Cosplayers don't like the Reader writer coming in costume

“Anime characters are perfect”

Taken out of context, I look ridiculous. I am standing in front of the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center among a group of costumed anime fans, and I am wearing Mary Janes paired with a powder-blue dress in an old-fashioned bicycle print. A large bow decorates the neckline — I am going for an Alice in Wonderland look. Last night, I scoured my closet, the goal being an outfit that may or may not be read as a costume.

When I asked my husband what he thought, he said, “If you’re trying to look like a kindergarten teacher, or one of those freaky twins from The Shining, it works.”

“Close enough,” I said.

Of course, I should be dressed as an obscure Japanese comic-book character, like everyone else at the Balboa Park cosplay meeting.

Five days earlier, I’d emailed 19-year-old Shannon Downer, a diehard cosplayer (“cosplay” is short for “costume play”) who agreed to allow me to tag along with her at Saturday’s event. I asked to borrow an outfit.

“So I can be part of the experience,” I explained.

From the tone of Shannon’s written response, it was clear she was not pleased with my request. As a result, on Friday night, with less than 12 hours until the cosplay event, she called off our interview. I had crossed a line. According to Shannon’s cosplaying friend, Marina MacDonald, “That is just not how cosplay works.” She said this with a heavy sigh, making it clear that I just don’t get it. Anime fans dress the way they do because they are passionate about it. Loaning out costumes is not something they do.

Nevertheless, I managed to talk Shannon into following through with the interview.

“You can come,” she said, “but you need to be at my house at 8:00 a.m. tomorrow.”

I have a hard time finding the Downers’ home. Everything looks identical in Shannon’s Spring Valley subdivision, all beiges and stuccos, with the types of yards that gardeners maintain.

Mrs. Downer, Shannon’s mother (who does not offer her first name), answers the door after one knock and ushers me inside. Mrs. Downer wears a full-length denim skirt and a plaid blouse buttoned all the way up. Two shiny crucifixes hang around her neck. She introduces me to a housecat stretched out on the carpet. She talks to the cat in a high-pitched baby voice.

Mrs. Downer shouts up the stairs to Shannon, “That reporter is here!” There is heavy emphasis on the word that.

Nineteen-year-old Marina emerges from a nearby bathroom.

“You’ll have to excuse us,” she says. “We’re still getting our undergarments on.” Marina is wearing fishnet tights, a T-shirt, and no pants.

Mrs. Downer lowers her gaze. “It’s okay,” she mumbles in the voice she’d used to speak to her cats. “It’s just us girls and the kitty cats here today.”

Mrs. Downer goes into the kitchen and shuffles around. Moments later, she is standing near the front door with car keys in hand. She turns to me. “I’m going to have to ask you to move your car. I’m on my way to a Bible meeting, and you’re blocking me in.”

When her mother leaves, Shannon finally makes her way down the stairs. It’s hard to believe this is the same girl I ran into three weeks earlier in Balboa Park. Her dishwater hair has dusty blond roots, and her skin is so pale she’s nearly translucent. The last time I saw Shannon, she had on a long black wig and was toting a fake rifle — she looked like an Amish girl gone rogue. That day, her friend Marina was a steampunk version of the white rabbit from Alice in Wonderland in platinum wig, a monocle, and an extremely short skirt. Today, Marina’s hair is long, a mousy brown.

Both Shannon and Marina are full-time students. Shannon attends Grossmont College. Marina goes to SDSU and shares an apartment near campus with her dad. Neither girl works.

They rush around Shannon’s house. The cut-off heels of pantyhose hug their heads, a trick to make their wigs fit better.

“Anime characters are perfect,” Shannon says as she layers on foundation. “They are tiny and have big eyes and creamy skin. We have to wear a lot of concealer.”

Marina again emerges from the bathroom. She’s now wearing an emerald-green corset. “Shannon is made for anime,” she says. “She’s tiny and pale. It’s hard for plus-sized girls like me to do cosplay…we’re both dressing as men today. Shannon is Ciel Phantomhive and I’m Undertaker from the Kuroshitsuji series, also known as Black Butler.”

