…And Cosplay For All!

Ah, cosplay. Ah, conventions! How I love thee both ever so dearly! Light of my (multiple gamers’) lives! Oh, how hentai, yaoi, and yuri are the fires of my josei-manga-obsessed loins!

Yes, I fondly remember the first time I ever wore my very first cosplay to my very first convention.

Picture it. Chicago, Illinois, May 2010. The scent of summer was in the air, there were clear blue skies, and, of course, in the very heart of Rosemont, the freaks and geeks of the world were arriving at the Hyatt (or any other surrounding hotel) for Chicago’s biggest annual anime convention. Some came by plane; some, by boat. Some even hitchhiked (I kid you not) just to be able to indulge in the festivities (Read: “insanity“) that Anime Central is all about. Everyone is decked out in their hard-worked on cosplay (Or, if you’re like me, who is all thumbs, then you paid someone else to make it for you), and it’s a living, three-day weekend long parade of Sailor Moons, Ed Elrics, InuYashas, and Hatsune Mikus.

It was also my very first anime convention, and when they say “culture shock”, they are NOT sh*tting you. I had a friend of mine make my very first cosplay—I went as Ouka “The Divine Fist” from the manga .Hack//Legend Of The Twilight.

I was all settled in for a great time at my first con. What I didn’t expect was a massive setback that I didn’t even see coming—more so than the fact that my cosplay was falling apart on me:

I was actually called a “tramp” for my costume looking “too revealing.”

I know you can’t see it with the faux fur in the way, but it’s essentially a bikini top and bottom. Now, it’s not that I couldn’t have gone with Ouka’s censored anime version of the costume, which is essentially a bodysuit; it’s just that I didn’t want to. Ouka’s original, uncensored costume in the manga is what made her so memorable, as well as the fact that she was a badass.

But to get called a “tramp?” Well, that certainly came as a shock. I looked around the convention and noticed girls dressed as characters such as Felicia from Marvel Vs Capcom; Ivy, from Soul Calibur; and even Storm’s original costume from X-Men, and I didn’t judge them. In fact, I thought they were bold and having fun, just as any cosplaying woman should be in whatever she chooses to cosplay as, be it revealing in nature or not. It’s in my opinion that you should always be comfortable, bold, and fearless in who you choose to cosplay, regardless if that character is wearing a fully-covered body suit, like Zero Suit Samus, or if she’s just prancing around in bandages that barely cover her naked body, like Lucy from Elfin Lied. Be proud of who you cosplay!

But, given that my attitude is basically, “Devil does not give a f*ck about your opinions of me“, I ignored it. So what? That person don’t know me personally. She didn’t know how many people I do or don’t f*ck on a daily basis. She (or anyone else) had no grounds to call me a “slut,” and therefore I’d say her argument is rather invalid.

The following year, at Anime Central 2011, was also quite the learning experience as well.

Oh, ACen…I remember it was earlier that year I had dyed my hair green. And after I had done that, people had been looking at me strangely, as if I had leaned in at a fancy dinner and confided in them that I possessed a third nipple.

But not at a convention. People loved my hair, and I loved being able to geek out in my cosplay, talk with awesome people, make friends, take pictures, and have a great time. I mean, I really love it. However, last year was extremely special to me: I finally got the chance to cosplay my anime goddess/crush, who I genuinely look up to and admire immensely: Kan’u Unchou from Ikki Tousen, aka Battle Vixens.

I could go on for days about how beautiful, strong (and I mean she is, hands down, the strongest character in the series), and how much of a badass she is, but I’m trying to make a point, so that will have to wait.

Again, something I noticed (aside from everyone mistaking me for Sailor Moon) was that there was an absurd amount of slut-shaming going on. I missed a good amount of the whispers that were about me (and I did catch a few of them), but I heard quite a few about several other girls (and guys, even!), who were called “trashy,” “slutty,” etc…and some of the people being talked about were my own friends! I really couldn’t believe it. All I could think was, “Did you actually come to this convention to talk shit about how a particular girl/guy is dressed? Now, given, some of the costumes that girls (and guys) wear can be a bit over the top and pushing the main convention guidelines about costuming and keeping covered, and a few people were actually ejected from the convention (or even stopped at the door) for breaking those guidelines. But that gave no one — me, he, she or anyone else — the right to blatantly talk shit about them.

