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Friday, August 7, 2009
We mentioned the crossover between cosplay and LARPing in the West in our previous post. But according to Wikipedia, a somewhat recent trend at cosplay events in Japan is an increase in the popularity of non-Japanese science fiction movie characters like those from The Matrix, or Star Wars, or as fantasy characters, like from Lord of the Rings or the Harry Potter films, which have many female fans in Japan, who enjoy cosplaying either male or female characters.
This leads us to another trend. When cosplayers take on characters of the opposite sex, it’s known as "crossplay”. Wikipedia explains that this may be because of the abundance of bishounen (beautiful youths)--effeminate male characters that females can often more accurately portray than men. Also perhaps because some characters cross-dress to start with, or finally because cosplay is about taking on a new persona.
But there’s another level to it too. Cosplaying as a character who dresses as the opposite sex is called "cross-dressing". Take for example the male artist Mana from the Visual Kei band Malice Mizer, who is known for dressing in female clothes. A female cosplaying as Mana would be crossplaying, but not cross-dressing, because she’d still be dressed as a girl. A male cosplaying as Mana would be cross-dressing (dressed as a girl), but not crossplaying (playing a guy).
Another trend that may have helped publicize events came by the late 1980s, when cosplay became a chance to be seen. A new kind of cosplayer emerged—one who attended events with the goal of being photographed. Photographers also started attending events to capture the best cosplayers on film, and wanted to get their photos published in magazines as much as the models wanted to be seen. Then with the internet and social networking, people could share their experiences and photographs with other players, sharing, rating and socializing about various events and cosplay costumes.