I saw the new Ghost in the Shell teaser trailers back in September 2016, and immediately gravitated towards the stunning visuals. Over the course of the next few months, as more and more information about the movie was released, I got my hands on the art book published by Weta Workshop. One of the pages was a full page close up of the inner skeleton of the geisha robot, and looking at the level of depth and detail, I knew I wanted to try recreating the character. Rather than go with the iconic red-robed geisha from the trailers, I decided to go with the design of a different geisha background character, because I liked the detail of the kimono better.
The costume was a quick build, started only a week before WonderCon. The mask, made of black Worbla with gears and screws I bought from the hardware store, was patterned via a tape mold made over my own face (oh, the pitfalls of procrastination) and took about two days of working. The headpiece, also made over two days, was created by making a form-fitting helmet and building up the shape of the headpiece with expanding foam. The foam was then carved into shape, and covered with black Worbla. The kimono is a black suiting fabric and a red brocade lining with detailing done in red fabric paint – my sewing experience thus far has only been stretch fabric, and I incorrectly assumed that sewing the kimono would be easy. I won’t be making that assumption again! The standing collar still haunts my dreams… and those details on the kimono and obi took so much longer than I originally anticipated.
They say don’t procrastinate, but I prescribe by the philosophy of go big or go home… so in the six days I took to make the costume, I didn’t sleep for three days straight. I also initially made the headpiece way too big – probably carved away about two cans of expanding foam by the time I was happy with the size. Other fun moments include retouching the details on my kimono the night before the WonderCon masquerade, and bribing my brother into helping me paint my back twice over the course of the weekend.
I was blown away by the response I received during the convention. I actually first wore the costume in its entirety during the WonderCon masquerade (nearly didn’t make it into the contest since I signed up late). Despite the fact that I blacked out about what happened when I was on stage, I was given the Judge’s Choice award, and received so much positive feedback from the judges and other masquerade contestants. Wearing the cosplay the next day also got a lot of excited reactions from fans of the original anime and the new movie. A lot of people told me that they appreciated how I chose to show the skeletal structure of the geisha face rather than the porcelain face version, and that they really appreciated the level of detail that went into the costume.
In all honesty, I spent most of the day trying to act as creepy as possible – I would walk around really slowly and keep eye contact with people who I saw looking at the costume until they moved away. This apparently got even creepier because the eyes of the mask are black reflective lenses, and so people were a bit spooked when I stared at them for a while. The kids were fearless though – I tried the same trick on some children, and they all just smiled at me… or tried to attack me.
I’m relatively new to cosplay - the robot geisha is only my sixth one so far. I’ve actually admired cosplay culture for a long time, but I just never had the courage to dive into it until about three years ago, when I decided to attend New York Comic Con on a whim. The sheer amount of support and acceptance and love that comes from the community is something that I look forward to every time I plan out a new cosplay, and my only regret is not joining sooner!
Getting into cosplay has helped me come to terms with myself. As a child, there was the stigma that fandom-related hobbies were passions to be ashamed of amongst the kids I grew up with, and even within my family. Therefore, my first cosplay for NYCC 2013 was made in secret – and in that weekend, I was stunned by the support and encouragement from people I met during the convention. It made me see the value in being myself rather than trying to define myself by the expectations of my peers or family, and has made me a much happier person.