Virtual reality becomes actual reality when Taylor “Chibi” ’10 becomes Sora, her favorite Anime character, and attends anime conventions with all her costumed counterparts.
Though she hits smaller conventions year round, this summer brings two of the largest – Anime Expo at the LA Convention Center and Comic-con in San Diego, where she’ll partake in what is known in the Anime world as “cosplay” or role playing dress-up, in which one assumes the role of a character from an Anime show or video game.
Chibi’s cosplay character is Sora from the video game Kingdom Hearts II. She said she feels a connection to him because his values are so close to her own.
“I love Sora so much. I want to be him,” Chibi said.
Chibi studies Sora’s mannerisms so she can keep up with his character developments as Kingdom Hearts II changes.
Though Sora is her favorite character, she has over 20 full cosplay costumes and over 15 wigs, that go with numerous characters.
Chibi’s passion comes with a price. She has spent over $600 for one of her costumes, which includes a fluorescent pink wig, a scythe, blue contacts, production makeup, a jacket, 5 inch boots, pants, gloves, and a fake rose. Chibi bristles at the attitude that some people hold that cosplay is childish, just playing dress-up, but she sees it as an art form.
“It’s important to me,” Chibi said. When she goes to Anime conventions, Chibi is in character the whole time. “You don’t drop the role for anything,” she said.
Although Chibi said she leaves her personal identity at home, she must have a strong sense of self before cosplaying.
“You have to be comfortable in your own skin before you assume another character,” she said.
It is not uncommon to see girls dressing up as male characters and vice versa because a lot of the characters are androgynous, Chibi said.
Chibi said that it’s not about the gender of the character, “it’s about the personality matching.”
Chibi prefers dressing up as male characters, because she said many female anime characters, are perceived as very sexual.
Chibi has fans all over the world that have connected with her through the art-sharing website Deviant Art. Chibi said she meets other Anime fans that range in age from twelve to fifty online and at conventions.
One of her friends is a 32 year old man, but they cosplay together because “age isn’t a big boundary,” Chibi said. “We do it for the art. It’s our life.”
Evelyn ’10, who will also be going to Anime Expo, edits Anime Music Videos (AMV) during her free time.
Mikaela ’14 considers herself a “pro-gamer.” She won’t stop playing a game until she beats it. Her favorite game is “Assassin’s Creed,” and despite its violent images, “it’s really realistic and beautiful,” she said.
“It makes my heart race,” Mikaela said. “I feel like I’m the character, and I’m merged into the game.”