Embracing Creativity: Understanding the Intricacies of Cosplay Culture
March 30, 2023
Cosplay goes beyond mere dress-up: for the people who make it an outlet for socializing and an art form, it’s a means of elaborate pleasure and self-expression. Theresa Winge concludes that cosplay is a form of entertainment that has many lessons to teach us.
Winge tracks cosplay from its origins in manga and anime to its current-day incarnations online and at conventions. She writes that though cosplay’s origins are unclear, it is comprised of four basic components–the cosplayer, the social setting, the character/role-playing, and the dress–that facilitate social interactions between people, environments, and the imagination. Winge describes a type of cosplay spectrum based on different levels of commitment, ranging from casual to elaborate.
But even the most casual of cosplayers aren’t casual Winge says. Winge writes that “regardless of where they fall within the cosplay world,” “each cosplayer is exceptional in their dedication and commitment to portraying the character they choose to portray.”
Winge makes the distinction between Japanese and American kinds of cosplay conventions. They usually have a masquerade component: cosplayers perform their characters in front of an audience. In North America, this masquerade involves performing, writes Winge In contrast, in Japan, it’s much more static. Furthermore, she says, Japanese cosplayers tend to restrict costume wear to conventions and conventions, whereas American cosplayers take their costumes out into the open.
Winge writes that cosplay goes beyond clothing and playing roles. It’s “a social activity that lets cosplayers assume protective identities that assist in creating and strengthening social networks that focus on more than playing.” Cosplay lets people have different identities through the ability to dress up in public and private areas. Cosplayers assume “malleable identities,” says Winge “created in these settings where people are ‘not themselves’ but rather fictional anime and manga characters.” In turn, those new identities are translated back into the “real,” non-cosplay world…suggesting that perhaps the world is simply a costume that could be taken on or off at any time.