It’s been a while, hasn’t it?
I’m sure by now, you’ve read Tim’s Editdesk and whatnot to see what changes we’ve implemented in the new, improved @anime!. Our design staff should give itself a pat on the back. The new site looks good.
Welcome back, old readers. For new readers, I’m James, and this is my column. I despise when columnists go on and on about themselves, so I’ll keep this introduction short. As the photo above says, I like cigars, shoes, booze, anime, and manga. I’ve been around fandom for a long time, seen a lot of stuff.
I’m not the voice of the anime fan, nor would I profess to be. I’m just a guy who has some strong opinions. This column isn’t like the hundreds of others you see on other sites. You want to read about horrible dubs are, or how wonderful it is that Anime Studio X is releasing Super Deformed Dimenstional X Hunter Guy Z with the 15 second panty shot intact? Go somewhere else. You want some thought-provoking commentary? Look no further.
I hate cosplayers.
Yeah, I said it.
I HATE cosplayers.
Well, maybe I shouldn’t say that I hate cosplayers. I admire the time, effort, and meticulous detail that people put into their costumes. You see some truly amazing things walking the halls at conventions. If I see a cool costume, I’ll ask the cosplayer if I can snap a photo.
But the folks who participate in cosplays? That’s another story.
I shouldn’t make a blanket statement like this, as I don’t dislike the ones who come on stage to show their costumes. It’s the ones that do skits that drive me crazy.
Anyone that has attended an anime convention knows what I’m talking about. Some guy/gal gets on stage and launches into a monologue about another character in the series their costume represents. This other, non cosplayed character is a) going down, b) their cosplayer character’s long lost love or c) going down because this other person is the long lost love.
You can hear the audience shift in their seats as they listen to the person drone on and on. Or, you’ll get a group that decided to cosplay as obscure characters from a long forgotten series. And they blather about plot points from something no one has seen, and the audience is bored to tears.
One of my favorite anime series of all time is Zillion. I own the entire series. Not the tapes that Streamline Pictures released in the late 80s/early 90s. I own tapes of it from Japanese TV, complete with commercials. I’ve always thought about cosplaying as Baron Ricks, the bad guy. At a convention, maybe 20 people would recognize him. I’d never get on stage and do a skit featuring him, because most of the audience wouldn’t understand the jokes.
Cosplayers like this turn the events into 4-5 hour marathons. By the end of the show, 2/3 of the audience has filed out.
In the eyes of many cosplay organizers, booing the amateur thespians is rude. “Everyone deserves their shot at being on stage,” they’ll say.
That’s a load of horse apples.
Noone deserves to be on stage. Everyone in the audience expects to enjoy the extravagant costumes the cosplayers have made and to be entertained.
Let me say that again.
Everyone in the audience EXPECTS TO BE ENTERTAINED.
If the cosplayers can’t be entertaining, then maybe they should stick to showing off their costume.
That leads us to another cosplay annoyance. Who invented the contrived “novice,” “journeyman,” and “expert” categories? Apologists will say that these categories level the playing field, making it fair for beginners.
That’s another load of crap.
What’s to say that this so-called “beginner” isn’t a person who hasn’t entered a cosplay contest before, but knows metallurgy and other things? How do you determine these rankings? What do you do if someone lies? See the problems that can be caused?
I’ve seen an award taken away from a talented cosplayer because the others howled that they were “experienced.” I believe in the adage “Let the best man win.” If your costume is good, then it’ll win an award. If you don’t win, then there was someone better. The bar is set. The cosplayer knows what the expectations are.
While we’re on the subject of winning and losing, let’s talk about those cosplayers who lose. It’s never because someone was better. It’s because the judge was biased towards certain costumes, or the judge doesn’t like certain characters.
Let me let you all in on a little secret: There are very few people who like to judge cosplays. The events usually occur on a Saturday evening. Most guests have had a full day of panels and autograph signings. They want to grab a meal, but they can’t because they’re locked in a room judging. That means they don’t get to eat until 10-11 PM. They have to sit through 15 Tetiwaka Kunos walking on stage, repeating the same corny jokes about being lost.
For 4 hours.
Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?
If I know you cosplayers, you’re sitting their, mad as hell, ready to fire off an e-mail telling me how wrong I am and how I don’t know what a cosplayer goes through. Don’t worry. This ol’ curmudgeon has a solution. Or should I say….
THE 5 COMMANDMENTS OF COSPLAY
1) THOU SHALT BE ENTERTAINING
I’ve been in 25 plays, a local TV show, and a pilot, so I know the adrenaline rush that comes from performing in front of a live audience. Just remember that they’re there to see the costumes. Anything else is gravy. Don’t waste their time. Perform your skit for other people; just because something is funny to you and your friends doesn’t mean it’ll be funny to anyone else.
2) THOU SHALT NOT COMPLAIN IF THOU DOST LOSE
OK, so you didn’t win. No big deal. That doesn’t mean the judges were biased, or they were looking for a particular thing. On this day, there was someone better than you. Shake the winner’s hand and move on. No one likes a whiny loser.
3) THOU SHALT NOT BORE THE AUDIENCE, JUDGES, OR OTHER COSPLAYERS IN WAITING
This may seem repetitive, but I cannot stress this enough. If you hear silence, or the din of conversation, wrap it up. It also means that you’ve probably blown whatever shot you had at a prize.
4) THOU SHALT SPEAK LOUDLY
Your skit could be the greatest one ever conceived, but if noone hears it, your cosplay group won’t get the desired reaction from the audience. Practice projecting your voice. Don’t be afraid to ask for a microphone, either.
5) THOU SHALT HAVE FUN
If you’re on stage, you should enjoy yourself. You only have one shot, so make it count. As the noted singer/pop psychologist William Hung said: “"I already gave my best. I have no regrets at all."