Friday, 31 January 2014

Interviewing a Japanese Cosplayer [RAW Interviews]

These interviews were conducted in 2010 and 2011, the first was a face to face interview, where as later ones had to be done via e-mail because she moved away.

The difficult thing about interviewing a Japanese person compared to a Westerner is that they're a lot more reluctant to talk about themselves and their opinions, especially if you don't know them too well. A lot of the time I got one word answers and when we were doing the face to face interview I had to prob her further to get more detailed responses.

You can see a summary of the interviews and an analysis on Japanese Cosplayers on Interviewing a Japanese Cosplayer

Cosplay Interview with Reiko 1

Me: 始めてコスプレをすることはいつですか。
[When was the first time you cosplayed?]

Reiko: 始めて?えっと。。。大学二年生のとき。二十歳の時かな。
[The first time? Erm…the second year of university. When I was 20.

[How did you become interested?]

[In my first year of university I went to a doujinshi event where there were cosplayers. There were so cool I wanted to try it.]

M: その同人誌イベントは友達の紹介で見つけましたか。
[Did your friends introduce you to that doujinshi event?

R: 自分で見つけて行きました。
[I found it by myself]

M: その前に同人誌の興味がありましたか。
[Before that event did you have an interest in doujinshi?]

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Interviewing a Japanese Cosplayer -Article

This was a result of an interview with a Japanese cosplayer back in 2011 for an essay for a class at University in Japan. I haven't used her real name.

If you're interested in Japanese geek culture I also wrote an article after interviewing a Japanese Otaku.
Or if you'd like to read the raw interview with Reiko I have put the transcript on Interviewing a Japanese Cosplayer [RAW Interviews].

Cosplayers in Japan: People Who Are Close but Not Close

Kosupure (or cosplay), is a combination of ‘costume’ and ‘play’ and consists of the practice of expressing ones fandom through the dressing up of fictional characters from various medias; mainly anime, manga and games. It’s seen within Japan as a sub-genre of the otaku subculture, which describes people who are avid fans and consumers of various mediums but mostly linked to the consumers of “useless things” such as anime, manga and games (Grassmuck 1990). There is an argument as to whether cosplay started with costumed role-play in American in the 60s and taken to Japan, or whether it was important from Japan along with the practice of anime and manga fan clubs (Winge 2006). Either way it is now a common practice in Japan especially among the young female otaku, such as 22 year old Reiko (for the purpose of anonymity this is not her real name). This essay will look at Reiko’s involvement within the cosplay community, her consumption practices, how it fits in with her social life, and how it contributes to her self identity.

You wouldn’t expect Reiko to be more then an average young Japanese woman but she is an avid cosplayer who was first interested in cosplay at 17 when she went to her first doujinshi (self published fan comics) event. She said that she had an interest in doujinshi before and when she went to her first event in Osaka there were a group of people doing cosplay. “I thought they looked cool and wanted to try”, but it wasn’t until a year later at the age of 18 when she was in university and was able to try cosplay for the first time. Her interest in doujinshi and cosplay developed on their own but when she got to University she was able to go to cosplay events for the first time with a group of friends. These university friends have stopped cosplaying now but she has formed a new group of cosplaying friends through the cosplay community.

Reiko decides which cosplay to do based on her favourite characters from anime, manga and games, but if a friend wants to do a group cosplay (all characters from the same show or game) then they will do that. Hers and her friend’s interests in the latest anime, manga and games is the fuel for their creative cosplaying passion. She said that, like many cosplayers, she normally buys her cosplay and then adjusts it to fit her body shape. She will normally spend about 8000yen on a single cosplay including the costume, wig, and accessories. I asked her if she bought a new cosplay every time; “Sometimes, but I use the same favourite cosplay a lot. There are people who buy new cosplay each time, but I don’t”. Aside from buying anime, manga and games which fuel her love of cosplay, and the cosplay itself, Reiko also spends time and money on dieting, skin products, but more importantly saves money from her part time job, which is based around the events at the weekend.

