Monday, June 13, 2011

Don't confuse Cosplay with Lolita

As I mentioned from my first post that many people confuse Lolita fashion as cosplay or they can even confuse goth fashion as cosplay. However in my previous post on Types of Cosplayers I mentioned they are a such thing as cosplay crossovers but that is only when you would call it cosplay.

Here is an example of a girl in Lolita fashion. Feel free to read this wiki article on what is Lolita fashion if you want to know more about it.

From the wiki article Lolita fashion is described as;

is a fashion subculture originating in Japan that is based on Victorian clothing as well as costumes from the Rococo period.[1] The Lolita look is primarily one of modesty with a focus on quality in both material and manufacture of garments.

Lolita fashion is gradually getting popular in Ireland thanks to the group EireEGL which I am a member of and they are trying to create awareness of lolita fashion in Ireland. I am not going to go more into detail on Lolita fashion as this is a cosplay blog but the point of this entry is basically Lolita is a FASHION and cosplay is a COSTUME, that is the main difference.

Now I can understand why people who are new to cosplay and new to the convention scene confuse lolita with cosplay because they are many anime characters that dress in lolita examples;

Chi from the Clamp manga Chobits. if you look at this image of her you will see that her dress really resembles lolita fashion being pretty, elegant and somewhat Victorian looking. I remember when I first got into reading mangas back in 2005, Chobits was my first. It was Chi's pretty dresses that got me into Lolita because after reading this manga, I wanted to look up more of this fashion and that was how I got into Lolita.

Also in the anime Rozen Maiden, the characters tend to dress in Lolita fashion.

These characters dress in Lolita because the artist likes the fashion style but it doesn't necessary make everyone you see who dresses the same as these characters be cosplaying. People may also get confused because especially here in Ireland the fashion style is very different, out of place and the outfits do look very similar to what you see in anime so people think they are costumes when they are not, these outfits are actually dresses.

People who dress lolita everyday and see lolita as a big part of their life can get offended when at a convention or on the street when someone approaches them and asked them who are their cosplaying as. In fact a good few people who are into lolita fashion aren't even into anime and don't attend anime conventions. Sure think how annoying it would be if you dressed in a specific style everyday and you always had people approach you asking is your outfit a costume, are you part of a play?

So the next time when at a convention and if you see a girl in a pretty, elegant dress think twice before you go up to them asking who are they cosplaying as or unless you do recognise them cosplaying as a character. I also wanted to add, I hope this entry didn't come across as preacher or elitist, if anything I despise elitism and the whole thing of being superior. This entry was in respect to the Lolita community and hoping to educate people so there will be no misunderstandings. I hope you found this a helpful read. :)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Types of Cosplayers

Cosplay is very broad and yes they are many different types of cosplayers so we will begin. :)

Firstly there is your usual cosplayer. A person who cosplays as a character they love and enjoy and want to do that character for self expression, pure fandom.

Then there are Crossplayers, people who cosplay as characters of the opposite sex.

This is a well known female cosplayer who goes by the name Pikmin Link, she really does pull off Link from Zelda. Her Link cosplay was that impressive Nintendo invited her to tour with them to computer game events so she could promote Nintendo products in cosplay.

This is Malro-doll another well known female cosplayer from Russia, she really pulls off James from Pokemon. As you can see not all crossplays are done for the laugh like Man Fay and can be respected. There is a very good crossplayer who has a large follow up in Belfast named Silverhairsamuari so do check her out. :)

Next up we have mecha cosplay. I find these cosplays really impressive!

Then there are Kirigumi aka Dolliers. Many people find these cosplayers frighting as they use masks instead of make up. However like furries another category kirigumi may consider themselves not cosplayers but a craft of their own. I find them very fascinating.

Furries are not the popular in the Irish con scene but seem to be very popular in the UK.*** It has questioned if furries are cosplayers or not as they wear costumes but create their own characters and have a craft of their own.

