Earlier this year, I found my old copy of Pokemon Ruby for GBA, which was the first Pokemon game I ever played. It brought back memories of when I played Pokemon with my brothers as a kid, and I decided to make a Pokemon gijinka cosplay for Fanime. Swellow was part of my main roster in Ruby, and I loved him to pieces – finding the amazing fanart design from Cowslip’s GijinkaDex only made me more excited to make the cosplay.
I try my best to make as much of my cosplays as I can. With Swellow, I drafted and painted the ink swirl design on cotton fabric, and then made a hakama and kimono after researching historical clothing blogs for construction tips. The capelet was draped in muslin before transferring the pattern to dupioni silk, and I casted the gold embellishments for the scalloped collar in resin. This was actually my first pair of wings, but I made them flexible with a 2mm foam and wire base to keep myself from being a nuisance at cons... and so I could walk through doorways unhindered. The larger feathers at the tips were also made with wire and foam, while the rest are dyed goose feathers cut to a pointed shape and glued onto the base.
The response at the convention was primarily confusion, I think ! People guessed anywhere from Fire Emblem to Inuyasha - even other Pokemon cosplayers had a hard time placing me while at the Pokemon cosplay gathering. Despite that, everyone I talked to was still appreciative of my craft and detail, and I met a lot of new people over discussing crafting techniques. But when I wore my cosplay to another con a few weeks later, I met two girls who knew the design from the artist’s original fanart. It felt really rewarding to know that I made the cosplay recognizable to those who knew the inspiration behind the cosplay.
Most of my more interesting reactions came not from congoers, but from the random people I passed by while walking to or from the convention center. A pair of elderly ladies saw me on the opposite side of the street and shouted at me to stop as they ran across the crosswalk to take selfies with me. One of them even asked if I could say hello to her 10-year-old grandson via a Facetime call. And when I was driving home in cosplay, I hit a toll bridge – the booth attendant wanted a picture and asked if he could follow me on Instagram.
Cosplay has changed the way I interact with people. I’ve always been introverted and shy, the quintessential wallflower - talking to strangers and making new friends was never my forte. Cosplay was one of the few things I could speak about confidently and passionately, and meeting new people via cosplay felt so much less daunting, especially when I was wearing a cosplay myself. It made me feel like I could be more confident and open, and over time that feeling started to bleed into the way I carried myself outside of cosplay too.
One of the things I noticed is how cosplayers are compared against one another – whose craft is better, whose makeup is more accurate, whose "blank" cosplay is considered the best within the community. There's nothing wrong with looking to others and learning from someone with more skill and experience, but the worst is when people compare cosplayers with the intent of putting someone down - especially when someone has worked so hard to pay tribute to a character they love. It's just as easy to compliment someone's efforts as it is to criticize what they did wrong - kindness doesn't cost you anything.
Photo : Sleepy Muse Photography