Cosplay: More than just another hobby


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A feature article on Cosplay & its origins, under my pen name "Esther Lee"

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Cosplay: More than just another hobby

  1. 1. Leisure First published in Issue 10 of Vita Edition (May 2009). Vita Edition is an educational magazine for primary and secondary school 0 ave you ever walked along the street one day and come across an orange-haired character strolling along nonchalantly with what appears to be an oversized sword strapped onto his back? Or perhaps a tall pale lady dressed in an off-shoulder kimono drifting past you like a ghost? Before you dismiss these people as ‘weirdos’ or a figment of your imagination, let me take you into the exciting world of cosplay. 48 Cosplay (short for ‘costume play’) is a form of ‘dress-up’ hobby that is popular amongst young people and even someThe world is a stage... adults. It is a term that was first coined by Nov Takahashi from Studio Hard after he had visited the 1984 Los students. Published by Asiapac Books ( Angeles Science Fiction Worldcon and saw the costumes there. In cosplay, participants (or more Cosplay - commonly known as cosplayers) dress themselves up as their favourite More Than characters from anime, manga, games or even movies such as Harry Potter. Just Another The costume may be as elaborate as Hobby that of a robot suit from the Gundam anime series or as simple as that of a By Esther Lee school boy from manga or anime series like the Ouran High School Host Club. To appear more convincing, cosplayers adopt similar behaviour to the character they have chosen to portray while in costume. For example, if one has chosen to cosplay the character Special thanks to Hexlord and all featured cosplayers for the use of their photographs. All photographs © Hexlord unless otherwise stated. Tsukasa from Lucky Star, cosplayed Hexlord’s portfolio: by Korin. Photographer: Zerartrul.
  2. 2. LeisureSesshomaru from the manga/anime series Inuyasha, he/she mustact cool and aloof like the character. It would definitely be verymuch out of character if the cosplayer were to act too cheerfully.These cosplayers would then gather at events where they can mixaround with people who have similar interests and have theirphotographs taken. Such events include the End of Year (EOY)event that usually takes place at the Singapore Expo in Decemberand the Start of Year (SOY) event at the Ngee Ann Polytechnic inJanuary. To find out more about such events, you can visit thefollowing forums and websites: · 49 · · The world is a stage... · · Cosplayers may also choose to hold their own private photography shoots with a few like-minded friends and a photographer. They would then try to re-enact scenes in the anime or manga by choosing places that best fit the mood of the series they are basing their cosplay on. For example, the Chinese and Japanese Gardens may be suitable for an anime that mostly takes place in a natural environment or around Japanese structures. Cosplayers are, however, advised to practise caution when conducting such private photo shoots. Although there are photographers who are happy to offer their services for free on forums such as Sgcafe and Sgclub, cosplayers should always bring a trusted friend along who can help them should something go wrong. Lady of the Geass - Redux, cosplayed by Inuran. Photographer: Hexlord.
  3. 3. Leisure 50The world is a stage... Clockwise from top: Cosplayers at EOY 2008, held at the Singapore Expo; Tao Jun from Shaman King, cosplayed by Sientia; Kula Diamond from King of Fighters, cosplayed by Reicharu. Photographer: Hexlord.
  4. 4. Leisure After each photo shoot, the cosplayers would then either keep the photos in their own collection or upload on forums or websites for fellow cosplayers to admire or critique. To make the photos look more interesting, cosplayers would use computer software such as Adobe Photoshop to add special effects. If you want to check out the impressive range of cosplay photos from different anime, manga, games, or movies, you can visit websites such as the following: · showgallery.php?cat=509 · · 51 You can leave your comments to show The world is a stage... your support, but remember to post encouraging words even if you feel the cosplayer could have done better. Aside from the hobbyists who upload their photos on these websites, there are also a number of professional cosplayers (also known as cosplay models) in the world. These people make a living by modelling cosplay costumes for cosplay magazines like Cosmode or companies such as Cospa (a company that specialises in making cosplay costumes). You can usually identify them from their high quality photos and well-made costumes that try to be as accurate as possible. Accuracy is very important in cosplaying because cosplayers are modelling themselves after the original characters. Although one does not have to be 100% accurate, a good cosplayer should at least try to make sure his orSuigintou from Rozen Maiden, cosplayedby Korin. Photographer: Zerartrul.Location: Chijmes.
