Oz Comic-Con: The Culture of Cosplay

Last Saturday I attended Oz Comic-Con in Sydney. I’m planning on both vlogging about the experience, and will then be creating a short film documenting the experience of myself and my team as part of our group assignment.

In this post I’ll be discussing my experience with cosplay on Reddit, and at the convention. However, before I begin I’d like to share a simple plan of my research and post plan for the next few weeks:

  • Week 8: Cosplay & Convention Culture – Oz Comic-Con
  • Week 10: Gender Representation in Japanese Anime and Manga – Kill La Kill
  • Week 11: Political Messages in Utopian/Dystopian Anime and Manga – Ghost in the Shell
Cosplay

Anime Inspired Cosplay at Oz Comic-Con: Levi, Attack on Titan (TR,) Piccolo, Dragon Ball Z (TL,) Asuna and Kirito, Sword Art Online (BR,) Ira Gamagori, Kill la Kill (BL.)

The Japanese term cosplay, short for costume play, (costumed roleplay,) originally referred to period dramas and historical plays which required period appropriate clothing. The term gained currency in Japan since the 1970s to describe the practice of dressing up as characters from anime, manga and pop culture. The subculture was inspired by the practice of masquerade which featured prominently at U.S. Science Fiction Conventions. Japanese academic Daisuke Okabe explains that cosplay took off in Japan with the introduction of hit series such as Mobile Suit Gundam in 1979, and Urusei Yatsura in 1980. Today the subculture has been gladly embraced by communities all around the world, fans donning colourful purchased pre-made, or handmade garments in order to publicly express their love and commitment to their fandoms. For a full timeline of cosplay, follow this link.

I witnessed and participated in this subculture last Saturday at the Sydney Exhibition Centre – an event which certainly can be seen as one of the highlights of 2014 for me. I created a Flickr album where I posted all of the photos I took of amazing cosplayers. It was simply inspiring to see so many people who had gone through so much hard work in order to bring these characters to life – the woman dressed as Levi in the above image explaining that the accessories she made for her costume took over a day and a half to assemble. Inspired by the cosplayers I witnessed earlier in the year, I too decided to put some time and money into my costume, assembling an outfit of Oswald Cobblepot, The Penguin. I personally felt the effort was rewarding, the positive looks, smiles, and kind and flattering words that I received from the crowd on the day were priceless.

This week on Reddit I chose to both examine the sub-reddit r/cosplay, and participate in it. Before posting I read the submission guideline’s carefully, afraid of being criticised for misconduct. Earlier when I initiated my venture, I quickly learned that r/cosplay was updated frequently, and that posts could get lost quickly. I posted one image which received 12 upvotes, contenting me. Despite sharing that image with r/cosplay, I chose to share an image of my favourite cosplayer of the day, a woman dressed as Totoro, with r/ghibli in order to see how the niche sub-reddit focused on Ghibli would receive the image. I was absolutely surprised to receive over 200 upvotes, the image receiving over 1900 views on Flickr, quickly climbing to the top page of the sub-reddit, demonstrating the perks of posting decent content to the right sub-reddit.

Have you ever been to a convention? Did you cosplay? Leave a comment and let me know, and also, please feel free to suggest any anime or manga you might know of that might suit my future topics.

– Anthony

 EDIT: (Later Addition) Here’s my vlog where I describe my experience in more detail. A short documentary will be created soon with the footage we compiled for our group assingment.

References

Raymond A, 2014, “75 Years of Capes and Face Paint: A History of Cosplay.”

Okabe, D (2012), “Cosplay, Learning, and Cultural Practice,” in ‘Fandom Unbound: Otaku Culture in a Connected World,’ Ed. by Ito M, Daisuke O, & Tsuji I, Yale University Press, pp. 225-235

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