Ideas for Winter Break

Thursday, 10 December 2009, 8:00 | Author: Kricket
Category : Learn about Cosplay

If you have time during this busy holiday season, I recommend visiting the intersection of Geary and Laguna in San Francisco:  The district of Japantown.  Although the internet has made it easy to purchase almost anything online, sometimes it is fun to shop for Japanese items while visiting a local Japanese community.

If you are shopping for anime merchandise, then I recommend stopping at Japantown’s two-story bookstore, Kinokuniya.  The otaku items including manga, cosplay magazines, and artbooks (none of which are translated into English) are all located on the smaller first floor.   There is also a novelty store around the corner called Japantown Collectibles.  However, if you are looking to purchase some music or DVDs, try visiting Japan Video and Media or J-Town Video

If you happen to stay in Japantown long enough for lunch or dinner then I recommend dining at Benihana for great food and spectacular service.  However, if you are not hungry or you are on a budget, visit Isobune.  This restaurant offers a self-serve style where  your food floats around on boats.  The dishes are priced from $2 – $7, so the price of your meal depends on you.

Another option for sampling Japanese food is visiting Nijiya Market and roaming their candy isle.  Even though you are free to purchase as much Pocky as you can afford, I recommend buying a box of chocolate candy called “Melty Kiss” and drinks such as Ramune and Yogloo.

A drive to San Francisco can easily turn into a day-long trip.  If you are looking for a simpler alternative, you can also search online for your local Asian Market (they are more abundant than you might think.)  These stores offer the same selection of snacks and usually include a section of traditional Japanese dishes and tea pots.  The asian market in Emeryville, alongside Highway 880, is one of my favorite shopping centers.

Cosplay Wish List

Thursday, 3 December 2009, 9:02 | Author: Kricket
Category : Learn about Cosplay

If you haven’t had first-hand experience yet, cosplay as a hobby can be rather expensive.  In an effort to save yourself some money, I recommend adding some cosplay items to your Christmas wish list.  The following items will make a great addition to your bookshelf and help you build a strong foundation for your cosplay endeavors.

  1. “How to Cosplay Volume 1”
  2. “AniCoz” Magazine
  3. “Cosmode USA”
  4. “The Cosplayer’s Prop and Armor Compendium Volume 1”
  5. Katie Bair’s “The World of Wig Craft” (Not yet published)

Seasonal Photography: Winter

Friday, 27 November 2009, 20:00 | Author: Kricket
Category : Learn about Cosplay

There is something mystical about snow that takes you to another world – especially when you live in a town that never gets below 40° F.  This winter, you should plan a trip to the mountains so you can cosplay in the snow – but remember to keep yourself warm!

Fantasy series, of course, lend themselves best to snowy environments.  I love Tolkien’s description of elves being so graceful that they do not leave footprints in the snow.  However, even elves can feel the cold weather.  No matter how forest-savy your character might be, if you want them to appear natural in their environment, I recommend they wear a hooded cloak and boots.  San from Princess Mononoke would make an exciting cosplay posing in the snow with blood covering her face.

In contrast, there are definitely some characters that look very attractive when they appear out of place in snowy landscapes.  Many artists choose to draw a beautiful anime girl standing alone in the snow while wearing a long sleeve turtleneck and short skirt.  This concept was developed in Fred Gallagher’s  web comic, Megatokyo.  Since the appeal stems from the vulnerability of the character, I believe young children could pull off the same effect (e.g. Taiki from Twelve Kingdoms).

Truthfully, the most breath-taking snow cosplay photos I have seen contained female characters with long, elegant dresses.  I recommend wearing velvet for these surreal pictures because it looks especially warm in contrast.

Lose Fat 4 Fanime

Thursday, 19 November 2009, 18:00 | Author: Kricket
Category : Learn about Cosplay

Anime characters are often portrayed as being physically attractive (i.e. young and thin).  This makes for beautiful art and great fantasies, but if our ultimate goal is to imitate the appearance of these characters, then I want to feel attractive too!  Although we all want to feel good about our bodies, few people are proactive when it comes to their health.  It takes conscious effort and consistent schedules to maintain your ideal weight.  As such, I would like to motivate you to become more health-conscious.  This means being aware of what you are eating and how often you get outside during this chilly winter season.

