What is Cosplay?

by Ruth Cohen via. MDP Web

When I first sat down to write this blog the first thing that came to mind was Sheldon Cooper (from ‘The Big Bang Theory’) attempting to teach Penny physics in an episode called ‘The Gorilla Experiment’. He is standing there with his white board and starts “What is physics? Physics comes from the ancient Greek word physika. Physika means the science of natural things.”

I tried to imagine myself delivering a similar, comprehensive version for cosplay. “What is cosplay? Cosplay comes from the combining of two words, costume and play. Cosplay means to use a costume to become another personality.”

But realistically, whilst true, that seems a bit dull… cosplay is a hobby. At its heart, it’s about having the time of your life with the character you’ve chosen. It certainly doesn’t mean you have the most recognisable, the most complicated, or even the most flawless costume.

Let’s try for some examples shall we?

These are two cosplays:

The first one is MiddleEarthBarbie as Marilyn Monroe and the second one is a guy at GoldNova 2012 as Marten from the webcomic Questionable Content.

labyrinth cosplay
Sarah Williams from Labyrinth

Are you beginning to grasp the picture I’m painting?

Cosplay is often mistaken for costume that MUST be DC/Marvel comic or anime/manga related. But for the Cosplay Community it is so much more than that. In fact, since it began, cosplay has grown so vast that there are now sub-categories or ‘cliques’ of different styles. Let’s test my memory now, as I walk you through them.

So you start with the standard cosplay. This is for a person who fell in a love with a character’s personality or one particularly awesome outfit they wore. For example, I’ll put myself in the line of fire with a favourite I did of Sarah Williams from Labyrinth.


Then you have Crossplay!

Crossplay is best described as people who love a character but happen to be the wrong gender. So say you’re a girl and you love Link from Zelda. If you were to Crossplay then you would simply strap down those boobs and strut your stuff.

link zelda crossplay
Exhibit A, Li Kovacs AKA Pikmin.

Moving on to the uber impressive, con-floor hogging, Mecha cosplay. Mecha is those who are decked out in armoured characters. Tricky to make, but it has an incredible effect.

DreamCoat Photography snagged this Mecha at BrisNova 2013.

Genderbend! The Cosplay community is a quirky one and this sub-category is no exception. Similar to Crossplay, the Genderbend messes with the mind a little. When you Genderbend, you take a character you love who is male and create a female version of it so you can wear it (or vice versa of course!).

Fem!Goku and Fem!Vegeta ladies at GoldNova 2012.

My final category is what I refer to as Crossover cosplay. I imagine there are many other names for it, but essentially it is about taking a character and re-imagining it in a different style. For example: Steampunk, Lolita, and historical era versions of a character.

One of my personal favourites is ‘The Artful Dodger’ as Steampunk Ariel.

‘The Artful Dodger’ as Steampunk Ariel.

So that’s me finished for now. Hopefully you now have a vague idea of what cosplay is now, and are intrigued enough to explore this community a little more …Happy cosplay hunting!!

* Images for Illustration purposes. No Commercial Gains