There was so much slut-shaming, all I wanted to do was drag some of these instigators outside and beat them within an inch of their lives. Granted, some of the girls — and I know this irritates quite a few people — were purposely dressing provocatively, and all for the attention, and/or, they were booth babes, hired specifically because of their looks, the size of their breasts, and overall had no clue (or interest) about the going-ons of the convention. They just wanted to make a quick buck. I’m not saying it’s okay to call out these certain girls, walk up to them, call them any form of a deprecating name, and then walk away. It’s never okay. Even if you have an opinion on the booth babes (or any scantily-clad female at a con), keep them to your damn self. Not everyone will share the same views as you, and that’s okay.

But the truth is that there is an uglier side to the conventions and cosplay we love so much. Let me just say this right off the bat:

The cosplay/convention/otaku worlds can be (but not always) full of assholes.

There are some people in the cosplay world who believe that black people especially shouldn’t cosplay at all (based on the grounds that they are black and wouldn’t look as good cosplaying a specific non-black character, and truly believe that a white or Asian girl would be better-suited).

Fortunately, there are also those that give the big middle finger to those with such views on cosplay.

Shockolate Energy, a black, prominent cosplayer who is known for her onpoint, legendarycosplay of Tsunade from Naruto (pictured above), has often heard this in her time being a cosplayer. I asked her in a mini-interview for this article what her thoughts on this particular subject were:

KS: “Does race really play a role in who you choose to cosplay as? Do you find yourself upset when someone of a different race cosplays a character who is also of a different race?”

SE: “In my personal views, race does not matter at all, especially when I choose who I cosplay. The only thing that matters is if the person’s attitude fits well with the character they are cosplaying, and also that they are open enough to understand and accept the fact that anyone can cosplay as anybody, regardless of race.

To be honest, you can tell who puts in their heart and soul into their cosplays, because they care about the props, accessories, hair, and makeup. Take me for instance: I cosplay as Tsunade from Naruto. I make sure I have everything down pat before I walk into a convention. People shouldn’t judge and assume. All I want is respect for the people who are getting overlooked, especially if they are the ones putting so much time into their cosplay. But, more than anything, I want to bring about the knowledge that there are African Americans who love to cosplay, and I am one of them…and nothing, especially not race, is going to stop me from cosplaying whomever I choose.”

This beautiful, brown babe stays true to her beliefs and ideals. You go, girl.

Another cosplayer of color, a Hispanic young man who goes by his gamer alias, GeneticDefect (known for his cosplay of Brock from Pokémon and Hatake Kakashi from Naruto), had this to say when asked the question of if race plays a role in who he chooses to cosplay:

GD: “I find that I, myself, choose to cosplay as characters I who have a strong connection with or affinity towards. I want to do the best job of bringing that person to life; have that person enter the real world. I just happen to cosplay as characters that I can pull off. If I was unable to cross the race barrier, I could only choose from a handful of characters. This is because of the lack of diversity in the medium. Yes, there are African Americans, Mexicans, Native Americans, and a few others, but the majority of the characters portrayed in anime and manga are Asian and whites. This is understandable, since anime and manga is an Asian product. However, to bar someone or ridicule someone because they choose to personify a character that falls outside their nationality or skin tone is ridiculous. Everyone has a right to portray their favorite character. If we place rules about who can dress as who, then we build a hierarchy in which Asians and whites get the bulk of characters and the minorities have the leftovers. This takes the enjoyment, excitement, and individuality out of cosplaying, which in turn just hurts the con experience.”

GD is featured here as the secretive Hatake Kakashi, who is known for never showing his face — save for his eyes — to anyone.

