(Mostly) Not a Cosplay Post: The End of Harry Potter

WARNING: This post does not contain angst/gushing about it being ‘the end’. If reading anything less than complete adoration for the Harry Potter series makes you upset, don’t worry. I’ll go back to my irregularly scheduled cosplay rambling in my next post.

I’m in the generation that grew up with Harry Potter. I got the book from my aunt and uncle when I was in… second grade? Third grade? Elementary school. I was heartbroken when I didn’t get my letter in the mail, I learned how to play Hedwig’s Theme on my flute with the rest of my band buddies, and entire weekends were planned around the book releases.

The movie version of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is one of the foundations of my friendship with amara. I’d explain but it mostly involves Voldemort’s nose and welcoming Cedric Diggory back to the world of the ‘living’ during Twilight movies. We always had vague plans to cosplay for a midnight showing: she would be Hermione Grainger because she’s a bookworm and, coming from Houston, instantly understood Hermione’s hair angst , and I would be Draco Malfoy because… seriously, does anyone need me to explain why I would be Draco Malfoy? But by the time we put the idea together, we were never in the same place at the same time when the movies released. It was going to be this summer or never… and I was the jerk who got a twelve-month lease in another state. She went to a midnight showing, and I didn’t. I haven’t seen the last movie. My roommate hasn’t gone because she doesn’t want it to end just yet. I don’t know if that’s the case for me.

I’m probably going to piss off a lot of people when I say this, but the magic was there for the first four books for me. And that was it. It wasn’t that I stopped liking the books: I loved The Half-Blood Prince, which apparently is a sign of true rabid HP love (according to my sources, aka random opinions on my Twitter feed.) But by the time the fifth book had come out, my imagination had been seduced by other magicians and other worlds. They were stories that were just as dark and dangerous as Harry Potter’s world was quickly becoming, but they found resonance with me while the Boy Who Lived didn’t. My imagination didn’t want a Chosen One. I was growing up and I needed stories that gave me strength to choose my own path.

Does this mean I’m not going to go see the final movie? No. It just means I’m going to see it with amara, my sister, or someone else who kept bringing me back to Hogwarts long after I realized that a letter in the mail wasn’t the invitation into a magical world that I wanted.

(Also, before you ask, yes, I had a Slytherin shirt and wore lots of green in junior high. Now if asked, I identify with Ravenclaw. But then someone, usually amara, calls me on something particularly Slytherin-tastic I’ve done in the past 24 hours and I’m forced to reclaim Slytherin as my rightful house.)


The Solution to Every Group Cosplay’s Problems

It happens. That moment when two people want to cosplay the same character in your group cosplay but you don’t have enough people to justify doubling up. About once every year I meet a cosplayer who actually loves the same ridiculous series I do and is happy to finally find someone else who’s willing to cosplay said ridiculous series with them, but we want to cosplay the same character. And it’s usually a little awkward, whether it’s because that cosplayer has a way different interpretation of that character than I do or because that makes it difficult to plan a group cosplay unless that character has a ‘twin’ who doesn’t actually look terribly much like him (I’m looking at you, Subaru and Kamui.) The ways I’ve dealt with this in the past were to pick an alternative character for the sake of smoothing out the group cosplay, or to just cosplay solo.

I was doing it wrong all these years. Turns out the best solution is to choose a character who is such a jerk that it becomes a cosplay bonding moment. (Yes, that’s a thing.)

Seriously, who else is going to not punch you in the kidneys when you need to practice being in character, and critique you for not being enough of an offense to human decency? Who else is going to thank you when you calmly inform them that the fabric they want to buy just doesn’t bring out their inner tool? Who else is going to pull you out of view when they spot the other half of the fandom’s most popular slash couple, knowing that you’ll do the same for them in a heartbeat? Only another Izaya Orihara cosplayer.

Short black wig: $30. Bribing your Shizuo-cosplaying friend not to get shippy with you for the photos: $200. Spending about half an hour rewinding five seconds of an episode just to see hilariously stupid face Izaya makes when he’s cornered? Priceless. Forget all of that group cosplay drama. That’s what cosplay’s really all about.

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!

Please Excuse Me While I Die of I Don’t Even Know What

I went to Denver Fabrics with a cosplayer friend of mine. And on the way back we stopped at the Panera Bread a street down from the hotel that hosts NDK. I was really hungry for some mac’n’cheese and Greek salad at the same time and we wanted to figure out what the heck was going on with her Will of the Abyss from Pandora Hearts  for next spring. Last time she made a cupcake dress, we accidentally matched, and she wanted to know if we were going to match again (these things are important.) I’m doing another Amano Kuja for spring next year to celebrate having earned a degree without tearing a hole in existence from stress, and I didn’t have the ref art on my phone, so I Googled it.

