Ima, kore ga hoshiin da! - Cosplay Crazyby Allen Divers,
I want it now!
by: Allen Divers (boxie at animenewsnetwork.com)
If you're an Anime fan, the one thing you have to do at some point in your fan life is go to a convention. Conventions are those magical places where people get together to enjoy some of their favorite past times. Fans have the opportunity to see things they've not seen before, meet new people that share a common interest and pick up all the cool gear that they just can't find in their local area. For a while, just for a significant showing, most conventions covered large topics such as mixing science fiction with hobby gaming. Eventually, with its popularity growing by leaps and bounds every year, Anime has broken out as the lead event in many conventions. It's reached the point that it seems like an Anime convention is happening every weekend.
Early on, Anime conventions were simple gatherings where people came to watch new and different Anime series. Often, there would be a dealer room to purchase stuff and maybe some games and contests to keep things fresh. In those early days, there were always a few people that dressed up as a favorite character, but at that time, there wasn't an official name for that. Now, thanks to the progress of time, and back to the whole gaining in popularity thing, those who wear costumes have gained not only a word for themselves, but now make up many of the significant events at most Anime conventions. Yes, that's right, I'm talking about Cosplay.
While the word is simply the concatenation of the words costume and play, Cosplay has come to take a much larger meaning in the world of Anime fandom. All across the world, wherever Anime is popular, you can find scores of fans lining up to dress as their favorite characters. Cosplay has become such a huge and important at event that the phenomenon has managed to spawn a group of super elite "professional" Cosplayers. It's such a driving force that it's become common place for these pro-Cosplayers to be listed as special guests at conventions. Entire websites are dedicated to giving advice on costumes and other sites display pictures of Cosplayers from many of the bigger conventions.
With all this attention it's no surprise that the phenomenon of Cosplay has managed to worm its way back into the very genre that created it. Obviously, this week's shows revolve around Cosplay. With Cosplay seen primarily as an activity for females, leaving males as spectators, both shows feature female characters with a fondness for Cosplay. Add to that a bit of the traditional Magical Girl genre and you end up with a show that Cosplay fans can relate to.
Going back to 2001, this OVA series has gained enough popularity that it's already been licensed in North America by ADV. Being an OVA, the animation and artwork are top quality with bright colors and solid animation. The overall look falls into that category of a fan service heavy show, with a large number of female characters and plenty of the standard fan service type shots. The show focuses on many of the standard clichés, starting with the bumbling protagonist and works its way through many clichéd plot lines. Aside from the Cosplay aspect, the show itself can be seen as a fairly standard magical girl show. The big missing piece of that puzzle is that most of the conflict arises from various Cosplay competitions. And aside from some in-club rivalry, there isn't a main archrival to be seen.
The show centers on Hasegawa Chaco, a young high school girl, who just happens to have a magical friend who can change into any costume she wants. Hasegawa belongs to her school's Cosplay club, and is the typical clumsy, yet lovable protagonist. She has made it her goal to be the best Cosplayer around. The rest of the club is the standard mix of stereotyped characters, starting with the club president, and the only male in the club, to the standard cute junior member of the club. Her first real challenge comes in the form of a new club member, who has outstanding Cosplay skills. There's no earth-shattering consequences here, and most of the competition turns to standard sight gags and excuses to put the characters in compromising positions.
The show does have a lot of cuteness going for it, as well as some genuine "do your best" type spirit common for a show with a bumbling lead. With its strong animation and actual clever scripting, it comes across as an entertaining little show. For Cosplay fans, this show should find a warm welcome from them, since they can relate to trying to create the ultimate costume.
Nurse Witch Komugi-chan Magikarte
From 2002, Nurse Witch Komugi-chan Magikarte works its magic as a parody of the Magical Girl genre with Cosplay mixed in for flavor. Much like Cosplay Complex, this OVA series features solid animation and artwork. Colors are vibrant and designs also push the fan service envelope. This series starts as running gag, and then barrels its way through the first two episodes. Staying with the humor, the series starts with Komugi summarizing just how she ended up with her powers, then barrels into the plot line as she tries to increase her popularity.
This time around, there is a major evil at work. Viruses from another dimension have come to Earth, and it's up to Komugi to stop them. Working against her, is an evil magical girl who just happens to be her best friend. In the true tradition of a magical girl show, her friend is completely unaware of her transformations into the evil magical girl. Nurse Witch Komugi-chan also has its share of clichés, with the cute magical beast that helps Komugi, as well as Komugi's rivals in her talent agency. And as Komugi-chan isn't all that endowed, there are plenty of breast related jokes running around. The real magic of this show is how it's very willing to poke fun at the fans as well as the Anime industry that spawned it. Episode 2 features one of the funniest sequences ever with a very interesting Gatchaman parody. It's almost a manic energy that works its way through the show as Komugi fights her rival, mostly through winging it.
Nurse Witch Komugi-chan Magikarte is simply a good show. The level of humor is quite high, and it really comes down to an industry that's quite willing to poke fun at itself. While even taking a few jabs at the fans that created it, the show still comes across as witty and the fun it pokes doesn't come across as mean spirited. The Cosplay aspects of this show also play fun with the spectacle of Cosplay. When Komugi meets her rival for the first time, their battle is placed on hold while they do a pose off for the fans. The show is also filled with many references to other series that'll keep fans pointing and laughing through the whole show.
Expect Nurse Witch Komugi-chan Magikarte is a strong candidate for licensing before the end of the year. The one thing that may hold this series back is the many shows it parodies. With references to other series, it may be up to one of the larger distributors in North America to foot the bill to bring it over. Hopefully the fact that it would do quite well will be enough incentive for someone to grab this show.
With such humble roots, Cosplay has grown into such a massive phenomenon that it's managed to become a major characteristic in the very genre that created it. With Cosplay here to stay, you can expect future series to feature Cosplay in some fashion. All this will just continue to feed the beast, so you better break out needle and thread and start working on your costume for the next big con you hit!