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sailormoon - pgsm senshi

The Cosplay Conundrum

So I went to Anime Expo this past weekend, and I was all geared up to cosplay Sailor Saturn. I was also willing to go as Kayabuki, the Prime Minister from Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig, since my boyfriend David was going as the Laughing Man and his friend Liam as Gouda, but the costume is far from comfortable in the heat, and I couldn't get her short hairstyle quite right. What was supposed to be a one or two-day costume ended up being my ONLY costume (and probably not a very obvious one at that, which, to me, halfway ruins the point of cosplay), though I ended up wearing "street clothes" for the other days. It's one thing to wear a red skirtsuit that I already own, quite another to get a custom-made Sailor Saturn seifuku from an FIDM graduate on commission for $390.

Originally, the commissioner, Ashli of Loserific Commissions, told me we'd meet up sometime on Day 1. I went to the Opening Ceremonies and texted her, but got no reply. As the day wore on, I texted her a few more times, asking stuff like "Hello?" until I finally called her. I left a voicemail that basically said if I didn't hear from her, I'd have to contact Paypal (where I'd made the payments) and file a claim for goods not received. Later, I got a flood of texts from Ashli apologizing, saying that she'd just gotten her phone (why didn't she have it on her? I don't know.) and that she would do her best to get the costume done by Day 3, Sunday.

Not cool, but not horrible, either. She said we'd meet early on Sunday, leaving me with two full days of the con to cosplay.

Sunday rolls around and I still haven't heard from her about where or when to meet. When she finally does text me, she says that she hasn't been able to finish the costume, that she doesn't want to deliver something to me that isn't the quality I'm likely expecting, and that she will give me 10% off and ship it to me for free--by the end of this week (that's this Friday).

Reluctantly, I agreed to this, even though I only go to two cons a year as of late (Anime Expo and Anime LA--one in January, the other in July). I commissioned Ashli back in mid-March, and I've been excitedly waiting for the costume since then. Dad and I pretty much slaved over the Silence Glaive prop that was the one component of the costume that Ashli couldn't provide, and now it's sitting, useless, at Adam's apartment.

It's Thursday evening now, and I haven't heard from Ashli about whether the costume is done, what problems she was having (did she take on too many projects? Were others that she was already working on better-paying? Due sooner?), or if she's already sent it with tracking. If she said she'll "get it to me by Friday," then shouldn't I have heard SOMETHING by now?

I don't want to give up and just ask for a refund, but I know I have to draw the line somewhere or lose my investment. I would be really disappointed if the first "major" cosplay commission I got, or a fellow Moonie, shafted me in this way. But I think if she still can't come through by tomorrow, I'm going to ask for a steeper discount (refund), and if I haven't gotten it by the middle of the month, I'll file a claim with Paypal or ask for a complete refund. It would frankly suck, but maybe I could find another SM commissioner in time for Anime LA in January.

On a more expository note, just because I didn't cosplay doesn't mean I didn't pay attention to cosplay. Actually, I didn't see any other Saturn cosplayers, which was either a relief or sad...sometimes it's fun to meet with other people who have the same great idea as you.

But I did see plenty of other Sailor Moon cosplayers, and I'm frankly surprised by how poor some of them were--in my opinion. See, the way I see it, a cosplay represents your love of a character. You're taking on that character's identity, essentially. People who see you may not see your badge, may not know your real name, but will know who you're dressed up as. They will want to take pictures, talk about the series the character is from, and generally give you a moment to shine. If you're going to do a half-assed job, where the resemblance is minimal, or it makes you, the wearer, look sloppy and perhaps even disrespectful, why bother at all?

I saw a few Sailor Moon cosplayers who got the hair color wrong. Sailor Moon's a blonde. Not everyone has to go yellow-blonde like the anime, but she's not a redhead/strawberry blonde. If you want to claim you're cosplaying her manga version, I suppose the blonde can be a bit brighter, maybe even a platinum blonde, but not something that could be mistaken for a red or a brown color.

I know some of the more challenging parts of a genuine Sailor Moon cosplay are all her "accessories." The manga version of Sailor Moon and Super Sailor Moon all have barrettes in her hair, and I don't think I saw anyone with them in. They're so easy to make! Plus, there are multiple ways to make them for your comfort/your wig, so I really think if you're going to do a specific version of Sailor Moon, to get that kind of thing right. Her bun gems are a bit more of a challenge, but I did see at least one girl with them. Besides, they're part of her character, just like her boots, choker, and brooch!

And...her wand. If you're going to be a character who is associated with a weapon, have the right one or don't bother at all. Super Sailor Moon wouldn't carry around the Cutie Moon Rod from Sailor Moon R, or the Moon Stick/Crescent Moon Wand from the first season/arc. She also wouldn't have white boots with no lining whatsoever. I don't know why seeing that bothered me so much, but it did. It makes me think "faux fan!"

Of course, there's leeway. The anime and the manga don't always get it 100% accurate all of the time, but the basic color scheme and parts (bodysuit with sailor collar, skirt, boots/heels, brooch, bows, choker) should be in any decent Sailor Senshi cosplay. I did see one girl who looked like Sailor Jupiter, but with half blue, half pink hair in pigtails. Rather than criticize her inaccuracy, I figured she was cosplaying as an Otaku Senshi, one that she made up herself or that she really likes from some fanfiction. Maybe she was Neo-Sailor Jupiter? I didn't ask. But when you cosplay an obvious character and then do an "eeh'" job at it, it's sad for everyone. It seems like you don't care, or that the fandom isn't worth caring enough about to be accurate.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying people have to be 100% accurate--that's frankly impossible for most cosplay. People aren't tall enough, short enough, skinny enough, busty enough, pale enough, tan enough, muscled enough, etc. But those things are traits that cosplayers forgive in one another. If you get the costume wrong, you're missing half the point (costume-play).

I saw a PGSM version of Princess Sailor Moon. Her tiara wasn't even a plastic costume one (I think it was cardboard), and her "boots" were just satin sewn over her legs and badly sewed (stapled?) over flip flops. I'm sure she was comfortable, but above all else: she was immediately recognizable. Sure, she probably didn't get the costume from any sort of professional commissioner or cosplay shop, but I didn't see any other Princess Sailor Moons that came even close to her accuracy. She got every piece perfect, near as I could tell, no matter how good or bad the actual quality was. And if she was comfortable in it--because it fit her and she could move around in it--isn't that awesome? I mean, how can cosplaying be any fun if you can't socialize or enjoy yourself with all the other fans?

In my Kayabuki "cosplay," I wore black Vans that I bought a few days before. I neglected to wear pantyhose with them, though, so I got blisters that burst as we walked from lunch back to the con. My feet hurt so much that I couldn't wear the shoes without being in excruciating pain. When Adam arrived, he brought my slippers, and I wore those for the rest of the day. Was it accurate? Heck no! But at that point, I figured that no one recognized me as Kayabuki anyway, even when I was with David as Laughing Man. If someone had, and they'd asked after my slippers, I would have said something like "I'm Kayabuki on her day off," or "I'm Kayabuki at home." There's flexibility within accuracy--provided everyone is having fun. In the end, the "play" part is more important to me than the "costume" part. And you can't really "play" and not have fun, right?

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Hell, no one's going to recognize the next costumes that my friend and I are doing, but we're going to get them correct, right down to the embroidered logos on the clothes.