“This turns my C-cup into a man’s chest,” Marina motions to her corset. “Anime characters are usually thin. I always wear a corset. It gives me an edge. I buy a lot of our stuff on eBay, and I make the rest. If I were really dedicated to cosplay, I would cut all my hair off to make it easier to wear wigs, but I like to be pretty in real life.”

Marina and Shannon are now seated on the Downers’ 1980s style couch, applying more make-up. The coffee table is cluttered with powders, lotions, and creams. On the far wall hang family photos — awkward Christmas studio shots of Shannon and her sister. There is one of Shannon as a toddler in an angel costume, a fluffy halo perched on her head. On the back wall, a clunky bookshelf holds books; most are religious — dozens of Bibles, audio books on Jesus, and texts with titles such as Christ in the Home, The Rapture Trap, and Catholic Prophecy. A smaller section of the bookcase is reserved for sci-fi, Stephen King novels, and comic books.

Cosplay enthusiasts share stories about their experiences doing cosplay in public.

“My mom is a super-Catholic,” Shannon says. “I don’t tell her when I dress up as demons. I had a pentacle on my head once, and she freaked out. But most of the demons in comic books are adorable. She never knows.”

Shannon tells me that her parents have come to terms with her cosplay hobby. But in the beginning, they weren’t so accepting.

“My parents thought it was really weird. They thought I would turn into a total geek and just fail at life. They don’t think that anymore. Now they think it’s adorable when I dress up.”

The first time Shannon cosplayed was at Comic-Con 2010. She was 16. During the first few days, she didn’t dress up. She felt too uncomfortable.

“Finally, I just decided that I would jump in and try it. I was kind of nervous about going around dressed up. But once people started coming up to me and joking around, it became a lot of fun. I took a bunch of pictures with people dressed up from the same anime as me. I think cosplay opens people up; because you’re in costume, it’s easier to let go and enjoy yourself.”

Forty-five minutes after my arrival, Shannon and Marina have transformed themselves. Shannon’s outfit is a cross between circus freak and a marching-band member: high-waisted red polyester shorts and a matching double-breasted blazer with gold piping. Underneath is a black button-down shirt with elaborate flowing cuffs. Knee socks peek out from clunky platform boots. She holds a staff with a skull on top. Her gray wig looks like an elderly version of Justin Bieber’s famous haircut.

Marina wears a black trench coat with a silver belly bracelet that features coin-shaped charms. Across her chest, a gray sash looks like a baby sling. She has on a waist-length gray wig that falls over her eyes — just like the undertaker she is emulating. She has attached a piece of plastic to her face that looks like a broken part of a Thomas the Tank Engine train track.

“The undertaker has a scar,” she says. “I painted this last night and attached it with spirit gum.” Marina’s boots lace up past her knees, reaching mid-thigh. “I’m not going to bother wearing pants under the coat. It’s hot out.”

On the drive to Balboa Park, I sit in the backseat of Marina’s car, wedged between two wooden stakes that have Japanese characters handwritten on them (props for Marina’s costume), a large make-up case for touch-ups, and a picnic lunch of cold-cut sandwiches. Shannon and Marina listen to pop music. Marina sings along to a Maroon 5 song.

On the 94, Marina tells me she isn’t a huge fan of Comic-Con. “It’s more about pop culture,” she says.

“A lot of people I know aren’t big Comic-Con fans,” Shannon says. “Most people there don’t respect the [anime] communities that attend the convention. At Comic-Con 2011, they wouldn’t let the cosplayers gather in their regular spot, even though they’ve been gathering there for years. When we tried to sit around and talk, they kept telling us to clear out. That’s another thing: there’s nowhere to sit. After a long day of walking and standing in uncomfortable shoes and heavy costume, pretty much all of the benches are taken, and they won’t let you sit on the floor. It’s very expensive. In the end, it doesn’t seem worth going because they’re so strict.”

In three weeks, Shannon and Marina will attend Yaoi-Con, an anime convention in Long Beach.

