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Anime Expo 2003
Masquerade - 2003

by Allen Divers,
Another Anime Expo, another Masquerade. This year's event at Anime Expo 2003 managed to draw over fifty acts and filled the main room to the walls. As always, the quality of the acts ranged from the ridiculous to the inspired, with a variety of simple walk-ons and full-out musical numbers. The show began with a local high school group dressed in costumes from Xenosaga and performing a number from the same video game. After a quick transition, the show began.

As is traditional, the show saw its fair share of girls in Sailor Suits with at least three acts featuring the girls fighting for justice. Most of these were simple choreographed numbers done to the various themes from Sailor Moon. Probably the biggest musical number came from a group called Anime Chicks Gone Chicago. Dancing and singing to a variation on the main theme from Chicago, Fujiko, Faye, Chi, Dark Magician Girl and Ceres spent time abusing the men from their appropriate shows. The show was punctuated with quite a few walk-ons and very little in the way of skits.

For one in the press pool, the funniest act came from a young man who decided to perform the original Japanese version of the Team Rocket theme. While many of us gave him kudos for his bravery, much of this skit was painful, especially as he was only lip-syncing to one of the parts in the song.

Judging the event were four veterans of Cosplay. Max Callahan, a member of the International Costumer's Guild since 1990 has been a fan since 1985 and costuming since 1984. Debbie Callahan, a member of the Costumer's Guild West, has worked in the Theater Industry for ten years and has been sewing costumes for fifteen years. Laura Feeney, Masquerade coordinator for Anime Next, has been costuming since 1990, having started in Civil War reenactments. Jezeroth, a veteran of the performing arts, has been cosplaying for the last two years with an impressive seventy costumes under his belt.

The awards truly highlight the best of the show:

Best of Show, Presentation - Entry 1, The Light Warriors - Doing an interpretation of the Kingdom Hearts game, this group performed well with a good amount of lip-syncing and fighting.

Best of Show, Craftsmanship, Individual - Entry 55, Sieg Jion Productions - Probably the most impressive costume of the show, this wonderfully crafted Mobile suit grabbed everyone's attention when it marched out on stage. Finer details of this costume include glowing lights in the laser cannons and in the jet pack.

Best of Show, Craftsmanship, Group - Entry 5, Bika - This was a group that grabbed everyone's attention as they made their way to the Masquerade. With very well crafted costumes from Spirited Away, this group easily won Best of Show in the group craftsmanship division.

Design Award, Craftsmanship - Entry 8, Masqued Bandits - Featuring costumes from Escaflowne, this group had a fairly routine skit with a nice cute ending thanks to the young girl dressed as Meruru. The choreographed fighting was pretty decent as well.

Best of Show, Junior/Youth - Entry 3, Mini Magical Girls - These young ladies did their best to steal the show dressed as characters from Tokyo Mew-Mew.

Jesse Dawson's Judge's Award - Craftsmanship - Entry 46, CAPP - Performing a nice musical number, this group surprised everyone with a nice set of costumes from Paradise Kiss. The blue dress presented at the end got a lot of oohs and ahhs from the audience.

Laura Feeney's Judge's Award - Craftsmanship - Entry 53, Lily and Haruka - Dressed as characters from Soul Caliber 2, these girls did a nice walk-on set.

Max & Debbie Callahan's Judge's Award 3, Craftsmanship - Entry 54, Second Child - What's a masquerade without someone from Evangelion showing up? This was a very well thought out plug suit, with the woman wearing it really hamming things up with a simple walk-on.

Jesse Dawson's Judge's Award, Presentation - Entry 35, Sakura Mochi - Featuring characters from Summon Nights 2, this group did a fun sketch entitled, "so you want to be a hero."

Laura Feeney's Judge's Award, Presentation - Entry 44, Otaku V - Sometimes when a group of people gets on stage, there's no telling what they will do. Dressed as Misa Hayase and a group of assorted officers from Macross, this group came out to a very serious fanfare. Things changed quickly as the beat of In the Navy kicked in and the dancing began.

Max & Debbie Callahan's Judge's Award, Presentation - Entry 4, Uber-Freakish Obsession - Probably the simplest joke sketch of the evening, these two ladies dressed as characters from Pita-Ten drew some quick laughs with their Yaoi and Hentai obsession.

Honorable Mention, Craftsmanship, Group - Entry 41, Mirror Image - Featuring a simple musical number, the highlight of this group with costumes from Fushigi Yuugi was the well-crafted Seiryuu no Miko and Suzaku no Miko outfits.

Honorable Mention, Craftsmanship, Individual - Entry 52, Witch Hunter Robin - A solo effort and a simple walk-on, this was a very well crafted rendition of Robin from the series of the same name.

Honorable Mention 1, Presentation - Entry 31, Yu-Gi-Oh!-My-God! - For me, this was the best skit of the evening, poking fun at the whole Yu-Gi-Oh! motif. From a card duel to the flying plushies, this one had it all with well-done costumes to boot.

Honorable Mention 2, Presentation - Entry 30, Anime Chicks Gone Chicago - Mentioned earlier, this group did a great job of putting together a musical number with some nice choreography. Probably the only thing that held them back from getting a higher award was that they lacked a bit of coordination and overall theme for their group. The costumes were a mix and match of different series, with the only real thing tying it all together was the fact they were romantic pairs from each series.

Overall, this year's Masquerade was a fun experience, especially considering the fact it started nearly on time and moved rather quickly. As things can never go smoothly, there were a few bumps along the way, but the majority of the crowd had a lot of fun. Cosplay overall continues to grow, so expect this event to get even bigger in the coming years.

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