For cosplayers, taking on the persona of a character is about acceptance, community and creativity. At New York Comic Con, each of those touchstones was on full display as worlds and characters from across the anime fandom collided.
For some, cosplay is about interacting with fans of the character they’re portraying and sharing the love they feel for that character’s journey.
Alexa chose Honey Senpai from Ouran High School Host Club because she felt inspired by the show’s illustration of the power in LGBTQ+ representation.
“[Cosplay] really helps you personally,” she said. “When you look at yourself, you feel better. It’s just awesome, honestly.”
She said cosplay gave her a chance to find fans like herself who loved cosplaying their favorite characters and wanted to show it.
“A few of them… I did meet at cons last year and said ‘Let’s meet up again!'” she said. “It’s the best thing.”
For others, cosplay is a chance to set a personal goal and to go beyond. Brian saw an opportunity to not only embody a character he loved in Kazuma Kuwabara from Yu Yu Hakusho, but a chance to enrich his own life.
“I was over 220 [lbs]. I really wanted to cosplay Kuwabara. I’ve always wanted to cosplay Kuwabara,” he said. “I said ‘I’m gonna lose weight,’ I’m gonna get in shape, and I’m going to do the whole Kuwabara outfit.”
And he did just that, stunning fans and Yu Yu Hakusho voice actors Justin Cook (Yusuke) and Christopher R. Sabat (Kuwabara) when he was brought on stage to applause during the show’s reunion panel at New York Comic Con.
“I lost the weight,” he said. “It feels great. I think I look great!”
And for those new to the cosplay world, there’s an obvious appreciation for the way the community brings them into the fold. It’s about inclusivity, not exclusivity.
Joey chose Erza Scarlet from Fairy Tail for her first-ever cosplay and first trip to New York Comic Con.
“I love how bold she is in the show, she’s so tough and gives such a great example for women,” she said.
She even had a tip from her first experience: preparation is key.
“Definitely plan ahead,” she said. “You get to be whoever you want to be!”
Every cosplayer had one main thing in common: a shared love for the worlds, stories and characters of anime. For attendees, cosplayers can be the difference between a mediocre convention experience and one they’ll never forget.
“Just go for it,” Alexa said. “Doing what you love is the most important thing to a person. You might inspire someone just because of that.”
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