Does Voice Matter?

Thursday, 2 June 2011, 8:00 | Author : Kricket
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I’d like to ask you, “How big of a role does voice play in your cosplay performance?”  More specifically, do you roleplay and pretend to speak like your character while at a convention?  In my experience, most people who cosplay really want to portray their character accurately in photographs, but typically will break character when they are not posing in front of a camera.  Yet, these cosplayers are underestimating the performative potential of voice to better simulate their characters during convention appearances.

There are many different factors that influence a cosplayer’s final performance at conventions.  Some of these include how much charisma you have and how much inspiration you have drawn from the original source material.  Although you might be unaware of the process, there are many questions you are going to have to ask yourself.  Are you comfortable speaking in public?  Are you going to be cosplaying in a group with equally enthusiastic friends?  Does your voice closely resemble the voice of your character (i.e. are you a female crossplaying a male)?  Is your character mute (this most often occurs in first-person RPG characters) or do they have very limited catch-phrases?  Most importantly, understanding your own ability to improvise dialogue in a very unnatural atmosphere is going to help you subconsciously come to a decision.

So what can you do if you don’t want to speak “in character,” but want to add some dimension to your cosplay?  Why not carry around speakers that are playing your character’s theme music?  Unfortunately, I have yet to see someone walking around with playable recordings of their characters voices or related sound effects.  For example, take Marikawa Shizuka, the nurse from High School of the Dead.  Every time she moves her body, her butt and her breasts make a bouncing noise, which is mainly why her character is so comical.  How awesome would it be to replicate that same effect?

One of the few venues that cosplayers are encouraged to experiment with sound is the Masquerade.  I’d like to give kudos to everyone who has the courage to put themselves on stage and has put in the time and effort to bring their performance together.  Yet, why is it that the dances can be just as (if not more) popular than the dialogue-based skits?  Do cosplayers lack the proper equipment to produce authentic character voice-overs?  Are voice-overs generally less popular than musical sound tracks?  It seems these questions cannot be answered until sound moves into the convention hallways and cosplayers truly begin experimenting with it.

Finally, I would like to discuss the prospect of inviting voice actors to cosplay their favorite voice-over characters at anime conventions.  Not only could they be made to look like one of their characters, but they would have already completed the character research and mastered the personality of said character.  And they would sound exactly like their character!  I definitely believe that voice actors have the potential to become the best cosplayers we’ve ever seen.  But then again, does voice really matter?

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