11 November 2009

American Cosplayer: Delving into Japanese Tradition

~This is a paper I wrote earlier this year, for the summer semester. Enjoy!~

In early May, I attended my first anime convention, Anime Central, located in Rosemont, Illinois. Anime is a Japanese style of cartooning and comic books, the drawings in which showcase characters with elongated limbs, large, expressive eyes, and frequently, magic powers of some kind or other. I attended this convention because I had become acquainted with the art form of cosplay. A cosplayer seeks to accurately recreate the costume and mannerisms of a character from a particular show, book, or even video game.
Cosplay is, in effect a sort of theatre art. The convention I attended even offers what is dubbed “The Masquerade,” a venue that allows cosplayers to perform skits in costume. As is stated in our textbook, “Costume designers work with the entire body of the actor” (204). Such is also the case with a cosplayer. To properly design a costume, its purpose must be understood, and attuned to the body of the wearer. In my case, my mother and I created a costume of the character Raiden, a combatant from the Mortal Kombat video game series. As a fighter, Raiden’s costume must be able to move freely; the clothes he wears must never keep him from using his body to its fullest. And because of this, I chose breathable fabrics with which to create the costume, not only for the sake of the character, but also because of the weather conditions.
A friend of mine, Jia, has been cosplaying for several years now, and I have taken her as a mentor in order to further myself in the understanding of what it takes to be a great cosplayer. Jia is an award-winning cosplayer and costumer, and she judges at conventions country-wide. Below is Jia, cosplaying as Belldandy, a goddess from the anime/manga series Ah! My Goddess:

My classmate, Shy, has offered his comments on the construction and design of this costume:

"The focal point is her face with the lines created by the gold triangles leading the eyes. The draping cloth of the arms of the costume feature vertical lines that seem to imply a high status for the person the costume represents, and seem to give a sense of lightness. That, along with the light, loose fit of the clothes, and the pose seems somewhat reminiscent of the goal of ballet dancers to portray dancers as ethereal beings not bound to the earth. Mass is primarily in the torso and head with the blond hair and dark blue fabric being darker and more opaque than the lighter blue."

These comments really capture the essence of the costume, and the skill with which it was created.
I encourage those who enjoy sewing and camaraderie to consider cosplay as a possible hobby. It is a wonderful way to meet fascinating people, and to become more cultured in the art of costuming, and in Japanese culture as a whole, I enjoyed Anime Central, and plan to attend many conventions to come.

And now, five other totally amazing blogs that you should visit:
1. Jia*Jem
2. Damn Interesting
3. Neatorama
4. Why the Fuck Do You Have a Kid?
5. David Mulley
6. Apostrophe Abuse
So, if you ever get bored with my [absolutely fascinating and awe-inspiring] posts, check one of those out. I'm still way cooler. [WARNING: SARCASM DETECTED]

1 comment:

  1. Nice to see another anime fan =)

    I've always thought about trying a little cosplay, but i can never decide whether or not to actually do it when convention season comes. But that Belldandy cosplay is some really high quality work. hmm.. maybe I should give a try for this year..

    Come visit my blog, I just wrote a review for one of the new series that came out this fall. You might find it interesting =)