Cosplay Crossovers, this is something I would really like to try. It is when you mix cosplay with a fashion style or look eg Cosplaying as a character but wearing a steampunk outfit, cyber goth, lolita or casts, medical. These really show you are full of ideas and are creative. Like these girls cosplaying as Rei and Asuka who are mecha pilots but are wearing Elegant lolita yet they don't wear these dresses in the series.

There are also original characters in cosplay like when a person designs their own costume, look of the character and creates their own personality.

***UPDATE2017** There is a now a big furry community in Ireland. Some of them even went on Irish television.

The Culture of Cosplay

Cosplay can also be seen as a way of life for some people and for some it is only seen as a hobby.

Now when I talk about way of life, I mean there is alot more to a cosplayer then just wearing an amazing costume and showing it off at a convention. Some cosplayers like models take part in many photoshoots, they join many online portfolio websites showing off their work, networking with photographers and maybe make up artists so they can get high quality shots of their costumes. Then they submit their photos to cosplay magazines eg Cosmode, CosplayGen and NeoMagazine which I seen many fabulous photos of Irish cosplayers.

In Japan and some Asian countries they are actually cosplay agencies like a modelling agency where cosplayers be part of and if they are chosen they get paid in cosplay at events like Tokyo Anime Fair and computer game events, how sweet would that be. :p Also I just recently discovered a Japanese website where cosplayers join to get exposure in manga comics then photos, which I think is a wonderful idea and also manga artists can get ideas of cosplayers and cosplayers can get artistic photo ideas of fan art images. So you can also see that cosplayers don't just network with photographers and elements of the modelling culture but also network with manga and comic book artists too.

Cosplayers spend lots of their time and money, learning skills such as make up art and dress making, armour making. I have to say that they is a lovely networking culture of cosplayers on the internet where we get together, share tutorials on make up, wig styling and costume making. Some of these well known cossplayers like Ya ya Han and Vamp Beauty share their skills and take part in cosplay panels in many conventions around the world. With cosplay everyone just gets along no matter on the culture, language of the person. We all share the one thing. We are all dreamers and creative.

I leave here an image of Ona from the anime Genshiken as she really portrays the way of life cosplay is, to her it is a big hobby and very important to her. In the series, she takes part in all of the cosplay events, does shoots and goes to cosplay gatherings. I always kinda saw Ona as me in animation as she is part of an anime club and is very big into cosplay, I was in an anime club and I am big into cosplay.

Also in some countries where they are many cosplayers they meet up and share ideas and maybe just meet up and socialise over a drink or coffee, like you would at a Lolita fashion meet up. Oh that is something I must mention in this blog, as I dress lolita, many people get confused saying that lolita is cosplay when it is not. I will go more into this in another post. Also they are cosplay gatherings where friends take part in photoshoots and share, exchange photos of their cosplays and they put these photos up on the internet showing them off to the world.

Just add also, you don't have to be a cosplayer to be involved in this culture. There are many people who appreciate cosplay and go to conventions taking photos of cosplayers and following a certain cosplayer on the internet. Like a theatre play, you can be involved in cosplay even if you don't act in front of the camera or wear the costume, you can be the photographer, a costume maker who make costumes for cosplayers on a professional or non professional basis, designers, make up artists and prop makers or just an ordinary guy who appreciates it.

Cosplay really involves so much and that is what makes it fascinating. There are groups in America and where cosplay is really big, have a collection of these people who collaborate and do proper photoshoots and fan made movies, which I will go into more detail when taking about Cosplay and film.

When I started cosplaying in 2006 I only saw cosplay as a little fun hobby and I treated it like fancy dress. Over time I got more into it and being part of Eirtakon the anime and manga convention I am part of, cosplay became a big part of my life. It was this year that I made the decision I was going to convert my life to cosplay and I know people will laugh at it and think it is silly but it is my passion, I see cosplay as a performing art, I am performing to people and so much money goes into it my cosplays, I am only impressing myself nobody else. I am going to keep doing what makes me happy, I feel I was born to cosplay and act, I even someday hope to make a career out of cosplay one way or another. Like people have the passion and drive to become a voice actor or comic/manga artist I have the passion and drive to become a cosplayer artist.