Reiko will go cosplaying about three times a month, normally at “ATC” a shopping store in Osaka which holds weekly cosplay events. There are normally normal people doing their shopping at the store, so they will often get stared at a lot. The cosplayers go to have photo shoots which are shot inside and outside the building itself, but they don’t just go to have the photos as keepsakes. What I found particularly interesting was the way the cosplayers interact at events like these: Reiko told me that a cosplayer will have a meishi, a business card, with their “cos-name”, photo, mail address, and cosplay website etc. People use these cards to look up the cosplayer or photographer on sites like an SNS (Social Network Service) and they normally keep in contact via the internet and sites like these. “You can make lots of friends” she said, but when I asked if she was close with her cosplay friends she said “Hmm, sort of. Real life names, where they live, contact details and personal information you normally don’t know”. To keep their identity there is a social taboo to asked or give out personal information, as a result Reiko knows the people by their ‘cos-names’ and characters, and is close to them as cosplayers, but outside of the events and cosplay community she knows nothing about them. Cosplayers who meet in the cosplay event normally don’t meet outside of it. There is anonymity within the cosplay circles due to its links with the otaku image, which is normally perceived as being very strange, and has very negative connotations linked with it (Grassmuck 1990), not only that but people prefer to keep their normal and cosplay lives separate for fear of what their friends and family might think of them.

Reiko is an unusual case, I think. She uses a cos-name which is the same as her real life name, but she uses different kanji so that when people say her name she doesn’t get confused. Not only that but most of her friends and her family knows that she cosplays. I asked her what her family thought and she said that at first they thought it was strange but now it’s normal. The only people who don’t know are her friends from high school, before she started cosplay. When I probed her to see why she doesn’t tell them she replied “It would be troublesome, embarrassing, because they might think I'm otaku and maybe that characters image is bad.”

Thinking up questions related to identity I figured that asking ‘how does cosplay make your identity’ would give me an answer from Reiko that she would think I wanted. Instead I asked her “If you’d never got into cosplay, do you think you’d be the same person?” She paused for a moment and replied “Different, defiantly different. When I cosplay I make myself, I become myself. For example, when I do cosplay and a man comes and asks me ‘Can I take a photo’ and he makes really good photo it makes me. My level of cosplay increases.” I pushed the question if she’d never done cosplay then what would she be doing now; “I don’t know…but long ago I was also interested…I can’t think of not doing it.” So I asked why she cosplays; “At first I saw a lot of cool people who did it, so I wanted to do it too. I like those characters and when peoples faces change to become those characters, it’s fun. When I see photos it’s interesting, fun. I’m young now and I have a lot of good photos of when I’m young. When I get older…because now it’s a hobby, but it’ll be impossible to do when I’m older.”

From what I understood cosplay gives Reiko her confidence in her image as a young woman. She is able to ‘make herself’ and at the same time create new persona and ‘new faces’ through the acting of the characters she enjoys. Cosplay is a central aspect of her life that she can’t imagine being without. Her part-time job funds her passion and is scheduled around events. She not only buys cosplay and the necessary accessories, but also anime, manga and games which inspires her cosplay. She socialises with her friends in real life, who know she cosplays as well as with her friends online, whom she always makes new ones through the introduction of events. Ironically, although she’s close to a lot of people who cosplay, she is only close as a cosplayer to them as cosplayers and none of them know who they are or what they are like outside of the cosplaying world. It is a practice which is done in the open with a lot of interaction between cosplayers, but is a closed circle where real identities are kept private. As Winge (2006) states “Japanese culture values community above the individual, cosplayers exist as a subculture, outside the acceptable norms of the dominant culture…[a]s a result, Japanese cosplayers have a negative reputation as individuals”. Because of this discrimination, areas for ‘safe cosplay’, such at official events like the ones held at ATC.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Cosplay at Comiket - Photographs

When: January 2011
Location: Tokyo, Japan

Comiket, one of the most famous otaku spots in Japan, and one of the main reasons I went to Tokyo over the winter break while I was studying in Osaka in 2011. It was so long ago now but still I can remember it clearly. I wish I could have taken photos inside but you're not allowed in order to protect the identity of people who go. So the best representation I could find of what it is like was from the anime Genshiken (just imagine it being even more crowded, so much so that you can hardly move) :


