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Cosplay is more than just dressing up

The Cardiff Film & Comic Con is on a two-day countdown. Not long until you can meet your beloved characters from your favourite movies and comics. Taking a step back,  we are asking cosplayers how life is like as fictional figures.

Van Wolf, commonly known as Wayne Vanic Jones, is looking at himself in the mirror. Working as a supporter worker, today he looks in no way like what he always does. Wearing a blood-stained T-shirt with a 100-colour eyeshadow palette in his hand, he is carefully blending one colour with another over his forehead, creating a messy and dirty look.

He is dressing up to cosplay the main protagonist Logan in the new superhero film featuring the Marvel Comics character Wolverine.

Being a comic fan from his young age, dressing up to be different characters is a great fun for Wayne. He’s confident about dressing up and cosplaying: “When you first do it, people may think ‘oh I’m going to look silly and people are going to laugh at me.’ For me I don’t care and I’ll dress up like whatever I want.”

Right besides him was his partner Sash Robbins who is known in the cosplay community as Little Vamp. She had already dressed up in full gear and ready to hit the road. As Wayne’s wingwoman, she sat by his side with a little bottle of fake blood and more make-up products in her hands. She is going to cosplay X-23 by the side of her Logan.

“People who don’t know abut cosplay may don’t understand that. They may think it’s just about fancy dresses. There is so much more than just dressing up and cosplaying.” said Sash. For the duo, cosplaying is about having fun with lots of friends.


Cardiff cosplay community

Cosplay generally refers to the act of dressing in a costume in attempt to portray a character from films, comics, anime and the likes. Costume ideas can also be taken from mangas in Japan, where cosplaying is trending. In Cardiff, the cosplay community is described to be extremely friendly.

Takuto, Cleo and Bone D (from the left to the right) are members of Cosplay Antics–a Cardiff based cosplay group.

“The cosplay world is a family. We get together about five times a year all in cosplay.” said Bone D, member of an active cosplay group Cosplay Antics.

Within the close-bonded community, it is easy for people to meet others who share the same interest. For example, Bone D had already made more than 200 cosplayer friends by attending conventions.

Of course every cosplayer wants to be the top model at events such as the Comic Con. Relationship between cosplayers can tense up when they become competitive. But in Cardiff, for most of the time, cosplayers would compliment each other when they meet people in the same costume.

Takuto is in cosplay of Light Yagami holding death note in his hand.

“Most people come and give tips to help each other out,” said Takuto, cosplayer of Cosplay Antics.

What does cosplay mean to them?

Bone D in cosplay of Sith From Starwars.

Every cosplayer has their reason to be into cosplay. “Some people do use it to escape reality, but the majority of people just enjoy dressing up, meeting friends and having fun,” said Bone D.

Other people may say cosplay is a children’s game, cosplayer Emma, mother of a newborn baby boy, wouldn’t agree. She finds the whole process of preparation and finally dressing up fascinating.

“I want to show my son that everyone has the right to let their hair down & have fun once in awhile,” said Emma.

Instead of treating it as a children’s game, Cleo, member of Cosplay Antics said: “Cosplay can be an opportunity to be in contact with your younger self.”

Amongst six cosplayers we’ve chatted with, they all agreed it felt awesome when they were cosplaying. It’s fun and it’s also an opportunity for them to be creative with their work, which they could feel proud of later.

However, Bone D said some people would feel insecure about going out in a costume. So when the Cosplay Antics were invited to conventions as a guest group, they would sometimes give speeches on building confidence.

“I think it mostly apply to women, because when they see certain characters they think they need to have slim waists,” said Cleo.

Joker from Batman by Cleo.

Bone D adds: “I’ve been called too fat to cosplay. That’s the reason why I’m doing in the way I’m doing it. I used to cosplay Harley Quinn because I want to show people that anyone of any size can have fun.”

Feature image’s photo credit to Shaun gibbs.