What is Cosplay?

^Would you look at that, it is now April... Year 2012.
Time sure flies, it's been three years since me and my sister started cosplaying.
Three years of stressing over costumes, learning make up styles, researching about characters and wasting money... And three years of pure bliss and precious moments of fun with beloved friends.
Cosplay has definitely eaten a lot of my time and resources but I couldn't be happier. Would I have lasted this long if it wasn't? =)

My sister Minami as Skuld and Me as Belldandy

But the question is...
What is Cosplay?

If you search the net, you'll find that:

Cosplay (コスプレ kosupure), short for "costume play" is a type of performance art in which participants don costumes and accessories to represent a specific character or idea. Cosplayers often interact to create a subculture centred around role play. A broader use of the term "cosplay" applies to any costumed role play in venues apart from the stage, regardless of the cultural context.
Favorite sources include manga and anime, comic books, video games and films. Any entity from the real or virtual world that lends itself to dramatic interpretation may be taken up as a subject. Inanimate objects are given anthropomorphic forms and it is not unusual to see genders switched, with women playing male roles and vice versa. ~ Wikipedia

Cosplay or costume play is a form of art in which people dress up as characters or ideas. Cosplaying can take the form of performance art, with the cosplayer inhabiting the identity of the character and acting, or it may be viewed more generally as a form of artistic expression without a performance aspect. Cosplaying is not the same as dressing up for events like Halloween or masquerade balls, although cosplayers may don their outfits and personas for such events, and it is accompanied by a very distinctive and unique subculture. ~ WiseGeek

You'll find many definitions of cosplay around the net but I think that it's best to ask a living, breathing, passionate cosplayer what it really is. It may seem awkward and embarrassing but you'll see how these people think about their replies and how their faces light up when they start going on about their favorite hobby. Plus, who better to tell you what cosplay is than someone who actually cosplays, right?
If you are prepared to listen, you'll get a very long reply. =)

Just browse the net and you'll get lots of information on cosplay, but experiencing it yourself will give you an even better appreciation of it.

For now, I'll just tell you what cosplay is for me and why I love it so much.

Myself as Konata Izumi in yukata

For me, cosplay is fun. A hobby that requires passion.

I am a fan and I believe cosplay should be fun for you and your fellow fans. I always do my best because cosplay is my way of being proud of my fandom, I strongly believe in giving justice to my chosen character as how you portray a character can affect how others (especially those who do not know your chosen character and what cosplay is) see and feel about the character and cosplaying in general. 

When I do my cosplays, I always go back to what the word cosplay is, a portmanteau of costume and role playing. I like having costumes that are as detailed, accurate and visually pleasing; and trying to be like the character even just by posing and facial expressions as much as I can.
I stress over finding the right fabric with the right colors, the perfect wig, contact lenses in the appropriate color, a suitable make up style, the best looking shoes and the nicest props I can afford/ make.

M.A.R.C.H. assembled!

Admittedly, sometimes I go overboard and I tweak some things for the sake of decency. I do take artistic licenses from time to time, too. Sometimes I do some guess work for certain parts of our costumes as certain parts do not have enough reference photos. Sometimes I just change something all together and just go with my gut feeling as some characters are just too outrageously designed to be possible in real life. I just always keep in mind that my costume should be as accurate and visually pleasing as much as possible while still staying true to the character.

Cosplay for me is an art form. It is the best expression of your artistic side.
You get to learn about make up! Before cosplay, I really had zero knowledge about makeup. I didn't know that foundations came in different forms: cake, liquid, gel, mousse and powder. I thought eyeliners only came in black. hahahhahah I was a make up noob.

