And I’ve been going through a wave of emotions since 15 year old Ng Yuk Tim was confirmed dead by a 23 year old who is well known within the cosplay community. And I know I’m not the only one, as many of us in the ACG (Anime, Comic, Games) community have been on a roller coaster ride ourselves since we found out about what happened.
The media wasted no time in capturing that portrait that would sensationalise this murder. The titles for articles related to the murder has the headline “Cosplay Killing”, all because the meeting between these two people were cosplay related. Even though the cosplayer was not in cosplay when this happened, even though the motivation of the murder had nothing to do with cosplay, the media wants us to remember the one aspect that has made this 23 year old man stand out.
He was a cosplayer.
The media has then asked what other cosplayers thought, the focus even more on his ACG interests. It made me sad to realise that the cosplay community had to defend ourselves somehow, speak the truth, stand up else we be judged and linked to the murder. It’s also great to see professionals defending cosplay too. But why? What does cosplay have to do with the murder? Is the world that blind that they cannot see that a person’s hobby or interest isn’t always linked to their actions?
But maybe that’s not what we should worry about. Maybe our anger towards the media is a red herring to the real problem that we should be worried about. The Allah issue, the guns thrown in the loo, Budget 2014!
But as all of this goes on, reality is slowly sinking in for us. That on the night of October 22 2013, we came to realise that we have lost two members in our community to a tragedy no one could foresee.
The Malaysian ACG Community
The ACG community in Malaysia has been one of my favourite communities, despite being a low profile member. I know what it’s like to be surrounded by this amazing community, I’ve met the wonderfully talented people and befriended some of them, I’ve performed with them and I can assure you that they’re still a great community to be with. In fact, it was because of our ability to understand each other through our passions that has kept us together throughout the years
And as more years passed by, the ACG community grew with people from all walks of ages and life. There are definitely problems within the community, problems that happen in any other kinds of communities really, but the few of us who carry on attending these events, cosplaying or even creating doujinshis, badges and all sorts of fanwork, do it because we have a deep love for what we do.
But because we have so many people from so many different lives and various ages, precaution really needs to be taken. I think my biggest problem with this murder is how could a 15 year old girl be left alone with a 23 year old man. How could any of us not see the warning signs for this? How many people knew? According to reports, it seems that no one knew. But I soon feared that the cosplay project that they were working on blinded others into thinking that it was safe, that working on cosplay together would never lead to such a possible outcome.
I feared that’s what the media thinks too as it continues to portray how wrong it was.
What can we do?
It’s still hard to predict or even prevent moments like these, especially since a certain level of trust was displayed here. Again, this case may have nothing to do with cosplaying at all. I still believe that all of this happened beyond anyone’s ability to foresee, as no one was aware Ng Yuk Tim was alone with this man, and the man really showed no indication of ever doing this.
But I understand that there’s a certain level of trust among us cosplayers, and how that trust can be very strong especially here in the ACG community. Some of us never consider age or gender as a problem, because we’re all united in our goal to just be fanboys and fangirls and bring to life the things that we love.
But maybe it’s time we also become aware that many more underage cosplayers are joining us and befriending us, asking for our help and guidance. And while I still believe Ng Yuk Tim’s case is different, I still want to encourage all cosplayers, old or new, to please be careful when meeting different members of different ages. No matter how trustworthy the person may be, it’s still better to go to an ACG event or even meeting another ACG member with someone you trust. If you know someone underage who is meeting someone older within the cosplay community on their own, discourage them or find someone to accompany that person.
To all underage cosplayers, I know many of you consider yourself mature enough to make your own decisions and I respect that. But please be mature enough to consider your own safety too. When meeting strangers, or even people you only spoke to online, even if they do share your passion and are just as enthusiastic about it as you, it’s still better to keep your guard up and have a friend watch over you. No one should make you do anything that feels uncomfortable, and if someone is harassing you, be brave and make a report. Trust me when I say that there are other ACG members who would gladly protect you, because we want you to have a great time at these events too.
Check out this great tumblr post explaining how to keep safe even out of cosplay and events, because regardless, this could happen to anyone.
Here’s our reality
It may seem that the advise I gave is a lesson we could learn from the “Cosplay Killing” incident, but it really isn’t. In reality, there really isn’t much of a lesson here other than a reminder that it’s hard to predict human behaviour and emotions and we should always stay safe.
But with that harsh reminder, I also hope to remind people that the ACG community can be kind. We may have our mishaps, our disagreements, our high expectations, but we’ll always find happiness in our ability to share our love and interest with others. Cosplaying has brought people together, it has made people happy, and it has given us the feeling that we do have a place we belong. And that no matter what, we would always support each other. So even through this hard time, I hope this support will see us through, no matter how the media may portray us.
To Ng Yuk Tim and her family, words cannot express my complete sadness over the senseless tragedy. I fear no words I write could ever comfort you through these trying times, but you are in our hearts and we all mourn for the loss of Ng Yuk Tim’s life.