  5. 5. Leisure her appearance is a close match to the original. For example, one should not go around wearing an orange wig when the original character has yellow hair. Another type of cosplay, which is slowly gaining popularity in the world today, is Animegao. It is a form of kigurumi cosplay where people put on masks, bodysuits, and wigs to fully immerse themselves into a particular character. At least one person in Singapore is an avid hobbyist of this form of cosplay and has set up a website at where you can check out the various self-made masks as well as photos. 52The world is a stage... Ciel Phantomhive and Grell Sutcliff from Black Butler, cosplayed by Cvy and Kanasaiii at SOYA 2009. Photographer: Hexlord.
  6. 6. LeisureAfter reading so much about the hobby of cosplay, are you nowkeen to try your hand at cosplaying? Do remember that cosplayingis an expensive hobby because it requires a lot of time, effort,and money to produce a costume. In addition, there are codes ofetiquette to observe, even if you are simply taking photos ofcosplayers at events. Here are some things which you should takenote of:· Respect every cosplayer that you come across at events. Even if you feel that the cosplayer has room for improvement, be sure to give only constructive but polite critique and not rude comments. 53· Avoid touching cosplayers’ props or costumes. Although the prop or costume may look sturdy to you, it could fall apart the The world is a stage... minute you touch it and months of hard work would go down the drain.· Avoid making photo requests that make cosplayers uncomfortable (i.e. requests for indecent poses). Cosplayers have a right to reject such requests so even if you really want him or her to do the pose for you, respect his or her decision and do not press the issue.· Avoid taking photos of cosplayers before they are ready. Cosplayers need time to ready themselves for the shoot so it is extremely rude to point your camera in their faces and snap away.· Always thank the cosplayers or photographers for their time. It is a kind gesture that shows how much you appreciate their presence.· If you feel that a cosplayer or photographer has made a request that makes you uncomfortable or has crossed the line at some point, you have the right to politely reject or approach the event organisers for help. Be sure to stay in crowded areas at all times or keep a friend close by.
  7. 7. Leisure 54The world is a stage... Clockwise from top: Siegfried Schtauffen from Soul Calibur IV, cosplayed by OrochiX of Endiru; Day 1 of Comic Fiesta 2008; Soul and Maka from Soul Eater, cosplayed by Cvy and Envyinwondrland at Cosfest VII. Photographer: Hexlord.
  8. 8. LeisureLet’s Try DIYSo how does one go about preparing a cosplay costume? Well,some cosplayers choose to buy or rent their costumes off therack at shops such as Pan-In-The-Box (Chinatown Point, #02-09).Pan-In-The-Box also provides an online service at where you canpost your queries on props, costumes, or accessories. Anothershop that carries costumes and accessories is Mr Cosplay’s OtakuHouse that is located at the following places: · Suntec City, #03-089/089A · Plaza Singapura, #07-13B 55 · Iluma, #03-01 The world is a stage...Its website can be found at However,if you are keen to try your hand at making your own costumesand props, you may find the following information useful whensourcing for materials or when you are cracking your head overhow to produce a particular prop.Cloth · People’s Park (near Chinatown MRT) · Arab Street (near Bugis MRT) · Spotlight at Plaza Singapura (near Dhoby Ghaut MRT)Materials for props, accessories, etc. · Popular bookshops (for materials such as jumping clay, ice cream sticks, etc.) · Art Friend (Bras Basah Complex, Takashimaya Shopping Centre, IOI Plaza, more information can be found at · Golden Dragon Store (People’s Park Centre, more information can be found at
  9. 9. Leisure Wigs, costumes, accessories, etc. · Elysium Cosplay ( · World of Fantasy ( · Haru Cosplay ( · (wigs only) · (wigs, Lolita dresses, secondhand costumes and secondhand wigs) · Wig styling and care ( wigs.html) 56 · Wig care and you ( cosplays/wigcare.html)The world is a stage... Tutorials for making props, costumes, etc. · Sword tutorial ( · Elf ears and armour tutorial ( · Cardboard katana ( · Tutorial list and information on different materials such as plastic and resin ( · Amethyst’s Closet ( · Cosplay Classes ( · TR Rose & Concolor’s Cosplay Guides & Tutorials ( The above lists are non-exhaustive, meaning there are more websites out there on the World Wide Web where you can find more useful information. You can simply type in the keywords on Google and you will be amazed at the results you can get. Just remember to have fun while doing your costume and props. See you at the next cosplay event!