Disclaimer: No one has the right to tell you who you can or cannot cosplay. You can cosplay whoever you want! That being said, you can be honest with yourself if you don’t like a cosplay for various reasons, which is what this post is all about.
I just finished watching Death Parade and I absolutely loved the Anime! So I decided to cosplay one of the main characters, Decim, to show my appreciation.
But when I actually cosplayed Decim, I absolutely HATED it. Not because it was uncomfortable or anything, but how I looked as Decim.
Maybe it’s the hair. Maybe trying to look spooky/morbid in a bartender outfit doesn’t look great in real life. Or in the Anime, they make him look super tall and authoritative. Although I am relatively tall (5’10), I don’t have that height that’s very commanding. And maybe, I don’t have the skinny jawline that Decim has.
Either way, I never liked how I looked when I was cosplaying Decim. I felt like I wasn’t doing any justice for the character. So I haven’t cosplayed him ever since.
I did another recent cosplay and felt the exact same way; loved the character and decided to cosplay him, but didn’t end up liking how I looked as him. I felt like I dropped a lot of money and made a bad investment.
So one day it got me thinking: “Is there a way to know if you’ll like a cosplay or not BEFORE you buy or make it? Before you sink a lot of money into creating a cosplay?
Cosplays you don’t like
After making a thread about it last week, it seems like I’m not the only one with this problem. Some were honest about how they look in their costume: their face doesn’t suit the character, their skin colour didn’t match well. One person even said she sold her costume immediately after wearing it!
I think this is an issue that many cosplayers have. Again, the reason why it bothers me is because of the money. You spend so much money on cosplay; I don’t think it’s worth blowing cash if you know the costume won’t be enjoyable or satisfying to wear.
There’s the argument that you should cosplay whoever you want. But on the flip side, most of us would want to look GOOD while wearing a certain cosplay. And that’s what stops some of us from cosplaying a certain character. While no one is going to completely match the character, it’s how YOU feel about the cosplay that matters.
For example, one of my favourite childhood video games of all time is Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars. I loved that game because was my first RPG. And at the time, it was completely different from what I used to (Mario and Bowser fighting together?!). One of my favourite characters from that game is the legendary Geno, and I totally want to cosplay him. But the problem is that I have no idea how to pull him off well. His design in real life doesn’t look good to me to be honest. And I’ve seen photos of other cosplayers dressing up as him, and I didn’t like the look they had either. So I’ve held off on cosplaying Geno until I can figure out a design I will like and enjoy.
(On a positive note, someone did an AMAZING Valentina from Super Mario RPG: https://www.acparadise.com/acp/display.php?c=66197)
I’d love to have a discussion about bringing a difficult-looking character into real life and ultimately into cosplay.
Cosplays you unexpectedly like?
On the other hand sometimes you’ll wear a cosplay you initially didn’t like, but ends up being awesome. This happened to me when I borrowed my friend’s Persona 5 Cosplay (Joker). The character involved wearing a mask, and never wearing one for a cosplay before, I was skeptical. But I gave it a shot and what do you know? I actually enjoyed cosplaying him; I felt badass wearing it! And I’m sure other attendees noticed that. I don’t know what it is, but when you genuinely love a character and end up cosplaying as that character, other attendees can feel that energy you have. And that in itself attracts people to ask for your photo or complement your cosplay.
Another example that’s similar is with beach cosplays. I recently saw a post made by a cosplayer, saying she didn’t feel comfortable wearing a beach cosplay at first. But when she did, she said it felt incredible because of how great she looked.
So what’s the gist of all this? We’ll never know for certain if a cosplay we make/buy is going to turn out into something we like…or can we?
Ways to figure out if you’ll like a cosplay or not
While it’s totally normal for you to not like every single cosplay you make or buy, I believe there’s 2 ways to help you figure out what your cosplay preferences are:
Method #1. Think back to your previous cosplays. Did you like or dislike them? And why?
For example here’s a list of my previous cosplays:
-Marth: Like and dislike (Like because the costume is really elaborate and beautiful, but I dislike it because I don’t resemble Marth that much. And it’s uncomfortable to wear in the heat, as I experienced at Otakuthon.)
-Roy Mustang: LIKE (Because Roy Mustang is an awesome character. I’ll continue to cosplay him for a long time.)
-Joker: Like (I like Joker because wearing a mask is fun and the outfit is so stylish.)
-Deku: Dislike (I feel old when I cosplay him, despite being able to pull off the kid-look because of my babyface.)
-Decim: Dislike (I dislike because of the way it turned out, as mentioned earlier.)
-Mori from Ouran Host Club: Like (I like Mori because Ouran is one my favourite Anime series, and Mori is probably the easiest cosplay I’ve ever done. Dress shirt, dress pants and blue blazer is very easy to do.)
-Sasuke: Like and Dislike (I like cosplaying Sasuke because I’m a fan of Naruto. But I don’t like how I look; I’m probably better suited for Itachi.)
So like Youngster Joey, I like cosplays that are easy and comfortable to wear. I also like characters that look very stylish.
I dislike cosplays that are bulky and uncomfortable to wear, so I probably won’t do any armoured cosplays anytime soon. I also don’t look cosplaying characters who look very young. So no Luffy or Ichigo for me.
And then there’s characters I don’t like, but could potentially improve on. For example, I didn’t like Decim because the character didn’t translate as dominating as in the Anime. So perhaps if I changed the costume a bit, I can turn the costume into something I like.
So if you’re not sure whether you should start on a new cosplay, trying going back through your old cosplays and see what you liked or disliked, just like I did right now. See if there’s a pattern.
Method #2. Try out a bunch of different cosplays
The second method is trying out different types of cosplays to see whether you like it or not. Do you usually do closet cosplays? Try a more elaborate costume next time (e.g. Fire Emblem)! Used to wearing capes and armour? Try cosplaying a character who wears normal or everyday clothes (e.g. Android 17)! Usually cosplay a character who is sultry? Try a character that’s more pure-hearted (e.g. Sakura Haruno).
Just like my experience with cosplaying Joker, you never know if you’ll like a cosplay style until you try it. It’s like trying on new clothes; at first you’ll be uncomfortable with it, but not only will you get used to it, you’ll like it and might even look great in it! It’s like I used to wear baggy clothes and switched to tighter and more fitted clothes; I hated it so much at first. But I got used to it and look WAAAAY better with fitted clothing.
How do you try different cosplays without breaking your wallet? I suggest either buying a used cosplay secondhand or borrow one from a friend, like I did. Be sure to let your friend borrow one of yours as well!
Again, this isn’t a post to pigeonhole yourself when it comes to cosplaying; you can cosplay whoever the hell you want! However, what’s more important is if you enjoy cosplaying a certain character. Just because you can cosplay whoever, doesn’t mean you’ll like or enjoy cosplaying every character. The most important thing is being honest to yourself and knowing what you’ll like. Because in the long run, that will save you a LOT of money and heartache. 🙂