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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

My Cosplay Experience

When you learn about anime, you learn about cosplay.

I would look up pictures from anime series on Google and would get cosplay pictures in the mix. I knew it existed but never thought I would get to experience cosplay for myself. It wasn't until 2010 that started cosplaying - when two college friends who were veteran cosplayers were talking about cosplaying from Ah! My Goddess, the first manga I ever read. It was a sign!

I knew nothing about cosplay, like how much work and money went into it (oh boy, did I learn fast). I was lucky enough to have friends who already knew what they wanted to do and how to do it. I will admit, they did most if not all the work. I just threw money down when they asked me to and did little jobs like painting (I felt like a kindergartner). Once the cosplays were done and the convention day arrived we had a blast! My friends were Belldandy and Urd, while I was Peorth since my height didn't match Skuld's. It was a fun experience though. Not only did I love the feeling when people recognized my character but also when they wanted my picture. I felt great. I even tried posing the way my character would, putting the "play" in cosplay into use. I wasn't expecting this, but we even won the cosplay contest that year (I don't think my friends were expecting that either).

Mechacon 2010-Best in Show
Photo Credit: Unknown
But sadly, that was my first and last cosplay with them. They each wanted to do bigger and better cosplays while I was left to be the newbie that I was. I continued to hone whatever skills I had in order to try other cosplays. Nothing for the competitive contests, just to walk around the convention in. I even tried Lolita fashion once. My desire to cosplay still raged inside me because of that initial reaction you get when someone really loves the character you're cosplaying. I remember cosplaying several times at my university in order to advertise for events my club was hosting. I loved the reactions from the students, the ones who knew anime and the ones who just thought me dressing up was cool. It felt great taking pictures with them and interacting with them in character, such as the time I cosplayed as Pokemon trainer Green/Blue from the Pokemon manga. I had a student in the cafeteria ask me what my favorite Pokemon was (which personally is Vulpix) but I answered as my character and said Blastoise. This answer amused the student and it made me feel great. It really made me want to compete again, but I didn't like the idea of competing alone. I enjoyed competing with a friend, as I got to share the experience with someone: the stress of making the cosplay, the nervous feeling you get waiting in line backstage, the excitement of being called up to the stage, the thrill of walking up and down that stage as you try to impress the judges and the audience, and finally the joy of being called up to the stage when you find out you won an award. All of these feeling are nice to have but they feel better with a friend by your side.
Using cosplay to advertise an event for my Japanese culture club.
It's a challenge to find a partner though, because you need to find someone at your level and who wants to cosplay the same series as you. I was in an English class at my university and was becoming friends with some of the girls in my major that would appear in multiple classes of mine. We got to talking about our likes and I discovered one of the girls always wanted to try cosplay but didn't know how to start. I jumped right into that conversation and we started our cosplay planning immediately. We both made the costumes on our own time but we met up to discuss the walk-on we would be doing. When it was convention time, we were great! We cosplayed again the next year, but sadly had wardrobe malfunctions. But it was still a bunch of fun. We shared some really great memories and now she can cosplay on her own (she always wanted to cosplay comic book characters).
Mechacon 2013- won Judge's Award for impressive Walk-On as Kim Possible and Shego.
Photo Credit: Unknown
But out of all my cosplay adventures, something amazing happened. My childhood friend was interested in trying cosplay with me. She never cosplayed before but we always imagined ourselves cosplaying when we just got started watching anime. We would always pick characters from the series we watched and hope to be them one day. Our first cosplay together was on an easier level, as we were Pokemon Gym Leader Clair and a humanoid Dragonair. We had fun working on those costumes but we agreed that we wanted to up our game. This last year we worked with material we never worked with before and used tools for the first time. We even had to scrap something and start all over again. We worked hard and long on our cosplays, and it was all worth it in the end. We pushed ourselves and became each others support, something I feel could only work with someone really close to you. My best friend and I used to watch Digimon a lot as children and always wanted to cosplay from the series. We competed with Angewomon and LadyDevimon, and made a huge impression at the convention. We even had intermediate cosplayers ask us if we were really beginners. It was great to be recognized as a competitor to other cosplayers who we felt were on a higher level than us. We ended up winning Best Group Walk-On.
I was LadyDevimon and my friend was Angewomon. Photo credit: unknown.
That was a big win to us. With that came the question how much further could we go. Like I said in the beginning, cosplay takes time and a lot of money. And since we were considering going pro, this meant more money being spent because we would have to venture out to different conventions. I was ready for that commitment until I got a story idea. Since my story is going to be very unique and geared towards a specific audience I'll be self-publishing which takes money and more time. I had to pick which was my priority, and I chose my first initial dream of becoming a writer instead of pursuing cosplay. I promised my friend I'd help her at any time if she needed extra hands and wished her the best of luck. So that's it, it's the end of my cosplay journey (for now). I need to focus all my energy on what I really want for myself. I've talked about this in a past blog post that you can read here. I had fun with cosplay but it's time for me to make my next move forward as a writer.

Thank you for reading my journey through cosplay. I've cosplayed for a total of 6 years so it's sad to stop but I may go back to it when I've finished my goal that I mentioned in another blog post here. I look forward to seeing everyone's cosplays and I hope they'll be rooting for me too with my writing!

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