Monday, 27 January 2014

Macross Frontier Cosplay - Photographs

When: November 2010
Location: Osaka, Japan

This was my first time in Japan cosplaying, not only that but crossplaying (cosplaying someone of the opposite gender). I did Alto from Macross Frontier while my friends did Ranka and Sheryl. These photos were taken by Kuro-Hitsuji-san who is an ammeter Cosplay photographer with awesome professional who made even my bad cosplay look awesome! Needless to say I won't try cosplaying a guy ever again.

Funny story about the wig actually. I almost got one the right colour and for some reason I let the shop assistant convince me otherwise! And then when I tried to cut the wig and style it it went horribly wrong. I almost didn't cosplay at all. But I'm really glad I did. Even if I look aweful it was a great day out.

Reference Images





Thursday, 23 January 2014

Interview with a Japanese Otaku

Something which might interest people some is an essay I wrote while I was studying at University in Japan. I was thinking its a shame to have these actually interesting essays and no one to see them apart from my professors. SO here you go! This is for anyone who's interested in otaku and has time, or is just a masochist and wants to kill time. Enjoy!

An Otaku in 2010
– The new generation of ‘otakuness’ -

Within this interview I wanted to look at a normal Japanese person and find out ‘what makes them otaku’, how they think other people view this identify and how it is expressed in their everyday life.

A "collection of useless things"
The term otaku originated from the word meaning ‘your home’ which was used to refer to someone whose position to oneself was unclear. It carries the connotation of being equal but also being distant from them. In the 1980s the term began to be used largely between fans of anime, manga and computer games. The media then began to use this term to describe people (mostly teenage men) who were socially inept, who did not care about their looks and who were into “collecting useless things” such as anime, manga and computer games (Grassmuck 1990); a negative image which grew to be connected to an incident, know as “The Miyazaki incident”, in 1989 where a man whom the media labelled as being otaku killed 3 little girls in horrific ways (Grassmuck 1990; Schodt 1996, p.45). This negative image was predominant in the 1990s and so I was particularly interested in seeing how things have changed in the last decade from the perspective of a modern day otaku.

Yuuki (for the sake of anonymity this is not her real name) was hardly the unclean anti-social image associated to otaku when I met up with her one lunch time. She seemed like an average 19 year old Japanese girl with her tights, short shirt, smart top and a big grin across her face, although she looked quite nervous she seemed happy to talk to me. When I first met her she appeared to be an average Japanese girl but after a few months she mentioned off hand that she was an otaku. This had caught me completely off-guard because her outward image was not what I had expected, and considering she was the first otaku to ‘come out’ to me, I asked her if I could interview her. She agreed and we met a few days later. I told her that the interview was anonymous and she seemed to relax a bit.

At the beginning of the interview I wanted to know what she thought made her otaku and how it was different to other people. She said that she was familiar with otaku culture and knew that otaku are otaku to their fandom’s, such as train-otaku, computer-otaku, and in her case she was an anime-otaku. There are people who just watch anime but otaku get involved more, and in her case she does so by going to events and enjoys watching cosplay (although she herself does not partake in cosplay). Other otaku also spend a lot of time on the internet browsing sites of their interests such as anime sites, but she said she does too sometimes but hasn’t had much time for recently. Considering that the image of otaku is associated with men I found it interesting that she made the comment that a while ago otaku is only men, but now it’s also women. “There are many woman but they don’t say as much as men. Women take care of their fashion, but boys don’t, so it’s hard to tell if woman is otaku”. But when I asked her why it was now also women she did not know.
Typical image of "typical" otaku in Japanese popular media

I then wanted to know how she became an otaku. When she was in elementary school she got into anime that was on TV such as Sailor Moon, Ranma ½, Cardcaptor Sakura, and Mezon Ikoku. It was an interest she developed on her own, which was normal among elementary school children. What was not normal was that she maintained her interest in anime through junior and high school until the present day. It was not normal for her to be interested in anime after elementary school and that was when she knew she was otaku.

