Joëlle Nouhet : mangamania and cosplay

Mangas fans gather by the thousands to « cosplay » or « party » together. Cosplay is a group activity combining elements of play and exhibitionism. Participants dress up as their favorite mangas characters. The article discusses the functions of play, metonymy and metaphor expressed in the cosplayers’ costumes. After listening to Rachel, an adolescent cosplayer, it examines the function of the costume as an expression of creativity and as a protective envelope containing narcissistic elements of identity and difference. Thanks to the costume the cosplayer can be both baby-like and « sexy » and thus able to cope with the anxieties of her own fixed adult sexuality. She can explore without inhibition her infantile erogenous sensations.