At the annual Hong Kong anime comics and games festival, new guidelines discourage too much skin.

New guidelines against showing too much skin spark parody at annual Hong Kong anime, comics and games festival


Even before visitors flooded the Animation-Comic-Game Hong Kong on Friday afternoon, it was already jam-packed with people. Many people were cosplaying their favorite fictional characters.

Among the sea of people in colourful wigs and elaborate costumes, five rotund blobs attracted more attention than perhaps anyone – or thing – at the yearly gathering of animation fans. Visitors were eager to snap photos of the armless cartoon astronauts from American multiplayer game Among Us.

Wing and his friends pose as astronauts for photos. Photo: Peter Lee/HKFP.

A sign printed by the Among Us cosplayers read “boobs hidden, legs covered, nothing pornographic, [we] abide by the organisers’ rules.”

Their slogan reflected the large, inflated polyester costumes that covered them from head-to-toe. They had two holes in the costume that were wide enough to allow them to spread their hands and promote their Instagram page.

Held at the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai, the ACG is Hong Kong’s largest annual event for fans of anime, comics and games. This event attracts thousands of people, and also features exhibitors selling merchandise and artwork.

The Animation-Comic-Game Hong Kong’s first day was July 29, 2022. Photo: Candice Chau/HKFP.

For the first time since the ACG was held in 1999, the organiser of the four-day convention introduced guidelines for cosplayers’ attire. They called on female cosplayers to avoid showing their underboob and wearing stockings that revealed “too much skin,” while male cosplayers were told their bottom costume must be “larger than briefs.”

Leung Chung-poon (ACG Chief Executive Officer) stated in a press conference that guidelines were created because families may have children at the fair. He stated that cosplayers had been consulted as part of the development of the guidelines. These guidelines would not be enforced.

A group of students from senior secondary schools told HKFP that they ordered their costumes online on the day following the announcement of the guidelines.

Wing and his friends dressed like astronauts from the popular animated film Among Us. Photo: Peter Lee/HKFP.

Wing was part of the Among Us crew, but was not wearing the costume. He said that he believes cosplayers should have the freedom to portray the essence of a character.

“Of course I know that some people have worn relatively revealing clothes [at the convention]… but they were trying their best to bring the characters to life and maybe take pictures with other sub-culture lovers,” Wing said, adding that their enthusiasm “should not be erased.”

The student said the core message behind his action was that “outsiders should not dictate what insiders do.”

On July 29, 2022, there were many people waiting outside the Convention and Exhibition Centre. Photo: Candice Chau/HKFP.

One of the Among Us cosplayers dressed in a green outfit said that the act was more a parody than a serious demonstration. “Everyone laughs when they see our slogans. We are bringing happiness to people,” he added.

Wing stated that these guidelines had been created to encourage cosplayers and to be consistent with the organizers’ wishes. “If they truly don’t care, they would not have announced them,” he added.

‘Hypocritical’

A group of three women and two men, each cosplaying a Maid character from Genshin Impact, waited in a line at an anime merchandise stand.

Wearing stockings and an apron over a dress, one of the men said the organiser’s guidelines were “hypocritical.”

Long queues of people at Animation-Comic-Game Hong Kong Photo: Peter Lee/HKFP.

He pointed to the exhibition’s “Doujin Zone,” where booths stock merchandise related to anime, comics and games.

“A couple [of] metres over there, you literally have people selling photos of either anime girls or girls in real life that are in their bikinis or censored in some bits, because they showed their actual private parts,” he said.

The cross-dressing cosplayer added that he came to the ACG because he wanted to “be a sexy maid.”

Photo albums of cosplayers on sale at the “Doujin Zone.” Photo: Peter Lee/HKFP.

He did not give HKFP his name, but asked to be referred to as the “cult of Yae,” as Yae was the name of his friend who had “dragged” him along to the ACG.

Beyond the comfort zone

Another visitor dressed as a Lolita-style maid in black lace stockings with a purple hairdo. He also claimed that he has cosplayed different female characters at ACGs before.

This time, the barefoot 23-year-old – who had a string tied around his neck for his friend to lead him around the exhibition – said he wanted to “break out of [his] comfort zone” and try something new, so he decided to play the role of a sex slave.

Ray Yumi dressed up as a dark Lolita-style maid. Photo: Peter Lee/HKFP.

Ray Yumi, the cosplayer who requested to be named Ray Yumi, stated that he was inspired to start his cross-dressing journey in 2016 when he bumped into a male cosplayer in the male restroom wearing a long, flowing skirt. Ray thought he was in an inappropriate toilet, but the cosplayer assured him that he was actually male.

Ray said the encounter left a big impact on him and made him realise “possibilities” that had never crossed his mind. Ray began researching online and learning from female friends about makeup. He completed his look by himself this year.

“If you truly love the character, you will be motivated to work on cosplaying,” he said, adding that he had taken a day off from work to attend the exhibition.

The Animation-Comic-Game Hong Kong’s first day was July 29, 2022. Photo: Candice Chau/HKFP.

Ray thought positively of the new dressing guidelines as he said Ani-com was a “family-friendly” event.

“Some people might have shown too much skin and gone over the line [in the past],” he said. “It is better that now there is a reminder for them to bear in mind.”

“As long as it is not compulsory, I think it is still fine,” he said, adding that the most important thing was for all visitors to have a good time.

Hugs are free

Holding a large cardboard sign over their heads written with the words “free hug” in capital letters and a smiley face, two secondary school students literally welcomed strangers entering the exhibition with open arms.

Two students offer free hugging at Animation-Comic-Game Hong Kong. Photo: Peter Lee/HKFP.

Wearing a long blonde wig, one of them told HKFP that she wanted to let people know that cosplayers were “loving people.”

The student, who asked to go by the name Stitchy, said she there was criticism that cosplayers – sometimes wearing revealing costumes – did “indecent work.”

“Recently the image of cosplaying is not very good in Hong Kong, so I want to bring happiness and love to everyone,” Stitchy said.

Stitchy gives a hug to strangers. Photo: Peter Lee/HKFP.

Stitchy said that the new dress guidelines for cosplayers were too restrictive and she didn’t recommend showing her legs.

She said she understood that the remarks were merely advice, not rules – but “usually when there is a guideline… people normally would not want to break [it].”

“The Ani-com might be the only place for them to act as the characters they love. Now… the event is less cheerful compared to in previous years.”

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