James Furnell, one of the organizers of the MCM Expo said, cosplay is more popular than ever.
In the past, kitting yourself out as your favorite fictional character was the preserve of fancy-dress competitions at sci-fi conventions, where the most breathtaking sight was someone with particularly convincing Spock ears.
These days, thanks to the growing popularity of Japanese manga and anime, things are bordering on professional. The man in the Iron Man armour made the whole thing himself and even installed a built-in fan to keep him cool.
Fans of anime and manga try their best to recreate the costumes of their favorite characters.
Funnel has been cosplaying for 11 years. He saw people dressing up as characters at manga conventions and decided to do it himself. Soon he was making ambitious costumes, including an enormous and highly detailed Optimus Prime from Transformers. He is regarded as one of the best cosplayers in the country and is running today’s competition while wearing his own Thor costume.
Whilst cosplay may not be everyone’s cup of tea there is a vast amount of skill and attention to detail on display
‘The expo’s masquerade is one of the few which judges people properly on their costume and gives them something to aim for,’ he says. ‘People weren’t pushing themselves and over the past two years we’ve seen a real improvement in standards.’ Furnell enjoys the problem-solving aspect of cosplay. ‘Bringing something to life that’s only been designed as a 2D drawing or in CGI is really rewarding,’ he says.
For others, such as cosplay newcomer Jenny Rundle, 20, who is today dressed as Winry Rockbell from Japanese manga series Fullmetal Alchemist, the appeal is more social. ‘I’ve only been coming to these events for a year,’ she says, ‘but I’ve already made lots of new friends. When you see people dressed as characters from the sort of manga you like, you know you’ve got something in common straight away.’
Rundle isn’t allowed to take part in today’s competition as her outfit has been assembled from clothes she bought in high-street shops (except her scythe, which is made from a curtain pole and cardboard). However, she is planning to make her own in future.
The London MCM Expo takes place ahead of the EuroCosplay Championships in London in October
Dressing up as fantasy characters may not be everyone’s ideal way to spend a weekend but you cannot fail to be impressed by the enthusiasm and skill on display.