Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Championship Choices

As it's competition season, I thought it might be interesting to delve into the subject of competition costume choices. 

Before we go into it, I guess I should put out a disclaimer: neither myself nor Emi are claiming to be authorities on ~what to pick to win competitions~, the idea for this blog today is to just discuss our personal thought process behind what we have chosen for each leg of WCS and what we have learned from previous generations of WCS contestants, as well as our peers in the competition this year.

First of all I guess I should pose the question; what makes you decide to enter a competition in the first place? For Emi and I, I think it was a combination of a few things. We've both watched several of our close friends go through a few international competitions. Their feats were not only inspiring and encouraging, but they came with a warning: competitions are hard work, and they put even the closest friendships to the test. 

The potential of driving each other so mad I end up trying to throttle her with bias binding while she stabs me in the face with dressmaking pins... With neither of us being particularly competitive, this potentially deadly outcome wasn't really worth it. 

When we went to Japan Expo in 2012 and watched two of our friends compete in the European Cosplay Gathering, however, got us thinking; maybe we could, too? What comp would we enter? What would we wear? It slowly became a past-time of ours to just imagine scenarios, performances, costumes we could potentially enter any given competition with.

Fast forward a year; in the run up to Play Expo, Emi and I hit on some inspiration for some costumes we wanted to make. An ambitious task, but one we were both motivated and actually did a fair amount of work on before the horrible realisation hit us.... These costumes were not going to get done. We had bitten off more than we could chew.

You can probably see why. We started putting things together for these outfits in July, but by September we still weren't that far ahead and, in fact, really struggling to find important elements like the correct colour fabric and the right wig. 

In the end, around 3 weeks before Play Expo we did something totally unheard of and super unusual for UK cosplayers - [as if!] we changed our costume ideas. We changed to simpler costumes we knew we could execute well and concentrated on a strong performance to go with it.

At the end of the day, I'm happy we did. We were able to tap into a series we were both not only passionate about, but we could come up with an interesting and dynamic skit, too. Although they lacked the small detailing of the Eternal Sonata outfits, our Tsubasa ones were finished - and well. We even put pockets in my trousers - POCKETS!!

The moral of this story wasn't totally lost on us - whatever we would go into the championships with had to follow a core set of rules we would set down for ourselves, so we didn't get lost like we did going into the prelims. We were offered advice from the previous WCS Team UK reps and took it all on board. It took us a while to come to our decision, but when we set it in stone it was one we were both very happy with, and most importantly excited to get to work.

The first piece of advice we were offered by our predecessors was that in Japan they love a few things on the championship stage. They love things that are very ~Japanese~ and hand in hand with that they also love the feeling of nostalgia. So before I sharpied on my Kochikame eyebrow to invoke that feeling of audience nostalgia, Emi discussed that nostalgia wasn't really for us, but we would both love to do a costume that embraced a traditional Japanese feeling and matched the setting we were lucky enough to be placed in.

We made a dropbox and shared a whole lot of artbook and reference pictures of various series and characters we could potentially do. Lots of things were taken out because of the difficulty of wearing or moving in them. One thing we had to keep in mind was - regardless of whether we were being "competitive" or not (which we weren't) - we would be on stage in front of a live audience, as well as being filmed and streamed online. We needed costumes with a fluid and easy movement, and something that stood out. Unlike a lot of walk-on-walk-off cosplay comps, something like Trinity Blood wasn't going to be an option for us.

I'm not sure how we settled on Tsubasa again in the end. I know we both had wanted to do those particular outfits for a long time and we'd done it once before. It took us a while to decide to deviate from the matching outfit for Syaoran, however. We needed a certain dynamic in our performance that just wasn't filled with his white outfit, and the "Clone" fit the bill perfectly. Lots of billowing, lots of flowing. We had found our fit!

Last time, and in this case in particular, it was a case of Fine Detail vs Performance Value. We played to what we decided our strengths were, that we unfortunately didn't have the money, resources or skills available that would be required in a highly technical and complex costume build (see ECG Team/Solo 2014). We decided for WCS in particular, that since the performance aspect is heavily weighted, we would focus our efforts there.

Thinking back on all of this now makes me kind of nervous. If we'd started hand embroidering that Trinity Blood cape or resin casting that Hero Suit last year would we be looking any better now? I'm not really sure, I guess. 

Choosing something for the sake of it being big and impressive is fair enough when you can pull it off, but the best way Emi and myself felt we could do the UK proud in Japan was stick to our guns. Cosplay something we love. Show everyone what we can do with what we have. I think that's the best advice I could give anyone going in for a big competition like this; it's as easy as cosplaying something you love. It shows in the way you move and act on stage and it shows in the way you've made your costume. 

Plus, and maybe most importantly, when it comes to crunch time and you and your partner are knee deep in offcuts and pattern pieces and ready to wrestle each other out of a window, you can take a step back from it all and just remember what you're in it for. 

Unless you're in it for the cash dolla. Then always think about the cash dolla.

No comments:

Post a Comment