Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The five types of cosplay

The last weekend of August brought Fan Expo, one of the more entertaining events of the summer. For the uninitiated, Fan Expo is the unabashed coming out party of Canada's geeks, freaks, and morbidly obese - an all-in-one science fiction, comics, gaming, horror, and anime convention. Sydney and I hit up this year's convention with high expectations, but the celebrity pickings were disappointingly slim (of course, lacking Brent Spiner). They ranged from understated Q&A sessions with Leonard Nimoy (who sang) and James Kyson Lee to the positively pretentious and excruciatingly boring mannerisms of Avery "Captain Sisko" Brooks.

Still, the one thing that never fails to disappoint at Fan Expo are the fans themselves. Shocked as you may be to learn this, Fan Expo attendees are not normal. Out of the woodwork they come, with their geek speak, sweaty odour, and pot bellies, emboldened in the knowledge that at Fan Expo, the geek is king. For instance, while sitting in line waiting for a super secret sneak preview of the new Tron movie, Sydney and I found ourselves beside a friendly, rotund, but socially awkward mister who struck up a conversation with us. He was in on a "Press" pass, apparently working for a "small, local culture magazine." Being the geeky one, he confessed, he was sent out to all the geek culture events around Toronto. After talking loudly on his cell phone about how he'd managed to garner a number of exciting interviews, he took a moment to try impress Syd with his journalism cred:

Mister: Do you know who Edgar Wright is?

Syd: No...?

Mister: Director of Shawn of the Dead? Hot Fuzz?

[dramatic pause to give us time to be impressed]

Mister: I have an interview with him.

Syd: Oh... that's nice.

Like an early Halloween, Fan Expo attendees spend hours stitching together costumes so that they can prance around as their favourite Sailor Scout, space marine, or comic book villain. If nothing else, they're certainly fun to watch. And after three years of Fan Expo, I've distilled these dress-up types down into five distinct categories:

1. The Awesome Ones


There are some costumes so well executed, it would just feel wrong to make fun of them. Instead, we gawk in admiration at the obsessive fanboy/fangirl that spawned this creation... knowing full well that we ourselves would feel pretty self-conscious dressed up as a guitar wielding Red Ranger.

A "steampunk" inspired take on the X-Men

On your knees, Batman

[Click here] for the absolute greatest costume from Fan Expo - Yuffie Kisaragi from Final Fantasy 7.

2. The "I tried"s

I'm not going to dwell on this category very long. These are the people who put in an effort, dress up, and come out looking... recognizable. You can tell what they're dressed up as, and you still might want to take a photo with them, but you'd never be tempted to mistake them for the real thing. Most cosplayers fall squarely into this category.

3. The Ones Who Take Off Their Clothes

For some girls, Fan Expo is just an excuse to wear skimpy outfits. They radiate the sentiment of, "I'm a nerd and I'm hot... Don't you wish your girlfriend was hot like me? Don't you wish your girlfriend was an elf like me? Don'tcha?" These ladies come in one of three varieties: 1) Warcraft elves, 2) Spandex superheroines, and 3) Golden bikini Princess Leia clones. Given the geek factor and the skin factor, you can virtually feel Fan Expo's nerd laden population drooling. I guess these attention-seekers live by the motto of, "If you've got it (or think you've got it), flaunt it."

4. The Questionably Chubby

Many of the questionably chubby are attempts at the "Ones Who Take Their Clothes Off" category gone awry. Look, I understand we all have our own body types, lifestyles, and metabolism... but when you soil my memory of Princess Leia's golden bikini with your rolls, we've got a bit of a problem.

The result of years of turbolift usage...

Supergirl, what large thighs you have

As an aside, Syd was fairly upset that everytime Supergirl got up or sat down, there was apparent underwear flashing going on.

Master Chief really let himself go since Halo 3

5. The Oddball Ones

Some costumes just defy description. Some make us laugh, some garner raised eyebrows, and some are just cringeworthy.

Clear my schedule for today, I think this boy needs some counselling...

So there you have it, the best and the worst of Fan Expo 2009. The next time you pass by a geek event, you too will be able to identify the five types of cosplay... and if you never intend to do so, at least you got to see it all right here.

7 comments:

Teddy said...

At first glance, I thought you were that guy in the last photo. I was wondering if you tried to dress up as one of the sailor moon characters?

haha j/k

now check these cos-players out:

http://gracenotkelly.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/bad_cosplay_15.jpg

(I think this sailor moon has polycystic ovarian syndrome that was untreated for a very, very, very long time to have such hair growth)
http://media.funlol.com/content/img/the-real-sailor-moon.jpg

and check this out, purely creepy:
http://farm1.static.flickr.com/224/482317419_0967f57df1.jpg

shirls said...

Excellent post! You got a couple laughs out of me. hehe :)

I'd like to check out Fan Expo one of these days. Perhaps I'll tag along next year?

Michael said...

I think the last type can be further broken down.

I'm sure you've heard of Man-Faye

Joyce said...

What about the retina-burning category? 8D;;;

(And the last cosplay is supposed to be of Vocaloid, i think xD)

a_ndy said...

The retina-burning category? Those would be the ones that Teddy and Michael posted...

Anonymous said...

Its obvious you're just a fat and slut shamer.

a_ndy said...

Thanks for your bravely anonymous comment.

The obesity epidemic is no laughing matter - increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes and costing the health care system countless dollars a year. Even more boggling is society's resistance to tackling the dietary and lifestyle issues that result in this condition.

As for "slut shaming", I've done no such thing. I've merely made observations about the categories of costumes one may encounter (and thanks for dredging up a four year old entry, at that). I would be reluctant to apply the label slut to begin with, as should you.