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Costumes and Cosplay

Nathan Albertelli

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Every year, or sometimes twice a year, a whole mob of dedicated fans go to an event held at their city convention center. The passerby might find this a little unusual - seeing people with blue hair or wielding large foam props. That is until they see forty men playing football dressed in full-fledged animal suits (think mascots).

I had the pleasure of attending a few of these conventions - and there was definitely a way to tell those who had not ever been to one before. The glazed-over look of “what on earth is going on?" is readily apparent on their faces as a throng of teenagers doing “cosplay" pass them.

So, the question burning in your mind may be, “what is cosplay?" and “why is my son, daughter, brother, sister, or grandfather interested in this?"

Let's take a step back and examine the word “cosplay". Cosplay is a word coined from the Japanese that is formed from the words “costume" and “play". The culture behind cosplay involves people dressing up in often self-made costumes with accessories to show off to a small community of individuals who are are also interested in participating in cosplay - or watching others do cosplay. These designs can range from simple costume construction involving foam and linen, to ornate works of art. Some participators of cosplay will “act the part" while in costume - making sure not to act out of character. In larger venues, there will be an event during the “con" (convention) in which participants will be judged on their costumes - the best one earning a prize.

A common misconception is that people who cosplay only are doing so in characters of Japanese origin. Many cosplayers gather their inspiration from a variety of sources: movies, art, historical figures, viral internet media, and animation from around the globe - not just Japanese animation. As time passes, cosplaying conventions are starting to look more and more like a Halloween masquerade than anything else - showing a wide range of inspirational diversity.

To the cosplayers out there - I salute you!

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