Arts & Entertainment

The Bolivian indigenous woman who became an anime enthusiast

By Gina Baldivieso

La Paz, Jun 16 (EFE).- During the coronavirus pandemic, Cristina Mamani grew fond of Japanese anime and manga, a passion that now helps the Bolivian indigenous Aymara woman make ends meet.

Mamani puts on her traditional cholita dress, a blouse, bowler hat and skirt, and sometimes a short kimono similar to that of Shinobu Kocho, her favorite character from the Japanese manga series, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba.

She doesn’t think twice about wearing a green cape from Attack on Titan and jewelry with the symbol of that popular Japanese series.

“For me, anime is an example of culture and value. That’s what I’ve learned,” Mamani tells Efe in an interview from the accessories shop she opened over a year ago with her sons, Ronald and Brian.

Born in Santiago de Quilloma in La Paz, Mamani says she comes from a family of farmers, an activity that she has not forgotten.

Mamani has been the “mother and the father” to her children. She has done everything to support her family, from street food to housework, she explains.

Her two sons opened the doors to the world of Japanese animation because they liked to watch series and collect objects since they were kids.

And while Mamani “didn’t understand much” about it at the time, she didn’t hesitate to join them at anime fan conventions and events.

“But today I see that all the characters are art, they are a ‘cosplay’ that demonstrates an example, a teaching in a different way,” she says.

Mamani’s life took a 180-degree turn when she tested positive for Covid-19 and had to spend almost all of her savings on treatment.

“We no longer had anything to eat. My two children started selling anime kangaroos (sweatshirts) out of desperation,” she points out.

They used TikTok to promote the products, but someone reported them and all their content was removed, which made Mamani decide to get involved.

She began to star in TikTok videos and decided to open an anime store due to growing demand.

She was nicknamed Cholita-san by her fans, who were surprised “to see a woman in a skirt” promoting the culture of Japanese animation, she says.

“I identify with Shinobu, who is from the anime Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba. I have seen that she is a woman who fights to defend her family,” she explains.

Mamani highlights that some people do not understand that hobby of hers. They make fun of her or accuse her of wanting to change how Aymaras dress.

“I want to clarify that this is a cosplay, it is an art,” she adds.EFE


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