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Introduction to Cosplay


(left) A young girl posing in a fairy-tale Cosplay costume.

(below) Anime Cosplay school girl in a black dress.

     Cosplay, short for costume play, is when fans dress up like characters or concepts depicted in works of fictions (in anime, manga, comics, video games, t.v. shows, movies, and novels). For example, a fan of the show Dr Who might create a costume that is an interpretation of the Tardis and a fan of Final Fantasy might dress up as Cloud. Cosplay has come to play a major role in geek culture, and is a fantastic outlet for fans to show their appreciation of the canon (the original work) and play an active role in their favorite fandom. Cosplay mostly encompasses Sci-Fi, fantasy, adventure, horror, and mystery genres.


     While costumes can be purchased by online retailers  or commissioned as a custom order for an independent designer, costumes are often made by the fans themselves. Depending on the experience level, costumes can range from simple garments to gorgeously detailed costumes that may involve multiple disciplines to make, like sewing, wig making, welding, knitting, and making chain mail. Fans sometimes choose to dress as a character they particularly admire or feel a connection with. Sometimes a fan will even act as the character. Many people enjoy cosplay because of its freeing sense of escaping the self and dressing and acting as a different person entirely. Cosplay allows fans to present themselves as a different gender, race, or species if they so desire. 


     Conventions like Comicon, Otakon, and PAX are an outlet for fans to wear and show off their inventions and be admired by other members of the community. Cosplay competitions are common at these type of events, and to enter, the costume is required to be handmade. This further encourages a DIY culture. 


     The difference between cosplay and “regular” costuming is that cosplay is more narrowly defined. Cosplay also incorporates as sense of performance and acting. 

by, Jessica Lynn Harris



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