Cosplay: How to become your favorite character



Cosplay, the art of dressing up as a character from a movie, book, or video game, has become an integral pillar in the comic-con class around the world. From Japan, the rest of Asia and in the West, this pop culture has swept its way across millions. Simply put, think Halloween costumes and make it a year-round affair and you get Cosplay.

In this post, we’ll share some key facts about Cosplay and how this popular dress up is being embraced by people from all walks of life.

Cosplay 101

Jiggs Ong
Photo credit: Jiggs Ong

Cosplay was created from the love of Japanese anime and manga. The term was coined in the 1980s, based from the Japanese word ‘Kosupure’, a portmanteau (blend) of the English words ‘costume play’. The idea is to ‘accurately’ portray a character’s exact look, down to the finest details with one’s creative spin also in play. People who do it are called ‘Cosplayers’ and take inspiration from characters in anime, video games, film and television.

So how does it work? Cosplayers copy their favorite characters and try to achieve their looks. They put effort to visually bring these personas to life, from using simple household resources to as far as integrating complex, custom-made materials. Cosplayers sew their own costumes. They create headbands and headwear, masks, hats, necklaces, wigs, and other props. They do intricate and outlandish make-up to amplify facial features and demeanor. Some even use heighteners to get taller and gain better accuracy of their mimicry.

Not just that, Cosplayers exert tremendous work in creating elaborate weapon replicas to complete their look. From badass-looking space guns to mystic staffs and gallant swords. Some are even equipped with mechanized movement to add more drama. The level of creativity and craftsmanship is beyond mesmerizing and you can easily give them A+ for the effort.

Performance Art

Elaine Domingo
Photo credit: Elaine Domingo

As a performance art, Cosplayers are dedicated to the craft. Beyond the genuine costumes, participants also act in character (gestures, habits, signature moves) and are normally experts of the subject matter they are imitating. So, if you see a gang of 5 colorful rangers at a convention, you might want to ask them to do their signature battle poses. Or when you chance upon Naruto or any shinobi from Konoha, feel free to ask them to do those complex hand seals they do in the series. You won’t resist getting mesmerized. (Don’t forget to close your mouth while they’re at it).

Cosplay vs Costumes

Jiggs Ong
Photo credit: Jiggs Ong

It helps to know the difference between these two. Cosplay is the practice of dressing up as a character from a movie, anime, book, or video game. The attempt is to make it as realistic and precise as possible while being immersed in the character at the moment. 

Costume on the other hand, is simply about dressing up as a character from the movie, game, or anything. Costumes are available in stores, easy to store and are normally inferior.

Global Phenomenon

Charles Ding
Photo credit: Charles Ding / Coda Payments

Over the years, Cosplay has evolved to become a global phenomenon. The modern times find it predominantly done at comic and pop culture conventions. Prominent attractions include the competitive World Cosplay Summit (WCS) in Japan and the big one in the US called San Diego Comic-Con. Of course, small intimate events are also organized to foster local gatherings. 

Elaine Domingo
Photo Credit: Elaine Domingo

Notable cosplay superstars include Yaya Han (featured in Syfy’s Heroes of Cosplay), Alodia Gosiengfiao (Cosplay Queen of the Philippines), D-Piddy (The internet’s most famous Deadpool Cosplayer) and Spiral Cats (All-female Cosplay group from South Korea). They’ve all managed to stand out from a crowd of extremely creative individuals.

Are you up for some awesome Cosplay gig? Who’s your dream character to portray? We’d love to hear your ideas!



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