Every year, and at a rapidly growing rate, anime and gaming conventions are popping up all over the country and expanding in size. Many people attribute this to not only an increasing volume of anime and game fans, but the fans who take their enjoyment a step further, utilizing various talents like sewing and prop making to do so; Cosplayers. This year at Otakon, the East Coast’s largest anime convention I decided I wanted to know what inspired some of these lovely girls to put so much time and effort into this hobby. I specifically set my aim this time toward girls cosplaying from video games, since I had been working on a cosplay in that area myself this year. I made quite the effort to polish off my sewing skills, so I could portray a character I enjoy from Valkyria Chronicles effectively. After combing the halls of the Baltimore Convention Center, which plays host to Otakon’s 26,000+ patrons, I was able to find out when these girls decided the video games we enjoy playing so much inspired them to sit down in front of their sewing machines, and recreate character designs they loved.
A cosplayer named Samantha, cosplay alias FF7Sam wore her beautiful Princess Peach costume (from Super Mario Brothers, of course) at the convention this year and had this to say about why she chose to cosplay the well known character;
“I love platformers and older games, and I loved Mario growing up. Her beautiful pink gown design and her iconic status as a character in the gaming world really inspired me. I have so much fun in this costume because Mario fans are very funny and enthusiastic!”
Cosplayer Tarisa, alias Firelily wore her beautifully crafted Legend of Dragoon costume, a favored game of my own for the original Playstation. With an uncanny attention to detail, Tarisa’s recreation of Shana’s Dragoon armor reflected a pain staking amount of work fueled by her enjoyment of the game. Tarisa and I discussed our mutual interest in the game, and what aspects of it she liked the most;
“The story is fantastic, and the Addition [combat system] makes the game play a lot more involved. The art is amazing! Shana is such a tragic character and I was inspired by how she perseveres through overwhelming odds. And she gets the hunk in the end! Legend of Dragoon is an awesome game, and if you haven’t tried it, you should!”
And this author completely agrees.
“I love how you use such a wide variety of weapons in the game, as opposed to just fists or hand-to-hand combat. Also, the guys in the game are hot! Seung Mina is such a pretty character with her long braided hair, and amazing character design. I love her silk costumes!”
A shock of bright red hair then caught my eye, and I was introduced to a cosplayer named Shannon, who was cosplaying Street Fighter’s newest femme fatale, Crimson Viper. Shannon was a huge fan of the series’ fourth installment;
“It’s fast paced and fun, yet easy enough for anyone to pick up and play. I love Crimson Viper because she’s an empowered woman who’s very strong, and a great role model. It’s also awesome that she’s a mom who can still kick guys’ asses!”
After that, I sat down with the delightful Carrie, cosplay alias NeoAngelWink. Carrie cosplayed as one of her favorite characters, Aerith Gainsborough, and wore her Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII variant this year.
“I love the mission system, and the back story of Zack and Aerith. I enjoyed it so much I got around 95% mission completion in it! Aerith and I both love flowers, and I find her to be a very relatable character with her own unique strengths. Her love life reminds me a lot of mine; My husband and I even had Zack and Aerith cake toppers on our wedding cake!”
I then spoke with Anna, cosplay alias Klytaemnestra who took her inspiration and channeled it creatively into her own unique design for Final Fantasy VII’s (And Dirge of Cerberus‘) Lucrecia Crescent. The beautiful costume, worn with a friend’s Vincent Valentine in a matching color motif of Ice Blue, represents Lucrecia inside the crystal in the Northern Cave. Final Fantasy VII is easily my favorite game, and I was intrigued when Anna shared with me her thoughts and creative process for the costume;
“I love the supporting characters in the game. It’s a classic, and the type of game that people still pick up and play all these years after it’s release. I was inspired by Vincent’s back story, and his love for Lucrecia. I thought the image of her in the crystal was beautiful, and wanted to create my own design to represent it. I’m surprised I still enjoy wearing it, now that the source material is almost twelve years old!”
Lastly, but hopefully not least, your author herself! Valkyria Chronicles was the most surprising game of 2008 for me. The art, character design, story and gameplay completely engrossed me, and kept me hooked enough to put over 125+ hours on my save file for it. Alicia is extremely brave and inspiring in it. I wanted to bring her to life, and represent the best game I played in 2008! I enjoyed wearing the costume so much, I plan to do her full Gallian Militia uniform soon as well to challenge my sewing skills.
I had so much fun interviewing each girl and finding out from them personally what inspired them to expend so the effort in portraying the characters we enjoyed so much. The concept of cosplay is particularly enjoyable because of it’s theatrical application, and the level of dedication it takes to find the inspiration to do it. Otakon 2010 falls on the cusp of July and August of next year, and I can’t wait to go back!
Photography courtesy of Mike Gunacar, David Dunn, and Elemental Photography.
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