The opposite side of this debate, however, is that when I investigated more, I learned that some people (be they of color or not) don’t like cosplaying other races because they believe it’s offensive to that specific race or even disrespectful to that character and the character’s creators. One cosplayer, who asked to remain anonymous, refuses to cosplay Storm from X-Men, because she feels, quote:

“Storm is ultimately an African Queen. She is a trailblazer as one of the very first black, female X-Men. As a white person, I’d be so ashamed of myself if I donned her costume and went around calling myself Ororo, strictly because of the fact that it’s offensive and insulting to both those who created her and Storm herself. On the other hand, I wouldn’t even cosplay Emma Frost (aka: The White Queen) either. One, I don’t like her name because what I, in my own opinion, feel like it stands for is that white people (especially given that she’s a beautiful, white, voluptuous, blonde-haired, blue-eyed white woman, who I know for a fact some men find much more attractive than beautiful, dark-skinned Storm) are the more dominant race, and I feel that’s just not true. I feel like it would be a totally different story if they wanted to name her after an element. I feel like “Snow Queen” would have been much more appropriate, because it plays off her name, Emma Frost. I won’t cosplay any character who has a name based solely on their race. It’s dumb, it’s ignorant, and there are so many things to go wrong with it.”

Interestingly enough, it’s not only racial biases that some people have when it comes to cosplay. Another (often f*cked-up) view on cosplay is that there are some people who believe that those blessed with beautiful curves shouldn’t cosplay on the grounds that the character they are cosplaying is skinny. One huge objection came from another Midwestern cosplayer by the stagename of C2Queen, pictured below — a wonderful woman who was blessed with beautiful curves.

(C2Queen is well-known for her detailed cosplay as C.C. from the anime Code Geass, pictured on the left, and her wonderful cosplay of Rei Miyamoto in the Zombie Apocalypse-based anime and manga, High School Of The Dead, featured on the right. Never mess with a chick who knows how to use a sniper rifle.)

KS: “One thing I’ve noticed in the world of cosplaying is that some people are complete, well, assholes, when it comes to ladies (or even guys) who are more fuller-figured cosplaying notoriously skinny characters. Personally, I prefer the word ‘curvy.’ As you are one of the beautifully curvy ladies in the cosplay world, how do you feel about this?”

C2Q: “Haha! I love the way you worded that. And you called me pretty! You’re so nice! Well…to be honest, I try to overlook people focused on body type. I think what matters most is just having fun with your cosplay, especially if you can form a group with friends from something you love. That, and even people like me have the potential to pull off a character just as well as anyone else if the right effort is put in. What I mean by that is, if there’s more quality put into an outfit, I believe that someone like me even, has the potential to pull off an outfit equally or even better than someone who’s skinny. Especially if that person uses an outfit to benefit them by boosting their better features and hiding their flaws with their outfit choice.

People’s words can get me feeling really bad about myself sometimes, but then I think to myself, “I’m not in this for people judging me based on my figure type or even character accuracy (though I do like to look accurate with details, I just can’t with my weight). I just want to have fun, appreciate characters I like, maybe make myself look a little prettier than usual and get some attention.

Overall, anime really helped shape a lot of my values. It’s kind of my thank you to anime to be doing this. That, and I just want to meet and befriend people with the same interests as me and make them smile by wearing something they really like. When it comes to cosplay, if you become too serious with yourself, it immediately starts draining the fun out of things and the pressures begin to weigh you down.”

KS: “Has anyone ever said straight to your face that you were ‘too big’ or even (I hate saying this word as much as I do the n-word), ‘too fat’ to cosplay any of the characters you have in the past?”

