Thursday, November 17, 2011

Trends in cosplay on stage

(This is written with how the Danish cosplay scene has been and is, in mind).

Since performance in cosplay has begun to grow as big as the craftmanship part, judges has as well begun to expect more of effects and such in acts on stage.

In Denmark, the 'walking on stage' and presenting the costume, was a pretty common thing back in the day, but as the social part of the internet displaying the art grew, the whole cosplay performance scene has now evolved into much more than that. 

Talking a look at the media today, gives one a good idea of what cosplayers can use on stage. 

Dancing / singing / performing - inspiration from media
As the local TV stations the world over broadcasts programs as 'Dancing with the Stars', ' Insert country name - Got Talent', 'Idol' and so on. A large amount of the viewers probably are cosplayers, so they will be inspired by what this kind of media serves them. At the moment dancing is a big trend in the Danish cosplay scene, and the media has its part of involvement, but is of course not the only source of inspiration. 

Singing has been and still plays a huge part of the acts on stage. Software like Vocaloid has become a revolution to cosplayers singing and performing dance on stage. Here the online social media like Youtube and Nico Nico Douga, has played its part in developing the interest in these part of performances. Alot of fans of the software, has created and posted videos of the characters singing and performing, for other fans to comment and get inspired by.

Action / Fight
Alot of anime, manga and other entertainment, contains scenes of either fights, violence and thing alike. To do actual martial arts, I encourage people to take classes of actual martial arts, to make the 'performance' or 'act' as realistic as possible. Of course at some point, some costume doesn't allow you to respond with normal body movements, and you are forced to go down another road to make your performance more alive.  

This topic takes part in many anime, manga, entertainment and so on to give things a push in different directions. On stage in an act, this has been used amongst popular shows like Naruto, Bleach and so on. Performance wise, comedy is a great way to catch people, but it can be hard to attain the right effect.

In 2009 scenery started to emerge, and in 2010 most of the groups participating in the cosplay competition at the convention J-Popcon, had a piece of scenery with them on the stage. After this year, the convention created a high black piece of scenery, that could be placed where the cosplayers wanted it on the stage.    

VFX / Lights in the costumes / dolls
Among cosplayers in Denmark, putting lights in costumes, has since 2009 begun to catch on, and people put light in everything from their props to their costumes and scenery. Not only has lights sunk it's claws into the cosplayers, visual effects like flying confetti, bubble blowing is being used to show magical moments or explosions.

When competitions only allow a certain amount of people, and an act only makes sense when an extra person is on stage, people often use dolls to visualize it. This method has been used for a while in Denmark, and has become pretty normal. Lately puppetry has also been used to present characters and such.

Changing costumes on stage
Changing into or from a costume to another, became popular some years ago, and has catched on. It is being overused, but can be really interesting, if the changing of clothes are a huge part of the performance. In Denmark in 2011, a group performing at the convention J-Popcon, Copenhagen, did a performance, where one of the participants changed five times on stage. 

What makes a performance spectacular / non expected / a new experience?
Trends are 'old' things that used to be original in performances like VFX and unexpected things in an act.

There is not a recipe for an act to be spectacular or new. The only thing that you can do to give a spectacular experience for the audience / judges watching your performance, is having a look at the previous trends, and decide what parts you want to include or exclude and find something that no one has used before, to create something extraordinary.

It can be hard to find something that has not been done before, but it definitely is possible to create something that will make the hearts of the judges beat faster.   

My thoughts as an experienced cosplayjudge
I find that the different media can be a great inspiration, to what you can add to a performance to present an atmosphere, feeling or so. People do tend to creat performances that are similar, since everything is a 'remix' of something else. (Like movies, music and so on. Watch the series of 'Everything is a remix', to get some ideas of what has been created from other things (Star Wars etc).) When I get to judge a cosplay competition, I try to see how people are being true to their character and the game/entertainment source, while trying to create a new experience from an already know script etc.

Personally, I find that just copying a whole scene from the source and just presenting that without 'remixing' it with something new, can just be a boring show. You got to make it 'yours' and present it in your way.

But what is most important, is that you create a performance that you are satisfied with, and that you feel represents the series-/game-/entertainments source the best.

Things are up for discussion, so please feel free to link to this blogpost, or write a comment below.

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