There is no better way to hide from your life than pretend to be someone way cooler.
My name is Bianca, and I’m a market manager at HotelsByDay. A major part of my life is centered around Japanese culture. Since I was young my family has always been part of the Japanese community in my city as my grandfather was a sensei at our local judo club. It is always surprising to many people as my family is not Japanese, we are Italian. As a young second-generation Italian, my grandfather had to learn a form of self-defense and passed on his passion for history and culture to his children and then me. My uncle, however, is the one who got me into anime. He would give my mother VHS tapes of his favorite cartoons to borrow. On his trips to Japan, he would bring back souvenirs for us.
It wasn’t long until my sister and I were staying up late to watch “Inuyasha” and “Bobobo-bo-bobobo” on Cartoon Network. This is what eventually led to me becoming an avid cosplayer.
In fact, this month I’ll be attending the Anime NYC event as ‘Kamado Tanjirou’ from the latest series, “Kimetsu No Yaiba: Demon Slayer” — as well as a few other notable characters.
It takes a lot of effort and time to transform into a character. It’s not as easy as magical girls like sailor moon make it seem.
Many people don’t seem to fully understand or appreciate the effort it takes to get into costume — a stigma about cosplayers still exists. But as the years go by and many nerds have kids of their own, it’s becoming more acceptable to “nerd out,” as I like to say.
So in honor of the upcoming magical event that is Anime NYC, I’m writing to share my passion for the community, shed some light behind the scenes of cosplay, and provide some tips for people who may be interested in getting into cosplay.
Keep reading to learn about my journey with cosplay, my focus on dressing up as Kamado Tanjirou this year, and what it takes to create a hit costume.
Everyone has this moment when they first set eyes on a show or film. It could be the phenomenal voice acting, amazing art style, or the storyline that makes a viewer go “ohmygod I will die for these characters.”
Or perhaps the viewer picked up the manga and has been absolutely enthralled with the comic for months, anxiously waiting for a film adaptation to see their favorite characters come to life(which is magical in itself).
Many “normies” won’t understand why people will sort of fall in love with fictional characters, but the first thing I will say about that is: you all went wild for Edward vs. Jacob, then Christan Grey, and let’s not forget literally every boy band ever.
Same coin different side.
This is the pinnacle of the culture: people gather on forums through this common bond, share inside jokes and memes, create fan art and write fan fiction, have general discussions about what they like or dislike about the anime or even in-depth analysis about a film or comic.
But how can people say they love these fictional people? It’s simple, we relate to them in ways where we have the same mannerisms or want to adopt the same characteristics as their favorite character, which is where cosplay has its incredibly special moments. Becoming these characters, no matter how simple the cosplay, gives you the chance to be recognized not as “Bianca: Depressed Adult” but rather “Kamado Tanjirou: Sweetest Boy.”
Because I love so many boys, I feel bad focusing on just one, but by far Tanjirou Kamado will be the most impressive cosplay I’ve done to date.
Set in the Taisho Period (1912-1926), Tanjirou is a young boy who lives in the mountains selling charcoal. His life takes a turn for the worst when he finds nearly his entire family murdered. The only survivor, his sister Nezuko, has been turned into a demon. Tanjirou then finds a demon slayer whom he convinces to not kill his sister and promises to train hard and become a demon slayer, hoping to find a cure to turn his sister back into a human.
Tanjirou has a sweetness about him that makes you feel a warmth inside. He always encourages his friends and has a lot of courage, which is why I want to cosplay as him. Also Inosuke (another character from the series) would be hard to cosplay; I have yet to get a six-pack of abs. 🙁
I started my preparations on October 1 to make sure all of my costume components arrive on time. As you can see in the photos, things did not arrive on time. I have provided an artist’s rendering (I drew this) as well as a photo of me as Luigi to make up for it.
