Cosplay: The Importance of Retaining Defining Traits of a Character

So if you haven’t heard, a picture of a cosplayer made its rounds on Facebook walls in our community quite some time ago and has undoubtedly riled up some people in more than a few ways. Some outraged, some confused and others who loved it. The cosplayer claims to be cosplaying Kotori but she uses a pastel purple-coloured wig without Kotori’s signature hairstyle, making her cosplay completely unrecognisable albeit the fact she has one of Kotori’s costumes on.

I believe that everyone will have a different opinion and reason for cosplay and I respect that there’s no right or wrong way to dress up as your favourite character. In accordance to that, I think the main reason why most were upset about this particular cosplayer is because the main trait that makes a character immediately identifiable is their hair and when the wig, worn by a cosplayer who claims to be cosplaying a specific character, is drastically different from the character’s hair style, it won’t even seem like they’re cosplaying the character they claim to be cosplaying at all.

Kotori’s signature hair colour and hair style

If you were to wear a sundress with Naruto’s spiky blonde wig, people would immediately recognise you as Naruto, but in a sundress. Not to mention, when one says they’re cosplaying characters such as Kotori who is fairly well known, has such an iconic hair style and hair colour, most would expect to see those traits because it defines the physical appearance of the character.

I think it’s fine to conjure your own rendition of a certain existing character but in order for your character to be recognisable, one ought to keep certain traits. It’s like designing gijinkas, it wouldn’t be an animal gijinka without the ears and the tail. Kotori’s hairstyle being her defining feature is of course, what most would look for in a Kotori cosplay.

This is also not the same as having a slightly lighter or darker coloured wig because we all know it can be a little bit difficult to find that exact colour. The difference between Kotori’s light greyish brown hair and pastel purple is just too drastic to pass off.

A screenshot from a scene in “Binbougami ga!” not subtly referencing Death Note

Taking the above picture as an example, without the deep-set, dark eyebags and round eyes I would have never understood it was a direct reference to L from Death Note. The round eyes and eyebags of course being the most prominent defining feature of the said character.

Of course, this still doesn’t justify the cyberbullying that the said cosplayer faced. She may have made a mistake but I don’t believe something that should be fun should have caused such an immense backlash from the community. I believe that we as cosplayers in the community should do our best to help each other nicely and politely without berating them with unkind words and shame. Don’t mistake insults and bullying for constructive criticism!

If one were to argue about the body size, shape or features of the cosplayer and the character, that’s inevitable. Fictional characters tend to have unreasonable body proportions such as huge, sparkly eyes, some would have stick thin waists or have heads the size of tennis balls paired with broad ass shoulders. Things like these can’t be helped when it comes to staying true to the defining features of a character, unlike getting the right wig for your costume or improvising the costume appropriately.

Whoa there calm down now, daddy long legs.
Sourced from xxxHolic

Overall, I believe that retaining defining traits of a certain character is extremely important as we all know that Naruto wouldn’t be Naruto without his whiskered cheeks and Todoroki Shouto wouldn’t be Todoroki Shouto without his bicoloured, half and half hair. That’s it for this opinion editorial, happy cosplaying!

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