Cosplay, Lolita and Gender in Japan and Australia: An Introduction Notes.

  • Mid 1970s supposed origin/sci-fi fandom overlapping anime fandom, challenging medium worthy of attention.
  • Anime considered to be one of the most wired fandoms in the world-“Cosplay is one of the most visible aspects of a vibrant fan culture, and is invariably picked up by the mainstream media.”
  • Some cosplayers will go as far to travel to ‘on location’ countries to shoot cosplay photography to promote their authenticity.
  • Okabe defines cosplay as a’culutre’ or ‘a distinct community with shared values and boundaries’.
  • According to Okabe, cosplayers tend to value costumes produced and worn by fans and feedback from peers rather than outsiders.
  • Photography is shared and distributed for community evaluation.
  • Do not wear costumes outside designated areas or engage  in disruptive behavior to avoid upset with public- I have to disagree, as I feel this is more confined and simply not in their nature.
  • Supported by media-dedicated magazines such as ‘cosmode’, sites such as ‘cure’-heavy use of social media and extremely active online.
  • Often use a nickname (or handle) when promoting their cosplay-almost like creating their own alter-ego?
  • Okabe-“cosplayers who cosplay characters belonging to the same genre use their costumes as a tool for expanding their social network.”
  • Allows them to learn from eachother, as well as evaluate others and receive feedback. A learning process is in effect.
  • Cosplay can become an occupation by becoming a cosplay model (eg Yaya Han), or work as a writer who would make use of capital and knowledge obtained through fan practice.
  • Okabe also notes that cosplay can be done outside of the community by working as a live-action ‘companion’ for a company at a promo or sales event. which allows practice of making skills and acting along with gaining exposure and making contacts. Easier for woman as once again sex sells. Example, Jessica Nigri as Juliet Starling in Lollipop Chainsaw.
  • Ballpark number for value of the cosplay industry is around $400 million annually.
  • Okabe found that cosplayers do not adhere to mainstream standards of cuteness and feminine sexuality-at least in anime and manga anyway.
  • If a characters wears a sexy costume and strikes sexy poses, then doing so in front of the camera is part of capturing the character and is thus valued.
  • Cosplayers judge harsly those deemed to be out to attract attention or become famous, often with sexual costumes.
  • Okabe’s informants be little these women as ‘desperate losers’.
  • Although to some extent every cosplayers does this-however the politics of this subject seem to negotiate the meaning of authenticity or ‘true cosplay’ in such a way. Okabe feels that this is merely the rejection of ‘The heterosexual male gaze”.
  • It dismisses the possibility that female cosplayers who court a male gaze, with male photographers being fans who understand cosplay evaluate it like cosplayers and support the culture as members of the community.
  • A constant pornographic notion with the idea of role-play, normal cosplayers must compete with the superficial ones wearing sexy outfits and virtually themselves in the same way.
  • While this is happening, cosplayers who express hatred for these sellers, there is still a growing demand for adult cosplay. Which ultimately not only gives the wrong impression of cosplay, as their performers are clearly not committed to becoming a character,but it is potentially very harmful as it is simply the subject of the target male gaze, which happens to be male fans, ultimately giving the impression as this type of fandom as a whole is perverted. Which also stems back to the mainstream forms of feminine ideals.-It looks bad for females and males alike
  • There is a worry that the future of cosplay might be limited due to proximity of adult cosplay. He wonders that if people unfamiliar with cosplay might end up seeing this as another form of pornography then female cosplayers are not only sexualised, but will appear to be solicitous and be open to harassment and abuse.
  • A counteract of this notion is Okabe’s opinion that this type of cosplay is a “Celebration of cosplay as adult women are in control of their own sexuality”. An example of this could be partly why female cosplayers produce and market themselves so easy?
  • Though the selling of cosplayer photographs, the cosplayer themselves is reduced to an image or sex symbol for others, she is presented in a way comparable to porn sites-which they do for their own reasons and upload themselves-sex sells!
  • Cosplay has the potential for a more free relationship to gender , but examples of this suggest that there is a need to be aware of internal and external forces that limit this potential.
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