Introduction to the World of Cosplay

For today’s post were gonna talk about cosplay. Now, this isn’t going to be a tutorial for anything specific, but rather a general overall description of what cosplay is and what not. This is sort of like an introduction to the cosplaying world.

“Cosplay, a combination of the words costume play, is a performance art in which participants called cosplayers wear costumes and fashion accessories to represent a specific character or idea. Cosplayers often interact to create a subculture centered on role play and a broader use of the term “cosplay” applies to any costumed role play in venues apart from the stage. Any entity that lends itself to dramatic interpretation may be taken up as a subject and it is not unusual to see genders switched. Favorite sources are manga and anime, comic books and cartoons, video games, and live-action films.” (Wiki)

Howl from Studio Ghibli’s Howl’s Moving Castle

“The rapid growth in the number of people cosplaying as a hobby since 1990 has made the phenomenon a significant aspect of popular culture in Japan and some other parts of Asia and in the Western world. Cosplay events are common features of fan conventions and there are also dedicated conventions and local and international competitions, as well as social networks, websites and other forms of media centered on cosplay activities.” (Wiki)

Princess Peach, Yoshi, and crew from the Mario world

In the West we call the most common event for cosplayers to show up at are Comic-Con’s. These are conventions where members of cast and crew from films, shows, anime’s, and video games come to meet fans and hold panels where they can answer questions and talk about their experiences. You can get autographs from your favorite comic book creator or actor. Vendors come and sell things from a wide array of geeky wonder, and there is always a wide variety of cosplayers. Many people who attend Comic-Con cosplay for the three sometimes four day event.

“Cosplay costumes vary greatly and can range from simple themed clothing to highly detailed costumes. It is generally considered different from Halloween and Mardi Gras costume wear, as the intention is to replicate a specific character, rather than to reflect the culture and symbolism of a holiday event. As such, when in costume, some cosplayers often seek to adopt the affect, mannerisms, and body language of the characters they portray (with “out of character” breaks). The characters chosen to be cosplayed may be sourced from any movie, TV series, book, comic book, video game, or music band anime and manga characters. Some cosplayers even choose to cosplay an original character of their own design or a fusion of different genres i.e. a steampunk version of a character.” (Wiki)

Steampunk version of Ariel from Disney’s Little Mermaid

“Cosplayers obtain their apparel through many different methods. Manufacturers produce and sell packaged outfits for use in cosplay, in a variety of qualities. These costumes are often sold online, but also can be purchased from dealers at conventions. A number of individuals also work on commission, creating custom costumes, props, or wigs designed and fitted to the individual; some social-networking sites for cosplay have classified ad sections where such services are advertised. Other cosplayers, who prefer to create their own costumes, still provide a market for individual elements, accessories, and various raw materials, such as unstyled wigs or extensions, hair dye, cloth and sewing notions, liquid latex, body paint, shoes, costume jewelry, and prop weapons.” (Wiki)

Young Mystique from X-Men

Most cosplayers create their own outfits, referencing images of the characters in the process. In the creation of the outfits, much time is given to detail and qualities, thus the skill of a cosplayer may be measured by how difficult the details of the outfit are and how well they have been replicated. Because of the difficulty of replicating some details and materials, cosplayers often educate themselves in crafting specialties such as textiles, sculpture, face paint, fiberglass, fashion design, woodworking, and other uses of materials in the effort to render the look and texture of a costume accurately.