She had one friend who was otaku in high school, who did not appear to be otaku and she knew her for a long time in junior high before she found out. One day after they had graduated from junior high her friend went up to her one day and said “why don’t you go to an event with me?” and since then she has gone to events in Osaka every year and one time she and her friend wrote a manga and tried to sell it as Comiket (a large doujinshi event in Tokyo). Although her friend has now moved away they still sometimes talk online. I asked if she had any other friends online and she said that although many otaku might because it is easier to be yourself online, she does not and prefers to talk to people face to face.

Her other friends in high school were not otaku though, and although they knew in high school that she was an otaku her university friends do not. I asked her why not and she said was embarrassing and that there’s a ‘bad feeling’ associated with being otaku. In general anime-otaku are seen as being very anti-social and get this bad impression. Although there are some ‘good’ impressions of otaku such as history-otaku or animal-otaku, where being otaku is a profession. I asked if she was ever bullied for being otaku and she said although there is a bad feeling she was never bullied. If people were not interested in the same things they either tended to not get to know that person or can get along despite different interests.
The "typical" fashionable girl in Japan

As she had mentioned her university friends did not know she was otaku I decided to expand on why that was. She said that Kansai Gaidai was famous for its fashionable girls, and her friends here are all fashionable. She thinks that they would not be surprised and would understand if she told them she was otaku, but “real otaku don’t say they are otaku”. This statement I found interesting and when I asked her why that was she replied that “if people go round telling everyone they are otaku then people don’t think they are otaku. Otaku are shy and quiet and don’t say they are otaku. That is why it is difficult to know if a person is otaku.” She said that she did not think there were any otaku at Kansai Gaidai because of this.

I asked her why clothes were linked with otaku. She said that a person who is not interested in fashion shows that they are not interested in sanjiken or the 3D. They prefer 2D girls and are not interested in attracting real girls, so they do not need to pay attention to their looks. She said that personally she is not as fashionable as her friends and usually wears Uniqulo clothes (a brand of cheap clothes) and because of that her friends sometimes joke that she is otaku (that is why they would not be surprised if she told them she was an otaku). She prefers cheap and reasonable clothes where her friends prefer expensive fashion. This is because she likes to save money to spend on anime and manga, although she will also spend her money on trips, music and concerts.

TV Drama of Densha Otoko
I wanted to gauge her experience of the media and otaku. She said that before 2005 otaku did not appear in the media but since Densha Otoko became popular then the image of otaku has been one that is strange but acceptable. Densha Otoko or “Train Man” was a drama based on a manga which revolves around the story of an otaku trying to fit in with society and his love story with a normal woman (Pena 2006 p.12-14). It portrays otaku as being the socially inept anime obsessed image that people are used to seeing in the media, but also as being harmless people who have friends and can get girlfriends. Although Yuuki did say that the show portrayed a good image to some people, other people still think the obsession with anime, manga and game characters as being too weird. The media now broadcast otaku as being strange all the time, but at the same time show that many Japanese people are otaku so it is not unusual. I asked her what she thought of this ‘bad’ image of otaku, to which she replied “it can’t be helped if people think that way”.

My final question was if she would stop being otaku when she started full time work. She said that she didn’t know. If she stops being interested in anime and manga then she would give up on being otaku, but now, although she’s very busy she still spends her free time watching anime, and she’s been drawing manga since junior school, so she doesn’t think she will ever give that up. She said that although people have bad impressions being otaku is always fun. When she sold her comics in high school she got a lot of good feedback and the event was a lot of fun. “Almost all otaku are quiet, not energetic, but if they gather they can be energetic, excited, crazy.”

Miyazaki of the "Miyazaki Incident"
One thing which struck me in my conversation with Yuuki was that she never mentioned the Miyazaki incident from 1989 and when I asked her if there had been anything about otaku in the media before 2005 she said “not really” and that she had never heard of Miyazaki. Although most of the definitions linked to otaku mention this incident as being a key aspect in the negative images of otaku, I think I can understand why she did not make the connection. Yuuki was, like most of current teenager otaku generation, born in the late 80s/early 90s, so they would not have been conscious of the increasingly negative image associated with otaku. Their parents and the elder generation would and this negative feeling seems to have been passed down into the generation without any context. I think this is why shows like Densha Otoko and the modern media are able to portray the image of otaku as being ‘strange’ but overall harmless, because it is directed to a generation outside of the ‘dangerous otaku’ image.

