By: Jacklyn Tran – Ethnic Seattle
October 29, 2015
The world of cosplay, where inspired fandom meets inventive creation, is a subculture becoming more ubiquitous in the world around us. The word itself combines “costume” and “play” and is representative of participants who dress in costume to portray their favorite video game, comic book, anime, cartoon, or film character.
While Halloween costumes are encouraged to be more ghoulish in reflection of the holiday: wicked witches, zombies, vampires, etc.; cosplay centers around reproducing a specific character and sometimes even embodying their behaviors.
For cosplay participants, the lifestyle, the hobby, can require lots of research, hard work and dedication. In speaking to cosplayers of all ranges of experience, a few common threads encapsulate the beauty of cosplay and what it accomplishes for those who take part in the culture.
Who wouldn’t love embodying their favorite super hero or character. Even I (unknowingly at the time) have ventured into the world of cosplay a few Halloweens ago. Having been called Chun Li for a time in my childhood when I would frequently play my favorite video game at the local grocery store, I decided it was time to make Chun Li come alive. With a donated blue cheongsam from my sister, a pair of scissors and a best friend who had a sewing machine and more skill than me, we made it happen. We were a fighting duo that year, Chun Li of Street Fighter and Kitana of Mortal Kombat.
Makeup artist extraordinaire, Christine Aguiling, “You could say I felt different [as Kitana]. The character is sexy and mysterious. Hard to not feel some of that energy while dressed up like her.”
Playing a part requires a little fantasy and automatically allows one to exude fearlessness, sexiness or strength that isn’t always communicated day-to-day. Everyone needs to feel a little over the top every now and then, as those vibes linger under the surface for all of us in some way. Cosplay allows the opportunity to share it in a more stated way.
Confidence and Community
“My favorite aspect is the social elements of the activity. Cosplay is all about having fun with friends, geeking out about our fandom and ultimately become who we love,” said Anna He, cosplay artist and costume designer.
For many of these artists, self-confidence is a driving force. The ability to delve into an idea, craft or bring together the different parts, and have a visualization come to fruition is one that is satisfying and boosting. In wanting to do a character justice, people strut a little differently and in turn that feeling can sometimes be evolutionary for oneself. The challenges along the way only make greater the reward of seeing a thought come to life. Even more encouraging is that the cosplay community is all about creating an environment that is warm and welcoming to all. Self-expression is supported and open-mindedness shown. At conventions and events year round, people of all backgrounds unite in sharing their common interests.
While some cosplay designs are detailed and difficult to construct, others are simple-themed pieces assembled strategically.
For He, “I am personally attracted to cosplays designs that are technically and aesthetically challenging. […] But I have put together cosplays for my husband with thrift store items. Most of the time, modern characters are easily to put together with store brought items.”
Although cosplaying can be time consuming and expensive depending on the depth of the idea, it doesn’t have to be. When in a pinch, a drive to the local thrift store or a little digging in the old closet can come up with something inspiring.
In Seattle, there’s never a shortage of conventions and events where cosplay is a draw. Whether it’s Aki Con, held October 30 to November 1 this year, or the largest cosplay conventions in the Pacific Northwest, Sakura-Con and Emerald City Comicon coming early next year, why not play the part and show up as your favorite hero!
Aki Con is a non-profit anime convention that will be held at the Double Tree Hotel in SeaTac on October 30-November 1. www.akicon.org
Sakura-Con presented by the Asia Northwest Cultural Education Association is the oldest and most well attended anime convention in the Pacific Northwest celebrating their 19th year, March 25-26, 2016. www.sakuracon.org
Comic book and pop culture convention, Emerald City Comicon is coming April 7-10 to the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now! www.emeraldcitycomicon.com
To see Christine Aguiling’s passions and work, visit www.christineaguiling.com
To follow Anna He’s cosplay adventures, visit www.facebook.com/seattlecosplay