Why I like cosplaying

I’ve always been pretty shameless about my dorkiness. Pokemon, video games, manga, comics– I’ll proclaim these loves to the heavens. But there’s one love of mine I’m more hesitant to mention:


Cosplay, broadly speaking, is the art of dressing up as a character. Typically the term implies characters of Japanese origin, such as from manga or video games, but cosplay can include characters from any source. To clarify, here’s some examples:

Link from the Legend of Zelda series.

Babydoll from Sucker Punch.

Jesse and James from Pokemon.

The thing about cosplay, though, is that it has a bad reputation. Because not all cosplayers are good. More often than not at an anime convention, you’ll come across cosplayers like this:

Sailor Moon?

Might Guy from Naruto?

Which is why I have actually heard people say

I mean, liking comics is one thing, actually dressing up in costume is something else entirely. So back in high school, when I went to my first anime convention, I didn’t dress up. I had always wanted to, but I felt as though it was just too dorky. But then, when I went, I found a huge surprise:

By not being in costume, I was the minority! In fact, I was missing out on a lot of the cosplay revelry. I was amazed. So I decided that the next year, I needed to cosplay. This was going to happen.

And it did, the night before, as I threw together an outfit:

Yup. I dressed up as a Pikachu. Kind of crazy, huh?

Less so than I thought. At anime conventions, not only is cosplaying commonplace, but photo-taking is as well. Dozens (not an exaggeration) of people came up to me and asked to take my photo:

And I, in turn, assaulted tons and tons of people asking for their photo:

I even got roped into a group of Pokemon cosplayers staging a Pokemon battle:

My friends still have the video from that "battle." It shall never see the light of day.

It was nerdy. It was dorky. It was all things geeky. I should have been ashamed, embarrassed out of my mind.

But instead, it was really fun.

And now I realize why.

Everyone was there for the same reason: we all loved manga and anime. Sure, maybe our costumes sucked. Sure, maybe we didn’t look a thing like our character. Sure, maybe our dorkiness was looked down upon by the rest of society.

But there, those days, in that dimly lit convention building, we were all there to simply appreciate the geek culture we all knew and loved. We just wanted to have a good time. Every effort was appreciated. No judgement was passed.

I was once told that the root of cosplay is confidence, and it’s true. You can’t rock a cosplay without a good deal of confidence. After all, stepping into public dressed like a cartoon character already takes a degree of courage. All those “bad” cosplayers, who we laugh at, make fun of– they, at least, had the confidence to try. They put effort into their costumes. They, and I, and everyone there, just wanted to have fun.

After I returned from my convention that year, I showed my friends the cosplay pictures I had taken– good and bad. They laughed and hooted and roared at some of the worse cosplayers. I chuckled along, but felt horrible for doing so. For all I knew, people were doing the same to me.

I guess the moral of this story would be to be shameless. Though people may think you’re weird, and nerdy, and a total loser (and trust me, those are three things I get a lot) there’s no reason to, well, care. Because there are always those who will accept you. And like you. And screw the ones who don’t.

Which is why I’ll show my latest cosplay with pride. I’ve been working on this costume for hours on end, and finally completed it. It’s of Rinoa Heartilly from Final Fantasy VIII (whose haircut I actually requested back in December):

Don’t judge me bro.

22 thoughts on “Why I like cosplaying

  1. You’re actually pretty cute as pikachu.

    And also, in that picture with you (as pikachu) and that guy dressed as Ash, it’s actually pretty funny, because I totally used to have that hat and that pokedex! (I could’ve been Ash, if I’d ever decided to cosplay. Which is also funny because my name is Ashley.)

    Also, that pair of Jesse and James cosplayers, that is just amazing! I can’t believe someone actually did their hair like that; that that was even possible! (Although I did once see a pic a girl dressed as Yami Yugi from Yu-Gi-Oh! She was pulling – it – off.)

    Anyway, just dorking out here. Always been curious about cosplaying, but I never knew where you’d even start. Also, not many conventions down under. Though when I was a kid, I went to a pokemon convention. I used to be obsessed with pokemon, in case you couldn’t tell!

