To the untrained eye, there is nothing startling about Jenny — she is the typical LSU student, clad in purple and gold, scurrying off toward her next class. Once it’s finished, she’s out the door and on her way back to the confines of her residence hall.
But when she reappears hours later, she is no longer Jenny. She has become Juliet Starling, the heroine of the popular video game “Lollipop Chainsaw.”
Cosplay, the process of taking a character from a graphic novel or video game and bringing him or her to life through costume and makeup, is a way for fans to creatively display their appreciation for these works.
In recent years, the Cosplay community has grown from a few appreciative fans to an expanding empire, gaining media attention through well-publicized events such as Comic-Con.
Jenny, a mass communication sophomore, is known in the world of Cosplay as “Jayte.” Her friend, Rebecca, is a geology freshman who is known as “ineedsugar.”
They are just two of many in the University community who participate in the world of Cosplay.
Choosing a character is the most important task for a Cosplayer, and it can be especially daunting, Jenny said. Cosplayers choose characters based on emotional connection and affordability. They also make their choices to pay homage to specific video games or comic books.
Thus, the characterization must be nearly perfect from head to toe. The most integral part of the process is staying true to the characters they work hard to portray, Rebecca said.
“That’s the true spirit of Cosplay,” Rebecca said, “showing what you love.”
The most challenging component of Cosplay is the creation of the costume, the centerpiece of the art. Most participants are self-taught in crafting and, prior to their introduction into the world of Cosplay, have little to no experience in basic costume skills, such as sewing.
Some Cosplayers, like Jenny, take the creative process a step further and work to develop footwear suitable for the characters they portray. Through hours spent viewing online tutorials and instruction manuals, Cosplayers are able to duplicate even higher priced items, such as suits of armor.
It’s important to develop these skills because “90 percent of the stuff you can’t buy,” Rebecca said.
Rather than spend hundreds on high-end wigs with human hair, many Cosplayers buy lower-quality wigs made from synthetic fibers. If the “hair” isn’t the right length or color, Cosplayers can cut, trim and style wigs to suit the characters they are trying to achieve.
“I have more hair in my house than Sally’s does in the storeroom,” Jenny said.
According to Jenny and Rebecca, the University is the perfect location to be a Cosplayer. The picturesque campus serves as an excellent backdrop for photoshoots, and the growing Cosplay community allows people like Jenny and Rebecca to make new contacts and friendships.
“Most people just need a little push to get into Cosplay,” Rebecca said.
When asked if she had any advice for prospective Cosplayers, she smiled.
“You can do it — don’t tell yourself you can’t learn.”