My bunny-sama, me, my brother mui-mui and Kai @ the 2011 Cosmania with LyRem of course hehehehe

Cosplay has taught me a thing or two about photography and posing in front of the camera. Before, photos were just photos, I did not care about exposure or if the photo was grainy or what not. Now I always think about colors and how they would look in pictures. When taking photos, now I am more aware of how my body is positioned, how my face should convey a proper expression, how the hair or wig should fall and many more, I am now very very conscious when in front of the camera and now I always think about lights and angles hehehhe XD

I never thought I'd be able to sew things. Because of cosplay I now sew, not very well but hopefully someday I will be able to have clean stitches and be good at it.

photo with everyone's beloved daddy Erving!
rare as he is usually behind the lens heheheheh
me, our father, quakey, cha and sese

I learned about wigs! From coloring, cutting, styling and maintaining which is so fun!~

Because of cosplay, I have a good excuse to draw, paint and make things from nothing. I am very proud to say that although I can't sew well, I have made most of our cosplay props and other items. This has helped us cut costs. *thumbs up*

I learned about photo editing and photoshop purely because of cosplay. XDD

One of the rare times I joined a competition and I did not win, hoorah!~ hehehehh
Annoying peeps being annoying!

Cosplay is also great for killing boredom. If you are a hands on type of person then I assure you that if killing time is what you are looking for, cosplay would be perfect for you. You'll learn patience as combing out tangles of a wig is very grueling, making weapons and armors also need focus and painstaking dedication. Research would also take up time as well as practicing for facial expressions and doing trials. The "chikas" and "dramas" that come up from time time can also perk up a boring day. heheheheh Cosplaying is exciting, yo!

If you can't draw doujins, or write fan fiction or make reviews or blogs, or have lots of moolah to collect toys and merchandise (original ones I mean) of you favorite character/ series then cosplay is an alternative way to show your fandom! 

My talents? hehehhe
Jeyel, me and Kyo @ TAGCOM 2012
That's my fangirl face ^^V

If you are a frustrated singer, dancer, monologue-r, actor or performer, joining cosplay competitions and playing your character on stage would be ideal so you can let loose the performer inside of you. Who knows? You may even win, and winning is never a bad thing. heheheheh

Believe it or not, cosplay has made me closer with my younger sister, cosplaying together and doing tandems is just so fun fun fun and it makes us hang out with each other even more than we usually do. :3

Dinner out with z3LL, me, Ricah, Duane and Quakey in U.P.
We got lost by the way heheheheh U.P. is creepy at night XDDD

I've met really great people both here and abroad because of cosplay (winks at z3LL hahahhaha). Friends, close friends and even people who are now like family to me, people who I now hold dearly (wiggles eyebrows at the Annoying People and M.A.R.C.H.). I have made soooooooo very many good friends that mentioning each and everyone here would be a herculean task. We bonded together because of cosplay but we have managed to form strong bridges and have managed to get to know each other even outside the hobby. This is one of the best things about cosplay. Great friends while having fun? What more can one ask for? I am happy and very grateful. Thank you, friends. /hugs you all tightly mwah mwah kiss kiss tsup tsup ah ah love love!~

I did say that cosplay is somewhat stressful and it is a hobby that will make your wallet cry (it is a fact that it is a hobby that requires inordinate amounts of money, not to mention lots of people seem to not understand it...), that is if you are a competitive perfectionist like I am. hehehe But after all the stress, when you finally put together that costume and you do a good portrayal (I mean good and satisfactory by your own standards), that feeling of fulfillment is so thrilling, empowering and addicting. It makes you proud of your accomplishment. Who wouldn't feel good and full of pride when one has done a good job, right? I absolutely love that feeling. Also, all the things I learn along the way, only makes it even more satisfying for me.

Gene, Gibs, Zhel, me and Shoti are posing master hehehhehe

I do not know exactly how many characters I have cosplayed but I am pretty sure that it is already a LOT. XDDD They all have unique personalities and stories, by getting to know their personalities and characters, I have learned quite a lot about myself, too. I think cosplay has made me reflect and be a better person. By trying to put myself in their shoes, I was able to take in their admirable qualities and make improvements on myself and use it to make me a better individual. That is why, I go with characters I know and like.

Cosplay is fun, it is exciting, it is addicting, you get to make art and be creative and sharpen your skills and you can acquire good friends. It is a good hobby and I will cosplay as long as I can possibly can, as long as I can physically and financial do it, I will. :D

I'd be ever so honored if you could share. :D

Annoying train of wacky and what ever faces =3

All photos are by z3LL. Many thanks! hehehhe

thanks for reading!
 jaa! visit me again, ne!
     arigatou! (*^3^)/~