C2Q: “No one has said that straight to my face, but many have said it online and by other means. I get people who have made remarks such as, “Who fed Rei?”, “Eww, she’s fat,” or, “This is why only Asians should cosplay! This is a disgrace.” And a few more even worse than that. A few people I don’t know in addition to some of my friends have come to my defense against some of these people. It’s made me reflect on my body type and re-evaluate my reasons for cosplaying a few times, but overall I’m not looking to change to impress others. I kinda want to be a role model to other people of my size, similar, or bigger, and show them that it’s okay that we cosplay too and it isn’t something only limited to skinny people. There’s so much I want curvier cosplayers to know, honestly, but the main thing is this: Just remember the reason you began cosplaying and the fun you have doing it; rather than those merely focused on creating a world solely full of skinny cosplayers with close-to-accurate body types. Enjoy doing what you love, and don’t let other people’s opinions get you feeling so serious about cosplaying. You shouldn’t let yourself feel depressed; you chose to cosplay, and you can choose whether you are happy doing it or not.”

And then, of course, there is the debate on how “real” cosplayers make their own cosplay as opposed to commissioning others to make cosplay for them, which supposedly makes the latter not “real” cosplayers. To get a better insight into this, I asked for the views of a very talented cosplayer, as well as excellent seamstress, who has made her fair share of award-winning cosplay who goes by the name of TheMorningMist.

(The Morning Mist, cosplaying here as Chrome Dakuro from Hitman Reborn, has been cosplaying for eight years, and has a plethora of well-designed cosplay that you can see at the annual, Chicago-based, Anime Central Convention. But please, don’t randomly glomp the girl!)

KS: “You are a very talented seamstress and make your own costumes. When did you learn to sew? And how long did your most complicated costume take? What was the easy cosplay for you to make and how long did it take?”

MM: “Haha, I am in no way a talented seamstress, more like a girl with a moderate knowledge of sewing who has to work really hard to get the results she wants and sometimes gets lucky. I’ve never taken any professional sewing lessons, but I taught myself some basics through observation and having my grandmother help me. I do want to put it out there that I have commissioned things before and even bought premade items for cosplay. Through experiencing disappointment from commissioned and bought items, I have made the decision that making things myself is the best option. My grandmother was my teacher, and I still ask her for help every now and then when I’m stumped.

My most complicated costume took me about four months to make. The character is Momohime from Muramasa: The Demon Blade. I had made kimono tops in the past, so that was a cinch to do. The problem for this costume was hand-painting the flower designs on the sleeves. I went through multiple bottles of fabric paint using just a tiny paintbrush, making very clean and straight lines for my pattern. In the end, it turned out very well.

KS: “I know there is nothing more frustrating for someone who spends their time and dedication on a cosplay…only to have overzealous fans do the all-too-well-known ‘GLOMP’ at conventions, and easily ruin in seconds what took months to make. Has this ever happened to you?”

MM: “I’ve had several of these moments, actually. I’m definitely a big advocate of not being touched without permission, but honestly, most of the people who ‘attack’ at conventions aren’t even in cosplay. I call these people rabid fangirls/fanboys. Being randomly hugged without permission can seriously ruin your con experience, especially when it ruins or damages cosplay. I do not like to be touched without my explicit permission, and I’d say that goes for many cosplayers as well. The thing that irritates me most at conventions, however, are people who make rude or vulgar comments about other people or their cosplay. People really need to be considerate of others and not ruin people’s fun. Other bad experiences would include being glomped by strangers, who sometimes don’t smell all that nice. I’ve even had my Pandora Hearts Cheshire Cat tail fondled like a sexual object.”

KS: “Yikes. Well, last question, and the one I’ve really wanted to ask you. Every once in a blue moon, I’ll hear a cosplay elitist complain about how certain people aren’t ‘real’ cosplayers because they don’t make their own cosplay. How do you feel about this? Does it reflect your own views? Why or why not?”

MM: “That is certainly a big debate among many cosplayers, but personally, I believe a ‘true’ cosplayer as someone dressing up as a character they like or respect and having fun with it. A lot of people do not have the sewing skills to make complicated costumes, so they commission them or buy from cosplay retailers. I myself have bought/commissioned cosplay or pieces for a cosplay, but felt it was better to educate myself in sewing so that if I were disappointed in a costume, I’d have only myself to blame. Not all of my cosplays have been completely constructed by me. A handful of my costumes include pants, shoes, or undershirts that I have bought from stores or have even bought and modified. Time and money are a huge factor in my cosplays, so I cut corners where I can and I do not feel that it doesn’t make me a ‘true’ cosplayer. I have fun both when I make cosplay and when I’m in cosplay, that is true enough for me.”

