The World of Cosplay Terence Toh explores the world of cosplay to meet the people who dress to express themselves.
Most of the time, cheerful fashion student Cheryl Lo is your average girl; fond of shopping, traveling, and going out with her friends.
However, she takes on another identity every once a month or so. Lo becomes Ying Tze, cosplayer extraordinaire, donning brightly-colored wigs and elaborate Japanese anime-influenced costumes.
“I’ve continuously been a massive fan of manga and anime, and wearing these costumes allows me to show my love for my favorite characters.
Earlier, I used to show this love through drawing through making fan art of them. Through cosplay, however, I get actually to portray the characters I like,” Lo said.
I recently met Lo (or Ying Tze) at COSMART 2013, a cosplay event in Parkamaya, Fahrenheit 88. Wherein, she was giving a workshop on costume design. For a non-cosplayer like me, it feels like I have walked through another world. I see a cosplayer with pointed ears, a blonde wig, and detailed azure robes walking behind me.
A lovely girl with an eyepatch sits at a booth selling wigs of all colors and styles. Two men in uniform peddle replica guns and military knives.
Several people are playing Dance Dance Revolution: one appears to be a cosplayer. For the inexperienced, cosplay is a performance art in which participants wear costumes and attachments to portray a specific character or idea. This is often from origins such as manga, anime, comic books, video games, and films.
For some, cosplaying is dressing up: for others, the artistry takes on a life of its own.
The name cosplay, a portmanteau of costume and play, was invented by Japanese studio Studio Hard director Nobuyuki Takahashi He was amazed by the outfit of fans he saw at the 1983 World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon).
For most, cosplay is dress-up: for others, the art takes on a life of its own – With cosplayers searching to adopt the affect, mannerisms, and body language of the characters they represent. Attention to detail is meticulous: woe betides you if you cosplay your character with the wrong hair color or outfit.
Numerous cosplayers create their costumes, with some deliberately using skills in crafting textiles, sculpture, face paint, fiberglass, or fashion design to portray their favorite characters properly.
Good costume crafters are in high demand and can often book all year. Indeed, Ying Tze said cosplaying had encouraged her to improve her fashion design skills. Ying Tze, who first hails from Tawau, owns over 50 costumes of her favorite characters.
“For me, one of the primary things I enjoy about cosplay is the costume making. I enjoy making them as much as wearing them. It helps me practice my sewing and refine my tailoring,” she stated.
Ying Tze said, “I made this costume for an event in Jakarta where I dressed as a cosplayer.
It took me about 3-4 days to create. It cost me less than RM50! This specific one was easier to make because it is found based on a school uniform, unlike a dress,”.
Ying Tze, who originally hails from Tawau, possesses over 50 costumes of her favorite characters, including Sheryl Nome from Macross. She stated that she was got familiar with cosplay through the magazine Gempak and started dressing up in 2005.
Ying Tze’s cosplay began to attract attention; nevertheless, last year, she was scouted by a company while assisting at a maid café event. Ying Tze was invited to multiple international events, along with Anime Festival Asia 2013 in Singapore and AFAID 2013 in Jakarta, to become a guest cosplayer.
She said she had supported her blossom as a person.
“I used to be quite shy and reserved, like an otaku. I would draw and play games at home. But when you get into cosplay, you must attend events and talk to people with the same interests. Then you start making friends and connections, go to photoshoots together, and like that,” Ying Tze cited.
“In addition, when I became a ‘cosplay star,’ I was continuously invited to share my experiences. So I needed to become more outspoken, which helped me build my confidence.”
Cosplaying is still primarily considered as a niche hobby, although it is gradually gaining popularity in Malaysia.
Various cosplay events hold yearly, the most prestigious being the annual Comic Fiesta. Ng Yuk Tim, 15, was allegedly killed by a friend after she met him at his house to work on cosplay outfits.
Lately, however, local cosplay found itself in the limelight for unfortunate reasons, with the tragic murder of student Ng Yuk Tim, 15, who a friend allegedly murdered after she met him at his house to work on cosplay outfits.
The murder swayed the local cosplay community, as the alleged perpetrator, 23-year-old building maintenance worker Poon Wai Hong, was an outstanding cosplayer who won 5th place in this year’s CPF Cosplay Competition holding in Kuala Lumpur.
Film learner and cosplayer Jonathan Goon, 24, said the disaster was a separate incident in the community and expressed disappointment that they noted it as influenced by anime and cosplay.
“I’m disturbed in how the media has fastened on to the whole ‘cosplay’ thing, just considering it was a feature of the incident,” said Goon, who goes by the stage name ‘Dei.’
“If a 15-year-old girl were murdered and found in a suitcase, but without the whole cosplay thing, it wouldn’t have puffed up this much. I hope that this interview assist shines a more positive light on society as many of us are trying to confront a new future where the public might stare upon the scene in a different light. We’re all members of a community that’s not so open to outside persuade, so breaking the ice has been an extensive and complex road.”
Goon has been cosplaying since 2005, having to do so after he toured the Gempak Carnival events that year. He loves cosplaying as characters from pop culture. With one of his favorite costumes being French electronic music producers Daft Punk
Charity and Promotions
Perth’s Allied Costumers is a non-profit group that dresses up in costumes for charity and promoting events that she joined.
Asked about his idea for the local cosplay scene, Goon said he felt it needed some effort.
“The current fashion of newbies joining just for the attention and trying to get famous through cosplay is troubling. Along with all the little spats and dramas that can easily settle through a plain chat. I wish that some of the younger generations would use the veteran group as a model of how to conduct and act rationally,” he cited.
The bonds formed are one of the best things about being part of the cosplay community. “I know of some friends who’ve declined everything to support another fellow who’s hurrying their costume for an occasion, or if you can’t find anything you desperately need, someone’s bound to have it on hand or will get it for you! A bunch of us have forged friendships over the years that are pretty damn astonishing,” Goon shared.
In reality, cosplay connected them into a musical group for part-time teacher Alissa Roslan, 24, global processing agent Kaoru RanRan, 30, and student Leena al-Zawawi, 23. T
The three encountered each other during Animangaki Idol, a singing contest held during the significant cosplay event Animangaki 2011, and bonded over their passion for songs by composer Yuki Kajiura.
“During the occasion, Leena started singing a (Japanese band) Kalafina song, and I merged in, and Kaoru linked in too! We didn’t even know each other then.
Nevertheless, we were all singing together and coordinating on the point! And we said, hey, we have something here!” Alissa said. The three obtained the top three prizes at the contest and, one year later, debuted as Harmonia ACG, a vocal group carrying out Kajiura’s songs.
The gang has since played at many cosplay and anime events all over the nation.
“There’s a saying that goes, ‘we cosplay to show, not impress.'”
“Nowadays, cosplay events are a reliable way to get a bunch of crowds. The government even invited us to perform at the Hari Wilayah celebrations in Dataran Merdeka last February,” Leena sited.
“We never expected to go this far. When we started, we thought our friends would support us. But now realize we have fans. Even from different countries!” Cosplay, they all agreed, had affected their lives for the better.
“I used to be very introverted before. I didn’t know how to link with people. But cosplay presented me to a community I am comfy with,” Kaoru said.
“There’s a motto that goes, ‘we cosplay to show, not impress,'” Leena said. “Entering cosplay has made me do many things I’ve not once done before. It got me outside of my comfort zone.”
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