Remember the time when you were hunting for VHS copies of anime in various odd places for your “anime addiction”? Yeah?
Remember how much money you spent just to do so? It took an anime fan quite the dedication to keep doing it. Because anime isnt readily available, you really relished whatever small find you can get and actually paid attention to what you were a fan of.
Most probably you became a fan only of particular titles/authors/series because being a fan of “everything anime!” is a very expensive and prohibitive hobby to maintain.
For example, you liked Neon Genesis Evangelion, but only owned 3 or 4 episodes in VHS at a time. Most probably you’re going to watch these 4 episodes over and over until you find your next episode. So if while waiting for your next Evangelion episode, you stumble upon a series like Tenchi Muyo, but the harem humour and light science fiction isn’t too appealing for you. It’s very easy to drop and stop paying attention to Tenchi Muyo ‘coz it was gonna be too expensive to collect with Evangelion at the same time.
This made you a stronger fan of Evangelion and it made you a fan with particular tastes in designs, stories, and quality.
Remember making sketches of your favorite characters? Anime artbooks and Newtype magazines were some of the most coveted merchandise any fan could possess at the time. These were very expensive! To ease the frustrations of not being able to afford these you’d make drawings for yourself.
Maybe you always wanted to see your favorite characters even after watching an episode of their anime? Maybe you’d even draw yourself having an adventure with Eugene/Yusuke.
You’d be exchanging these drawings with classmates over recess and you’d all laugh over how innaccurate you drew them. This fixation with perfecting the look of your favorite character began the spark of the fan artists in some of us.
Yes, fan artists making fan fiction was never an abhorrent thing specially when one took special attention to keep the characterizations accurate. A fan artist takes some inspiration from the original artist and harnesses his own creativity to take part in the anime characters’ stories and create some adventures for himself as well.
But that was years ago, when anime invasion was just a fancy idea you giggled over with your fellow otaku. When the height of technology was VHS and Laser Discs and not everyone owned a PC.
Technology has since made explosive progress and made the sharing of information convenient for most of us. Video editing software has become much more accessible thus VHS and LDs gave way to VCDs and DVDs.
By extrapolation, anime today is now easily accessible through torrent downloads, and in essence anime becomes a free item. It enjoys more fans who may not actually be able to afford it under normal circumstances!
Enjoying anime under normal circumstances mean you’d be buying original copies – when the hell was the last time anybody you know actually did such a thing, eh?
Being a fan of anime – and i mean ANY anime high quality or otherwise – is comparatively easy and cheap these days. Because like it or not anime is now mainstream. One gets anime videos, accessories and merchandise very cheaply ‘coz there are pirated items everywhere – unlike back in the good ‘ole days when even pirating a VHS copy of anime was and still is an elaborate process.
Who cares if it isn’t original, as long as you have it and can blatantly flaunt it ?
A fan becomes a cosplayer because he has transcended a certain point in his fandom – their enthusiasm for a certain series or character has made them decide to express this via Cosplaying.
The fans who eventually cosplayed knew what they were getting into because they paid real good attention to their fandom – the concept of cosplaying as the characters is something they really, really know because they have imbibed the heroics, quirks, theatrics and personalities of their favorites and took it to a new creative height. Cosplaying.
Cosplaying isn’t just dressing up and being photographed in the conventions, right?
No, never. It’s more than just these superficial things. Because a fan knew the very minute details of his favorite character making a slapdash lousy interpretation of his character for cosplay is never enough.
A costume is just a pile of fancy clothing without the wearer’s proper portrayal, and play acting as a character falls short of one’s satisfaction without the proper costume!
This is what cosplay should be. This is what being a fanatic actually entails. A fitting tribute to your favorite character! Anything less will always make one feel personally unfulfilled.
This article reeks of elitism because this is exactly what it is.
Being an anime fan AND a cosplayer entails a concept of dedication, effort and budget in maintaining the fandom, and in effect a certain “protectiveness” of their fandom. Some fans these days find the concept of “elaborate effort in maintaining a fandom” very alien.
Because they have it oh so very easy.
Cosplay.Ph Note: Polidread, despite popular notion, is a sensitive and polite little soul who just happens to know which buttons to push. He writes down his thoughts in his Multiply blog http://polidread.multiply.com.