One thing that I think often gets overlooked in cosplay is representation of the character not only through the overall look and style that makes them iconic, but also their attitude. After all, it’s called cos-play not costuming, so there should be at least a little effort made to play your part, whoever or whatever that may be. For some, this might seem a daunting task, but really it’s not that hard once you really think about it. We find ourselves drawn to characters for many reasons be it their look, their personality or simply cos you enjoyed their source material, but you’ll never choose a character for none of the above. Whether the character is aligned with your own personality, or a complete opposite, finding out how they would act in certain situations and bringing that to life can not only enhance peoples impression of your costume, but also be a lot of fun!
Now, first things first, we’re not asking everyone to go full Calculon on this one. Sometimes the small details are the best! One great example that always comes to mind is a Navi from Zelda that I saw a couple years ago. Not only had she made an excellent costume, she’d walked around the convention with a speech bubble saying “Hey, Listen!” and if you spoke to her, she would drum out a string of random facts off the top of her head. Needless to say, she left an impression! Her interpretation of the character was not only fairly true to form, but really funny and must have taken a tonne of dedication to learn off things like the exact circumference of the earth or how long a goat can travel without water!
For myself, I have noticed that I tend to take characters that are much more extroverted than myself. They exhibit personality traits that in some ways I really wish I had, but in others I’m glad I can just tuck away in a box until I don my costume for the day. For instance, when I first cosplayed as Mafia Jinx from League of Legends, I tried my best to act as crazy and excited as possible, taking every opportunity to ensure I would not be bored, lest my inner Jinx be disappointed. It was no easy task for me, and I wasn’t completely comfortable being ‘always on’ at first, but I pushed through it and I’m actually really glad I did.
Not only did I really enjoy that convention and all the attention I was getting with my costume, but I even got complimented by my cosplay idol, Missyeru, for my performance in the masquerade. All it took was a couple of hops, skips and playful death threats to my friends to transform myself from a mild mannered nerd into a rampaging psychopath with a penchant for explosives, and the only rule I set myself to was “Do not be bored, cos when Jinx is bored, she blows stuff up”. Sometimes it really is just that simple! If you can find the core of your character and just set yourself that one rule (For example, Ryuko Matoi is stubborn and hot headed) the rest can come very easily.
In order to get a wider perspective on the topic, I asked cosplayers from the League of Legends Cosplayers group on facebook for their opinions on the subject of acting in character. The responses I received were fairly mixed, with a lot of cosplayers claiming they were too shy to act in character, while others claimed acting in character helped them get over being shy in their every day lives. Overall, most people thought the idea of acting in character for photoshoots or skits was fun, and added a new level of depth to the character. But there are some cosplayers like Kickgirl52 who take it a step further. While wearing her Anivia cosplay she said “I hardly ever broke out of character. I walked around, did head movements, “fluffed” my feathers.. all like a bird. I think it’s half the fun!”.
In the end, it’s always important to remember that what you do, as much as what you wear, is entirely your choice. Whether you want to be your character incarnate or simply look your best in photographs it should be your choice to do so. In the words of Tristan Broad from the same thread, “If people want to get into character as well I think that’s fantastic, but it’s not for everyone and in no way should it be expected. The amount of “X character didn’t even act the right way!” I’ve seen at local cons isn’t an epidemic by any means, but it’s way beyond acceptable limits; it’s your cosplay, not the convention’s, and nobody should expect anything from you.”
So there we have it, guys! Now we want to hear some of your opinions, to be or not to be in character? Let us know in the comments below!