“Today is a practice round,” Marina says. “These events at Balboa Park are casual. We don’t usually wear things this elaborate. We can mess up today. Our outfits don’t have to be perfect, but everything does need to be perfect when we go to Long Beach for Yaoi-Con. At that convention, there are artists and panels to go to.”

Marina tells me about their costumes.

“Most cosplayers have just one main costume. They’re very expensive. We’re wearing our main ones today. Mine cost $175. Shannon’s was $250. I bought Shannon’s because she can’t really afford it.”

Marina tweaks the purchases using her sewing machine to transform outfits so that they more closely resemble what their favorite comic-book heroes wear. She has a knack for designing costumes, though she decided against a degree in fashion. (“I’m a nursing student. I want to do something that will sustain me.”)

The girls attend a handful of conventions each year. Their favorite is a three-day event called Anime Conji, held each spring at the Town and Country Resort Hotel and Convention Center in Mission Valley. Once a month, and sometimes more frequently, they meet with other cosplayers at the big fountain in Balboa Park. Most members of their cosplay group are in their teens and early 20s.

“We communicate and plan events mostly through Facebook,” Shannon says.

“Our oldest member is 23,” Marina says. “There is one girl that comes who is 14. I think that’s our youngest.”

“We’re not going to be doing this when we’re 30,” Shannon says. “That would be weird.”

When asked how they feel about being gawked at, both girls agree that it’s no big deal as long as they’re in a big group.

“Can you blame them for staring?” Marina asks. “We’re very stareable. I avoid going out alone dressed like this.”

Shannon adds that it doesn’t really matter what non-cosplayers think. “The cosplay community is very inviting, eager to accept new people, even if your cosplay isn’t top quality. It’s about having fun and meeting people. When you have an extravagant cosplay, more people will want to take pictures and talk to you. That’s what motivates us to try our hardest when making costumes. At conventions, I’ve met many people just because they see my character and want to talk to me about the anime.”

Shannon and Marina....

Shannon and Marina....

When we pull into an empty parking lot adjacent to Balboa Park’s Spanish Village Art Center, we are over two hours early for the event. While Shannon and Marina gather their items from the car, a little girl points at us. I overhear her say to her mom, “Mommy, look, show people!”

I follow Shannon and Marina past the Balboa Park fountain and down a set of stone steps to the butterfly pavilion.

“Sometimes,” Marina says, “we have to fight over this spot with a group of parkour guys. They can be real assholes. We always meet at the fountain because it makes it easier for new people. We usually end up here, though.”

The girls fish their wigs and hats out of a large paper bag and begin putting the finishing touches on their costumes. Shannon places a small red hat on her head and realizes it doesn’t fit right. Meanwhile, Marina is upset because her wig doesn’t look like her character’s.

She turns to me in frustration. “Cosplay is rough on perfectionists. This is what we call a complete disaster. My wig is frizzing! The spirit gum I used to apply my scar is peeling off, and my hat won’t fit on my head because my ponytail is too high!”

Shannon shoots Marina a helpless look.

Marina’s voice rises. “When [cosplay] goes right, it’s really fun. When it doesn’t, it can be really depressing.”

Shannon apologizes to Marina, taking full responsibility for the wardrobe malfunctions. “I sent Sabrina a text,” she says. “She should be here any second with scissors to fix your wig.”

Thirty minutes pass with no sign of Sabrina. Both girls are seconds away from tears. They sit on a stone wall in the Butterfly Pavilion while groups of women speed-walk past, pushing strollers. A little girl in a bright blue tutu and leopard-print leotard strolls by with her family. She takes one look at Marina and Shannon and erupts into a fit of giggles. Neither Shannon nor Marina bats an eye.

After a lengthy silence, Marina announces, “I think I might just go wigless.”

“Really?” Shannon says.

“I don’t know how we’re going to fix this before the Long Beach convention,” Marina says.

From the top of the stone steps, someone shouts, “Hey, sluts!”

A pretty blonde in short-shorts, a black T-shirt with an anime print, and five-inch stilettos decorated with silver studs approaches. She’s accompanied by Sabrina, the one with the scissors, supposedly a whiz with wigs.

