What was once frowned upon as an outlandish, closeted (and sometimes fetishised) hobby has now gone primetime. Just look at the US reality show Heroes of Cosplay and the Playboy spreads dedicated to the craft. Even our Lion City has its own small yet incredibly vibrant cosplay scene – you only have to head to this year’s Singapore Toy, Game and Comic Convention (STGCC) to find scores of them.
‘Some people think that we cosplay to become someone else. But I think we cosplay to become who we really want to be.’
20-year-old Rachel Chua has been cosplaying for a little over a year now, and she’s already noticed the perception of her hobby improve. ‘Some people think that we cosplay to become someone else,’ she says. ‘But I think we cosplay to become who we really want to be.’ Even when she crossdresses as Sawamura Eijun, a male character from the anime Ace of Diamond? You bet.
Cross-dressing, or gender-bending, is nothing new to cosplayers. What is new, however, is ‘Boy Love’ (BL), one of the more recent trends that have arisen from – where else? – Japan. Kuryu and Nakoto, both guests at STGCC, are mega-stars of BL. They’re best known for dressing up as male characters, then posing with each other in elaborate and sometimes homoerotic photos.
‘It comes from fan fiction, where fans fantasise about who their favourite characters should end up with. Also, instead of the male being more dominant in a relationship, BL is more about equality. So [Kuryu and Nakoto] do it as a form of fan service,’ explains Chua, herself won over by the Japanese duo.
So it’s not difficult to figure that the STGCC cosplayers are trying to tell us something: think different. You can’t just dress up as Joker or Darth Vader and call it a day. If you truly want to stand out at STGCC’s cosplay competition – where the winner gets to represent STGCC at the 2016 C2E2 Crown Championship of Cosplay in Chicago – you need something a little extra. A skull-juggling Harley Quinn that breathes fire and brimstone, perhaps?
Three local designers to check out at STGCC
Mighty Jaxx (Booth J9)
When Jackson Aw couldn’t find the toys he wanted, he set up Mighty Jaxx and designed over a hundred figurines himself.
Daniel Yu (Booth AA15)
This sculptor works primarily with clay and resin, combining pop culture and his local upbringing to produce unique, hand-painted figurines.
Lion Geeks (Booths AA3 & AA5)
By day, the Lion Geeks create illustrations for the games industry. But after work, it’s all about sharing art and supporting indie creators.