WASHINGTON, Aug. 13 (UPI) — A young boy was doodling a portrait of the iconic anime Sailor Moon when the real thing – a woman dressed as the magical girl who befriends a talking cat – showed up in the staid Library of Congress.

At a workshop Thursday on cosplaying — dressing up as characters in movies or animations — 6-year old Liam Hunnicutt, wearing a ghost warrior costume with silver mask, learned how to draw Sailor Moon, a classic female superhero in Japanese anime from the 1990s who wears a sailor suit with big pink bow.

“Liam really likes anime,” said Liam’s mother Bridget Hunnicutt. “We haven’t seen [Sailor Moon] before, but it was fun to draw.”

The event was part of the Library of Congress’ celebration of East Asian pop culture, which has been enjoying new popularity in the United States and other western countries — as have Japanese comics and video games.

“In the past couples of years, [cosplaying has] become a lot less like a closet subculture and just thrust into the main light,” said Rebecca Hawk, a professional cosplay performer who dressed in Sailor Moon’s trademark outfit. “It’s cool to be a nerd now.”

Hawk, a cosplay fan since 2001, said she used to hide her collection of anime-themed merchandise for fear of being ridiculed by others. Today, other fans like her are excited to see the button of Sailor Moon on her bag — and her car, which is decorated with attention to comic detail.

A frequent speaker at cosplay conventions and make-up panels, Hawk said she enjoys perfecting her crafts and sewing her costumes.

“[When] you pass on the love of sewing, you pass on the love of the culture, the fun and the creativity of the anime community,” she said.

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