Sabrina’s costume can best be described as “deranged blackjack dealer.” She’s wearing a pantsuit, a white button-down shirt with a bow tied around her neck, and a red trench coat. Orange contacts make her eyes glow. Her vivid red wig is waist length and ratty, more of a nightmare than Marina’s. She holds a handmade wooden chainsaw. Her teeth are jagged. At first glance, she appears to have a dental issue, but upon closer inspection, I realize that she has blacked out a few teeth.

“I used waterproof eyeliner,” she later tells me. “As long as I don’t eat or drink anything, my teeth will stay like this all day.”

Immediately, Marina apologizes for the state of her costume. “You’ll have to forgive my Undertaker. This is the first time I’ve brought him out. And, I don’t know why, but the spirit gum I used on the scar isn’t sticking to my face.”

“No offense, but at first I thought you were Oskara,” says the pretty blonde whose name is Aimee.

Marina grimaces. Clearly, that’s a put-down.

The three girls converge on Marina to fix her costume concerns.

“I think I’m quitting Build-A-Bear,” Aimee announces.

“You can’t do it,” Marina says. “Build-A-Bear is magical. Hey, do you think you can make a bear that screams bloody murder?” They all crack up. The tense moment has passed.

An overweight woman approaches. With panic in her voice, the woman asks if they have seen a young girl dressed up as Italy from the manga series Hetalia. “She’s only 12, and she got in the car to come here with someone she doesn’t even know. She’s going to the Hetalia meet-up at the Organ Pavilion.”

Marina scrunches up her nose “We are not a Hetalia group,” she says. “Sorry.”

When the woman walks away, Marina turns to me and says, “Hetalia groups are weird. They’re obsessed with [cosplay]. They’re diehards and they freak me out!”

At 11:30, after two hours of sitting around at the Butterfly Pavilion, I follow the four girls to the fountain to join the rest of their cosplay group. As we make the short walk, all eyes are on us.

A man in a Hawaiian shirt snaps a photo.

“Yay, we’re a freak show!” Aimee shouts to the gawkers.

At the fountain, Aimee straddles a guy on a bench. He’s dressed in all black and wearing women’s ballet flats. The two make out in front of a 14-year-old girl (at first, I think she’s a boy, but then she introduces herself as Alana Maddox). Alana wears a canary-yellow top with a red ribbon tied around the neck, skinny jeans, and Vans tennis shoes. She holds a camcorder.

I stand next to a guy named Ryan. He’s over six feet tall and has a beard and mustache. He appears to be dressed as a bunny...or maybe a yeti.

More characters arrive. A friend brings Aimee her costume, a bright red dress that makes her look like a parlormaid. She’s wearing a matching red chin-length wig.

A tall, round man shows up. He looks to be in his 40s, maybe 50s. He stands out in this group of teens and early-20-somethings. He has on blue pants that hit just above his ankles. The pants are pulled up above his waist, paired with a red-and-white-striped shirt and an unbuttoned forest-green trench coat. His hair is slicked back. Three black dots have been drawn on either side of his scalp. With eyeliner, he’s made himself a monobrow.

For the most part, everyone ignores him.

“Who is that guy?” I ask Marina.

She gives a disgusted shrug. “I don’t know. Randoms show up.”

The man introduces himself as David Kenan. He’s 47 and dressed as a popular cartoon character from the late ’90s. He pushes his chest out and throws his arms back in a strange pose.

“Recognize me now?” he asks with a smile.

I shake my head.

He’s disappointed. “I’m Ed,” he says, “from Ed, Edd n Eddy.”

A group of mimes has set up near the entrance to the Reuben H. Fleet. They eyeball us.

“Freaks,” says a cosplayer in a puffy tutu. “Mimes freak me out.”

A woman sitting a few feet away on a picnic blanket watches the anime fans’ activities as if it’s a movie. She looks thoroughly perplexed. A toddler walks past hand-in-hand with her mother. When she sees us, she begins to cry.