Shockolate, C2Queen, and GD, like many cosplayers, will not let ignorance or biases of any type stop them from cosplaying, and TheMorningMist debunks any fallacies on what makes a ‘real’ cosplayer.

But what really gets under my skin is that over the years, there have been stereotypes befalling women of every shape, size, and race, who love dressing up as their favorite characters from anime, video games, etc. — and that they are in fact sluts, tramps, and love dressing skimpily…simply because they are whores.

Who started this rumor? Really.

And before anyone starts rampaging on about how it was probably a man that started this rumor, it really needs to go without saying that not every man who attends these cons, or chooses to engage in cosplay, is just some sexist, drooling fanboy, and not every photographer at these conventions is a creepy dude who wants to get upskirt pictures of your panties when you are bent over.

There are some men in the cosplay community who truly believe in the spirit of cosplay and what it stands for. I went to get the views of two men who are well-known in the cosplay world, but for two completely different reasons:

One goes by the name of SoulCrash Ron, who is a highly-respected and very sought-after seasoned photographer who takes pictures specifically for cosplay events, conventions, and the like, and has been invited time and time again, to some of the larger conventions. He was awesome enough to share his experiences as a convention photographer with me (and some of those experiences are a f*cking riot).

This is SoulCrash Ron. I swear he’s harmless.

KS: “What got you into photography in the first place? And when did you decide to specifically focus on cosplay and conventions as your niche?”

SCR: “It started as an inside joke with the car club I used to roll with. I was their ‘media expert,’ who knows camera stuff and such. Yet I didn’t have a DSLR when I got that role. So I bought a Nikon D60, took pics. And I got curious about what I could do with that camera, so…I guess I can say since July 2010. After talking pics at Screwattack Gaming Convention, I wanted to step up my photography game. Stuttering Craig asked me if I could take pics of the cons, and posted it on his website, screwattack.com.”

KS: “As a well-known and great cosplay photographer, you said you have seen many-a things. Describe some of the cosplay-related things you have seen: skimpy girls, guys making devious plans to hook up with them, wardrobe malfunctions, nip-slips, etc.”

SCR: “Note: I’m not that great. Just known in the cosplay community. Anyway, I’ve seen some stupidly simple cosplay that became internet famous, like “Box Gundam” guy of…I think it was ACen 2002 when that happened…

From a girl in a white towel calling herself “Towel Rei” (of Neon Genesis Evangelion), and stuff that can’t be unseen, like a 300-pound dude known as “Sailor Bubba” who dresses like Sailor Moon, and, not so long ago from SDCC, some random naked chick, with pasties and a thong, dubbing that as Game of Thrones cosplay.”

KS: “Well, o-kay then. Next question. We all experience…ahem. ‘Hardware failure.’ Any instances where this has happened to you?”

SC: “I don’t wanna get personal with this question. So I’ll lighten the blow with this answer. I gotta say ACen 2011. ‘Cause that’s where I experienced some hardware failure with my camera’s external flash. Without the flash, some indoor shots will be hard for me to shoot…and same goes with the rave…some shots I need a flash, but sometimes I don’t.”

KS: “Ron, you’ve been amazing so far. To wrap things up, do you have any photography-related advice as to how a cosplayer should stand when posing for a picture, or anything to avoid? (IE, badges in the way, purses, etc.)

SC: “My advice to the cosplayers. PLEASE! Can you:

#1. Not have something on your face during a shot? Like have a fist or a gun on your face. ‘Cause if you do that, there’s going to be a nasty shadow cast on your face if the photographer uses flash.

#2. When you pose, can you (the cosplayer) pose where the body and/or the nose is pointing toward where the flash is…in other words, in most cases, have you (the cosplayer) pointing /looking slightly right.

