Reviewby Alysson Wyatt, Aug 31st 2004
Chako and her friends at East Oizumi High are struggling to keep the Cosplay Club afloat. With only two official members, even the coaches are nervous. However, Chako has two aces up her sleeve--namely Delmo, a magical fairy with the power to give her costumes an extra "lift", and Ikebukuro, a cute and friendly owl that knows how to sew and iron. When the perverted (and largely deranged) foreign exchange student Jenny tumbles into the mix, they finally have enough members to compete at the local stage. Mayhem and fanservice abound as Chako and her teammates challenge themselves and each other in epic cosplay battles, explore love interests and make new friends along the way.
A hot blonde with a triple D rack and a passion for preschool girls; an owl that kindles the insatiable female desire for a plushie; a fairy with an incredible sweet tooth that transforms into various costumes and changes the bust size of the wearer at will. All this and more will you discover in a mere three episodes of Cosplay Complex. Here you will find unrivaled cosplay antics the likes of which the world has never seen. With the cosplay craze at an all-time high in Japan, it's a wonder this wasn't made earlier. Don't be confused by the title—this is no mockumentary we're talking about. Comic Party has nothing on this little jewel when it comes to outrageous comical encounters of the perv kind. Cute, pervy and insane, this anime continues to blindside the audience with blow after blow of unbridled shock value humor and personality clashing. A fetish-fest of furries, fairies and fanservice galore, Cosplay Complex will never cease to make your jaw drop.
Focusing on full-blown hysterical hilarity, the show is comparable to Dragon Half and Puni Puni Poemy, but without the randomness associated with either anime. Instead, Cosplay Complex relies on character interaction, vocal talent and well-placed gags to produce comedy. The show is memorable and especially endearing for those interested and experienced in cosplay. It hardly troubles itself with plot or character development. The goals of the East Oizumi Cosplay Club to: 1) hook up Chako with her fan Kosuke and 2) compete in the Cosplay World Series are anything but the focus of the show. The flimsy plot movement is just a springboard from which to take off into super sidesplitting cosplay and fetish-related antics. This show tosses you topsy-turvy and leaves you breathless and bewildered on the floor, wondering how you got there and whether your brain is still intact. But not to worry—Cosplay Complex ends before it overstays its welcome, and just when you can't take anymore, suddenly the show's over. Unfortunately, there's no closure in the ending of the last episode, only more unanswered questions. A few may wonder why there isn't more to see, and some will be glad that there isn't. After episode three threatens to bring a sequel, however, I wouldn't doubt the possibility.
The art of Cosplay Complex is good for an OVA, but it's certainly nothing special. The animation is ordinary and contains no distinctive points about it. However, cute character designs, wild takes and bright colors make this show a pleasure to watch. Let's not forget the fanservice, panty shots and continual cleavage close-ups as club members dress up and down. It's enough to make your eyes pop, or at least to get some laughs. The music of Cosplay Complex is primarily upbeat and cheerful, just like most of the characters. The opening theme is particularly charming when you can watch the characters bouncing around the screen in amusing costumes, just as they should be. The ending theme, "The Cosplay Marching Song," plays to a steady drumbeat while the cast sings along to the march. Although the song is not quite as pleasant to the ears as the opening theme, it's catchy and fits the mood. Even better, the closing credits rise over a background of actual cosplay photos taken in Japan, a definite bonus for US fans who enjoy taking similar pictures of their own at local cons.
The dub voices match the subtitles well with the occasional differences more related to mouth-flap matching than anything, with quality expected from ADV. Main character Chako's voice is often annoying, but fits her well enough. The voice actress, Larissa Wolcott, is well known for her role as Excel in Excel Saga and Momoko in Wedding Peach. In Cosplay Complex, Wolcott's character is less zany than several of her other roles. While it doesn't really give her the chance to show off her talent, she does a run of the mill job at it. In general the quality of voice acting on this disc is excellent, again no surprise from ADV. These talented actors can stretch their vocal cords quite well, especially the voice of Gorou, the enthused and extremely perverted male announcer for the Cosplay Team. The voices for 6-year-old Athena and her sister Maria are absolutely dead on with the Japanese, indicating some impressive ADR directing. I couldn't imagine a more perfect actress or style for Jenny's character. Jessica Smolins expresses with perfect prowess the pedophilic gaijin (foreigner) and her many misfit escapades, beating out even the Japanese actress on flexibility and creepiness.
The DVD bears a commendable set of extras, including annotated sketches with notes from the Japanese artists, Cosplay Identification 101, and clean opening and closing options. Also included in the DVD case is a small poster/leaflet with an interesting article printed on the reverse, written by one of the producers of the show about his con experience at Anime Expo 2002 in California. In watching a show like Cosplay Complex, a large part of the fun is trying to name all the characters being portrayed in cosplay throughout each episode. The audience can make it a game by using the option of Cosplay Identification to provide the answers. Believe me, it is a challenge to be able to identify all of them.
The show is littered with unfinished ideas. Some have a good start, just enough to spark viewer curiosity, but they never go anywhere. Episode 3 cuts off with so many loose ends, it seems obvious that the director intended to make more. The show is still enjoyable even for new fans, although its easier to understand and a lot more fun if you grab a buddy to watch it with. The story may be a dud, but the entertainment value outweighs its lack of anything resembling plot. This anime is not a story—it's an indulgence. While no masterpiece, Cosplay Complex remains a guilty pleasure that fans will enjoy in spite of themselves.
Overall (dub) : B-
Overall (sub) : B-
Story : C-
Animation : C
Art : B-
Music : C
+ Absolute hilarity in a box, a fetish-festival worth watching over and over for the laughs.
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