Yorkshire Cosplay Con 7
In the Magna Science Centre Rotherham, the seventh Yorkshire Cosplay Convention took place. Cosplay celebrates iconic franchises through its fans dressing up as characters.
It has become something of a phenomena, drawing from the pop culture Japanese tradition of people forming groups based upon a shared interest in fiction and expressing a sense of solidarity and identity. This has grown to become a Western trend on the back of the enormous success of Superhero ‘Multiverses’ and we now see manga Cosplayers posing alongside Marvel and Disney idols. These identification or ‘homologies’ between different cultural patterns are encompassed in Cosplay lore and are key elements in ‘participatory culture’ where fan power is mobilised and galvanised to colourful (and highly lucrative) effect.
On the 4th April 2015, two YSJU students were asked to attend the Cosplay convention to explore the idea of fan participation. What follows is there account of the day:
I travelled by train from Manchester. I found some attendees; I knew where they were going on sight as they had dressed up unlike me. I stuck with these people until I met up with Joanne as I don’t know the area well.
So my journey was an experience driving down from Hartlepool to Rotherham. After leaving my house with my Dad, who was separately attending the convention as a VIP Cosplayer. My Dad picked up some other people up on our way we picked up a Belle, Disney Princess and a nurse Harley Quinn. I met up with Annie after trailing the two queues that could stretch for about a mile around the entrance to Magna.
We have already described the queue in a little detail. It took up most of our day. A lot of VIP Cosplayers were walking around the queue keeping the enthusiasm going for those who were beginning to become bored of the wait. Some of those who were walking around the queue were Darth Vader and a band of Stormtroopers accompanied by Chewbacca and Bobba Fett, all familiar characters from the Star Wars franchise, rejuvenated by the prospect of the upcoming sequels. After their appearance we were greeted by Daleks as we queued in what feels like a strange mash-up of science fiction mythologies.
The convention had attracted a lot of people so inside was a challenge to navigate. The first room we saw was a Lego display of various franchises including Star Wars’ the Millennium Falcon as well as Middle Earth. We moved into the main hall which contained a large amount of merchandise. This ranged from Anime and Manga to various film and game franchises. The merchandise itself spanned a broad range from books and DVDs to clothing such as Game of Thrones T-Shirts and figures from various different franchises. At the side were various actors and writers signing merchandise for fans. Also at the side there was authors trying to sell their books. Various competitions were being held throughout the day in the main hall whereas specific attractions took place in smaller rooms such as best handmade costume.
The attractions did not stop inside they were cars outside. These ranged from Bumblebee from The Transformers series to Lightning McQueen, from Pixar’s Cars. As well as a group of dancing Cosplayers who apparently dance a lot after conventions. The attractions outside where cars and people towards the end.
People were very happy to pose for photos and to talk about their costumes. Nobody sneered at others, everyone seemed appreciative of each other’s efforts and there was a palpable sense of celebration during the event. Despite the crowds and the heat it was a good insight into a specific type of fan participation that’s growing significantly popular across the world.
However we did feel like we were the odd ones out because we did not dress up as any characters for that time we were there. It was a great experience despite the waiting in line and feeling like we were the odd ones out even though no matter were dressed like people still made attempts to involve everyone. Just as in the past, mods and rockers found others who shared their passion for music through a shared dress code and sense of style, Cosplayers celebrate pop culture through sartorial rituals and codes. The difference here is the sheer variety and postmodern bricolage of costumes on display, and with the booming success of science fiction and fantasy across film, television and the web this dizzying variety looks set to explode.