Cosplay 101

Only 169 Days Until Dragon*Con 2012…

That is 13 squared. Sorry, I enjoy perfect squares.

So today should be double lucky, right? Two thirteens…

I should be up front about the title of today’s post: I am not giving lessons on how to cosplay. Rather, I am looking for some tips. As in, I am a potential student in the Cosplay 101 class, which is probably taught by some incompetent T.A.. But since I haven’t passed 101 yet, I can’t gain access to the badass professors who teach classes like COS400: Advanced Cosplaying. Or even COS303: How a Male Can Convince Himself to Cosplay as Sailor Moon.

Do not worry, friend: this fat shit is not going to dress up as anything with the word “sailor” in it.

Basically, I need tips. And I think it is funny that this blog is basically myself begging the general populace for help all the time. “Teach Me How to Fitness”, “Teach Me How to Cosplay”, etc.

General populace, I need your help again: Cosplay 101.

I don’t know the history of cosplay. I freely admit that. I also will freely admit that I have never “cosplayed” in my life. I’ve dressed up for Halloween, and worn costumes to various events over the years, but I’m not exactly sure how “cosplay” is any different than “wearing a costume” or “dressing up”. My guess is that it means you roleplay your character, at least a little bit.

Let me tell you right now, if that is what “cosplaying” is, then I think I’ll just be “wearing a costume” to Dragon*Con this year. I am about the worst roleplayer/actor of all frackin times. I really don’t see how I passed my theatre classes in college. It clearly was not based on any sort of nascent thesbianism. I don’t think that is a word.

To be honest, up until a few years ago, I thought cosplay was synonymous with weirdos. Not weirdos like I’m a weirdo, or you are a weirdo, but weirdos like people who get married to body pillows with manga characters printed on them. And don’t give me any crap about accepting people for who they are, either… because I’m all about that, but there is no denying that the O.G. otakus were some weird folks.

I still think that cosplay has its roots in otaku culture, but I could always be wrong.

Also, I want to emphasize that when I mean “otaku” culture, I don’t mean an American who recently got into manga and anime and now really wishes he/she was Japanese. I mean the Japanese guys who, 30 years ago, were jerking it to anime films of schoolgirls getting tentacle-raped.

It’s like “geek” culture: it’s been diluted over the years, but there are still the, what I call, “distilled geeks”. The ones who still live in the basement and still obsess over MS-DOS.

Regardless of what the definition of cosplay means in today’s pop culture, I need some help.

I have Step 1 down: decide what you want to dress up as. I will be sporting two different costumes at Dragon*Con this year: Random BSG Officer and MK1 Raiden. I have already started procuring the items for my Raiden costume. Like most guys, I will be purchasing the items for my costumes, as it once took me a month to sew a patch on a coat I have.

Really, this should be Step 1.5. Or even 2.

The first step should really be: Deciding if you want to “Dress Up” Or Not. This is a big decision. Bigger than you may realize if you are one of those people for whom “Going to Con” also means “Dressing Up” and the thought of not cosplaying at Dragon*Con is completely unfathomable. For you, skip step 1 and move to step 1.5, mentioned above. But for the rest of us, and by “rest of us” I mean grown-ass men whose fathers would drink themselves into oblivion if they knew their sons even suspected what the word “cosplaying” meant.

This is a HUGE step, let’s not kid ourselves. Sure, all that talk about “Do What Feels Good and Makes You Happy” is fine and dandy, and great for everyone else, but for me, the only thing that finally convinced me to dress up in costume for Dragon*Con was the memory of all the Halloween parties I went to in college without dressing up… and wished I had.

So there it is: Steps 1 and 1.5 completed. Can I move on to the COS400 class yet?

No. In fact, I think that steps 1 and 1.5 are probably covered on the first day of class in COS101. Possibly even on the syllabus, with no “in-class” mention of them.

It is Step 2 that I am stuck on. In fact, I’m so stuck on Step 2, that I can’t see past it to what Step 3 could even possibly be.

Step 2 is this…

How do I go from this:

"Hello! I am your new fat, friendly, semi-geeky friend!"