So that is it for now, I could really go on forever but I wouldn't want to tire you out and I think I went on long enough. :p My next posts will be;

Types of Cosplayers
Mixing up cosplay and fashion.
How I do I get into cosplay?
Cosplay portfolio websites.
Cosplay events in Ireland.
How to deal with negative attention and deal with internet drama.
Can I make money out of being a cosplayer?

I will be also doing posts on skincare, make up and later on, on costume making. :) These are all from my own experiences. I hope you found this entry helpful and easy to understand. :) Also I will always be up for your opinions and thoughts.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Firstly what is cosplay?

Cosplay pretty much translates to "Costume and play". You are playing around with the costume eg back in the days of the glory fancy dress when at every Halloween, people would dance the night away in night clubs in costume be it nurse, doctor, policewoman, or Countess Dracula. These people would perhaps act in character and act like their costume would expect them to act.

Nowadays even in Japan where the culture of cosplay became really popular and spread around the world, some people would consider wearing an office lady uniform, policewoman, nurse any work uniform as cosplay, as they are cafes around Tokyo where they are themed cosplay cafes, where waitresses would dress in a specific costume and play the character of the costume. This is seen in the popular maid cafes around Akihabara.

People may argue that cosplay is a "fad", it may look silly, odd and it is just fancy dress. Yes back when cosplay was new it was seen as fancy dress. I will always remember my first expereince cosplaying at a convention at TomoDaichi back in 2006. I was expecting fancy dress material and I was very unaware of cosplayers on the internet, so I was really taken with surprise being at TomoDaichi and seeing amazing costumes which have been hand crafted by the cosplayers themselves. Over time cosplay has gotten very popular and you can really see cosplay has come a long way since fancy dress.

You can say that cosplay has evolved from fancy dress relating to the start of this article, or cosplay takes fancy dress to a whole new world and level. Cosplayers that are really into this hobby spend lots of time and money on their cosplays. It is the quality of the cosplay that is very important. If you look at well known cosplayers like Ya ya han, Alodia, Yuki le Fay who become a costume designer through cosplay, you will see that none of them would wear tacky wigs you would buy in a costume shop and their costumes are crafted very well. Now I am not saying all cosplayers have to have the best material, many people prefer just to keep cosplay as a fun subculture where they can hang out with their friends in cosplay and have a laugh and they is nothing wrong with that. :)

Ya Ya Han her website -

Alodia Gosiengfiao -

Yuki Le Fay -

Cosplay itself is a very vague term and many people have their own interpretation of it. Alodia pretty much explains cosplay really well in these quotes;

It's not just dressing-up, cosplay incorporates craft, sewing, make-up, wig and hair styling, photography, acting and more. "And most of all, cosplay crosses geographical barriers.

Well to me and to many people that is what I describe cosplay as. Cosplay is like impersonating, you are impersonating a fictional character rather then a real person. You learn the mannerisms of that character and role play as that character. The character can be from a Japanese animation, manga comic, video game and any Western comic, graphic novel.

People have a misunderstanding that because cosplay is from Japan it is only called cosplay when the person is cosplaying as a Japanese character this is not true. There has been debate on which country actually started cosplay. Back in the 1970s when there was major hype with the Starwars and Star Trek movies people would cosplay as Star Wars/Star Trek characters to Sci-Fi conventions so it can be said that cosplay actually began in nerd culture from Sci-Fi conventions not anime conventions. In the photos below here are examples of sci-fi cosplay from the 1970s.

These photos were taken from this blog, if you are interested in seeing more. It is fascinating to see that cosplay goes back a very long way so there is no way it can be a fad.

However it has also been argued that cosplay in Japan began to get popular at this time period with people starting to cosplay as anime and manga characters and movies at douijin (fan made comics) events like the most well know one Comiket Market.

Comiket market and cosplayers

I originally had the Culture of Cosplay in this entry but it was way too long so I had to split it.