We’ve become accustomed to seeing people dressed up in our everyday lives. From different work outfits, religious attire and even those who prefer to dress in their own unique personal style every day. But if you are in Toronto this weekend prepare for a bit more colour and style than usual.
This weekend brings the return of Anime North to Toronto, the annual convention celebrating anime, manga, Japanese culture and a wealth of other entertainment genres. You’ll find video gaming, movies and tabletop gaming all represented here and you’ll also find no shortage of colourful characters walking around.
Cosplay is the act of dressing up as your favourite entertainment character. There is no range or restriction to who you might see decked out in full garb, from medieval warriors, school girls, storm troopers, super heroes or even Pokémon. They’ll all be here, and then some.
But the people who participate in cosplay are doing more than just playing dress up. They do it because they love it. It’s definitely a passion and takes a lot more work to pull off than you might think.
One such cosplayer, by the name of Scylla, is putting the finishing touches on this latest cosplay for the convention, and has been working on her latest costume on and off for the last three months. The entire outfit has been done from scratch, which isn’t uncommon for cosplayers. Scylla will be dressed as Ice Drake Shyvana from League of Legends, an online video game. Along with a group of friends, all of whom will be dressed up as characters from the popular game, she has organized a panel, photoshoot and meet and greet events in anticipation of the large response to their costumes.
Scylla was hooked doing cosplay after her first time at Anime North.
“I started in 2005/6 after my first convention, Anime North,” Scylla explains, “I showed up for an hour or two with my dad and the moment I set foot in the parking lot, I saw waves and waves of my favorite characters walk by me and I freaked out. It’s hard to explain the childhood RUSH of excitement I had that day.”
In the years since her first convention, Scylla has donned many different costumes and has met many of her closest friends through cosplay. She describes meeting people and socializing with others as her number one perk, and overall has had a very positive experience with the general public when she’s in costume, both inside and outside of the conventions.
“Sometimes children will run up and ask for pictures,” she says with a smile.
Alexandra, who is another cosplayer who will be attending Anime North again this year, also got started nearly a decade ago after attending her first convention in 2004. By the following year she was attending the annual event in costume. It is the social aspect of cosplaying that keeps her coming back for more.
“I enjoy making my cosplays and wearing them, taking pictures and hanging out with other cosplayers,” Alexandra shared when asked why she continues to cosplay each year, despite the occasional rude remark she hears from passers by when she’s wearing a more revealing costume. And just like Scylla, she makes all of her costumes from scratch.
Depending on their complexity a costume can take as little as a few days or as long as six months. Alexandra’s current project is the Aqua ballgown worn by Ariel in The Little Mermaid. Alexandra has made the dress herself from scratch.
If you’re walking around the convention and want to take a photo of anyone is costume, don’t be shy. Most of them are more than happy to stop and pose for a photo.
“Last year our groups record of amount of steps we could take without photos was six steps,” Scylla joked.
See you there.