Overall the interview went well. At the beginning I explained to her that she could speak in Japanese if she felt more comfortable doing so and to ask me any questions if she didn’t understand anything. I asked her to explain her details in as much detail as she could and to tell me about her experiences and feelings. As the conversation went on I adjusted my questions to fit in with what she was telling and now and then had to probe to get her to expand on a previous statement. She was fine for the most part apart from seeming very nervous, which I found out was due to the fact that she had never spoken about her otakuness in as much detail to anyone before. One problem I had with the interview was that she spoke mostly in English, and although this was helpful for me I felt like she could not explain herself as well in English. There were times where I asked her to explain it in Japanese but she would slip back in to English again.

In conclusion Yuuki’s ‘otakuness’ derives from her love of anime since a young age and had carried on through school, expressed through her hobby of drawing manga. She is a female otaku, showing that otaku does not necessarily equal men. Her identity as otaku is a central part to her and although she does not appear to be otaku in the way the media portrays them to be, she still hides this aspect of her from her friends. She is a generation born outside of the Miyazaki incident yet the negative connotations giving people a ‘bad feeling’ of otaku remain. I think hiding their identity is common among many modern day otaku who do not want to be associated with the negative images of being unclean, anti-social and strange, despite the fact that they are also portrayed as being common and harmless. Due to this many otaku do not know about other otaku that might be close to them which is why, as Yuuki explained, “when otaku gather at events they become different to how they are on their own”.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Simca from Air Gear Cosplay - Photographs

When: October 2009
Where: London MCM Expo (now called London ComicCon)

I did this costume with a group of my cosplaying friends and it's one of my favourites. I really enjoy the manga for Air Gear (haven't touched the anime with a barge pole) so the costume had to be based on the manga. I put tons of research into doing a sailor costume and worked really hard on painting the trouser leg. It turned out a lot better than I was expecting it to! I'm particularly proud because I made everything in this costume, from the hat to the trousers (obviously not the skates or the wig though).

I didn't take any progress pics for this costume.

Reference Pictures
This was practically the only reference picture I used. This and other images from the manga.


Unfortunately spending a day skating around in the wind resulted in the wig getting very, very tangled.

Nausicaa Cosplay - Photographs

When: October 2009
Where: London MCM Expo (now called London ComicCon)

I love Ghibli so when a friend suggested cosplaying characters from it I jumped at the chance. I chose Nausicaa because I probably looked the most like her (she's not petit) and because I love blue. The costume itself wasn't that hard to do and I had a lot of fun making it. It was probably my first successful cosplays that I'd made so I'm still proud of it. The only problem was that I didn't practice posing so I look way too serious in all the photos when actually she's a very happy bubbly person.

I also wanted to make a prop with it so I made her flare gun. I got a lot of people saying "Nausicaa doesn't have a gun" (imitates pretentious voice). I'm guessing they'd never seen the film or read the manga where she clearly has a flare gun for the majority of the beginning.

The only thing I wasn't able to do were the gloves and her hat. I tried making a hat but it turned out too small, and I didn't have time to do the gloves. Note to self - I need to give myself more time before cons to get the entire costume done right. (More often than not I end up wearing the entire costume together on the day of the con...)

I didn't take any progress pictures of this costume unfortunately...

 Reference Pics


Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Making Your First Cosplay - Tips

I found that no matter who you are the first couple of costumes you make will be bad. There is just no avoiding it. I know one person who's first cosplay won a prize in a competition, but he had done a lot of LARP (live action role play) costumes before then, which meant that he still had the practice of making clothes and props.

So to help with people making their first costumes I thought I would provide what I learnt to help you avoid the same mistakes I did. But don't be too discouraged if you do make mistakes, because I found that I learnt a lot from the mistakes I made.

