The Great Cosplay Challenge

Wednesday, 16 September 2009, 18:30 | Author : Kricket
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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.

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