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It seems that not so long ago we made Cinderella and Cat-in-Boots costumes for the New Year, considering ourselves the coolest on the school tree. Now, young people prefer to transform into anime and comic book heroes. Spending on unique costumes sometimes exceeds all conceivable limits, because every detail is important for a real cosplayer. Contrary to popular belief, this hobby did not come to us from Japan at all, and it is difficult to call it new - the movement originated almost a hundred years ago.
Like any self-respecting subculture, cosplay has its own history. Sci-fi fans are considered the inventors of the costume game. At the beginning of the 20th century, this genre experienced its heyday: the world expected real miracles from science, and they really happened. But long before the first flight into space and the invention of the computer, people raved about new technologies and tried to get closer to a happy man-made future, predict and describe it. The 30-50s of the last century are now called the “Golden Age of Science Fiction”.
At one of the first conventions of science fiction lovers in New York, in 1939, an incident occurred that marked the beginning of a new fan movement. The writer Forrest Ackerman appeared in front of like-minded people in an unusual costume of a futuristic look. Apparently, he portrayed a man of the future. I liked the idea, and next year several fans of this genre came to the meeting in costumes. In 1956, there were so many people wishing to dress up that a competition was held between them for the first time.
The first cosplayers, not yet knowing that in a couple of decades they would be called that, portrayed the heroes of science fiction comics, films and literary works. Popular characters back then were aliens, astronauts and insane but brilliant scientists. Fans of the new movement began to unite in thematic groups, communicate and share experiences.
In the late 1970s, Star Wars was released. The world of science fiction fans shuddered. Now Star Knights and Princesses have become the most popular characters in costume contests. Around the same years, the United States held the first Comic-Con festival, and the event immediately became massive.
Where does such a strange name come from?
The new subculture did not have a special name until 1983. The author of the term is considered the Japanese journalist Nobuyuki Takahashi. In his article-report from the Los Angeles World Science Fiction Convention, the designation "kosupure" first appeared - this is how the word sounded in Japanese. The journalist combined the concepts of "costume" and "play", so "cosplay" is an abbreviation for the English: "costume play".
The name itself is the difference between simple dressing up and cosplay. The latter, in his high sense, is a real reincarnation into a beloved hero. Experienced fans not only make unique costumes for themselves, but also necessarily "act out" them - they learn several characteristic poses, movements and phrases of their prototype, convey its character and mood, so it requires not only tinkering, but also acting skills.
Having originated in the United States, the new subculture quickly reached Japan.It was here that cosplay took on the form in which we know it now: characters from fantasy came to replace the heroes of science fiction. Comics, films, and video games are now the main source of inspiration. Returning to America in this updated version, cosplay began to be perceived as a Japanese invention.
It is interesting that today the directions of "costume play" in the west and in the east are different, but this concerns not so much the costumes themselves as the internal relations of cosplayers. The Japanese movement, according to experts, is more demanding and harsh. In the land of the rising sun, there have been cases when a person was persecuted for insulting a beloved character with an inappropriate figure or ugly face.
In the United States, the fundamentals of political correctness are so familiar that it is considered unacceptable to pay attention to the skin color or complexion of a cosplayer. Everyone has the right to feel like a fairy, regardless of weight and age. American cosplayers love to compete in their art, but they remain very friendly to each other.
Debit with credit
At the beginning of the movement, cosplayers competed not so much in acting as in the ability to create a beautiful and reliable costume from improvised materials (we have one suitable proverb from which you can make candy). Today, by the way, this approach does not lose its relevance, but not for everyone. There is a layer of "professional" cosplayers with whom whole teams work: seamstresses, costume designers, make-up artists and photographers. Of course, all this is not cheap, and the result can be promoted accounts in social networks and the sale of photos.
However, many true fans of this movement believe that the economic rationale only harms the movement as a whole, because in the pursuit of the conjuncture, many are beginning to bet on what the public will definitely “swallow” - the eroticism of the outfits and the scandalousness of the image. For true cosplay lovers, only the image itself is important. They put a piece of their soul into each costume and do it not for money, but in order to reincarnate into their favorite hero and merge with him, even if only in the form of a game.
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