#3. If a photographer gives you their card, and you like the shot that they took of you, PLEASE add them (and the picture) on facebook or whatever. For me personally, I like it when a cosplayer adds me on facebook. So, next time I see them at a con,  they’ll be a bit more easily approachable. I’ll be honest, I don’t bother cosplayers if they’re socializing with other con-goers and such just for a pic…unless if I’m a fan of a series that someone rarely cosplays, and GOTTA get a pic of it before I won’t ever see them again.

#4. If a photographer/fan person comes up all crazy ’cause you’re cosplaying from a series that’s either rarely cosplayed or you look REALLY good in the cosplay, please be kind to them, and don’t freak out that they’re acting like that. Be appreciative that they know the series that you’re cosplaying from, especially if it’s a series that isn’t widely-known.

And here is some of SoulCrash’s work.

The second man I mentioned earlier is a cosplayer/dancer/singer/model and humanitarian who uses his powers of cosplay for good, and, back in 2011, he raised a generous amount of money at a video game and cosplay event that he hosted for the Tsunami victims of Japan. His name is FanService Renji — known for his spot-on cosplay of Renji Abarai from the anime/manga Bleach, seductive dance moves, and overall shirtlessness.

KS: “Renji, you’re one of the most prominent cosplayers who have ever come out of the Midwest, and you have gone above and beyond what many cosplayers do. So, to begin with, how did you adopt the stage name FanService Renji? What exactly IS ‘fan service,’ for those who are unaware of what the term means?”

FSR: “The name FanService Renji actually came from the fans. I never had a stage name for the longest time because I could never pick one. A singer I used to work with always told me that names are given, not chosen, just how they are at birth. He told me just to wait and it would come to me. One day after a con, I was scrolling through Deviantart searching for pics of myself. -LOL- (sounds arrogant, right?) When I would read through the descriptions under my pics, I kept noticing that people were calling me Fan Service Renji because I was always shirtless. It had a nice ring to it, so I stuck with it.

For those who don’t know the term, fan service means to service the fans: give them what they want to see or wish for. It my case, my service was more sexual. My character, Renji, doesn’t always have his shirt off, but the fan art always shows him shirtless. Fan service could also mean a fantasy match up, such as Ironman vs. Batman. Pretty much just things that the fans want to see that is out of the norm.”

KS: “A lot of your work involves giving back to the community. In 2011, I believe, you hosted a gaming/cosplay event to raise money for the Tsunami victims of Japan. How did it feel really being able to help out those in need?”

FSR: “I organized and hosted two cosplay/gaming events in 2011. One was indeed for the Red Cross in response to the Japan Tsunami victims. As soon as I heard the terrible news, I wanted to help in any way I could. Though I’m not Japanese, it still hit home with me because of the Tsunamis that hit Thailand and Southeast Asia a few years prior. My family is originally from the country of Laos, which borders Thailand. My family who still remained was affected by the disaster. At that time, I felt so powerless to help. I know every dollar counts, but I felt $20-$50 from me here and there wasn’t going to be enough to make a difference.

“When the tsunami hit Japan, I refused to sit idly and do nothing. Sitting at home on Facebook and posting status updates about the victims isn’t going to restore the country. I got sick of people just talking about helping but not actually doing anything. I’m not rich, so I could never donate enough money to make a dent in the damage cost.

“What I could do was unite this cosplay community, and together, we could make a big difference. I am popular and well-known in the community so I knew people would listen to me. As cheesy as in sounds, the Spider-Man Uncle Ben quote comes to mind: ‘With great power comes great responsibility.’ I wanted to use my powers/influence for good. To me, being popular doesn’t mean anything if you don’t have something to stand for. It’s hard to set a monetary value on the donations received. Donations included a venue to use, A/V equipment, free DJ services from three different DJs. All of which would cost thousands, but were given to us for free.”

