|Posted by Wolfie on June 30, 2012 at 3:30 PM|
Cosplay costumes vary greatly and can range from simple outfits to highly detailed "mecha" suits. Cosplay is generally considered different from Halloween and Mardi Gras costume wear as the intention is to accurately replicate a specific character, rather than to reflect the culture and symbolism of a holiday event. As such, when in costume, cosplayers will 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 but the practice of cosplay is most often associated with replicating anime and manga characters.
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 quality, thus the skill of a cosplayer may be measured by how difficult the details of the outfit is and how well they have been replicated. Because of the difficulty of some details and materials to replicate, cosplayers often educate themselves in crafting specialties such as textiles, sculpture, face paint, fiberglass, fashion design, woodworking and other such use of materials in the effort to render the look and texture of a costume accurately. Almost all cosplayers wear wigs in conjunction with their outfit in order to further improve the resemblance to the character. This is especially necessary for anime and manga characters who often have unnaturally coloured and uniquely styled hair.
More simple outfits may be compensated for their lack of complexity by paying attention to material choice, and overall excellent quality. The process of creation may then be very long and time-consuming, making it a very personal journey and achievement for many. This taxing, and often expensive process is known to unite cosplayers and is considered a part of the culture of cosplay.
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. There are also a number of individuals who 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 jewellery and prop weapons. Most cosplayers engage in some combination of methods to obtain all the items necessary for their costume; for example they may commission a prop weapon, sew their own clothing, buy character jewelry from a cosplay accessory manufacturer, and buy a pair of off-the-rack shoes and modify them to match the desired look.
In order to look more like the character they are portraying many cosplayers also engage in various forms of body modification. Contact lenses that match the color of their character's 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. Another form of body modification cosplayers engage in is to copy any tattoo or special marking that their character might have. Temporary tattoos, permanent marker, body paint and in rare cases having a permanent tattoo done 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 utilized by some cosplayers whose natural hair can achieve the desired hairstyle.
Is there a Purpose?
The cosplayer's purpose may generally be sorted into one of three categories, or a mix. Most cosplayers draw characteristics of all three categories.
The first is to express adoration for a character, or in feeling similar to a character in personality, seeking to become that character. This type of cosplayer may be associated with being a fan and is often labelled as an otaku. Other characteristics may be an enthusiastic manner and less attention to detail and quality. Such cosplayers are also most likely to adopt the character's personality and are known to criticise other cosplayers for not having a full knowledge of their character, or not also adopting character mannerisms.
The second is those people who enjoy the attention that cosplaying a certain character brings. Within the cultures of anime and manga specifically, as well as science fiction and fantasy, there is a certain level of notoriety that is attached to cosplayers. Such cosplayers are usually characterised by attention to detail in their garments and their choice of popular characters. They are also noted by participation in cosplay competitions.
The third is those who enjoy the creative process, and the sense of personal achievement upon completion. Such people are more likely to have a greater budget dedicated to the project, more complicated and better quality outfits with access to more materials. They are also more likely to engage with professional photographers and cosplay photographers to take high quality images of the cosplayer in their garment posing as the character.
Cosplay is a major Trend in Japan so why not bring it all around the world for everyone else to enjoy.
The appearance of cosplayers at manga events makes such events a popular draw for photographers. As this became apparent in the late 1980s a new variant of cosplay developed in which cosplayers attended events mainly for the purpose of modeling their characters for still photography rather than engaging in continuous role play. Rules of etiquette were developed to minimize awkward situations involving boundaries. Cosplayers pose for photographers in designated areas removed from the exhibit hall. Photographers do not press them for personal contact information or private sessions, follow them out of the area or take photos of exhibits in the hall itself without permission. The rules allow the symbiotic relationship between photographers and cosplayers to continue with the least inconvenience to each.
Recent cosplay events in Asia show an increase in the popularity of non-Asian fantasy and science fiction characters.
Where to Wear a Cosplay?
Conventions; that's where its the most popular form of presenting.
Conventions dedicated to anime, manga, comics, TV shows, video games, science fiction and fantasy may be found all around the world. The US alone features nearly a hundred conventions across the country each year. The single largest event featuring cosplay is the semi-annual doujinshi market, Comiket. This event, held in Japan during summer and winter, attracts hundreds of thousands of manga and anime fans. Thousands of cosplayers congregate on the roof of the exhibition center. The largest event for cosplayers outside Asia is the annual San Diego Comic-Con. The biggest event in the UK is the London MCM Expo at ExCeL London.