Cosplay Research

Cosplay has been a very big part of my life for the past ten years. Since my passion has become more serious in the past few years, questions of my dedication to cosplay have risen – Why am I doing this? What is cosplay doing for me? Of course, cosplay is very fun, but I think there’s more to it than that. This last year, at Sakura Con, I conducted a panel called Need Input!: A Panel for Cosplay Research. I hosted a Q&A style panel that asked cosplayers deep questions about their cosplay passions, and their responses blew me away. Now on tour at conventions on the the east coast, Need Input continues to gain ground and knowledge about the will and the way of cosplay for hundreds of people. I became so committed to this mission of learning why people cosplay that I have now invested an academic agenda and wish to pursue a Masters degree in Cosplay Studies. Cosplay isn’t just costuming – it’s culture, community, inner dialogue and personal growth. It’s learning new skills, building self-esteem, and learning to think on the spot. It has become one of the newest and hottest pop culture trends and it’s taking over conventions. This is a performance art revolution, and I’m committed to researching and discovering the will and the way of Cosplay. FOR SCIENCE!

On this page, I will be posting my audio files and my transcripts from conventions where the Need Input panel has been hosted so you can get a real feel for what happens at my panel and what kind of research I’m doing. I’ve also conducted surveys to collect statistical data to get demographics for the typical cosplayer and once my statistics have been allocated, those will be posted too! In case my panel doesn’t get approved, I’ve recently thought of the idea of doing walk-around mini audio interviews where I run with a question for little while, ask a few people, and then change the topic and ask a few more people. These will also be posted in audio format and transcribed. It’s all in the pursuit of field research and discovering the reasons behind why people cosplay!

Below we have transcripts of Need Inputs that have been conducted and audio snipits of dialogue from the panels!

Panel Transcript SakuraCon 2013 – Sakura Con 2013 works as the launch pad for the first ever Need Input panel. This round explores diversity in the cosplay community, love for cosplaying villains, dressing up as animals, and the true social profit of cosplay.

Panel Transcript SakuraCon 2014 (Coming Soon) – Back at Sakura Con after moving to New York with more organization and structure, Need Input looks into gender stereotypes in cosplay, professional cosplayers, ‘Cosplay is Not Consent’, and being an older cosplayer in a perpetually youthful convention setting. Also, Katelyn’s eternal love for the high caffeine beverage, BAWLS.

Panel Transcript AnimeNext 2014 (Coming Soon) – In New Jersey for AnimeNEXT, Need Input is set in an at-capacity room with some of the best audience contributions to date. This session explores what cosplayers look for when they pick characters, what cosplayers actually learn on the path to becoming a character. and the biggest struggles they face in finishing their cosplays.

Panel Transcript Wizard World Nashville 2014 (Coming Soon) – Working on a mini-tour with Wizard World, Need Input journeys to Nashville to explore cosplaying as a family, breaking down what it means to be a part of the cosplay community and what embarrasses or annoys people in the cosplay/convention community.

Panel Transcript Wizard World Portland 2015 (Coming Soon) – Back in Oregon for a week, Need Input makes a second appearance at Wizard World, and the attendees are not shy to bring forward ideas about what they have learned and the inner strengths that have discovered as a result of cosplay.

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Back to life, back to…cosplay!

Yay! Red Leaf Cosplay’s website is starting to come together. With its rebirth, I will soon be able to post more about my life since I moved to New York, the conventions I have attended, the cosplays I have worked on in the past, and FINALLY get the gallery up and running! It feels good to finally be getting back on track. When I’m not watching anime, playing video games, working on a cosplay or getting distracted by Twitch Plays Pokemon (ALL HAIL LORD HELIX!), I plan to make an honest effort working on the website. To be honest, moving to New York derailed me a lot more than I could have ever predicted and it has been one hell of a ride! They’ll be a whole post dedicated to my move, and then that’ll be the end of it and we’ll move on to more fun things to talk about! For the mean time, just bear with me a little bit longer while I get the last final touches on the website together. Once it’s done, I can start on new posts, cosplay profiles, convention review, and a new thread – portfolios of my research on new prospective cosplays! THanks for being so patient while I learn how to build websites again. It’ll look fantastic once it’s done!

-KLR

Cosplay Profile – Asuka Langley Sohryu, Neon Genesis Evangelion

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  • The costume – This was my second cosplay I ever worked on and completed. I certainly didn’t make it easy on myself. I didn’t have very many skills as far as costume crafting goes, but I was passionate and determine to do this costume. I am a redheaded, spunky German girl, and so is Asuka. I love Evangelion and revere it as one of the best animes ever created. I could have done Asuka’s school uniform, or her yellow dress from her episode debut, but I got crazy and just HAD to do the plugsuit. This is the original plugsuit version from the original 26 episodes.
  • The parts – This costume just had one part – the plugsuit itself. It was all one piece of costume, if that makes sense. Everything revolved around a zentai suit that I altered to have all the detail and all the features of the plugsuit.
  • The research – I watched EVA several times to watch for range of motion and try to understand these crazy plugsuits. I looked at other cosplayers online to try and understand how they worked with certain materials or how they had featured some of the details. As my second cosplay, I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into! My knowledge of some materials was so limited and that point I was really just running on positive energy. I wanted to create a cosplay for a character that I was passionate about.
  • The construction process – I started with the zentai suit, and with the help of my mother (my primary cosplay support eight years ago), we gradually added pieces to the costume with a variety of adhesives and sewing methods. Many parts of the fabric were mounted on foam to create dimension, so that some of the details really stood out against the red background. I had to have assistance because at the time, I didn’t have a dress form, so in order to get some of the details to be placed correctly, I would have to be wearing the whole body suit and my hands would be covered! My mom didn’t really understand what kind of hobby I was getting into, but she helped me out all the same. In the days before learning about using materials efficiently, moms really are the best help!
  • The finished product – For my second costume, I’m really proud of what I was able to accomplish. Not only did I find it successful, many people at the conventions I attended approved too! I was inundated with photo opportunities throughout my convention and even earned a chance of a photoshoot with Eurobeat King. His photos are featured below! I feel I learned a lot through this costuming process. Now that I know how to work with materials like spandex, if I were to redo this cosplay, I would be able to make the entire thing from scratch and sew the details in as I go. I do hope to redo this cosplay in the future because I’ve learned so much and I think I can accomplish more the second time around. In the mean time, I love what I produced for a character that I adore so much!

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