KS: Ready for the hard questions now? Your best-known cosplay is (shirtless) Renji Arabai from the anime/manga Bleach. You are completely and totally exposed from the waist up. Has anyone ever told you that you need to cover up, or have you made any fellow con-goers uncomfortable with your state of dress? Do you also feel like there is a double standard as far as how shirtless cosplaying men are able to get away with not being called ‘easy’ or ‘douchy’ or a ‘manwhore’ the same way a scantily-clad female cosplayer who is showing just as much skin (save for her breasts being covered) could just as easily be called a ‘slut’ or a ‘skank’?

FSR: “I have been told MANY times to cover up. Someone went as far as e-mailing me on the day of my album release party to tell me that I need to stop sexualizing cosplay. I have made both males and females uncomfortable with the sexuality of my shirtless cosplay. When I was super-fit I would wear my pants lower to show all the definition in my abs. (the notorious V…girls know what that is…lol) I was proud of my body, so I wanted to show it off.

“It is a double standard for the most part, but I got to witness first-hand that men get labeled just the same. I would never get called a manwhore, but I would get treated as one. Just because I was shirtless, girls just looked at me like I was a free-for-all-buffet. Like, for some reason, because I am a male, it’s okay to touch me without permission.”

[KS: And, just to digress for a second, as a cosplayer (and a woman in general), I, and many female cosplayers, have had unfortunate incidents of being groped, glomped, or fondled (with our offenders claiming we “deserved it” or “provoked it” because of how we were dressed (SlutWalk, anyone?), but some women who I have personally talked to believe the same fondling can happen to men—and they won’t feel uncomfortable about it. How very untrue, as Renji goes on to explain.]

FSR: “I’ve had so many touch-and-runs with people who would ask for a pic and then just grope my chest and abs. I even had some girl lick her finger and touch my nipple in an elevator full of people! But the scariest thing that happened to me was someone picked me up in a bear hug, carried me across the rave floor, and pinned me in a corner so HE and his female friend could flirt with me.

“I don’t think men get away with being more provocative in the cosplay world, either. When a guy walks around in a speedo or a banana hammock, it’s not always well received. When a guy is nasty, he’s just nasty, and people respond accordingly. Some girls saw my confidence in being shirtless as me being arrogant. They didn’t call me a whore, but they still walked away with a negative impression of me. The words may not be the same, but the negative energy is still there. That’s why I feel guys don’t get away with it any more than girls do.”

KS: “I really appreciate you giving me such an honest and personal response. What are your future projects, as far as cosplay, performing at events, or charity work is concerned? Is there any advice you have to the cosplayers of the world who choose to be bold and sport their bodies with pride and no shame? What about to cosplayers in general?”

FSR: My future projects…contrary to popular belief, I do have other well-made cosplays that have been forgotten in time. I’m working on a more elaborate cosplay to remind people that I’m not a one-trick pony. I’m also working on higher-quality videos with some different directors. As for events, I don’t have any in mind yet because of my already-hectic schedule.

“My advice to cosplayers who want to put their body on display is to believe in yourself. You can have the nicest body, but your lack of confidence will show. That negative vibe will radiate, and you will not get the response you hope for. Always have fun, and don’t concern yourself with the competitive sport that cosplay has become. The only approval that matters is yours.”

(FanService Renji, featured in his notorious Renji cosplay, can found in the studio, on tour, or singing and dancing on stage at your local Anime Convention.)

In the end, what it basically boils down to is this: you don’t personally know that girl dressed as Poison Ivy, BloodRayne, or Slave Princess Leia. You don’t know that guy dressed as Cloud, Luffy, or even Sailor Moon. You don’t know how much time, work, or dedication they put into their cosplay. You don’t even know if the character they are cosplaying has been some sort of role-model to them who they have looked up to in order to get through some of the hard times of life.

The point is: You Just. Don’t. Know. And none of us are in any position to judge. Period. Let them have their fun, stop all of the slut-shaming, cosplay elitist bigotry, stereotypes, and general assholery, and take cosplay and the conventions for what they were meant to be in the first place: a great time for all and not just some.

Keep cosplaying, my friends.

~Kurosune Suicide

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