Shiek from The Legend of Zelda

“Cosplayers often wear wigs in conjunction with their outfit to further improve the resemblance to the character. This is especially necessary for anime and manga or video-game characters who often have unnaturally coloured and uniquely styled hair. Simpler outfits may be compensated for their lack of complexity by paying attention to material choice and overall high quality. To look more like the characters they are portraying, many cosplayers also engage in various forms of body modification. Contact lenses that match the color of their characters’ eyes are a common form of this, especially in the case of characters with particularly unique eyes as part of their trademark look. Contact lenses that make the pupil look enlarged to visually echo the large eyes of anime and manga characters are also used.” (Wiki)

Riddick from Pitch Black and The Chronicles of Riddick

“Another form of body modification in which cosplayers engage is to copy any tattoos or special markings their character might have. Temporary tattoos, permanent marker, body paint, and in rare cases, permanent tattoos, are all methods used by cosplayers to achieve the desired look. Permanent and temporary hair dye, spray-in hair coloring, and specialized extreme styling products are all used by some cosplayers whose natural hair can achieve the desired hairstyle. It is also commonplace for them to shave off their eyebrows to gain a more accurate look.” (Wiki)

Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland

“Some anime and video game characters have weapons or other accessories that are hard to replicate, and conventions have strict rules regarding those weapons, but most cosplayers engage in some combination of methods to obtain all the items necessary for their costumes; for example, they may commission a prop weapon, sew their own clothing, buy character jewelry from a cosplay accessory manufacturer, or buy a pair of off-the-rack shoes, and modify them to match the desired look.” (Wiki)

Gladiator style Wonder Woman from DC comics

“The most popular form of presenting a cosplay publicly is by wearing it to a fan convention. Multiple conventions dedicated to anime and manga, comics, TV shows, video games, science fiction, and fantasy may be found all around the world. Cosplay-centered conventions include Cosplay Mania in the Philippines and EOY Cosplay Festival in Singapore.” (Wiki)

Shanks from One Piece

“The single largest event featuring cosplay is the semiannual doujinshi market, Comic Market (Comiket), held in Japan during summer and winter. Comiket attracts hundreds of thousands of manga and anime fans, where thousands of cosplayers congregate on the roof of the exhibition center. In North America, the highest-attended fan conventions featuring cosplayers are the San Diego Comic-Con and New York Comic Con held in the United States, and the anime-specific Anime North in Toronto and Anime Expo held in Los Angeles. Europe’s largest event is Japan Expo held in Paris, while the London MCM Expo and the London Super Comic Convention are the most notable in the UK. Supanova Pop Culture Expo is Australia’s biggest event.” (Wiki)

An Assassin’s Creed Hellequin

Cosplay competitions and conventions also draw in photographers. These photographers, however, are not allowed to take pictures of cosplayers without their permission and have to stop when told to. Photographers are not allowed to badger cosplayers for personal information, contact info, or follow them around or outside of the convention. Cosplayers may pose however they wish for photographers and do not have to do anything they are not comfortable with.

Vanille from Final Fantasy XIII

“As the popularity of cosplay has grown, many conventions have come to feature a contest surrounding cosplay that may be the main feature of the convention. Contestants present their cosplay, and often to be judged for an award, the cosplay must be self-made. The contestants may choose to perform a skit, which may consist of a short performed script or dance with optional accompanying audio, video, or images shown on a screen overhead. Other contestants may simply choose to pose as their characters. Often, contestants are briefly interviewed on stage by a master of ceremonies. The audience is given a chance to take photos of the cosplayers. Cosplayers may compete solo or in a group. Awards are presented, and these awards may vary greatly. Generally, a best cosplayer award, a best group award, and runner-up prizes are given. Awards may also go to the best skit and a number of cosplay skill subcategories, such as master tailor, master weapon-maker, master armourer, and so forth.”

Mononoke from Studio Ghibli’s Princess Mononoke

Cosplay is a fun thing that brings geeks together so that they can share their passions and fangirl over all the amazing costumes. People do it because they enjoy it, yes the awards, prizes, and photographs are a nice bonus, but these beautiful costumes wouldn’t look as good as they do if the people creating them weren’t passionate about their subject.

I hope you enjoyed this intro to cosplay and if you’d like to see more cosplay’s in the future just let me know in the comments. Have a wonderful Saturday!

(Info came from Wikipedia and pictures came from Pinterest)

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