“It’s okay, honey,” the mother says, stifling a laugh. “It’s make-believe. They’re just playing dress-up, like you do with your princess dresses.”

A young woman in what can best be described as a deranged-dino costume takes her mask off and smiles down at the little girl. In return, the child screams louder.

Another kid approaches. She poses with the cosplayers while her mother takes photos.

When the group has grown to about 25, they head to the Organ Pavilion. They plan to merge with the Hetalia group’s meet-up. Marina isn’t keen on the idea and attempts to persuade everyone to go to the Butterfly Pavilion instead, but someone has invited a professional photographer, and he thinks the Organ Pavilion will serve as a nice backdrop. So everyone heads in that direction.

As the group walks through the park, I feel as if I’m part of a bizarre parade. People pause and turn their heads. Many stop to snap photos.

“It would be a lot less annoying if people would just ask to take our photo,” says a girl in a jester mask. “We wouldn’t mind. We’d say ‘yes.’”

At the Organ Pavilion, everyone heads up onto the stage. The costumed adults and teens loiter. At one point, someone plays “Gangnam Style” on an iPod and they break into dance. A guy in a heavy black trench coat has the moves down perfectly.

In a cartoon voice, a girl dressed as a sailor shouts, “Whoever wants free lollipops and cookies, come get ’em.” She holds up a Tupperware container filled with goodies.

High-school students and some junior-high schoolers arrive — they’re all part of the Hetalia group. They join the other costumed fans on the Organ Pavilion stage.

David, the 47-year-old, has been joined by two men who appear to be in their late 20s or early 30s. One is dressed as Sonic the Hedgehog. Another looks like Neo from The Matrix. When I comment on that, he is deeply offended.

“People always think I’m Neo,” he mumbles.

“Who are you supposed to be?” I ask.

“You wouldn’t get it,” he says and walks away.

Two teenage girls sit at the edge of the stage. Both wear baby-doll dresses.

“What characters are you?” I ask.

“We aren’t really characters. We’re dressed in Lolita style.”

“Oh. You’re Nabokov fans?”

“Huh?” says the one wearing clunky black glasses.

“The author of Lolita,” I explain.

They stare blankly. The girl in the glasses turns her head and begins a conversation with someone else.

The photographer invites groups of people dressed as characters from the same comic books to pose together. He snaps away.

A man in a suit and a woman in a frilly dress are visibly irritated. With them is another photographer. “How long will you all be here?” the woman asks a costumed teen. “My fiancé and I are supposed to take our engagement photos here.”

The teen’s response: “All day.”

The woman walks away in a huff.

I sit on bleachers, facing the stage. Alana Maddox plops down next to me. She’s the 14-year-old I met earlier.

“Who are you dressed as?” I ask.

“I’m Italy from Hetalia.”

Hetalia is a comic-book series based on WWII and other historical events. Each character represents a country, and each has a negative and positive “stereotype.”

“I’m really into history, so I love Hetalia,” Alana says. She was 12 when a friend introduced her to the anime. She became wrapped up in it. “When I started dressing up as the characters from Hetalia, some people found it different. I am different. They think I’m obsessed with it. It isn’t true.” She shrugs. “I just like pretending to be someone I’m not.”

She explains what they do at a regular Hetalia meet-up.

“We hang out, we have food, we play games, and we role-play. We try to keep it clean. We don’t allow drinking or smoking. There was a guy who showed up a couple of weeks ago. He started getting into people’s personal space and hugging people without their consent. We had a group discussion and decided to kick him out. We do temporary bans, too. Those are for people that make fun of other people’s costumes.”

Alana tells me that, today they will role-play Hetalia scenes on the Organ Pavilion stage.

I spot Marina nearby. She’s standing with a girl in a blond wig wearing an elaborate princess dress. I ask Marina if she’ll take part in the role-playing with the Hetalia group.

“We don’t do that,” she says with exasperation. “That’s a little too extreme for me.”

Aimee’s boyfriend, Joshua Rodriguez (the young man wearing ballet flats), is sitting in one of the only spots of shade on the stage. He motions for me to join him.