Guess what happens when you Google “Yoshitaka Amano Kuja”? My cosplay, third result down. I don’t know how to react to that. But don’t worry, the Crystal is safe.

Shaking the Post-Con Blues?

Thanks to summer semester, I didn’t really notice this until the beginning of this month. But ever since I came back from A-kon in Dallas I’ve been kind of bummed out about cosplay. I can’t think of anything that happened at A-kon that made me feel this way, either. The turnout at the video game cosplay contest was pretty awesome, I cosplayed not one but three of my favorite characters ever, and the heat didn’t make me pass out in any of them, even Kuja. I got to at least see everyone I knew was going to be there, even if we didn’t get to hang out as much as I wanted. Maybe it was because I didn’t find what I was looking for in the dealer’s room?

What am I doing? San Japan’s in less than a month!

Not even working on a Golden Sun cosplay could really get rid of it (especially now that I’ve given myself a couple of second-degree burns.) I’d revisit Dark Dawn, but let’s be honest, I’m already having way more fun making the cosplay than I did playing that game.

So yesterday I told myself that sometimes things are really exciting. Things that aren’t cosplay, things that make cosplay momentarily not as cool in comparison, things that make you want to take your scheduled cosplay work time and use it to work on them instead. And that’s perfectly okay. I have a project I’m working on that, while not related at all to cosplay, makes me Kuja cosplay-level excited. I should just probably accept that until it’s done, I’m just going to have to cosplay only characters I really, really love instead of just kind of love, if I want to get anything done. Problem: neither Amiti nor vampire twin Subaru are quite there.

I’ll get it figured out. I read all of Tokyo Babylon in one sitting (bad plan if depressing manga gets to you) and Amiti is Alex’s kid (spoiler…sorry?)

I’m halfway there.

On a side note, poly velvet burns really nicely. Should I just tell people I burned myself working on the velvet instead of because I dropped a button’s worth of hot glue on my leg while watching The Da Vinci Code? It just sounds more awesome.

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.

My Journey into the Mountains to Become a Kung Fu Master

Is why I haven’t been blogging for a very, very long time.

Just kidding. I’m no better at martial arts (and possibly worse) than I was when I took my impromptu vacation from blogging. What did happen was that I fully committed to making costuming my life. Yes, I’m crazy, thank you for asking. But you guys already knew that.

I’d already been working as a shop assistant in my university’s costume shop since late August, and I took costume design 1 in the previous fall. And I had gotten most of my design work on my theater’s touring production of Cyrano de Bergerac out of the way. But then I signed up to work as a dresser on a whim (dun dun dun) for the mainstage production of Rent.

Part one: I almost died. Whoever came up with the idea of three-year batteries for Mitsubishi Eclipses probably had a good reason, but is also now responsible for almost killing me. But I wouldn’t have been driving at 70+ mph on I-25 in Denver on a Saturday night with a zombie battery if I didn’t feel pressured to force myself to like being a photojournalist.

Note: this is what you get when you Google image search 'zombie battery'.

Part two: During the run of Rent, I never thought I could have the two realizations ‘I want to die’ and ‘I could do this for the rest of my life and be happy and feel successful’ at the same time. To be fair, the second thought was about costuming in general, not specifically about being a dresser. Though I did really enjoy the opportunity to work more directly with actors and see exactly how costuming works once the curtain opens. It turned out my experience with cosplay helped me out in ways I couldn’t even guess backstage.

What I’ve also realized is that it’s harder, not easier, to balance cosplay with theatrical costuming. At least with journalism, cosplay was a great creative outlet to escape from that coursework. So I guess that means I kind of like costuming if I still feel strongly about continuing on with both. I’m still getting my B.S. from the officially discontinued School of Journalism and Mass Communication here at CU, but I’m knocking out all but one journalism course over the summer so I can dedicate my time to experience I will need to become a successful costume designer during my last undergrad year.

Right now I’ve just finished a design project that I wanted to include in my portfolio (which the curious can view here: http://www.wix.com/charlotteballar8/charlotteyballard#!), I’m knee-deep in patterning and constructing an 1850s day dress for my costume construction final project, and I’m working on styling the Studio IV class into French and English Baroque/Restoration era fashion for their salon at the governor’s mansion here in Colorado! And, of course, getting some new costumes finished for Akon in June.

I think that my perspective on cosplay will be a little strange now that I’m experiencing costuming from two completely different angles, but I think that’s just going to make my experience with both even better. Now to go wolf down dinner and cut out some flatlining.