Cosplay Subculture Rachael Driver Bowling Green Technical College Abstract This paper will be discussing the cosplay, or costume play, subculture. In this paper, it will also go over who makes up this particular subculture, what it takes to be a cosplayer, what this subculture does for society, how society sees those who participate in it, how and when it came to be, most famous cosplay costumes, and what this subculture provides for those who take part in it. Keywords: Cosplay, Costume Play, Sociology, Subculture, Japanese cosplay, costumes, cosplay conventions
Cosplay, short for “costume play”, is a type of performance art in which the participants make and wear costumes and accessories to represent a specific character or idea. This is also considered a type of role playing. Favorite sources for these costumes include manga , anime, books, TV shows, comic books, video games, and films. In cosplay, even inanimate objects are given life and personalities, and it is not unusual to see genders switched, with women playing male characters and vice versa. This is called crossplaying.
There is also a group of cosplay culture centered around sex appeal, with cosplayers specifically choosing characters that are known for their attractiveness and/or revealing costumes. Often cosplay is most remembered for this because of all of the skimpy female outfits, but really there is so much more to cosplay than that. (Cosplay, 2012) Cosplay has been called many things over the years: a hobby, an art form, a youth clique, a fashion movement, a social event, a designing process, a detachment from society, or even just something to do out of pure boredom.

All of these things can be considered true, in some way, depending on the situation, but the essence of cosplay is that it is a form of expression for young people in the subcultures that practice it. (What is Cosplay? Understanding Cosplay and its many definitions. , 2007) The cosplayer’s purpose for dressing as a certain character may be sorted into one of three categories, or a mixture of the three. The first is to show adoration for a character, or they pick one that they have matching personalities with, hoping to become that character or at least close to it.
A few major characteristics of this type of cosplayer may be an enthusiastic attitude and the tendency to pay less attention to detail and quality. Such cosplayers are also known to criticize other cosplayers for not having a full knowledge of their character, or not also adopting character personality. This can cause a lot of conflict between cosplayers. (Cosplay, 2012) The second is those people who enjoy the attention that cosplaying a certain character brings. They have to dress as the most popular character so they can have the most attention.
Within the cultures of anime and manga specifically, there is a certain level of dishonor that is attached to cosplayers with this type of attitude. Such cosplayers are usually characterized by paying close attention to detail in their garments and their choice of popular characters. They are also noted by participation in cosplay competitions. (Cosplay, 2012) The third category is those who enjoy the creative process, and the sense of personal achievement upon completion of the costume and character details.
Such people are more likely to have a greater budget dedicated to the costumes, more complicated and better quality outfits with access to more materials. They are also more likely to engage with professional photographers and cosplay photographers to take high quality images of the cosplayer in their garment posing as the character. (Cosplay, 2012) Some of the most popular shows to dress as are Harry Potter, Star Wars, Star Trek, Avatar, Sailor Moon, and even the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Top films and television shows that inspire cosplay, 2010) The most famous and worlds largest cosplay convention is Comiket, also known as Comic Market, is still held in the Odaiba Area of Tokyo, Japan bi-annually. (Cosplay in Japan, 2011) A few others are The San Diego Comic-Con. The biggest event in the UK is the London MCM Expo at ExCeL London, while the biggest event in Europe takes place in France at Japan Expo in Paris, with an attendance of over 200,000 in 2012. (Cosplay, 2012) Some costumes can take months to even years to create.
A lot of people will go through so much just to look like their chosen character. They will do crazy make up elaborate make up. They will buy wigs to match the charcters hair, or simply dye their own and style it the exact same way. Some characters have tattoos, which some cosplayers will have done to themselves. However, others will simply draw their own on rather than having the tattoo permanently. In every anime comic or show that you see, everyone has the signature “anime eyes”, the large, round, oddly colored eyes.
Cosplayers who want the look just right will actually purchase contacts to help them achieve this unique animated look. Some cosplayers choose to hire a cosplay photographer to take high quality images of them in their costumes posing as the character. This is most likely to take place in a setting relevant to the character’s origin, such as churches, parks, forests, water features and abandoned/run-down sites. Such cosplayers are likely to exhibit their work online, on blogs or artist websites. They may also choose to sell such images or print the images as postcards and give them as gifts. Cosplay, 2012) When at a cosplay convention, cosplayers tend to carry pictures of the character they are mimicking with them. Some societies see cosplay as unusual, but when you really think about it, is it that odd? People dressing up as something or someone they love, getting together with people who have a common interest in these things, and bringing many nations together at these conventions. Works Cited What is Cosplay? Understanding Cosplay and its many definitions. (2007). Retrieved september 26, 2012, from thecosplayproject. om: http://www. thecosplayproject. com/what-is-cosplay. html Top films and television shows that inspire cosplay. (2010, August 31). Retrieved September 26, 2012, from citypages. com: http://blogs. citypages. com/dressingroom/2010/08/top_films_and_t. php? page=2 Cosplay in Japan. (2011, Nember 15). Retrieved September 26, 2012, from allinjapan. org: http://www. allinjapan. org/cosplay-in-japan/ Cosplay. (2012, september 24). Retrieved september 24, 2012, from Wikipedia the free encyclopedia: http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Cosplay

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