He rattles off the reasons he loves cosplay. “What got me interested in cosplaying was anime itself. Seeing fictional characters and how cool they look had me excited to dress up in a totally different way.” Joshua works at the Animal Protection and Rescue League thrift store in Clairemont, a few shops away from Comickaze, a local comic-book store. “I’ve never been made fun of for doing this,” he says. “I’ve always been a cool guy. People just figured that, if I was into anime, it must be cool.”

Joshua wants to start his own cosplay group.

“It’s going to be a Teen Titans one. Like the cartoon. I’m going to be Robin. My group is going to be more organized than this one. We aren’t just going to stand around. We might do some larping [live-action role playing] and a few stunts. I’m hoping to get a cameraman to film reenactments.”

I look over to see Sabrina, Shannon, and Marina posing for more photos. The photographer instructs them to use their weapons. Marina draws her wooden stakes. Sabrina points her chainsaw at Marina. Meanwhile, other cosplayers stand around in small clusters, as if gathered in a high-school cafeteria. A few people are acting out comic-book scenes. On the seats that face the stage, random park visitors sit and watch everything unfold. They seem amused. I join the spectators and wait for something to happen. Nothing does.

It’s late afternoon when I decide to head home. While I’m gathering up my things, an elderly woman and her two granddaughters sit down beside me.

“What are you guys?” the woman wants to know.

“Cosplayers” I say.

“What do you do?” she asks.

“They dress up as their favorite comic-book, cartoon, and video-game characters,” I explain.

“I can see that,” the woman says patiently. “What I meant was, what do they do — besides wear costumes?”

I think a moment, then say, “I’m still trying to figure that out.”

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More from SDReader


To my mind, the most interesting thing about cosplay is the immense work and imagination that the best of them put into making their own costumes. Unfortunately, there are far too many underachieving cosplayers out there, as seen in the Reader's annual Comic-Con photo reports ---

“Sometimes, we have to fight over this spot with a group of parkour guys," Marina said. Now THAT battle, I'd pay admission to see, cosplayers versus leaping urban acrobats --

Jay, I agree, it is pretty cool to see the handiwork in cosplay. Shannon and Marina had really amazing costumes. Marina makes them and she is extremely talented. The coolest aspect of this group of cosplayers is their acceptance of everyone, even those with less than stellar attire.

Too bad you didn't write a bout that.

Just to clarify, as a Lolita myself, Lolita style is a Japanese street-fashion, which is totally and completely unrelated to cosplay and Nobokov's literature. It is all about modest, acting like a princess, and looking like a doll. It is supposed to be very lady-like an elegant. It is a fashion style, not a costume. It is based off of victorian and french rococo-era garments and dresses for women, and there are different 'styles' of Lolita, such as "Sweet Lolita" which is very cutesy and doll-like, "Gothic Lolita" which is dark colors and gothic themes, and "Classic Lolita" which is very fancy and aristocrat-like (however aristocrat is an entirely different fashion style), most closely based off victorian and french rococo dresses. There is a San Diego Lolita Fashion community that I am apart of. We love to dress up in our nice outfits and go do things like iceskate, go out for tea and biscuits, and have dinner/dessert parties. The fashion is extremely expensive (quality dresses alone, no accessories included (which can also be extremely pricey) are anywhere from $100-1000 dollars) and is meant to be very, very elegant and suave.

I agree with Becca.

Lolita fashion is a Japanese street fashion style. It has no connection to the novel.

It is actually amazing to read how judgemental and negative these two ladies are. They refer to quite a few other people as "freaks". Really?

You will have to forgive me for that comment. I did not know it would go on record. I was talking to a close friend of mine who knows I have an extreme fear of clowns and mimes. I was not trying to be rude I was merely terrified.

Alright, I made an account just so I could comment on this.

You wondered why the cosplay community was apprehensive of having you join them to make an article about them, this article is an example why people tend to not want journalist at gatherings.

