Swords at the Mall

Samurai swords, no less.

Normally, getting into the malls here in Manila involves an extremely thorough security check, something like what you might be subjected to when trying to board El Al in Jerusalem with a Syrian passport.

Well, maybe not quite like that… but a mall guard will say, “Good afternoon, sir” and pat the small of your back with one hand. You get the picture.

However, perfunctory searches notwithstanding, I’ve never seen anyone being allowed to enter the mall with a 3-foot sword.

Then again, I’ve never seen shoppers dressed like cats or monks, or Filipina girls with floor-length platinum blonde hair.

What was going on?

An Anime Trade Show

Today at Mega Mall there was an anime trade show (and yes, our “favorite” mall is actually named Mega Mall, and it is indeed large enough to merit the “mega” name, dorky though it may be). Hundreds of attendees were lined up in a queue that went half the length of the mall and looped back again to reach the entrance of the convention hall. Most were teenagers. Many were in costume.

Cosplayers were taking over the mall.

For those who might not know, “cosplay” is short for “COStume PLAY” and refers to those who dress up as their favorite characters for fun. Dressing up. Cosplay. A new word for an old concept.

As we strolled past the line, we saw long blonde wigs, monk’s robes, samurai gear, kitty ears (but no tails), red hair, blue hair, Alice-in-Wonderlandesque dresses, large clunky pistols, swords, longer swords, really really really long swords, backpacks, torn and ragged leggings… you name it. I’m sure that anyone who was into anime would have recognized many of the characters being represented (although I did a little Googling and learned that they are over 45,000 such characters to choose from).


We went to the mall to buy a wedding present for a friend and we headed up to the 5th floor (where the action was) to get new glasses. While we were able to order new eyewear to improve our vision, we got an eyeful of the cosplay going on. Another kind of vision altogether.

I thought to my geezerly self, Wow, I am really out of it. While I have been aware of anime, manga and cosplay, I’ve never been into it, and I’ve never been exposed to anything quite like this firsthand. Been running in different circles, I suppose. Or more like, they’re running in circles, and I’m just square. I knew it was a big deal, but seriously, I had no idea.

Not my fault, of course. And I bet none of those cosplayers could find the valley where we have lived and worked for the last 30 years on a map, either, even though it’s in their own country.

Everyone’s into something, it seems. And we often have no clue what others are doing outside of our circle… er… square.

I even found an online survey which would help me determine which anime character I was “most like.” I really should take that survey and set my mind at ease.

So, what anime character would you be? imagne from


About Bill Davis

Writer, speaker and translation and language learning consultant. I write technical articles, poetry and humor, and I am working on my first novel which is set on the island of Palawan in the Philippines.
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