TaroTard’s Cosplay Experience

My first ever cosplay (just think costume play merged together, it’s the anime term for dressing up) was back in August 2005 when I attended Ayacon (3 day anime convention that took place at Warwick University). I was really into Full Metal Alchemist at the time so when I was mindlessly searching eBay one day many weeks before the convention and happened across an Ed Elric cosplay I just had to have it.

I sent off my measurements and waited patiently, a few weeks later my costume came and I excitedly tried it on parading it around the house to my Mom and sister, who as you can imagine thought I was a bit of a freak. They didn’t get anime and they certainly didn’t get cosplay so it was a common reaction… for them to think I was a freak.

My first couple of cons I crossplayed (play on the word cosplay means dressing up as someone of the opposite gender… In my case I dressed up as male anime characters), never quite daring enough to dress as any of the cute or sexy anime girls that had far more interesting outfits.

TaroTard as Luke Fon Fabre from Tales of the Abyss

All my costumes were brought and after a handful of outfits I started to get the craving to make my own costumes. The ones that I really wanted to do I didn’t have a hope in hell of making and it often demotivated. The simple ones were boring and didn’t inspire me to make them.

In the end I would quite often resort back to old already bought cosplays or go back to eBay and order another.

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TaroTard as Natalia Lanvaldear from Tales of the Abyss and as Haruhi Suzumiya

It was at Midlands Expo (day events that ran for the weekend at Telford International Centre September 07) when I put my very first cosplay together. For weeks before I had it firm in my head that I would be Ringo from Air Gear, it wasn’t too difficult and so I started ordering items off eBay such as goggles and jackets.

When it all came together I realised that it didn’t resemble the character in the slightest and got so demotivated that I gave up on the idea altogether for a completely new one.

I had five days left to go and was now set on going as Mina an anime idol from the Japanese Drama Densha Otoko, shortly after gained her own show due to popularity called Getsumen to Heiki.

Somehow I managed to pull it together, running around the shopping centre like some kind of mad woman, in search of clothes that were right. The only obstacle left in the end was the huge carrots that hang from her… rear.

Having to resort to primitive methods, as I don’t live in a city and thus don’t have access to a material store ¬¬ I ended up buying a white sheet and some orange dye. I dyed the sheet then cut cone shapes, sewed along the ends, stuffed them with pillow stuffing used green pipe cleaners sewed in at the top as leaves and finally drew a few black lines across them to make them look more real.

My resulting cosplay wasn’t 100% accurate for one her side bags were missing but I simply did not have the time to make them and could not find anything similar anywhere.

TaroTard as Mina at the Telford Expo

But this report is not to talk about those cosplays. I am here to talk about my most recent cosplay.

This year’s convention was Amecon 08 at Leicester University. (Another convention, very similar to Ayacon but ran by different people and in a different location)

I only cosplayed on the Saturday and I had it set in my head for some time that I wanted to go as Midori from Guitar Hero III. (Midori is the Japanese girl with the purple hair and green stockings haha)

However after several weeks of looking for a purple wig in pigtails… I realised how hard this cosplay would be. Then I got the idea. Why not do an alternate Midori cosplay? Do one of her extra outfits from the game? That way it would not only be easier but also there would be less chance that someone else would do it! In the end I settled for her outfit with the red hair and similar outfit to her standard costume but in a different colour… well colours. Primary colours in fact, very bright.

I had a bit of time to put this together as I had the idea pretty far in advance to the con. First of all I searched out everything I could on eBay. The first things ordered were my wig, red and white stripy tights and stockings. Once they were ordered and the cost tallied up, I had to complete the cosplay out of principal really, there was no backing out after spending that kind of money (the wig was pretty pricey).

After several return trips to ebay looking for a yellow/ orange pleat skirt, I gave up the ghost, it was obvious that if I wanted this skirt it would have to be made! I’ve never made anything in my life bar my Mina carrots so the thought of making something that I would actually be wearing to cover my pants was rather scary. Thankfully my Dads partner is good with a sewing machine and she actually sorted it out for me, with me watching and helping with pins etc. The jacket I got a yellow cardigan that resembled Midori’s jacket somewhat from ebay.

I could see from the game that she wore patches on her jacket but could not tell what of. I then came up with the idea of using band badges… seeing as it was a game about rock bands I went on the search for patches for the more famous bands such as ‘Rolling Stones’ and ‘Iron Maiden’ once I had these patches it was simply a case of sewing them on the sleeves… I put two on each side. The top was simple I got a plain blue one from Primark and wore a shirt underneath that I already owned to get the collar affect.

My bag had to be worked on. It was impossible to find a small blue back pack anywhere, not on ebay at market at town. In the end I found a blue bag at poundland but it had a dog on it. That didn’t work, but it was the closest thing I found. So I got the bag and a shirt of a similar colour and sewed fabric over the dog… voila job done! The belt I already owned, I am a fan of belts.

The final task was the shoes. As I am rather tall anyway there was no way I was wearing the stacker platforms that little Midori wears, but it was pretty hard to find plain flat shoes. In the end I managed to get a pair of rather sexy TUK shoes from ebay, whilst not plain they seemed Midori’s style.

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The Star Guitar halfway through construction by NeoBlade

My cosplay was complete and I was feeling pretty proud. The only thing that was missing was my guitar. I was adamant that I must have the star guitar as it was my favourite guitar in the game and it went so well with her outfit. I wasn’t sure where to start to be honest, I’ve never made anything similar in my life I was very unsure what to make it out of. In the end I was saved the task by my boyfriend who very kindly offered to make and did make my very sexy star guitar for me… in one night!!! It got a lot of attention, it was probably the part of my outfit that people liked the best, everyone asked about it haha.

So it was finally done, I tried it on and paraded it to my parents who yes you guessed it, thought I was a freak, even more so than when I was dressing as Ed Elric. At least Ed’s costume was somewhat normal. This one was far from, very colourful and many people commented on the fact that they needed sun glasses to look at me.

I was satisfied, I was rather worried all along that I would not be able to pull this cosplay off. It was not easy and never seemed easy and I believed that if I did manage to pull it together I would be disappointed. Right up to the end I was worried about the look of it, but when I tried it on all my worries disappeared, it wasn’t perfect but I was happy.

The day of the convention came and I put my costume on, I’m a fast dresser so it took me all of 10/ 15 minutes at most, considering everything I had to put on… that IS fast! Once in cosplay I immediately feel more confident, not sure why to be honest, as really you’d expect to feel more self conscious but that’s certainly not the case with me, or many of my friends that I have asked.

Got into my cab completely missing the look/ grin that the taxi driver apparently gave me.

I was extremely happy with the reception my costume got at amecon, people recognised me, which was nice and some that didn’t would come up to me and ask where my costume was from and told me I looked cool. I even got stopped by a professional photographer for the Shojo Beat magazine and had my photo taken for it.

All in all I felt my cosplay was a complete success and it has inspired me to go on and create more cosplays and it has given me the confidence to take a further step and try even more complex cosplays.

The finished cosplay! I just had to rock out with some STAR POWER!

The feeling of wearing a costume that you have created yourself is so much more satisfying than any costume you ever wear that you get someone to do for you.

It’s definitely my advice to anyone out there to have a go at making their own cosplay first. The feeling you get from wearing your own costume and having people comment on it is so much more rewarding than receiving comments on one you buy one.