Hey, it’s me again! Your resident Oldtaku and Wota, JouKazu!
For this article I’m going to talk about コスプレ (ko•su•pu•re) or cosplay as we all know it as. For those who don’t know what cosplay is, it is short for “costume play” and it had its origins back in 1983 when the movie producer of a Japanese studio, 高橋信之 (Takahashi Nobuyuki) discovered attendees dressed up in costumes at a sci-fi convention in Los Angeles. Just a note, it actually wasn’t known as cosplay back then and more or so less referred to as costuming or masquerade. Anyway, Takahashi was so fascinated by this that he brought it back to Japan where it got its start at Comiket years later.
Photo courtesy of: 高橋信之 (Takahashi Nobuyuki)
Now we all know that cosplay is a female dominated hobby but that shouldn’t scare you away if you’re a guy. But then again, cosplay photography is a male dominated hobby so it works both ways. In its entirety, cosplay is an artform and is a great way to show your love for the character(s) you portray as in real life.
Anyway, we all know about how cosplay became mainstream through media, social media, various websites like Kotaku, as well as exposure through television shows. Now before you decide to start cosplay, keep in mind that depending on how you want to go about it… Cosplay can be an expensive and time consuming hobby. The materials used to make your own cosplay from scratch and/or the cost of purchasing pre-made outfits can really add up! Just like every hobby, Cosplay has it pros and cons.
- It’s a great way to make new friends especially when you’re at an event
- It’s fun!
- Making your own cosplay from scratch gives you that sense of accomplishment feeling!
- Depending on what you’re cosplaying as, you will get asked for photos a lot
- You get to take the role of the character you are cosplayed as
- Cosplays will need repairs time to time so be prepared to bring a repair kit to make quick fixes.
- Depending on your cosplay especially with armour cosplays or cosplays with wings, you will run into transportation issues.
- Depending on the prop/weapon you are carrying around to go with your cosplay, you may get in trouble with the general public. Especially with realistic looking firearms or swords.
- Drama, drama, and lots of it….
- If you’re wearing an armour or mecha cosplay, you’ll most likely have mobility issues and will need a handler.
- If you’re wearing contact lenses especially for long periods of time, you will suffer from irritated eyes so bring/use eyedrops every once a while!
- It can be a distraction from school/work
- It’s expensive!
- It can be stressful (Especially with groups and even more stressful if you’re in a group committed to taking part in cosplay competition(s))
- Trying to put on a cosplay can take up a lot of preparation time!
- Wearing a cosplay for long periods of time can give you a heatstroke
- Whether you decide to travel outside of your city/town for an event is up to you, be prepared to spend on not only a plane fare or gas but accommodations as well unless you plan to stay with friends or family.
- Unless you are used to it, you will be really embarrassed to wear a cosplay like say on public transportation and get odd stares.
- Your family especially your parents may not approve of it
Important things to note
- Cosplay is for everyone! No matter what your race, gender, or physical appearance is, you can cosplay! Even Misa on Wheels says so, and it’s true!
- Cosplay is purely meant to be a hobby for your own enjoyment. Do it for yourself and not for others.
- In East Asia (Outside of Japan), cosplay is a competition to see who can attract the most photographers. Let’s not take the fun out of cosplay in our cosplay communities over here in the West!
- When it comes to cosplay in East Asia but believe it or not but wearing make up is a mandatory especially for dudes that cosplay and crossplay. (I might not live in East Asia especially Singapore but when I went there in Nov 2013 to attend Anime Festival Asia that year, I learned about the cosplay culture and how it’s very different than what we’re used to on this side of the world.)
- Yes, there are cosplays that will be overdone but that shouldn’t stop you from cosplaying as long as you have the passion, “Just do it!”.
Some advice for Brotakus
- I might not be ripped but for some cosplays to look legit, it might be a good idea to work out and building abs and muscles especially if you plan on cosplaying muscular characters like Kenshiro from Hokuto no Ken.
- If you want to make your own cosplay and don’t want to buy a cosplay, but don’t know how to sew whether by hand or with a sewing machine, I’d suggest take the armour route by learning how to work with either craft/EVA foam or thermoplastics. Depending on your budget, I’d suggest EVA foam as craft foam has to be layered for it to be durable.
- If you’re wearing a skin-tight outfit like a zentai suit, I’d highly suggest wearing a dance belt to avoid unwanted yeah….
