Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Cosplay: Now and Then

Assalamualaikum / Peace be Upon You

This time I'm going to talk about a somewhat hobby of mine apparently; Cosplay. What is cosplay you might ask? Cosplay is short for "costume play" and it is a type of performance art in which participants don costumes and accessories to represent a specific character or idea. Cosplayers often interact to create a subculture centered on role play. A broader use of the term "cosplay" applies to any costumed role play in venues apart from the stage, regardless of the cultural context.

First thing first, I'm going to tell why I got into cosplaying. At first, I wasn't interested into this sort of thing but after being persuaded by several of my friends, I decided to give it a try. It wasn't easy but I managed to do it. I would say that reason why I'm doing this is because of my friends. Yes, the main purpose is to have fun with my friends. But that doesn't mean that I didn't fully understand the true concept of cosplay. 'Be in character' that's what one of my friends often said to me. You must always be in character whenever your picture is being taken or when you are performing on the stage.

I'm no veteran nor professional in cosplaying like most my friends are, but I do hate when people forgot the true meaning of cosplay. Cosplay, along with singing, dancing and drawing falls to the aesthetic family of hobbies, and thus cosplayers "feel" the character coursing through their veins when portraying them to the public. But alas this concept has decayed. Sure it is easy to just take some costume and put it on, go around some event and tell other people that you are cosplaying but that ain't the real deal. The true deal about cosplay is you be the character and stay in character hence the costume play name. Don't go around posing the poses that the character that you are portraying didn't do. Apparently there are misconception with the general public that you are considered cosplaying if you put on a wig or a mask. 

Let just face it, most of us let fame and pride delude us in the matter of cosplaying. Yes, most of the people that are into cosplaying wants to become famous. I mean seriously, who doesn't want to be recognize by others? Because nowadays, people only want recognition. They want to be known. Easily labeled themselves as an otaku or a cosplayers without knowing the exact meaning of the words. Because of this mindset, the new cosplayers tend to cosplay characters that are famous and recognizable (e.g. Naruto, Bleach, One Piece and even Vocaloids). Don't deny this because the fact that deep down, you are afraid that no one will recognize you, no one will notice you during a conversion, of the character that you are cosplaying because even the best cosplayers work their very hard to make their characters recognizable by other people. We want to be like those who are in a well-known photographer's 'Cosplay Pictures' folders. We want to be like those who come from other countries. We want others to acknowledge that we also can be an awesome cosplayer. I know... I did have this kind of thoughts... Once.

I was asked this question by others; "If you think like that, then why did you cosplay as Spider-Man? He is a pretty famous character." Yes, Spidey is indeed a famous character but he is only famous for his movies and animation series to the general public. And I'm cosplaying him because I REALLY obsessed with Spider-Man. I've been reading the graphic novels since I was in primary school (thanks to my old man). I don't want to brag but I think I'm a fanatic fan of Spider-Man. Even some of my friends tend to call me Peter Parker and at my previous workplace knows that I'm an avid fan of Spider-Man. Which is why I don't mind if people is cosplaying a famous character if they truly know and love that certain character.

The other sad part about nowadays community is we easily cosplay as something that is not yet been fully establish. I'll take Vocaloids for an example, most of the characters if I'm not mistaken (I could be wrong) doesn't have proper characteristics and the characteristics of a Vocaloid (e.g. Miku's leek obsession) are fan-made. And sometimes most of the cosplayers that I've seen (especially the new ones) cosplay Vocaloids because they are easy to be recognize. There are also times where they cosplay the Vocaloids characters using several costumes that were fanmade (e.g. McDonald Miku, Goth Miku, Wedding Miku etc) and even can enter competition which really baffles me. How do you enter a competition whereby your character doesn't have any base characteristic or your costumes are purely original made not being made by the franchise itself? That thing leaves me to ponder.

I'm also sad about the new community fondness on dramas. There are a lot of dramas nowadays. And by a lot, I mean A LOT. People then told me this; "Like in the previous years doesn't have any dramas at all." Yes, we do have dramas back then but it is not as many as we are having now. Back then, the dramas are only for selective people like the drama occurs when personal conflict arises between cosplayers. Now, anything can be a drama (e.g. One cosplayer hating another cosplayer just because he/she is cosplaying the character that he/she wants to cosplay). Yes, that's sort of thing will turn into a drama, I kid you not. Whatever happened to cosplay for fun or cosplay for the sake of entertaiment? I wouldn't be surprised if this article might turn into a drama.

And there is another thing that I'm also sad is the lack of Western or other than Japanese character cosplayers in Malaysia. Yes, I've been into most of Malaysia ACG events but most of the cosplayers that I've seen are cosplaying characters that are from Japanese franchises. I do not know or never encounter but apparently the Marvel Group Cosplayers that I were in was the first big Western character cosplayers that was in a Malaysia ACG event which is in Comic Fiesta 2011 (I called the event Cosplay Fiesta since it is more about cosplay rather than comic, seriously). We pretty much achieved what we want with our flash mob of Marvel characters with a really big group and I'm quite satisfied with it. I know there are a lot of people are into Western characters before and after that but most of them in it because of the movies that came out and only following the the trend (e.g. People are considering cosplaying as movie version of Loki just because he is quite a hit in the internet). There are also some people that stated that they had been a closet fan of Marvel and only now want to come out from their cocoons after the movies were famous (Seriously?).  
Cosplay is indeed becoming too mainstream

Though I might be skeptic sometimes but know this that no matter that you are tall, short, thin, fat, muscular, flabby, young, old, if you put your heart into respecting and loving the character and pull of an accurate cosplay, a tip of the hat for you, kind sir. There is no such thing as perfect cosplay (I would be able to stick to the walls if I were to perform perfect cosplay of Spider-Man), only accurate cosplay. I doesn't matter if you bought your costume from eBay, Amazon or Tabao (Like I did), it all matters with your heart. Because if you truly love the character, money and cost won't get in the way of getting that perfect costume you want. As for me, I'm just a casual cosplayer and I tend to cosplay just for fun. This entry is merely my own personal view on this matter.

My very first attempt of lame serious cosplaying as Raido Kuzunoha XIV (counterpart of Raidou Kuzunoha XIV) from Devil Summoner at Comic Fiesta 2011
My next lame attempt in cosplaying as Liu Mao Hsing from Cooking Master Boy at R.A.G.E. 2012
Nicholas as Venom (Flash), me as Symbiote Spider-Man, and Abigail as Spider-Girl (Anya) at A.F.A. 2012
Our Marvel flash mob during Comic Fiesta 2011 (Actually there are more)

P.S.: I would like to thank Jonathan Law for his few pointers regarding this matter. Also thanks to my friends in the Marvel/DC group.


Faiz Faults said...


For the drama part, I'd say that the main reason is because they're doing it without being sincere about it - as you said, in becoming famous. Such a sad state the whole scene has become.

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Cobra Viper said...

My cosplay character is also based on a western animation/comic franchise. It's called G.I.Joe.

DanDeath said...

I like your views on this. For 3 years of my life ive contemplated on whether to cosplay or not due to these assumptions and speculations as to how cosplay should be. I occasionally cosplay as the Grim Reaper but never truly do anything to stand out.. I enjoy the thrill of making people jump out of fright and later decide to take pics and all.

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