Also, don't be surprised you spend from £50 and up on your first costume. Even a simple looking costume might have a lot of components.

Things You Should Do...

These are all tips that I've picked up along the way and ones that I still do today to make sure my costume is as accurate and non-ammeter looking as possible.

Give yourself time! It can take over a couple of weeks worth of solid work to make a costume, so I suggest giving yourself over 2 weeks for constructing the costume, an extra week for finding materials and even longer if you need to make/order weapons and armour. So at least 1 month in advance from start of concept and material collection to making it. It's always helpful to get it done with a few days in advance so you can try it all together, practice poses and if you've done something wrong you can re-do it.

Friends of mine tried to make their costumes the day before the convention and that is not enough time to get a lot of sewing, glueing and painting done. Do it the night before will only end in you being a grumpy costumeless cosplayer the next day!

Print reference pictures: Simply googling the character you want to do, putting them in a word document and printing off is a massive help! You can use this reference sheet to list all the parts of the costume you'll need, make sure colours of fabric matches, work out poses for pictures, and if you find other cosplayers pictures what you do/don't want to do on your costume.

Pick the correct colours to match the costume: It might not seem that important at first but picking a fabric that matches the colour of the costume almost perfectly can make a huge difference to the costume!

Find a fabric type/texture to match the character: This is a similar point to picking the right colours, fabric texture can make a massive difference to how the costume will look in the end! The best example I can give is the EuroCosplay winner for 2013 was of an Edward Elric cosplay. Ok, not very impressive so why did it win the best costume in the whole of Europe? Well the girl who made it had done extensive research into the fabrics that were available in the time Full Metal Alchemist was set in. She hand sewed every piece of the costume using those fabrics, including the underwear! There were many other reasons why she one, but one of the most impressive was that she tried to make it as authentic as possible using the fabric types.

Get a pattern to match the outfit: It is so useful to use your reference pictures to find a pattern for an item of clothing that's the same as the one you're trying to make. I have scanned through pattern books for an hour before trying to find the right one and it makes the final piece look so much better. There will be times when you'll have to alter the pattern, but don't get too intimidated, I've found that as you're working on the costume you can see where it needs changing and how you can do it.
From TeaCup Erinyes who does really good tips on make-up for cosplay

Use make-up, but not just on the face: So not having make-up on might look ok at first but it'll make your character look very strange. A bit like you're just wearing a costume rather than like the character. The Ed cosplay I mentioned before might not look like much but she used a lot of make up to make herself look more masculine and it really worked to bring out the character. 

There was a famous incident where a UK cosplayer wanted to cosplay an anorexic character from Bleach and boasted about how he starved himself to get his rips to show for a cosplay. You should never do this! Not only did people thought he was crazy but it didn't work! Yeah his ribs showed, but in photos you couldn't see it. What would have worked better (and been a lot healthier) was if he'd used make-up to highlight his ribs, to make them appear as if they were showing. It would have been a lot more apparent in photographs too.

Hand sew the entire costume before you go anywhere near a sewing machine: When you sew something with a machine it is very, very difficult to go back and fix it. Make sure you hand sew everything and have tried your costume on. When you're happy use a machine to sew over the hand stitching and then spend the time to remove the hand sewn cotton. I also recommend hand sewing in a bright colour distinct from the fabric colour, but machine sew with a matching colour to make it easier to remove the hand stitching. This will result in the costume having smoother lines and it'll be less likely to fall apart (hand sewing can break very easily). If you don't have a machine it's not the end of the world, it'll just take longer to hand sew everything to that it won't fall apart on the day.

Work on poses for photographs: Using reference to your character it's good to practice 2-3 poses in the mirror before a convention. This way you can look super cool and make your costume really stand out and look like it's in character.

The Mistakes I've Made...

Not given myself time: I have, I admit, tried to make a costume or 2 costumes within a week after I bought all the fabric. The continuous sewing for several hours over several days straight resulted in a horrible migraine (it is the only time I have ever had a migraine) and I had to spend half a day recovering. I managed to get the costumes done in time (just) but it was not a good idea to leave it so late.