I’d normally sew everything myself but I only have so much time on my hands, so I’m focusing on props. My background in art design has adapted me to do almost anything, so I decided I will carve a katana out of wood. (Note: I have never done wood carving. I did carve a ring once, but that was out of wax. Losing my finger would be a pretty cool story, so it’s a risk I will take for the sake of accuracy.)
Tanjirou is also known for his “Hanafuda-like earrings” which I am making out of polymer clay. For the final touch, I decided that I will dye my hair burgundy so I don’t have to wear a stuffy wig all day.
Aside from Tanjirou, I have two other costumes I am working on: Etregun a DJ from the Netflix original anime “Carole and Tuesday” and Luigi from the Mario Bros. For these two characters, it was just a matter of finding the right clothing items and tailoring them for a more simple cosplay. All this effort is but a portion of what goes into the works of costume design.
Just as there are professional artists, there is such a thing as a professional cosplayer. It’s amazing to see what a person can do when going all out with their costumes. With complicated cosplays, however, there are a few downsides that people usually don’t think about.
For instance, people in complicated outfits usually have a hard time moving around — perhaps they have armor or extra appendages to fully commit to the design of the original character.
There’s also added weight depending on the materials and complexity of one’s costume. Let’s not forget the more outrageous designs such as Asuka Langley and Rei Ayanami from “Neon Genesis Evangelion” — or almost any character from Studio Trigger’s “Kill La Kill” (classic anime must-watch).
Skin-tight designs are hard to achieve without facing some harsh weather conditions or perhaps unwanted behavior aimed towards the cosplayer. We event-goers are a dedicated group; we brave cold temperatures in revealing clothing to keep the integrity of the original costume design just as we endure extremely hot weather wearing fursuits (stay hydrated my furry friends!)
When going to events in costume, you are no longer your usual self. You are referred to by your character name. It’s truly a magical transformation. You get invited to random groups, meet new people and get numerous compliments. The most special thing about your first cosplay isn’t how complicated and accurate it is, but that someone out there will recognize you. And, even as a person who hates having photos taken of them, there is no better feeling in the world than a stranger running up to you excitedly asking for a picture together because you are their favorite character.
I mentioned a few things being difficult about cosplay. If you are passionate enough, the harsh weather or words won’t affect you and they shouldn’t. The hardest part about cosplay is putting down your sword, removing your makeup, and going from a boy with insane sword skills back to a regular person, then waiting for the next event. Fear not though, because even though I lack a lot of faith in people, I still believe in the magic of humans. Which leaves me with two questions for you, the viewer:
If humans were the mystical creatures of fantasies, what would our superpowers be —and what special skills do you possess that makes your life a bit more exciting?
And now, for the ultimate experience, please play: “Kimetsu No Yaiba: HinoKami Kagura” as I’m going to type out a classic anime speech, “I believe in my friends” that happens as someone is about to die (but they won’t die, because their friends believe in them).
HEY! DON’T GIVE UP HOPE, I KNOW YOU ONLY KNOW ME AS A MARKET MANAGER FROM HOTELS BY DAY, BUT YOU’RE NOT USELESS. GET UP AND TRY AGAIN, NO MATTER HOW MANY SCRATCHES YOU GET YOU BECOME THAT MUCH STRONGER. HEAD BUTT YOUR PROBLEMS RIGHT IN THE FACE.
Anime NYC is coming up quickly!
Getting dressed up as your favorite hero and seeing other people enact their dreams is priceless. Need a place to get ready for the convention or a place to prepare for the after-parties all weekend long?
Choose from countless short-stay hotel rooms within walking distance to the convention and get a 5% discount when you use code “AnimeNYC” at checkout! Book a Manhattan hotel room today!
Sailor moon transformation gif via Giphy. Original animation by Naoko Takeuchi 1992 via Toei Animation
“Kimetsu no Yaiba” 2016, Manga Chapter 129 by Koyoharu Gotouge published by Shueisha
“Kimetsu no Yaiba” 2019, Anime by Ufotable, directed by Haruo Sotozaki