Short term goal: Do not gain weight over the holidays.

Long term goal: Develop a toned body for anime conventions.

Four simple tips:

  • Lower food-intake. Don’t eat everything at Thanksgiving; just your favorites.
  • Keep active. Get up from the couch and go walking.  And take your dog.
  • Utilize science. Be sure to turn on your DDR or your Wii-fit.  I know you have one!
  • Buy weights. I enjoy using ankle weights and 5lb dumbbells to enhance my workout.

Places You Can’t Cosplay

Wednesday, 11 November 2009, 22:00 | Author: Kricket
Category : Learn about Cosplay


I can imagine that many people will read the title of this post and develop a vendetta to prove me wrong.  I understand that with enough determination and self-esteem, one can cosplay pretty much anywhere.  However, it is important to remember that in some locations individuals must conform to safety regulations and corporate rules.

*  *  *  *  *

Although Disneyland’s Magic Kingdom is visited by people from all around the world, it is one of the few locations where cosplayers are not always welcome.  Granted, the moment that the creators of Final Fantasy (SquareEnix) teamed up with the established American cartoon franchise (Walt Disney) to create a new video game, Disneyland theme park should have forfeited all assumed cosplay rights within their premises.  With half the Disney characters on location, Disneyland Theme Parks are one of the most exciting places to cosplay the ever popular Kingdom Hearts – in which Sora holds the key to every Disney world.

Fighting Dreamers Pro posted pictures and video on YouTube of their Kingdom Hearts adventure in Disneyland:  Kingdom Hearts Cosplay in Disneyland II.  Although they appeared to have a lot of fun, Sora and Roxas were eventually asked to change out of their costumes because “they were being mistaken as staff”.

Being mistaken as a hired Cast Member is a legitimate security and liability concern for Walt Disney with so many young children around.  But doesn’t it seem like parents and children should be able to distinguish whether or not a costume resembles a Disney character?  Granted, there are some movies that Disney pretends not to have made (such as Treasure Planet and Atlantis), but Disney characters are fairly recognizable icons.

There is a forum on cosplay.com, Cosplaying Disneyland, which tries to answer whether or not one can or should cosplay at Disneyland.  From their comments, users suggest you can increase your chances of “being allowed” to cosplay by not cosplaying Disney characters – or simply cosplay on Halloween when costumes are encouraged.

Although some people have cosplayed in Disneyland, the park staff seems to have mixed responses.  It’s definitely not impossible, but it still may not be a smart idea.  However, if I were trying to cosplay in Disneyland, I would check out all the good photo spots on the first day, return early the second day in costume to get some awesome photos, change out of my costume, then enjoy the rest of my time in the happiest place on earth!

More Costume Friendly Events

Wednesday, 4 November 2009, 22:00 | Author: Kricket
Category : Learn about Cosplay

Now that the biggest costume season is over, I wanted to remind you that there are still many more events at which you can wear clothing from another realm without fighting social norms.

Movie Premieres: It’s always fun to attend the midnight showing of any superhero, fantasy, or sci-fi movie with a cult following.  Since the hard-core fans are attracted to such events, there are usually a lot of really good costumes in the crowd.  (The midnight showing for New Moon will be November 19th.)

Penny Arcade Expo: This con is put on by the creators of the popular webcomic, PennyArcade, from  March 26-28, 2010.  Most of the costumed-attendees will be dressed as characters from the webcomic; however, you could probably get away with cosplaying a character from any videogame that has its own tournament.  (I cosplayed as the androgenous Testament from GuiltyGear X2 and didn’t get lynched).

Renaissance Faires: RenFaires are a great way to spend a lot of money while also interacting with historical reinactments.  You can enjoy Leg of Lamb and even watch a jousting tournament while dressed in costume.  I usually attend Heart of the Forest in Marin, California (July-Aug) and the Northern California Renaissance Faire (Sept-Oct).

Pirate Faires: Growing in popularity after Disney’s “Pirates of the Carribean”, Pirate Faires allow you to dress up and talk like a pirate with other pirates.  With an open-air environment, a variety of clothing stores, and food booths it’s very similar to a RenFaire, except with pirates, parrots, and dogs!  The Northern California Pirate Festival (June 19-20) takes place at the Vallejo waterfront.

