When I'm not writing, you may find me busily tinkering away at a new cosplay!
“What exactly is cosplay?” you ask.
Cosplay is a hobby, a pastime, a means of self-expression, and, most strikingly, an art form. It’s a combination of the words “costume” and “play,” with the actual act of cosplaying being broadly defined as dressing up as a fictional character (usually from an anime, manga, video game, graphic novel, or other media-based series) and enjoying the fellowship of other cosplayers.
Some people take cosplay to a professional level, where big bucks and fame are the lot of the winner. Others simply enjoy the challenges and fun that cosplay provides. A handful of fans prefer to focus as much on the “play” aspect of cosplay as on the “costume” aspect, by acting as the character they represent (and staying in character as long as they “wear the garb”). Of late, cosplay has entered the spotlight through the TV series Heroes of Cosplay. Among the people who partake in it, though, cosplay will forever belong to fandom conventions (called “Cons”) and those who attend them.
I began cosplaying in 2010 and attended my first Con in 2012. Here is a gallery of some of the cosplays that I have currently created.
Character: Riku (Deep Dive version)
From: Kingdom Hearts
Debut: Megacon 2012
Appearances: Megacon 2012, AFO 2012, Orlando Anime Day 2013, Megacon 2013, Florida Anime Experience 2013, AFO 2013, Metrocon 2013, Shadocon 2013, PROJECT: Magic Kingdom Hearts 2013, Megacon 2014
I cosplay Riku simply because I love him as a character. He’s been my favorite from the moment he stood waist-deep in the ocean—a tidal wave at his back—and reached towards me—the gamer. I like him because he’s a progressive character that grows with his experiences, but he’s also very flawed and knows it too. His journey to redemption is one of the coolest plots in the Kingdom Hearts storyline.
I chose to cosplay Riku in his Org. XIII coat (known by the fans as Deep Dive Riku, because of the cutscene where this appearance was first introduced). I love this costume because it’s a very closed costume. It’s dark and mysterious and almost effacing because of the blindfold. I think, perhaps more than any other outfit, this one best symbolizes Riku as a character. It embodies his silence, his grave emotions, even his blindness, as he staggers between the light of his friends and the darkness of Ansem that lies buried in his heart.
Character: Juget "Martial Arts"
From: Final Fantasy VII: Before Crisis
Debut: Distant Worlds Miami Tour 2013
Appearances: Distant Worlds Miami Tour 2013, Otronicon 2014
I like to feel comfortable in the character’s skin, and, most importantly, I have to be able to connect to the character mentally.
My latest cospaly is a perfect example of this. With the Distant Worlds concert coming around the corner, my sister and I decided that we wanted to attend the event by cosplaying as characters from Final Fantasy. We tossed around several ideas, before deciding to go as members of the much-loved Turks from Final Fantasy VII. We had just finished watching a translated walkthrough of the Japan-exclusive Before Crisis, so we knew we had a lot of characters to choose from. After reviewing my options, I settled on one of the more obscure Turks named Juget (known by the codename of “Martial Arts” in the game). She’s so obscure that she doesn’t even show up until about halfway through the plot and gets a one-or-two scene cameo in the anime short Last Order. That’s all the screentime she gets in the entire Final Fantasy VII anthology!
Juget wasn’t a girl who liked the spotlight. She was quiet, businesslike, and carried out her work efficiently. She liked hanging out with the guys, and had the “warrioress” mind-set. She could run a one-woman rescue attempt by steering an armored car through a warzone and bring her comrades back unscathed. When in an impossible situation and helplessly outnumbered, she was the first to volunteer as the barrier that would give the others time to back out.
Needless to say, I connected with her almost instantly.
Character: Ike (Lord version)
From: Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance
Debut: Brawling League 2010
Appearances: Brawling League 2010, Megacon 2014
Awards: Brevard Community College Halloween Costume Award 2011
My first real cosplay was Ike from Path of Radiance. And not just average, ranger Ike that all you Smash Brothers fans know and love, but Lord Ike—a costume featured only in the Fire Emblem series itself. Ike is not my favorite Fire Emblem character. He’s not even in my top five. It’s not that I don’t like him, but Haar, Greil, Stefan, Titania, and Zelgius definitely come first.
So why do I cosplay Ike? Simply put: because he’s from Fire Emblem, a series that I dare say could be my favorite. I liked his outfit. The long tunic really appealed to me and the well-placed armor pieces were too cool to pass up. But more than anything, he represented a franchise that I really took to heart—a series that I fell in love with the longer I played it. To this day, I still consider Path of Radiance my favorite game.
I cosplay Ike because he represents the essence of this game, and, in doing so, I am making the personal statement that I am a fan. When I shoulder Ragnell and tie on that Heron-inscribed headband, I am representing Fire Emblem as a franchise. It’s like wearing a giant, neon sign that flashes, “I <3 Fire Emblem! Do you?”
Character: Ema Skye
From: Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney
Debut: Megacon 2013
Appearances: Megacon 2013, Megacon 2014
I chose to cosplay Ema because I wanted to represent the Ace Attorney series via cosplay. Like, Fire Emblem, you don’t see much cosplay from Ace Attorney. So when I go to a Con dressed as Emma, I find it’s a great way to meet other fans who love the same series that I do (and perhaps are even cosplaying the characters). But most importantly, it’s a way of making it known what series—and fandoms—I claim as my own.
I resonate with Ema because she is professional, appears grumpier than she actually is, and she stress-eats chocolate by the bag-full. Plus, the lab coat made this costume a must.