Behind the Cosplay: Choosing a Character

One of the first steps in the cosplay process is choosing the character you want to cosplay. With the vast amount of options available from movies, anime, video games, etc., it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. So it makes sense that some people turn to their friends, their followers, Reddit or Google for help. But in the end, you’re the one who makes the final decision. So here are some things to think about when choosing a character.

From left to right: Chrome Dokuro (Reborn!), Go Eunbyeol (Who are you?) and Cardia Beckford (Code Realize)

An easy way to find characters is through the content you consume. As an avid anime fan, most of my cosplays come from there. Once I started attending conventions, I discovered more anime which in turn led to even more cosplays. Eventually I realized that while anime and manga were my primary sources of entertainment, I didn’t have to limit myself to those two worlds. Recently, I’ve started looking towards video games, K-drama and music videos for inspiration. My Alice cosplay was actually inspired by a Gwen Stefani music video. So being interested in a variety of things can give you a wide range of options.

Shinoa Hiiragi (Owari no Seraph)

Now that you have a myriad of sources to choose from, how do you actually pick? I want to stress that this is different for everyone and what works for me may not work for others. But there is one thing that is an absolute must for every cosplay I do, and that is this: I have to really like the character. And I know you’re thinking “Well, duh!” but hear me out. I have started cosplays, entranced by their beautiful designs, only to give up later because my heart wasn’t in it. It’s a waste of time, money, fabric, money, effort, and money. Choosing characters that I really relate to and love motivates me to pull through the difficult parts of the cosplay process. Furthermore, this makes it easier to get in character during photo shoots or while interacting with others in the same fandom. In general, it’s part of what makes cosplaying so fun.

From left to right: Chrome Dokuro (Reborn!) and Ann Takamaki (Persona 5)

The second thing to look at is the costume itself. An obvious prerequisite is that I have to like it. But there are other things I have to take into consideration too. For example, will I be comfortable wearing this? If not, can I alter it to be comfortable? For example, I don’t like showing off my midsection. So whenever I cosplay characters that wear crop tops, I usually just make a full top (like with my Chrome cosplay). There are also costumes that feel uncomfortable in the sense that they aren’t my style. Before getting my Ann cosplay, I originally planned on doing Panther. It didn’t look bad when I tried it on, but it really didn’t suit me. Another thing to consider is how well the costume will work at a con (whenever it becomes safe to have those again). Can I wear it in the freezing cold/blazing heat? Will it drag across the ground? Will it fit through a door? Can I wear it for hours on end or will I need breaks? Can I run in it? Can I dance in it? Can I use the restroom without having to undress? And if I decide to make a cosplay rather than buy it, that introduces a whole new set of questions. Do I have a pattern like this? Have I worked with this fabric before? Have I made this type of garment before? Do I need special tools (i.e. a specific type of needle, presser foot, etc.)? Is this too far beyond my current skill level? Parts of this costume don’t make sense, but can I work around them? How much effort, time, and fabric will this take?

via Fruits Basket

So you like the character, you like the costume, and the costume meets all the necessary criteria. Now the last question to ask is: Do you want to? No matter how much I like a character and their design, none of that matters if I’m not up for it. If you don’t want to, don’t force yourself. But if you’re really excited about it, then full speed ahead!

All in all, when choosing a character, everything is up to you. It’s really easy to fall into the trap of thinking we should cosplay a character because others tell us to or because it’s what’s popular right now. It’s easy to shy away from characters because we’re scared that we don’t look enough like them. Even I’ve had these thoughts. But as you can see from this post, I don’t let any of those things sway me anymore. And neither should you. Cosplay is costume + play. So have fun and enjoy yourself!

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