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How to be a Cosplayer

Date: 2008 December 16 15:48

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A large runway divides the room. People sit patiently waiting for the stars to strut their stuff. The lights flicker on and the crew members speak with words of comfort to the jittery stars taking centre stage. This is a long way from Paris Fashion Week and the get-ups are far from Milano. As soon as you see a replica Lara Croft swagger down the platform with screaming cheers, your gut instinct is to head for the nearest exit. The outfits that follow only get more absurd; with capes trailing behind and swords that make an audience roar with excitement.

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A History of Cosplay
Welcome to the bizarre world of Cosplay. Where fans of videogames, anime, manga and movies live out their fantasies of becoming their favourite characters.

Cosplay originated in Japan in 1978, Nov Takahashi, the founder of the Japanese anime and manga focused publishing company Studio Hard, attended WorldCon at the Los Angeles Sci-Fi convention. He praised the fans he saw who took the time to dress up in costume. He brought the idea over to Japan where it became a national phenomena and went on to coin the term "Cosplay" by combining Costume and Play. Instead, fans in Japan adjusted the original concept to instead represent anime and manga characters. Soon Cosplay masquerades and skits became a common sight at Fan Conventions. It became a way for fans to display their natural talents in replicating their idols The district of Harajuku in Tokyo,is a famous Cosplay spot where tourists take pictures of Japanese teens wearing their off-beat outfits. However, this trend is not exclusively linked to the Far East; fans of Japanese culture in the United Kingdom have adopted cosplay, establishing it as a truly global pursuit.

London MCM Expo
This year London MCM Expo welcomed over 300 cosplayers through its doors. The London Expo is one of Britain's most famous Anime and Manga conventions, which also caters for Sci-Fi and videogame followers. Many of the Cosplayers will enter the masquerade contest in hope of recognition for their efforts from fellow fans, a chance to win prizes and the possibility of having their picture in a national publication.

Cosplayers at the MCM London Expo

Cosplay is a difficult arena to approach for beginners. Many starters choose the accessible anime characters from Naruto and Bleach, as these are the most popular anime series' currently shown in the West. Veterans however decide to choose more obscure characters that display far more outlandish attire. Crafting the perfect character uniform can be a painstaking process and in some cases, very expensive. The more attention an outfit gains, the more criticism, you, as a costume maker are more likely to receive. The first time a Cosplayer enters a convention is a moment of both tension and excitement. So if you see a cosplayer looking doubtful, just take their picture... problem solved! Not only have you given them a boost of confidence, you may have taken the first photo of a legendary cosplayer!

There are many conventions across the country, just do a little research online. It should be noted that the Expo team also do a Midlands event if travelling to London is too costly.

Cosplay on Your Own
If you are finding yourself eager to try your hand at cosplaying, there are many routes available to you.

Cosplayers at the MCM London Expo

You may have the perseverance to create your own costume. To start you should compile a list of all the materials you think you may need. Hand stitching is a tiresome and time consuming process, so you're best to purchase a sewing machine. Find materials anywhere; from old clothes, charity shops or you can visit your local Haberdashers. A picture with as much detail as possible will help to make sure you perfect those finishing touches.

Lucy Navelle, a cosplaying veteran advices, "Be sure to put as much detail into a costume as possible, it's a competitive hobby. A costume will stand out from all the others by looking more authentic."

Cosplayers at the MCM London Expo

Or you can take the easier route of ordering a costume from the many sellers on eBay. If you have a particular character that you are eager to embody. Many sellers will do commissions, but be warned, this is a costly option. You would have to base how good a costume maker is by their feedback score. Unfortunately for residents in the United Kingdom, shipping overseas costs even more than the actual costume.

Even the most modest costumes can fetch up to $100 and the more elaborate can reach up to $1000.

Important Notes
Note, when you see a cosplayer, try not to touch their outfits. Not only is it a sign of disrespect, but these costumes have taken time to construct and careful deliberation has gone into how they look. By moving something even slightly out of place, you could alter their character's representation.

Regardless of how you make your cosplay costume, have fun while wearing it. Cosplaying is meant to be fun for observers and yourself. Dave Croswell, a passionate cosplayer who has been attending the MCM expo for the last three years says, "No matter how good your costume, it won't matter if you're not having fun at the same time. Taking cosplay seriously is not what it's meant to be about."

Important Links
Important Links - for uploading your costumes, events near you and helpful tips. - one of the best places to purchase a costume. - information on the biggest anime expo in the country.

Source: Otaku News
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