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This Britain

The Manga girls of Middlesbrough

The fine, machine-tooled metropolis that is Middlesbrough is possibly not the first place that springs to mind when one thinks about the savage hues and – at least to some Western eyes – avant-garde childishness of Japanese pop culture. But this weekend, the Teesside city found itself decked out in a million buttons and bows, as British cosplay enthusiasts were handed free licence to parade their fondness for dressing up like anime characters.

These young women are pictured in the moments before they took to the catwalk at NemaCon 2011, the North East Manga and Anime Convention.

Cosplay (short for "costume play"), sees devotees take on the appearance of – and even perform characterisations from myriad Japanese cultural sources. Some even go as far as to transform themselves into pixel-perfect doppelgangers of video game avatars.

Hundreds of fans filled Middlesbrough Town Hall for the event, which first started in the manga section of Borders Books in Stockton-on-Tees.

As well as the fashion show, festivities included a skit contest and a pub quiz.