Anime: “Why Can’t My Hair Defy Gravity?”: Tips for Cosplayers
Have you ever been sitting down to watch an anime and found yourself saying, “Man that’d make one hawt cosplay for my next convention!”? Well, I have. Then begins the long process of picking out fabrics and trying to find or make all the parts and pieces. This is where so many people make mistakes or run into problems, and so I give you some tips and guidelines for making your cosplay rock.
1. Shiny and expensive isn’t better. I don’t know how many conventions I’ve attended where I’m walking from the hotel to the convention center and BLAM, I’m blinded by someone’s super gleaming satin in the sunlight. First thing, watch the anime, is what you thought was “shine” really just shading? Or could you really send out an SOS with light beams if the character stood in direct sunlight? Odds are it’s not supposed to be satin, lycra, nylon, or any of the other popular “costume making fabrics”. These materials also do not drape properly. Instead of smooth draped curves, you end up with odd boxy edges. I recommend going with cottons. they look better, feel better, are easier to sew, and significantly cheaper.
2. Real hair doesn’t defy gravity on a daily basis. Anime is notorious for those crazy hairstyles that stick out in the air or take on bizarre angles. If you want to use your real hair to achieve these looks, then I recommend the old punk rocker trick of Elmer’s Glue. It’s non-toxic, and washes out with water. It also dries clear. The hard part about this is still forming the hair into the right shape and holding it there while the glue dries. This method is easiest if you have a Vash(from Trigun) hairstyle, one where you can just spike it up and leave your head upside down until it dries. You can also use extra strength hair gel, but I’ve found it doesn’t hold nearly as well as the glue. Wigs are also another option. To get your wig to hold the right shape, you can run wire through the hair and bend it to the desired shape. This also can be tricky and may take a few tries. I’ve seen wigs work remarkably well for characters with hair like Robin from the series Witch Hunter Robin. Last but not least, I’ve seen some awesome hair done out of thin pieces of colored foam. This would work well for hairstyles like Cloud’s.
3. Where the heck do you get a necklace that looks like that? Often characters will have unique jewelry or strange shaped accessories on their clothing. If you don’t want to make the item, then your best bet is thrift stores. There you can find strange items that might look similar to what you need. However, some items are so unique you’re never going to find it already made. My answer to that is Crayola Model Magic. This stuff is awesome, it dries in a few hours, can be painted, not messy, and incredibly easy to work with. As an example of what you can do with this stuff, I made Evangelion hair clips out of it.
4. Don’t try to complete your cosplay in 2 hours. If what you want to make is insanely difficult then give yourself a lot of time to make mistakes. Sewing normal things can be a chore if you’re not experienced, let alone sewing things that you likely don’t have a pattern for. I recommend giving your self at least a month if the costume is not terribly complicated. Give yourself a lot more time if the costume has a lot of odd pieces, or an exceptional amount of detail. For example, Lulu from FFX would take a lot longer then Kiki from Kiki’s Delivery Service. Trust me, your sanity will thank you and also you’ll be a lot less likely to have a vital piece of your costume fall off while running around the convention.
5. You shouldn’t need a small loan to make a costume. Doing cosplay shouldn’t break the bank. If you use reasonably priced fabrics such as lower quality cottons, or hit the discount racks it’ll keep the price down. Also shop around before committing to a purchase. Where one website had that wig for 50 dollars, another site might have it for 25 dollars. Do you really need the best of the best, when the second best looks just as good and is less expensive? Not to mention take a reality check and ask yourself is it really worth hundreds of dollars to wear it once?
There’s a lot more to making a spectacular cosplay outfit then what I’ve said here. But this will defiantly get you on the right path to getting your picture taken because of a drop dead remarkable costume.
Katie “Hawkeye” Connell is Assistant Site Manager for FMA Warcry and a frequent anime reviewer for the hubsite. She served as FMA Warcry’s ambassador at Fanime 2005, and you can check out her full report with pictures here.