Shiny fabric: So when I made my first cosplay by myself I went out to a market in Birmingham with some friends and because I was a student bought a lot of cheap fabric for my costumes. The problem was not that it was cheap, a lot of the cheap fabric I've bought in the past has been great! What I didn't realise is that one of them (which was the main colour for a dress) was slightly shiny. This resulted in all photos that used flash, made the dress look really creased and shiny. Needless to say it looked bad. If you have a character that has a shiny outfit (i.e the Blue Fairy from Pinocchio) I strongly recommend sequins. They show up a lot better in person and on camera.
Shiny fabric being shiny and looking bad
Used a pattern that didn't match: I cannot draw patterns or just magically come up with a costume from the top of my head. I realised pretty early on that it's important to take pictures of the main part of the costume to a fabric store that sells patterns and find one that matches the dress shape. But what happened with this one was that I got a pattern that wasn't the summer dress style that this costume needed. This meant I had to alter the patter a lot. A little probably would have been ok but I had no experience at this point and it resulted in the final dress not fitting me very well and looking very awkward.

No make-up/hair styling/wig: Needless to say we Westerners often do not look like the characters we're trying to cosplay. So going at a character without putting on make-up or the right hair to look like said character, or even just to make the skin look more natural, ends up in really bad photos. Although I have little experience in make-up I've learnt at least the basics which makes the costume look so much better. 

This is probably the best image of this costume - needless to say it's bad. You can tell it doesn't quite fit me. But it was one of the first costumes I'd made and I learnt a lot from making it.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Introduction to "Cosplaying Niffer"

Who are you?

My name is Niffer. I am a cosplayer (among other things like weirdo, Japanese translator, game enthusiast).

Why Cosplaying Niffer?

It's mostly for my own reference and other people's entertainment. I've been meaning to put my cosplaying images and experiences together in one place for a while and I thought "Why not a blog? And hey, I can add all my crazy cosplay articles I've discovered and written over the years too!" It's basically one big cosplaying scrap-book.

What is cosplay?

If you have ventured to this site not knowing what it is then the most simple way of describing it is dressing up in costumes. There's a huge history and culture behind cosplay but I'll explain that in another post if you really want to know.

How long have you been cosplaying?

I have been cosplaying since October 2008, but making costumes since 2009.

How did you first get into cosplay?

I went to the London MCM Expo (now jokingly called London ComicCon -HA! It wishes!) in October 2008 along with my university anime society (KentANIMEted). I was so excited beforehand because a now good friend of mine, Nert of had displayed all these wonderful images of cosplay and I wanted to give it a go. So I got hold of my first costume off ebay to go to the con in...

What was your first cosplay?

Everyone's first cosplay is embarrassing (except one person I met who did LARP before cosplay so I don't think that counts) and mine was no exception. I got a Yuuki from Vampire Knight costume off of ebay. It was so bad. I had no idea what I was doing - no hair styling or make up or even prepared poses - and just ran around the con like an utter ditz. Needless to say though I got the cosplay bug and from then on it was hand made costumes only.
(Right - Ahhh baby Niffer cosplay!)

What was the first cosplay you ever made?

With the help of a wonderful friend of mine who is amazing at thinking things up (but never implementing them herself) I made a general White Mage costume for myself and a Red, Black and Blue mage costume for some university friends. They weren't exactly made from scratch, but our ensemble looked pretty cool.

How easy is it to start cosplaying?

It depends on what character you want to do, how driven you are to do it (don't start making it the night before!), who you're cosplaying with (if anyone), if there's anyone to help you choose/make/buy the costume. It is very easy and very fun to do, but what I'm saying is you need motivation - don't be afraid to just do it!

Who should I cosplay?

That is entirely up to you! I found the best way to make a big list of characters you'd like to cosplay, write down everything you'll need to do them, and see which one calls to you most. I know it's not exactly a popular opinion, but I think choosing a character for your body shape is a good idea.

If you have any questions about me, the blog, or cosplay feel free to ask them and I'll add them to the list.
I hope you enjoy my random collection.