Not your typical game of dress-up

In Communities /

With colourful costumes and creative characters, the Ryerson Anime Club (RU Anime) brings a unique form of art, self-expression and recreation to campus. Shannon Baldwin explores the world of Cosplay.

Ash Ketchum, Loki and Cardcaptor Sakura sit casually in a small but crowded room and give advice to students. While this may seem like a peculiar scene to some, they all have one thing in common: they’re all Ryerson student cosplayers.

Cosplay, or costume play, generally involves dressing up as anime, manga or comic book characters as a form of art and recreation.

Last week, a Ryerson Anime Club (RU-Anime) workshop gave firsttime cosplayers advice on how to create, maintain and improve costumes for next May’s Anime North, a Toronto anime convention.

But conventions aren’t just a place to parade around in costume, said arts and contemporary studies student Alexa Osborne.

“I associate myself with that character so much that people can get a sense of who I am by who I dress up as.”

As a girl who felt like an outcast in high school, Osborne said she dresses as characters that have been through similar situations as her. She said it’s why she’s dressed as Loki, Thor’s mischievous step-brother.

While traditional comic book characters are always expected at anime conventions, characters from Disney, Sailor Moon, and The Avengers are presumed to be the most popular this year.

The popularity of My Little Pony costumes for men will be huge at Anime North, said Patricia Alba, vice president of finance at RU Anime and third-year early childhood education student.

“I’d like to point out that there are a lot of guy My Little Ponies, ” said Alba.

Crossplaying, a term for people who dress up as characters of the opposite sex, is also common at conventions.

Alba told the guys and girls at the workshop that “if [they] want to crossplay then go for it!”

“Your skin colour, gender, weight and age doesn’t matter; if you love a character portray it. [Cosplaying] is all about your love of what you want to portray.” Although cosplaying can be inclusive and accepting, not all parents are ready to accept that their children dress up.

“My mom really doesn’t want me going to conventions but I really want to go,” said first year business technology student Simona Chang.

“It’s a strange world for parents to perceive, so the best thing to do is bring them with you, they’ll have a lot of fun and begin to appreciate the art of costume making,” said Kelsey Brunton, president of RUAnime and a fourth-year performance production student.

Osborne said it took her dad a while to really get into it, but now he gets excited about her costumes and brags about them, showing pictures to friends and coworkers.

As long as you’re having fun, Osborne said it doesn’t matter how detailed or realistic your costume looks. She once took a large stick, attached a Christmas ornament to the top, and called it a staff.

The first costume she ever wore to a convention was of InuYasha, the eponymous of a Japanese manga series, when she was 15 years old. She admits that it wasn’t close to being a realistic interpretation.

“I looked like no other InuYasha there, but I thought, ‘You know what? Fuck you, I’m the best InuYasha here!'” The door swings open and conversation stops as a bright pink girl bursts in. Kate Perez, a first-year early childhood education student, is dressed as Annie from League of Legends in a full pink dress, a red wig and all the finishings.

The costume came from Perez’s grandmother, who used to sew wedding dresses.

The entire cost of the outfit was $75. The amount of time it took to sew the dress was four days. But the large “Aww” from fellow cosplayers that followed her entrance? Priceless.

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