To this:



Questions for you, dear reader:

1. Enlighten me on the history of “cosplay”, and how it is different from just “wearing a costume”. I am currently under the impression that “cosplay” is just a fancy word so that geeks can feel a little cooler about strutting around in public in a Naruto costume. Convince me otherwise, in other words. Please.

2. Tips on how to procure a sweet costume without making it yourself or spending truckloads of the green stuff.

And before I forget, I hope you have a great Saint Patrick’s Day!

Here is a video you should watch:

This entry was posted in About Dragon*Con, About Fitness, About Me, General dorky shit. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Cosplay 101

  1. Go to a Taekwondo or Karate school, and ask about ordering a uniform. When I was a kid taking lessons, they ran around $50, but you could probably also ask if there might be someone looking to get rid of a used one. Try eBay and Goodwill as well. That could serve as the main part of the costume.

    • Look like he might have on some kind of gauntlets. Do you think he has on gauntlets? I can’t tell.

      Per your advice, I looked on the ebay for “Karate Uniform” and found out that the pajamas are apparently called a “gi”. I also had to wade through about 5 zillion kid-sized ones before I found one that was adult sized.

      I also purchased a black “buff”, which is this article of clothing that can go around my head and leave my face exposed.

      Those gauntlets could be problematic, if that is what they are.

      • I’m not sure. This picture ( ) claims to be MK1, and it looks like he has his hands wrapped like his feet, not gauntlets. I’m glad you found a gi. When I took Taekwondo as a kid, we called them dobaks.

      • Yeah, that’s what I was hoping for. I’m thinking a long roll of white bandages for my forearms and lower legs. However, in that pic it looks like he’s just wearing a regular ol’ karate black belt. In the screenshot from the game, the belt looks more like a sash or something. I suspect this could be a good way to carry some kind of black bag with my con necessities in it (water bottle, snacks, Goody powders, camera, etc.).

        And let’s not kid ourselves: what would really put this costume over the top is some white contact lenses. Which I have no intention of getting any time soon.

  2. Also, I feel like, seeing as how this is a “geek” blog and all, that I would be remiss in not, at least, mentioning Pi Day. Which I am celebrating with Mint Moonpies. For another hour.

  3. Juggernaut says:

    Raiden is an easy character to cosplay, actually. Get yourself a white Gi from a martial arts supply store, and some white hand wraps and tabi socks from the same store. Get the shopkeeper to show you how to wrap them. If not, here are some links for you.

    Tabi socks:

    Now buy an extra pair of the white hand wraps and wrap them around your shins, over the tabi socks. Use them to gather up the legs of the gi. You’ll probably need to fasten them in place with a safety pin. I’d also recommend a pair of plain white flip flops (search japanese sandals on ebay if you wanna be legit) just to avoid any kind of accidental injury from walking around Atlanta essentially barefoot. It’s a clean city, but you never know.

    You’ve got the black bluff, so now there are only 2 more things you need, and one is optional. The first, mandatory, one is the hat. If I had seen your post before I went to Thailand I would have picked one up for you at a souvenir shop lol. But since I’m back already, try these links:

    Now the other item that is totally optional but will go a long way toward making the costume rock is a pair of white contacts.

    • AWESOME. Thanks for that! I was looking into getting some bandages, but these will definitely look better and, I’m assuming, feel a lot better, also.

    • Also, I made a comment about the contact above. They would really put my costume completely over the top into total awesomeness. However, in the past I have been too much of a wimp for contact lenses.

      And you’re totally right: the coolie hat is absolutely mandatory. There is no way for me to see anyone wearing a coolie hat and NOT think of Raiden.

      • Donkajin Bubbles says:

        Well, I’ve got to be the minority, then. For me, the sight of a coolie hat first brings to mind the three buddies of this “Lo Pan” character that shows up in the middle of a got-damn alley while they fly around on wires cuttin’ everybody to shreds and he just stands there, waitin’ for me to drive my truck straight through ‘im (with *light* comin’ outta his mouth).

      • The devs for MK1 have openly admitted that Raiden was based on those guys in Big Trouble in Little China, which makes Raiden even more awesome to me, if that is possible.

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