    • I actually one read a tutorial on how to style Jesse’s hair, and it’s crazy! The girl actually had to build a huge wire frame in the shape of her hair, and then style a reallllly long wig around it to cover the frame. Pretty hardcore! Yugi’s hair must be pretty difficult as well… dang, people are talented…
      But yeah, cosplaying is a lot of fun! I’m fortunate enough to have anime conventions to go to in my area. I have heard of groups getting together and traveling to conventions that are far away. I talked to one kid at my college who described how he and 9 of his friends would share one hotel room for a weekend in order to attend Otakon. If you ever get to go to one, I say Ash is a great cosplay! 🙂

  2. First off, I love your latest cosplay costume! Great job on it.

    This is an excellent post and using cosplay to make your point about being shameless in what you do was a wonderful read! I know people who cosplay and they’re genuinely excited when they do it, which is awesome. A lot of people who hate on cosplay bug me–we’re all passionate about something, so why criticize what other people are doing when you can go out into the world and do something fun yourself?

    • Thank you! I’m glad you liked it!
      It’s always the same problem: haters! Well, haters gonna hate, right? I just don’t see the point of hating, though, when you could spend your time doing much more positive things. Like cosplay! 🙂

  3. I randomly stumble upon this blog and happen to find a picture of myself in there (I was Ash). Fate does strange things…

    • Fate works in mysterious ways, it seems! You were Ash that year? Your cosplay was awesome! My friend and I couldn’t get over the fact that you had a Pokedex to whip out, no problem… total epicness!

      • I got mine when I was a little kid, they used to sell them at toy stores (and they worked, which is more than I can say about them now). Nowadays…. ebay?
        Anyway I gotta say the most fun part of being Ash was that a guy dressed as Lt. Surge challenged me to a battle using tiny Pokémon figurines. Looks like something similar happened to you…

        • Yup! A bunch of trainers dragged me into a battle, as you saw. I even have a video.
          You gotta love finding cosplayers from the same game as you. Especially when that game is pokemon. That was such a good con…

      • I had been going since its inception, but that was the first time I cosplayed. Gotta break the streak this year though, since it’s during the summer and certain things take priority, I’m sure you’ll agree.

  4. Of course you can’t, you’re going to Japan with the rest of us on the DOC. If you ask me, that’s a fair trade-off though.

    • WOW I did not make the connection that you’re the Marcus going on the DOC! No way! That is such a huge coincidence! My mind has been blown. No worries. (Sorry… I’m slow. :P) And yes, I’d take going on the DOC to going to a con any day. 100%.

  5. Who is the guy in the second picture you took, and what’s up with the man/woman as Might Guy from Naruto? WHEN (not if) I go to one of those conventions, I will be…… Well, actually, there is a plethora of people I would want to go as, but most likely someone from One Piece, like Sengoku or Mihawk or Ace or LUFFY. And that brings us to another question. Who is your favorite One Piece character? And then, who is your favorite video game character? And, finally, favorite character from any other show? (Naruto cannot be the answer for any of these. Pirates forever.) Mine are Luffy, Gordon Freeman (Half Life 2, play the game if you want to actually live life) and Spike (Cowboy Bebop).

    • Oh! Funny story: that picture (with the Ash Ketchum) was taken before I even knew what college I was going to. Well, turns out that kid was not only 1. Also going to Northeastern, he was 2. going on the same Japan trip as me! Small world, huh?

      Favorite One Piece character? I’m at a tie between Luffy and Zoro. Both are hilarious, both are bad@ss!
      Favorite video game character? This is harder. I’m very fond of Roxas from Kingdom Hearts and Ezio from Assassin’s Creed.
      As for favorite character from any other show… man, this is difficult! I’m going to give you a few: Keima Katsuragi from The World God Only Knows, Chuck from, well, the TV show Chuck, and Michael Bluth from Arrested Development. Good choices on your part, by the way! I’ve ALWAYS wanted to play Half Life!

      • Gotta play all the other (played the first) Kingdom Hearts first to know who Roxas is and Ezio needs no introduction, but Connor from Assassin’s Creed III looks awesome too. Arrested Development is well, completely hysterical, but I don’t know Keima and I don’t watch Chuck :(.

  6. Pingback: My not-so-secret project | I think in comics.

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