Cosplay? ‘Cos why? ‘Cos it’s fun!

Shannon Neil and a fellow cosplayer as Austria (Roderich Edelstein) from the anime Axis Powers Hetalia, and Pit from the videogame Kid Icarus.

Who says that it has to be Halloween to start thinking of costumes? Contrary to popular belief, more people are thinking about costumes now, and attacking every craft store, fabric store, and if needed, every hardware store too. It’s cosplay season, and cosplayers everywhere are ready to show off their costume making skills.

…cosplay is an art and should be looked upon as that.

— Daryl Sutphin

“Cosplay is basically venting your passion for a show, a game, a movie, or simply a character that you are deeply attached to by dressing like those people,” explains Jesse Mobsby, a senior at Sickles High School and 4 year veteran at cosplaying.

Daryl Sutphin, a senior at Gaither High School, a first year cosplayer and former AHN student, says that cosplay is more than just costume making.

“The unique (and totally fun and awesome part) about cosplay, though, is that it’s not just about putting on a costume and being done with it. It actually has a lot to do with performance; it’s not enough for you to just look like the character, you have to almost believe that you are the character by role playing as them while you’re in the cosplay. Unfortunately a lot of people find this weird and/or annoying, but in my opinion, cosplay is an art and should be looked upon as that.”

Since cosplay equates to costume making, the process requires a lot of time, effort, and planning; it isn’t something that one can simply jump into without thinking first. After choosing a character or costume that the cosplayer desires to recreate, he or she has to be aware of specific details of that character in order to become that character. From researching personality qualities, looking up the character’s background, and knowing the public’s opinion on the character, to finding the right clothes pattern, the correct fabric, and the appropriate prop for the costume; the more details the cosplayer is aware of, the better quality of the cosplay. For Mobsby, these small details are the most arduous part of the process.

“I’m neurotic about detail. Things have to be exactly like the character I am cosplaying. I’ve wasted hours upon hours making things perfect because, personally, that is what I want.”

However, Shannon Neil, a junior at Tampa Catholic High School and 4 year cosplay veteran, believes that this close attention to these details is what makes cosplay worthwhile, as more people recognize what character is being portrayed.

“Probably the most rewarding thing to me about cosplay is getting asked for pictures. To me, when someone asks for my picture, they are basically saying ‘hey, your cosplay looks so good that I want to remember it!’ So it makes me very happy when I get asked for photos.”

Although cosplayers have literally shed blood (from the needles and scissors while sewing), sweat (from being under layer upon layer of costume fabric), and tears (when something in the process does not quite go right), they all know that there is one essential thing that they will be shedding the most: money. Sutphin advises that cosplay can be frustrating and is not something a person can do without a high price.

“Money is probably the most [stressful] part of it all, considering I’m just a high school student with no job. Scrounging up enough money to actually afford making your cosplay and also buying tickets for conventions is a huge problem… messing up while making your cosplay can make you want to flip a metaphorical table…AND WIG SHIPPING THAT’S TAX IS LIKE A MILLION DOLLARS (so I over-exaggerate a bit) AND [LITERALLY] TAKES  MONTHS TO GET TO YOU. [IT] CAN BE VERY, INCREDIBLY, EXPONENTIALLY HEADACHE INDUCING. And the general self-questioning of, “am I even good enough to pull off this cosplay?” or, “will someone else’s be better than mine?” are constantly eating at me at [the very] least…”

Neil can also relate to the mental stress of the hobby/profession.

“The biggest headache/fear you have is people criticizing you. I’ve been petrified to go inside a con because of my fear of being shunned, but I just have to remember to be the best I can be, and ignore what other people say.”

Even though cosplay can be stressful, time consuming, and sometimes painful, all three cosplayers would not give up the hobby for the world and encourage anyone who is interested to try it for his or herself.

Mobsby, Neil, and Sutphin respectively offer advice to anyone who may want to try their hand at this “art.”

“Pick what you want, be who or what you want. Sure, it’s embarrassing, but push past that and you will be glad that you did.”

“Start out with something easy. Do not challenge yourself the first time. Do more difficult ones as you get better, but most of all, have fun while doing it!”

“Do not stress too much over your cosplay, especially if it is your first, because in the end you should mainly be doing this for yourself and no one else. Have fun with it, because that is what cosplay is for.”