Overall, this 'article' is very negative. It shows the cosplay community is a very bad light and has a lot of information that really did not need to be included in there. I think it's a bad representation of the community you are supposedly trying to get to know.

How much research of cosplay did you do before making the article? How about after? Was it necessary to include every personal conversation that all these people had with each other, not thinking it would be recorded for an article? I don't see how including someone wanting to quit a job is relevant to the cosplay community at all.

You really should have asked people if they wanted something they said to be included in the article rather than just putting everything ever said down. Some of these things of course are peoples own opinions.

Knowing some of these people, I think you really misrepresented them. Did you make any formal interviews with these people? It would have gave you the answer you were looking for at the end of your article.

Cosplay has no age limit. Someone in their 50's could cosplay if they wanted to, without being judged by the rest of the community. Cosplay is a hobby, for fun. It is very much similar to those who dress up for Renascence Fairs or Comic Con. The easiest way to explain cosplay to people who do not understand what cosplaying is that we are like Comic Con without the Comic Con. It is just to hang out with other people who enjoy a hobby as much as we do, show off all the hard work we put into making our costumes and make new friends. It may be weird to other people, but do we care? Not really. We are not disturbing the peace or hurting anyone. Cosplay is not limited to just Japanese anime, it could also be comic book characters, cartoon characters, characters from novels, anything. It is all for fun.

This article had potential to show those in San Diego that we are not some crazy people causing trouble. So, when I do go out in cosplay and if someone mentions this article, I'll straight out tell them it really misrepresented us, because that is what I feel about this article.

For those interested in learning about cosplay from cosplayers, visit

Sorry, Sioban, I have been a Reader reader for years. I had to create an account just to tell you how insulting I thought your article was. You obviously had preconceived opinions about cosplay, and set out to write an article to support those opinions. I know some of these kids. They are far more diverse and multitalented than you portray them. You spent the day collecting comments, taking them out of context and using them to paint a less than flattering picture of cosplayers. The ones that I know have so much more going on than you know. Apparently you failed to ask.
My Son was a 4 year varsity letterman in hockey. I saw him cover himself in blue latex and perfectly portray some character from a Japanese anime. He rocked it. It was very cool. I have been asked to critique designs and build accessories. I have enjoyed helping create characters. I admit I do not recognize ANY of the characters. I just know that the costumes are very creative, the crafting is often complex. I see a fun form of living art.
It is too bad that you didn't get it. It is worse that you would hold yourself out to be a serious journalist and be so judgmental and insulting.

From another parent, thank you for saying this. I also commented below. We are starting a parents forum for anime this month if you would like to be involved. The link is below.

I too made an account so I could comment on this.

If you wanted to get some info on the art of cosplay, you went about putting your words out there terribly. First of all, you named Shannon D. a 'diehard cosplayer', and at the park Marina mentions she does not like Hetalia cosplayers because they are 'diehard cosplayers and freak me out!". Doesn't make much sense. If you're trying to understand the art of cosplaying, why is this article focused on the kind of people/personalities are behind this? We're all unique and different under our outfits, and this article seems to be putting all cosplayers into this negative category.

What was the point of the "quitting my job", "making out with a guy", "seconds away from tears because my outfit is all wrong"... You may wonder why these girls were so hesitant to let you tag along... If this is the article that you produced from their experience I would be furious. You're trying to get to know "cosplayers and why they do it", you really will never understand because you're not one. Obviously you may know this already, after being snubbed by those individuals you spoke to at the park when you questioned their costume. No cosplayer wants to be questioned about their choices by someone who is a stranger to anime/manga/cosplay. I would snub that person as well.

Good job writing this article, your attempt at shedding a positive light on cosplay decisions... you picked some pretty awful examples.

