Thursday, April 21, 2011

Cosplay Groups: Are They For You?

Not very much has happened to me lately that I think is fun enough to write about, surprisingly. This more than likely has to do with the fact that I've been horribly sick all week, but lets not dwell on that. I should, by all means, take this opportunity to work on my portfolio for my Creative Writing class, which happens to be due in a week from today, but naturally I'd rather write something that isn't going to be graded, like a blog post. My friend Noodle suggested that I write about cosplay.

I cosplay. I know a decent amount about cosplay. I have a lot to say about cosplay. This was a very good idea. So I think, for a little while, I'm going to litter this blog with tips and suggestions I can give on the art of cosplay. At least until I have more things to write about. Now, I don't think I'm the greatest cosplayer, and never claimed to be, but I think that I've done it for enough years now to be considered knowledgeable on the subject.

Don't expect many pictures, though. Not that I'm shy about my cosplay or anything, but quite frankly I don't have very may pictures of my own to share...and even less that are halfway decent. Oh, and my camera is broken.

For my first installment: cosplaying in a group. I don't just mean being with others who cosplay; I'd like to assume that you're going to be with friends when you go to a convention, whether you cosplay or not. By group cosplay I mean coordinating your cosplay with a group, so each of you dresses as a separate character from the same series. I, personally, love cosplaying in a group. Two years ago I switched from cosplaying independently to cosplaying with a group, and don't plan on turning back.

Don't assume, however, that I'm implying group cosplay is sunshine and rainbows or necessarily better. True, I prefer group cosplay, but is it for you? If you have never cosplayed in a group before (or at all), there's a lot you should consider before deciding whether or not to give it a shot at the next convention.

First of all, keep in mind the character you're planning on cosplaying as. Is he or she a character that makes sense to pose with others? If your selected character is supposed to be a loner or a villain, or just a character who never seems to be seen around others in a series, interaction with an in-character group might feel awkward and disjointed. If your selected character is part of a main cast, however, or a recurring character widely known by the main cast, cosplaying in a group would be much more fun, and more people are guaranteed to be drawn to you to take a picture. In short, if you don't want constant in-character interaction, aren't much of a people-person, don't want your picture taken excessively, or any mixture of the above, I'd recommend against group cosplay.

Second of all, keep in mind that more people means the more likely there will be drama. Not necessarily that there will be drama, of course, but still worth considering, especially if you decide to form a group out of contacts you don't know very well personally. I've never made a group that didn't consist of at least some friends I'd been well acquainted with at that point, so I can't give much advice on Internet-formed groups who meet spontaneously at a con, but I know that it happens fairly frequently. Just realize that the less you know about your prospective group, the more stressful (and unpredictable) it could become. If you're going to set up a group, try and do it with people you can spend hours with for days in a row comfortably (aka without tearing your hair out). Cosplay and conventions aren't supposed to be about obligation and stress. We want to have fun when we cosplay!

Next, know your limits! If you want to cosplay in a group, you're going to need to be flexible, and also have room to be disappointed. When you play the assignment of roles game, it's very possible, especially if the anime/manga/game/cartoon/comic wasn't your idea to cosplay, or you didn't already make or buy your costume, that you won't get the character you want. The same applies for a series in general. You might want to cosplay one series, everyone else might vote for a different one. I've been stuck in a situation before where I cosplayed as a character from a series I had never seen until it was set in stone I would be cosplaying it, but still had fun in-character with my group regardless of my neutral ground on the anime. If you don't think you can deal with sacrificing your wants for a group member who's more physically suited to play that character, or dress up as a character from a series you've never heard of before or simply have no interest in, you'll cause conflict in your group, and should probably stick to an independent cosplay as the character you want.

Finally, being in a group means that you've made a commitment. You might not be able to go to all the things you want to go to, because more of your group members would rather go to different events that take place at the same time. Being in a group, above all things, means making compromises to assure things work effectively. If you can't handle acting as a unit, or really have a problem with having your personal space invaded, a cosplay group may not be suited for you.

So, I hoped that my advice might help some of you who aren't sure about whether or not they want to try and form a more cohesive cosplay with a group of people. If you have a chance, though, and feel adventurous, I say go for it! If worse comes to worse, you can all just stop cosplaying together; all it takes is a change of clothes. Every experience will give different results depending on the factors that shape it, so whether or not what I say applies to you for good or bad, you can still have a great time with your friends at an upcoming convention.

Happy conning, everyone! Stay tuned for my next cosplay entry, which may or may not be about either wig choice or a little thing I like to call "the creep factor".


  1. You're so right about cosplaying as a loner character or villain in a group! I'd never thought twice about it, but it does get awkward!

  2. Thanks! :)
    I've never played a villain before, but I know even being a main character who's supposed to be quiet and awkward is...well...awkward.
    Even being included in the group, playing "shy" or "quiet and mysterious" within a bunch of social, loud characters can be somewhat isolating.