BlizzCon: This annual con focuses on the achievements of Blizzard Entertainment.  Participants may dress as characters from Warcraft, StarCraft, or Diablo.  The massively multi-player online (MMO) game, World of Warcraft, still has a strong fanbase and probably contributes to the majority of the costumes worn.

ComicCon: If you weren’t paying attention this year, ComicCon seems to be an important convention to attend, with many famous panelists and guests.  I assume any costume that has to do with fantasy or sci-fi will be allowed.  The next convention is scheduled for July 22-25, 2010.

This annual con focuses on the achievements of Blizzard Entertainment (August or September).  Participants may dress as characters from Warcraft, StarCraft, or Diablo.  Their massively multiplayer online (MMO) game, World of Warcraft, still has a strong fanbase and probably contributes to the majority of the costumes worn.

Bring Out Yer Dead!

Thursday, 29 October 2009, 23:00 | Author: Kricket
Category : Learn about Cosplay

Zombies are on the rise.  Every few years they make a zombie movie such as I am Legend, Fido, and Shaun of the Dead; this year was no exception with the recent release of Zombieland.  We have also been promised a future release of Left for Dead II and (if we’re lucky) a World War Z movie.  People seem to be pretty content watching visions of our worst nightmares.  What worries me, though, is the fact that zombies seem to be getting faster every year.  I don’t want to know how fast they will actually move if they start populating the world.  Yet that is something we need to start thinking about with the potential apocalypse occurring in 2012.

I’ve decided to explore the modern zombie this Halloween.  It seems that most zombies wear plain brown-colored clothing (yes, i realize they have been crawling around outside). However, there never seems to be any really distinctive “I knew that guy when he was alive” zombies.  We would have nerd zombies, business zombies, hobo zombies, grandma zombies, and (my personal favorite) goth zombies.

I’ve created a gothic zombie outfit using a black and red-streaked wig as my base, and adding a long-sleeve shirt, a short-sleeve shirt, arm warmers, chains, and a choker.  If I had more money, I’d even buy some really baggy pants from Hot Topic, but I’ll have to make do with what I have.  Luckily, there is a pretty cool vintage store in town, which gave me some good pieces.  For the accessories, I’ll probably borrow pieces from my Testament (Guilty Gear X2) costume.

Unfortunately, the costume is only half the outfit.  I expect to spend about an hour of my night just putting enough blood on my face and nails to appear authentic…  and hollowing my cheek bones…  and creating sunken eyes.  There is a reason I won’t be doing a test-run of my make-up.  If you’d like to see the finished effects, I plan to share a post-Halloween photo of our completed costumes next week.

Concealed Weapons

Wednesday, 7 October 2009, 18:00 | Author: Kricket
Category : Learn about Cosplay

There was a crowd gathering on a Saturday afternoon in the hallways of the San Jose Convention Center.  At the center of the attention was a cosplayer wearing an outfit that must have been incredibly easy to make considering the girl was only wearing a hat and a pair of overalls, which she strategically placed to cover her chest.  I won’t deny that she was well endowed and obviously craving attention; however, I was certain she was going to fall out of her outfit any second.  I looked over and saw my boyfriend staring, just like everyone else, at her strikingly simplistic nude-glory.  Even as I chastised him for looking, I couldn’t keep my own eyes off her.  In retrospect, I’m fairly certain she is the reason that Fanime started enforcing strict cosplay regulations.

Conventions are making themselves clear that revealing too much flesh is almost as  bad as carrying around a weapon that looks authentic.  So I raise the question, are our body parts actually concealed weapons?  The argument against such strict rules is that too much flesh is not actually harmful to one’s health and can at most only harm our eyes.  Yet, as a family-friendly gathering, I guess we must also consider the psychological impact partial nudity will have on a child’s mind.

