship between Uruguay and Japan” and wished success to all the contestants.
In the interval between the first and second part of the karaoke contest, a cosplay (costume play) was held in which several participants took the stage to show off their costumes and demonstrate the abilities of the characters they were interpreting.
Gabriela Rivera, one of the cosplayers, told EFE that her introduction to the world of anime came via Facebook and that more and more events of this type are being held in Uruguay.
Dayana, who chose the character Sailor Moon (from the like-named manga series), said she had been a cosplayer for more than 10 years. “I always liked certain characters. I wanted to see them in me and see myself reflected in something that I really liked,” she said.
Costumes of many different types were on display, including Mario Bros. and Disney characters. Twelve people participated in all, with Nicolas Benitez, who represented the character Venom from the Spider-Man comics, coming out on top.
Top prize in the J-pop contest went to Matias Hernandez, who also received the biggest applause from the audience; Melina Lopez took second place, while a Japanese contestant, Fernando Suzuki, came in third.
Winners were awarded shopping vouchers, movie tickets and invitations to a sushi restaurant, while all participants in the event received a kilo of rice.