Category Archives: Cosplay Story Time!

Remembering Last Exile

I first watched Last Exile with my dad when I was in high school. I had never watched an anime like it before, and it’s probably one of the most influential series in my taste in anime. Because of Fam—the anime I’m looking forward to the most this season—I spent the weekend marathoning through the original Last Exile series while doing sketches for class.

Last Exile was always on the fringes of my cosplay plans. I could never quite decide between Dio Elaclaire and Alex Row, but I’d always leaned towards Dio because Alex made me feel a little uncomfortable. My face was too young for him and I didn’t quite understand him to the same extent that I understood Dio. Since I was facing the thought of leaving home and becoming an adult, Dio’s story made more sense to me. But even though Dio would have been an excellent addition to my white wig collection and the refined simplicity of his costume would have done wonders for my technical skills, I just never got around to him between my involvement in a cosplay group at that time, and getting ready for college.

So when I heard rumors of a Last Exile sequel, I decided to wait and see how it would play out. One of my cosplay friends up here (the one who has the same taste in cosplay as me) is working on filling out her list of future cosplays, and with Fam coming up, I thought it would be a good idea to introduce her to Dio and the world of Last Exile. She also hasn’t watched too much anime, so I try to show her good series when I can.

But as we watched, I started remembering Alex Row’s story: the tragedy of the loss of the love of his life, the crushing admittance of his moment of cowardice, his mask of apathy and how it at times turned into gentle protection of Claus and Lavi, and later Dio and Lucciola, and at other times slipped into raw anger and an ultimately fatal desire for revenge and a new world freed from the cruel reign of the Guild.

We tried to play the ‘guess who I’d cosplay at the end of the series’ game, but it took her all of two episodes to decide that Alex fit me best this time around (surprisingly enough to me, she initially liked Tatiana Wisla best before Dio’s creepiness evolved into being adorable.)

Curiosity got the best of me, and I looked up the character art for Fam. Dio’s design can be found here, along with the rest of the concept art that has been revealed so far.

While I love Dio’s design for my friend, no one visually captured my interest. I don’t know if I’m stuck on Alex, or if I’ll have to watch Fam all the way through first. I have a lot of hope in this series as a sequel, and I’m excited to see how the world continues after the upheaval at the end of the original series.


A Present for Madam Red

After her flight back from Kumoricon, one of my cosplay friends discovered that TSA had done quite a bit of damage to several parts of her Madam Red and Panty costumes. So we decided to remake a few of the destroyed pieces as a surprise.

As her Grell, I decided to tackle her choker. And then I thought: while I was at it, why shouldn’t I make chokers for both of my Madam Reds?

Since we don’t really know how much longer we have with my Colorado Madam Red before she moves halfway across the country, I gave it to her this weekend during a horror movie marathon.  And…

She saw the black lace and freaked out. We didn’t understand why she refused to open it in front of our guy friend. Then I thought about it for a second and told her about fifty times that it wasn’t underwear (why would I give her underwear? She’s got plenty from her Panty cosplay.) She didn’t really believe me and flung the choker onto the couch a good five feet away before she saw the gems and chain and everything.

Most hilarious reaction to a present I’ve ever seen? I think so.

This is the one I made for her. It’s basically my reinterpretation of the commissioned choker that came with her dress. It has a velvet ribbon base with black lace stitched onto the top and bottom, with a skinny black trim to disguise the stitching. The black trim was also a good anchor for the brooch, chain, and beading. She’d always had problems with her old choker’s fit, so I made it adjustable with a bit of extra Velcro.

For Amara, I decided to go more with my own instincts on how I would make Madam Red’s choker. But I haven’t yet found the perfect brooch for the center, so the design’s a secret until it’s in her hands!

I’m cosplaying a girl. Try not to laugh too hard.

This is one of those things that shocks the people who know me really, really well more than the people who don’t. But in case you tend to ignore personal conversations held over the public Twitter feed (like I usually do), I am cosplaying a female character. And not just any female character, but a magical girl. From Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Mami Tomoe. Amara asked me who I was and what had I done with her best friend when I showed her what Mami Tomoe looked like. Most people just asked why.

Because I don’t do things half-assed, that’s why. If I’m going to cosplay a female character, there’s going to be none of this trying to adjust to my ordinary cosplay MO business or any other nonsense. I’m going to be a magical girl.

I watched all of PMMM in one sitting. That’s perseverance I typically only reserve for the third disc of Final Fantasy IX.  I loved every character except for you-know-who, who I wanted to kick into a lava pit, and I either loved each character’s costume or I loved each character enough to make up for their costumes (sorry Homura, I just don’t like school uniforms. Blame Tetsuya Nomura.)

But I loved Mami’s costume the best and when I sat down and thought about it, I liked her character the best, too. She looks out for Madoka and Sayaka and she does her best to make sure that they understand what they would be getting into, as much as she knows. I’ll be honest, I cosplay some serious douchebags. But that just doesn’t carry over into female characters for me at all and to me, it makes a weird kind of sense that I would want to cosplay a completely different kind of character for a girl’s costume. After all, if I want to wear girls’ clothes and be a jerkface, I’ll just not eat for a couple of days. Way cheaper than a convention.

I don’t know when I’ll be able to get started.  I have to hit the ground running with vampire twin Subaru from Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicles when I get back  from San Japan. Then I have my yearly mandatory casual cosplay, and both Arumat from Star Ocean: The Last Hope and my new Amano Kuja are going to be stupidly expensive and time-consuming. If anything, she’ll probably happen for next year’s A-kon. Even if that means getting a teacup and saucer because Arumat will take up all the props room in my luggage. Star Ocean guys are so high maintenance!

