May 12, 2014 8:00 pm JST

Thailand's 1st 'Comic Con' draws 300,000 despite political unrest

YUKAKO ONO, Nikkei staff writer

BANGKOK -- Political demonstrations were not the only magnets for Thais last weekend. Thailand Comic Con, a three-day event that ran through Sunday in central Bangkok, pulled in roughly 300,000 comic fans, game lovers and "costume-play" enthusiasts, according to the organizers.

     Pop-culture fans were more than ready to attend the event, which had been postponed by nearly three months due to mounting political tension in the capital.

     The organizers, Milk Studio and Kantana Group, dubbed the gathering as "the first and the biggest" event of its kind in Thailand. "Comic-book markets, game exhibitions and cosplay events are not so unusual in Thailand, but there has never been an entertainment exhibition that combines them all," a Kantana spokesperson said.

     The event was backed by the Thai tourism ministry and drew over 60 million baht ($1.87 million) in investment money. With content to please fans of all stripes -- from Star Wars fanatics to Hello Kitty die-hards -- the event highlighted just how diverse Thai appetites for pop culture are. There was even a professional wrestling show with stars from Japan, including Tiger Mask

   

 There were some 300 booths selling comics and collectibles. Indoor and outdoor stages saw a constant stream of cosplay contests, idol group concerts and video-game championships, and people dressed as Japanese manga characters were a ubiquitous sight.

     "I came here for cosplay, but I'm enjoying watching the stages and looking at the goods being sold," said a 19-year-old girl dressed as a character from Japanese manga "xxxHOLiC."

     
One of the highlights was a fashion show held by Japanese brands Liz Lisa and Fig & Viper. It was a spin-off from the renowned Tokyo Girls Collection Japanese fashion event, and fashion celebrities from Japan and Thailand took part in the show. Tokyo Girls Collection organizer, F1 Media, had a booth where Japanese companies, including cosmetics firm Kose and green tea maker Ito En, showcased their products.

 

   "I love kawaii (cute) Japanese fashion because it is unique and sweet," said a 23-year-old Thai woman. "I am so excited to be here because it's my first time to see Japanese fashion live."

   
 Having met its target of 300,000 visitors, the organizers of Thailand Comic Con are already looking to next year's event. "Many companies have approached us saying they want to take part," an official said.