We actually had our own run-in with con security for wearing “inadequate” cosplay costumes.  Amitie, Janet, and myself wore Suikoden V costumes to Fanime’08.  As the Prince, I attempted to check-in my three-section staff with a hidden chain (similar to a nunchuck) which is explicitly against the rules.  Upon deeming my prop safe for a con, the security staff turned to Janet who was cosplaying Zerase and told her she was not allowed to walk around the convention in that particular costume.  Although we tried to explain all the precautions we had taken with the costume (double sided tape, invisible elastic, and chest stickers) this particular staff member could not be swayed.  We had to speak with the head of Con Ops and prove – by demonstrating the stability of the outfit – that this costume was never going to reveal more skin than we wanted it to show.

I understand that con staff must put a lot of thought and effort into creating and enforcing the cosplay rules in order to create a safe and friendly environment for everyone.  However, when the rules become so strict that cosplayers cannot even carry around Nerf guns with orange tips, or wear costumes that show a little skin, they are taking away any rights that the cosplayer has as an artist and as a fan.

Imitating Chibi Form

Wednesday, 23 September 2009, 22:30 | Author: Janet
Category : Learn about Cosplay

I recently realized that I don’t often see “chibi” cosplayers at anime conventions.  Chibi in Japanese means “little”, but in anime it describes an art form distinguishable by large heads and short bodies.  They are often portrayed as child-like representations of adult anime characters.  With so many anime enthusiasts, it is simply a matter of time before someone decides to imitate chibi characters.  However, the thought of building an over-sized head might deter even the most skilled cosplayers.

Instead of discussing the specifics of how to build an adult chibi costume, I wanted to discuss the potential for involving young children in cosplay.  With their short stature, under-developed heads, and innate cuteness, children seem built for the part.  As veteran cosplayers grow into adulthood and become parents, we will soon experience a new generation of young cosplayers.  The time may be coming to teach these children about the cosplay culture.  It also might be a fun experience, as long as they get plenty of rest and spend lots of time with their family.  And remember: even though your children won’t understand the work and time that went into the costume, fellow cosplayers will be drawn to their energy, charisma, and cuteness.

The Great Cosplay Challenge

Wednesday, 16 September 2009, 18:30 | Author: Kricket
Category : Learn about Cosplay

By the time I finished watching the first episode of Gankutsuou (the anime version of The Count of Monte Cristo) I was overcome with a desire to cosplay it.  This anime, which is based on a very old story, introduced a new and innovative method of coloring anime characters.  It really is difficult to describe how this anime differs from the stereotype, but try to imagine that when a character moves around his environment the pattern/color of his hair and clothing remains stationary in a way that defies reality.  This show relies heavily on computer software to insert a wide range of obscure and bold patterns on multiple surfaces at once.  Although the style takes some getting used to, its affect on the characters’ appearance immediately provides cosplayers with their worst nightmare and greatest challenge.

Unfortunately, I’ve decided it is nearly impossible for cosplayers to reproduce this effect in cosplay.  That is not to say that I haven’t seen some very nice Gankutsuou costumes, but they can only mimic the director’s artistic intent by using bold patterns, obscure fabrics, sheer materials, and their own creativity.  Each cosplayer has to begin by confronting the same decision: Will they search for a specific fabric print, purchase a cotton pattern that resembles the  style of clothing, or hand-replicate an exact pattern onto their costume.  If I was trying to create the perception of wearing a “distanced” fabric, I would probably build multiple layers into each piece of the costume.  The bottom-most fabric would be the bold pattern and the remaining layers could be various shades of sheer and reflective fabric.  Using this method, the hair would not be made out of typical wig fibers but rather long, tattered, and fine strips of fabric.  (I’m sure this would be a long and painstaking process.)

To produce a live-action version of this show would demand advanced technology (or insane special effects).  Although it would require a large amount of money, I believe the technology is currently available.  If you aren’t yet aware, Japan has been developing an Invisibility Cloak.  While the Japanese cloaks use an external projection system, this technology would be most effective if the projected image was generated from a computer chip stored inside the costume.  To complete the effect, the software would also have to be programmed to project the image in a specific direction rather than follow the motion of the material.

I myself have not yet chosen to tackle a Monte Cristo cosplay.  That is not to say that I haven’t experimented in other forms of media.  For Halloween, I made a really awesome Gankutsuou pumpkin.  By attaching knit fabrics within the carved outline of the Count, I was successfully able to replicate the illusion of a distinct and stationary pattern.  On such a small scale, the effect was a success; I won first place in the anime club’s pumpkin carving contest.