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Tell us about yourself?
Akanksha Sachan was a studious young girl determined to be an engineer. And then in her 16th year, she plonked down in front a television during a hard-earned break from her physics textbook to watch cartoons with her younger brother. She started off with Dragon Wars, moved on to Naruto and hasn’t stopped since.
How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and cool career?
Sachan is hooked to anime, the Japanese word for animation, and has joined the league of otaku, described by Oxford English dictionary as ‘a young person obsessed with popular culture to the detriment of their social skills’.
Except that Sachan has also made a lucrative career out of it.
The Lucknow girl moved to the National Institute of Fashion Technology in Kolkata, where she is completing her third year. Her final project is a fashion collection based on manga, a genre of Japanese comics and cartoons based on science fiction or adult themes.
What is the future for Japanese Anime fashion design?
“There is an entire subculture in anime that is an emerging lifestyle choice in Japan. It will take a while to catch on in India,” says 20-year-old Sachan, who is frequently called on by other anime fans to help create their costumes for cosplay. Cosplay refers to a performance art where fans dress up like their favourite characters. And Sachan’s keen knowledge of fashion and anime makes her a scarce resource.
“If you go to a regular tailor, he will botch up the complicated outfits or just look at you strangely. I work on costume orders in my spare time and my charges start at Rs1,500 for a basic outfit,” she says.
What are your future plans?
Her future plans include starting an online store for anime fans in India. Costume stores in India don’t cater to such a niche population and online stores charge a fortune.
The simple school girl uniforms start at Rs1,500 and the more complex warrior wear, which are more labour intensive, take up to 15 days to perfect and cost much more. Comic-Con has a rule against metal costumes, so Sachan says she used foam, textured with primer to give it an authentic look, while making sure the suit was light in weight. Fans are known to spend an average of Rs10,000 on each costume.
Sachan became a familiar name in the otaku community after she won a cosplay event in Bangalore in June. She played Erza Scarlet, a sword-yielding warrior from anime series Fairy Tail.