For the Love of Cosplay

Posted on April 22, 2012 by

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Cosplay is a rather misunderstood passion. Note: I say passion because it’s a crazily time(and money)-consuming activity, and cosplayers, or reiyas as they are known in Japan, put in a lot of effort to make their costumes realistic, and travel all over just to attend cosplay conventions- whether in or out of the country. On the surface it looks like playing pretend with more fancy props. But what does cosplay mean to its ardent fans?

Yi Chien, aka Kurosaki Ichigo(Bleach) @ C2AGE 2011 says:”Some people do cosplay for fun, or for the attention. But a large group of us also do it as a form of expression- We love anime, we love manga and we love the manga characters. We identify with them and spend lots of time studying them, trying to understand them and further put ourselves in their shoes, so that when we do play them, we make it real.”
Shu Yi, who first cosplayed last year, says:”We do it as a way to appreciate manga/anime further, and to express the side of ourselves that identifies with the character that we love. I mean, when you can relate to someone in a drama, that really touches you, right? It’s a little similar to that. I also wanted to understand my favourite characters better.”

But taking the first step takes guts- even in Japan, many view cosplay as a “frivolous endeavour”. So what motivated you to take that extra step, beyond the usual anime/manga fan?

Shu Yi:”It was my friend XiaoQi, who wanted to attend a convention in Singapore. That was my first time! It’s a bit absurd, I know, but I’d had the idea for a long time(since I love anime and manga), so I just agreed when she asked. Barely anyone had the time or interest to start in high school, so that’s why we started this late.”
Yi Chien:”Curiosity and love for anime and manga. And most importantly, the enthusiasm of my friends who began cosplaying before me. They’d keep talking excitedly about conventions, and somewhere along the line I got infected.”

Many people have negative preconceptions towards the cosplay community.Can you describe the community to us? Is it welcoming? Friendly?

Yi Chien:” Many people stereotype cosplayers as geeks and otakus and such. It’s not very accurate – people who love anime, manga and vocaloid productions, from all walks of life, cosplay. It’s true that many of them have a passion for anime and manga above the ordinary, though. And yes, the community is very friendly towards newcomers.”
Shu Yi:” When I went for the cosplay event in Singapore… we ALL loved anime/manga. That was the only obvious similarity of our group. We had a great time with them,though!”

How about the process of cosplaying? Preparing costumes, makeup and props?

Shu Yi:” I borrowed my costume from a friend, and bought a wig, because as a beginner, I had none of the skills necessary to make my own costume. It takes a lot of research, even for the little details like makeup.” 

Did involving yourself in cosplay change your opinion about it? How so?

Yi Chien:”I came to understand how seriously my fellow cosplayers take their cosplay. Seeing them work so hard at understanding and acting as their characters inspired my respect for them.”
Shu Yi:”Cosplay’s a high-maintenance hobby, time and moneywise. I admire cosplayers for their creativity and the effort they put into this pastime.”

Yi Chien, an art student at TheOneAcademy, has been actively attending cosplay conventions this year, and Shu Yi will continue after her IB exams this May.Click here for an event list for year 2012.

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