Rarely do film characters transition into more than just a casual art form the way anime has taken geek culture by storm. As pronounced in Japanese – the genesis of this phenom – anime – refers to Japanese hand-drawn or computer-generated animation. Vibrant visuals, fantastical themes, and highly emotive personalities all evoke deep adoration among its vast legion of fans.
Although one might think it an overnight success, the first forms of commercial anime were seen as early as 1916. But the characteristic style emerged in the 1960s out of the pioneering series “Astro Boy,” created by Osamu Tezuka. Since then, it’s been steadily increasing in popularity, creating a subculture that unites fans globally. Some of the better-known anime series include “Pokémon,” “Sailor Moon,” “Dragon Ball Z,” and “Naruto.” Famous films include “My Neighbor Totoro” and “Spirited Away” by Hayao Miyazaki, “Akira” by Katsuhiro Otomo, and “Ghost in the Shell” by Mamory Oshii.
Simply consuming the media just isn’t enough for the many especially expressive anime enthusiasts. They resort to cosplay, bringing favorite anime characters to life through costume roleplay. Cosplayers go the distance, dressing and assuming the personas of fictional characters for total immersion, channeling personality traits and indulging in the full experience of bringing fantasy to reality. Anime conventions and cosplay parties are magnets where cosplayers can be found practicing their art and share their enthusiasm with fellow fans.
Intense about design perfection and precision fit, many cosplayers create their costumes and props by hand. These projects take anywhere from months to years to complete, often becoming extreme artistic hobbies for hardcore fans. From selecting perfect fabrics for signature costumes, practicing makeup techniques to emulate cartoonish aesthetics, and finding a creative group of friends to portray characters from the same series, cosplay is now a living, breathing artistic outlet and social activity. As geek culture rises among millennials, cosplayers and their admirers grow increasingly visible and appreciated for their exciting contribution to fandoms.
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Photograph by Scarlett Herrera: Dallas Fan Expo – Sailor Moon
Sailor Scouts cosplayers from “Sailor Moon.”
Photograph by Dominique Alexa Cartagena at Anime Next 2016.
Fernando Mazo cosplaying as Reno from “Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children.
Photograph by Neociano Photography: Kitsune Kid cosplaying as Ryuko from
Kill la Kill at Castle Point Anime Convention 2015.
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