Why cosplay fans fear the TPP

Why cosplay fans fear the TPP
PHOTO: Nikkei Asian Review

TOKYO - A Japanese girl with short blond hair takes a fighting stance, holding a gigantic sword and looking like she has just stepped out of a "Final Fantasy" video game. Right behind her, Sailor Moon and her warrior friends gather around, taking a group selfie. It may sound surreal, but such scenes were par for the course at a major cosplay bash in Tokyo last month, where thousands of comic and anime fans gathered to share their passion and have some fun.

Massive fan-driven events, including cosplay contests and comic conventions, are held everywhere from the US to Dubai to Germany. Otaku fever has recently been heating up in Asia, too. In 2010, Singapore held its first comic convention, followed by India in 2011 and Thailand in 2014. The appeal of these forms of entertainment transcends cultures, nationalities and borders, and cosplay is just one way these enthusiasts pay homage to their favourite artists and characters.

But there is growing concern within this thriving subculture that their days of dressing up may be numbered. And it is due to something else that transcends borders and cultures - the planned Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement.

Though no deal has been sealed, the pact, if implemented, would strengthen the protection of intellectual property to such a degree that merely dressing up as Sailor Moon could potentially land someone in jail.

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