“Clothes make a statement; costumes tell a story.” – Mason Cooley
With the recently concluded Asia Pop Comic Con, a convention where fans of all ages can immerse themselves in everything pop culture to bring out their inner geek, one of the factors that made the event a smash hit was the unbelievable amount of cosplayers in attendance.
Comic con is known as a place for fans of comic books, cult shows, and the like to come together and gush over their respective favorites, but it is also an opportunity for them to dress up and step into the shoes of their beloved characters for a day.
Finding the perfect costume
There are numerous possible reasons for someone to get into cosplaying, but being inspired or feeling a certain ‘connection’ to a character is a common one. For Yasemin (II, ADV), she was inspired by Harley Quinn and thus decided to cosplay the DC villainess specifically for Asia Pop Comic Con.
While some cosplayers create their own costumes, Yasemin had hers made by a family friend. She did, however, create Harley’s signature mallet herself with a little help from a friend. “You have to think long and hard if you are willing to dedicate your time, money and effort into the costume so it wouldn’t go to waste,” she says.
Ashley (II, ISJ), on the other hand, makes do with locally bought materials for her costume. She ensures that her costume is accurate by DIY-ing a few things here and there.
“I had to sew a collar for my Eleven (Stranger Things) dress and there was another time I had to create fake bangs out of one that can be bought at Daiso since I did not find them natural enough,” Ashley shares.
Getting into character
Some of the cosplayers’ troubles do not simply end at finding the perfect costume, much like what has been experienced by Yasemin. Her journey as a cosplayer was fraught with self-doubt as she recounts some of her friends informed her that she was not ‘skinny enough’ to cosplay Harley.
“Some of my friends found out I was planning to cosplay Harley and they told me I was too fat to be her,” Yasemin explains. Many wrongfully believe that if someone does not have the same body type as the character they intend to cosplay, then they should not bother at all.
However, like other forms of self-expression, cosplaying is not solely for the consumption and pleasure of others; it is, more importantly, for the enjoyment of the cosplayers themselves.
“You can cosplay any character, it doesn’t matter if it’s bagay or not. If you love the character and are willing, go for it!” Yasemin insists. Ultimately, body type is of little to no importance when it comes to cosplaying, or anywhere else for that matter; just as long as one has the costume and a good impression of the character, then they’re good to go.
Staying in character
While putting together the perfect outfit already proves to be quite the challenge, it is the part of staying in character that turns out to be tougher for other cosplayers. Nikki, a high school student, shares that she sometimes struggles to portray a character well because of the ‘personality gap’ between her and the character. Unlike Yasemin who chose a character that inspires her, Nikki’s way of choosing who to cosplay is dependent on what is her latest favorite anime.
On the other hand, in a similar article entitled In the world of cosplay published by The LaSallian two years ago, the interviewees Kanra and Zed were choosing characters to portray based on similar characteristics or traits they aimed to embody.
That said, choosing a character with a similar personality could be easier to portray, but that of course cannot stop what or who the cosplayer truly aspires to become, be it a complex and totally different personality from themselves or not.
Meanwhile, Ashley only needs two criteria to be fulfilled before pushing through with a cosplay. “Love for character and budget. Part of the fun is meeting people with the same interests and cosplaying a character you don’t know takes away from that experience. On the other hand, I need to be realistic with my choices since I have a limited budget allocated for my hobby,” she shares.
While Ashley did not seem to have any ongoing major struggles with staying in character, she did mention that the most recent difficulty she encountered was that she would smile easily while cosplaying the likes of Eleven and Nezumi (Majisuka Gakuen), given that the two are known to be very fierce and intimidating.
Additionally, Yasemin shared that she had a bit of trouble in figuring out how to respond to people during her stint as Harley. “People would call out ‘Hey, Harley!’ at me and I’d sort of panic a bit because I would have to respond as Harley instead of myself,” she explains.
Even the way she’d pose for pictures was taken into account. “People asked for pictures either with me or of me which I enjoyed very much,” Yasemin confesses. She appreciated the attention and the appreciation she got for her costume which also led to her having good conversations with other cosplayers. She laughs, explaining that most of the people she talked to that day were Jokers.
“All in all, I think I did pretty well at staying in character and I’m excited to cosplay again soon.”
For those unfamiliar with the cosplaying scene, it’s easy to wonder if these cosplayers lead a double-life of sorts. One of the cosplayers shares her friends who are unaware of her love for anime are all shocked when they find out about her cosplaying.
For Nikki, Ashley, and Yasemin, they are able to keep their personal lives a whole world away from cosplaying. Ashley simply says, “When people find out about me cosplaying, they don’t treat me any differently.”
It is evident that these cosplayers are indeed passionate about their art, treasuring every moment in character they may have, but it was Ashley who shed some light on the misconceptions of cosplaying.
“There are only a handful of professionals in this field and most cosplayers do this as a hobby. We don’t gain anything out of it except for happiness,” she clarifies, “There are also others that think cosplaying is all about looks and competition, which kills the hobby. I want to dispel that connotation since cosplay is for everyone. There are no rules.”