I’ve only been cosplaying since May 2010, but I’ve been going to conventions since Aya Next in 1999, and have been an anime geek since Akira was released in the UK. Which probably means I’m the oldest member of Just Cosplay. I promise I won’t get too nostalgic about “the olden days” though; but if the others let me, I might tell the tale of why cosplay skits have to be pre-approved at UK conventions these days!
I’d been interested in cosplay for a while, and went to all the panels and workshops I could, but it wasn’t until I started going to the MCM Expo and got encouragement from close friends that I even considered it seriously. My first costume was a crossplay – Belarus from Axis Powers Hetalia, made from scratch with help from my girlfriend and my mum. And crossplay has been a recurring theme since. Recently I’ve been doing a lot of cosplay from Western sources (particularly My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic), adapting regular clothes into costumes, and making accessories.To me cosplay is about expression; expressing a love for the character or source; expressing myself through the clothes that I choose to wear; and even just expressing “I made this!” Its also a great way to find new friends that share your interests. You are effectively a giant billboard for your favourite games, TV shows and film. I suppose that’s why I try to encourage people to cosplay characters they like. I’ve not actually met anyone who said, “Oh! No I just liked the costume, I hate that show.” But I’m not looking forward to it. Lastly, and I know as a cosplayer I shouldn’t admit to this, but I like the attention. I don’t crave it to the exclusion of all else, but as a normally shy person it’s nice to be the centre of attention on my terms, and complimented on my skills.
It also leads to some odd encounters! I went to a Manga Night hosted by my local Waterstones dressed as the priest Garterbelt from the Panty and Stocking anime. When I left the event I was approached by four very drunk lads in blazers, with incredibly posh accents. They tried several times to get me to go clubbing with them – even promising to pay for drinks and taxi fares – but sadly I had work the next day, and was giving lifts home that night, so I had to decline. Even then, they refused to leave me alone until I had blessed them. When I grudgingly agreed, they all dropped to their knees and waited for me to pat them on the head and say “I bless you my son.” After that they went on their way happy and in good spirits.
My cosplay principles are:
- Cosplay a character because you like them, rather than because you “suit them”
- Get a good quality wig. A bad wig can ruin a great costume.
- Don’t worry about the small details, focus on the bigger picture and overall look.
That last one is unusual in the cosplay community, but I find it helps me actually finish costumes, and stops me stressing about little things. It won’t win me any awards, but I’ll leave those for the more dedicated costumers!