Grell Stop Making Me Cosplay You

I’d been told/warned by my friend Saffron that there had been some concept art of a younger Grell released. Long story short, I flipped out because I could now use my soon-to-be-retired first generation Grell wig instead of throwing it out. But I realized that with my costume construction final and styling Studio IV in Baroque/Restoration era clothing for their salon at the governor’s mansion here in Colorado, I would have enough on my plate getting Kuja, Fai, and Albel ready for Akon.

I freaking love Restoration fashion. It’s my favorite. I almost secretly cried during fittings for the Studio IV salon because of the opportunity to dive into that era. I’ve already decided on that era for the first project in which we get to choose our period for Costume Design 2. I don’t even care. Just kidding; if it’s something like Macbeth I think I’ll reconsider. But that’s reconsider.

So I didn’t even look for baby Grell because I just plain knew I didn’t have time. But the day I get home from Studio IV’s dress rehearsal day, I decide to tool around on the interwebs for awhile before turning right around and driving back to campus to work on my 1850s day dress and go see Cyrano in the Loft.

With a prologue like that, I don’t even need to show the concept art.

Look at that. Kind of Restoration era/more Regency/also another fashion era maybe/hey double-breasted coats and waistcoats are cool! Grell. And for Kuroshitsuji, that’s good enough for me because fashion elements from that time period could totally be assigned to a wider range of later decades (all Madam Reds I cosplay with of course been subjected to the whole ‘Madam Red is totally rocking fashion from 19-freakin’-12′ rant.)

I don’t have time for this, Grell. I know we just made up, but seriously. You need to stop attempting to seduce me with your historical costumey ways. Because it’s working.

First Cosplay Saga, Chapter 2

On Wednesday night, we met at IHOP because that late at night, there aren’t any options in suburbia.  The server now thinks I’m this guy’s life coach because he saw me scribbling down the 2011 Texas convention schedule and asked what we were doing.

So I presented him with a couple of options. We started talking about what convention he should shoot for, and then we got onto the conversation of bought/commissioned cosplay. I told him that it was an option he could definitely consider for his first cosplay so that he could figure out if the convention and character side of cosplay was for him without considering construction quite yet. This is an important consideration since the cosplay he chose is fairly ornate and I was afraid of him burning out on his first one.

But we talked about how cool it is to know how to do stuff and make things, and so we ultimately decided that he would be commissioning the weapons only and he would shoot for San Japan, which gives him seven months. And if he needs more, then there’s Afest and Oni-Con before the end of the year.

So I gave him homework before our next meeting during Christmas:

  1. Learn to sew. That sounds really rough, but he doesn’t have to worry about anything insane for this cosplay. I knew he’d be fine when he told me he wanted to learn how to install zippers.
  2. Get a commercial pattern that best fits the fabric part of the cosplay and do a mock-up in cotton muslin. This will help with #1 and it’ll also give him a base from which to learn how to do alterations for cosplay.
  3. Read through THIS craft foam cosplay tutorial. If he feels particularly ambitious, get started on posterboard patterns for all the armor.

Of course, he’s not just going off and doing this on his own. I recommended additional published resources and I’ll be busy with Ikkicon stuff, but not too busy to translate commercial pattern gibberish into plain English!


First Cosplay Update!

Remember the guy friend I mentioned who’s getting ready to cosplay for the first time? After a bit of going back and forth (there are a lot of characters out there, after all!), he’s decided on…

Heck yes.


Yeah, I’m really excited for him because 1) I looooove this design and 2) it would kind of be a fail on my part if he picked something out I couldn’t really help him with; he was talking about doing mecha cosplay earlier and that’s a gaping hole in my cosplay knowledge if I ever had one.

Of course, with a cosplay like this, I’ve just sent him the important text: ‘do you have access to a sewing machine’? Because that will make all of this so much faster and easier, even some of the armor. Looking forward to what happens next!


Shortest ‘First Cosplay’ Speech Ever

So the other day, one of my former coworkers texts me about cosplay.  He’s been interested in cosplaying since I met him and it seems like he’s finally going to get started, which is awesome since this is a great time to start planning for a summer convention.

The interesting part is, he’s motivated by cosplay as a whole, not by a particular character. Which says something fantastic about the American cosplay community, and is totally backwards from how I look at things. He’s one of the people I know who bring out my blunt and honest side. So when he started chucking random characters at me, he got what was possibly the shortest version of my ‘first cosplay’ speech.

Here’s a tip: you’re going to be sacrificing your social life for this. Don’t make a snap decision. Here’s what you should do: sit down and think of everything you’ve ever watched or read or played and think of the characters that you loved. Not just liked, but LOVED. Don’t worry about how simple the outfit is because at this point, the love for that character is going to be what pulls you through the hell you are about to inflict upon yourself. Sooo when you have that list, go rewatch the ones you think are most important to you. And then give me the revised list, and I’ll tell you if someone works out for me. If not, I’m still not going to leave you high and dry. Let me put it this way… if you’re ready to jump in I’ll make sure you can swim. ^_^

And then he proceeded to totally ignore me, which resulted in this.

Make your list. Trust me you do NOT want me to pick your cosplay for you.

Which is only fair, since I don’t think anyone out there would/should trust me with cosplay suggestions. It would be bad.