- If you’re wearing an armour cosplay, make sure that you’re completely mobile with it. Standing in one spot for hours and hours is no fun. Trust me I’ve done it several times because I couldn’t even see where I was going. (That was around the time when I didn’t wear prescription contact lenses)
- It’s true that cosplay is a female dominated hobby but that’s a good thing because as a dude, that means you’ll have to work even harder to make yourself stand out.
- Never EVER go to the women’s washroom even if you’re crossplaying!
- The cosplays that’ll get you asked for a lot of pictures and follower/friend requests as a male cosplayer are the ones that are either: full-armour, mecha cosplays, or from retro anime series.
- When it comes to self-made cosplays or props, you’ll find yourself going to a hardware store or craft store often. If you’re going to Michael’s, be sure to use an in-store coupon to get discounts.
- Your female friends will be impressed with you if you attempt to crossplay and in most cases, they will also even help you with make up and trying to make you look as convincing as possible.
Since you all know that I’m an oldtaku and wota but believe it or not… I’m actually a cosplayer/crossplayer as well! The first time I cosplayed was back at Animethon 5 in 1998. Around that time, nobody actually cosplayed since the concept was unheard of. I remember back then there was me as Mazinger Z and a Kuonji Ukyou (Ranma 1/2) cosplayer but sadly, nobody really had a camera that time or you’d see me post photos of my Mazinger Z cosplay from back then. As time went by… it took me until Animethon 17 (2010) when I decided to build this mecha cosplay out of craft foam, styrene, and paint and bring back my Mazinger cosplay from 12 years ago. Well.. not really since I decided to base it off the Mazinger Z from Shin Mazinger Z Shougeki-hen from the same year. That same day I also made a new friend, Jeffrey who was cosplaying as Armoured Alphonse Elric and unlike myself, he made the trip all the way from Saskatoon, SK for the event that year.
(Photo courtesy of: Vadi Sama, my friend from Italy)
In years gone by, I’ve been attending non-local events outside of my city too (Even back in my birthplace of Singapore!), but because transportation of cosplays was an issue, I had no choice but to stick to cosplays that were easy to transport. What I mean by this is just wearing a sewn cosplay and wig. Because I wanted to look as close as possible to the character(s) I cosplay as, I even had help from my female cosplayer friends with make up. Years later, I invested in make up and learned how to put on make up whether it was for a cosplay of a male character or a crossplay of a female character.
Regardless of the loss of being able to bring a self-made cosplay with me everywhere I travel, I was able to make friends everywhere I went. The secret as to why I was able to do so was because we were able to get in touch of each other outside of events because of coscards (cosplay cards). Believe it not but some of these cosplayers have also gotten close to me that they we actually consider each other brother(s) or sister(s) from different parents.
(Photo courtesy of: COME, See TOYS and taken at Anime Festival Asia 2014 in Singapore)
And as of late, this photo on the right of my Kamui (God Cloth) Seiya from the last arc of the Saint Seiya Hades OVA cosplay is one of my most recent self-made cosplays which I only had the chance to wear once last year at Animethon. I built out of EVA foam, contact cement, and coloured PU vinyl. It took me three and half months to finish making it. Now I know that armour cosplay has been getting more and more mainstream thanks to the accessibility of thermoplastics such as: worbla and wonderflex but for me, those are expensive materials that are beyond my budget. Painting my costumes just got too tedious that I decided to just make armour cosplays the way they do back home in Asia. Although it may be even more time consuming, this was done by gluing the fabric side of a piece of PU vinyl to a piece of EVA foam. As you can tell, the result was tremendous!
Anyway, what sparked me to bring back a cosplay from Saint Seiya has to do with the fact that the majority of armour cosplays were really only from Western video games such as League of Legends. I wanted to show the local cosplay community that armour exists in anime/manga too!
(Photo courtesy of Amy Bagnall (Lacus78) one of my best friends and sisters I never had but have)
Now I normally don’t post anything cosplay related on my social media accounts (Facebook and Twitter) though I do post a lot of cosplay related photos on my Instagram account. But anyway, you can check out all the cosplay I’ve done and cosplay related photographs that I’ve taken of other cosplayers on my Facebook page, JouKazu
Oh and on your left, those are my coscards (cosplay cards) which I use to keep in touch with cosplayers and cosplay photographers that I meet at local and non-local events.