Maybe it's because these girls are actual douchebags? I agree that it was a misrepresentation, but probably because extremely catty, childish cosplayers were interviewed.

don't you think snubbing is a little harsh? because thats prime example of a cosplay snob besides like you said she didn't know so of course she's gonna question she's not gonna automatically know who they are of the bat. imo even if she didn't do research or whatever explain it to her not snub like she's some diseased creature. and SNUBBING a person gives them a prime example of not only your personality but also how you interact with others

I also decided to make an account just to respond to this...Totally and completely BIAS article. Honestly, I am so disappointed with how this was written and how it shows us cosplayers. I am acquaintances with all of these people mentioned, friends with some of them,and although a few of them may be slightly rude, you made it seem like that was the only way how they acted. The reporter/article writer of this was once again quite bias, and walked into this with a closed mind, a terrible mistake.

Cosplay is a hobby that brings people together. At these cosplay gatherings, we usually become a little family, and have fun. We'll take pictures, help each other, and accept each other. Even if one of us don't fully like a certain person, we tolerate them and respect them, and still have fun. We're all geeks dressing up for fun, that's literally all there is to it, it's for FUN. I've been to a lot of these cosplay gatherings, and every time I've gone, I've had so much fun and made a lot of new friends. At least that's my experience with these. And at Anime cons and what not, there are a lot of nice cosplayers and people there. Oh, and the way you described how they looked was rather not needed, and you put it in a very negative tone.

The reason they were reluctant to have you come along is clearly shown through out this article. You could have put at least a little bit more effort into accenting cosplayers. Us cosplayers accept each other, help each other, and cheer each other up. Honestly, there's so much more that I could write, but I just...can't. I literally can't. It probably wouldn't change your opinion, because you are quite frankly very closed minded and not worth the time when it comes to this topic.

I'm quite disappointed in this article and how you have decided to write it and show us cosplayers. There's more to us than just being dressed up in costumes. Much, much more, and you will never have a chance to see it.

Hi my name is Shannon, and yes, I was one of the girls who let her tag along. I just want to say to the entire cosplay community that I am sorry I ever did this. I thought she would write a nice article that would bring more interest to the cosplay community. However, I was completely wrong. For half the time that the reporter was with us, she didn't even tell us when she started recording our conversations, and many of the 'insulting' remarks were meant as jokes. Me and Marina both like Hetalia, watched the anime and have thought about cosplaying as Hetalia characters. I am not a diehard cosplayer and am actually really new to the community, and my main focus in life is school. I would never have agreed to this if I knew it would turn out like this. In response to the person who thinks I might just be a douchebag and a 'catty, childish cosplayer', I won't say I'm the most wonderful person ever, but please don't call my friend Marina bad names. She is a very nice person. I sincerely apologize for my mistake and I hope I can be forgiven. I love to cosplay and I would hate to leave the community now.

Oh hun, don't worry about it. We live and learn and make mistakes.

The author of this article was very unprofessional and did not properly interview anyone. Don't let this article define you, or anyone else in the cosplay community. The article is just another thing we just have to prove wrong as a community since people will believe anything written.

I apologize if you are getting any flak for this from anyone, I suggest if able to email the author with the email you used to contact her in the beginning about the concerns that many of us have addressed or trying to contact the reader itself about said complaints and issues.

I'm very sorry to hear that this happened to you.

Wouldn't the activity of this so called 'reporter' be technically illegal? Unauthorized recording and publishing of private conversations, diffamation etc...

She totally deserves to be sued.

I think the support the community is showing right now should tell you all you need to know about your place in it. carry on.

I do not have a background in journalism (citizen or otherwise), but I do have one in anthropology. I am curious -- did Siobhan Braun ask you to sign a release waiver before the interview? There is something very interesting going on here with the ethics of personal information release. I don't know details and am certainly no expert, so please don't assume that I can help you here.

Christ, it wouldn't have hurt to do some research on cosplay/cosplayers beforehand.

I agree that the writer could have researched and asked the cosplayers intelligent, indepth questions. However, it is a reminder that this is how certain fandoms / geek interests look like to people who don't understand them; in other words, this it what it looks like from the outside. Definitely it is unprofessional, and the idea of communicating quotes out of context is reprehensible.

I did find the whole Nabokov exchange pretty telling. Educated Americans would naturally assume that Lolita refers to Nabokov's Lolita, and it wouldn't have taken much to have an exchange on how the character has led to usage of the name as a noun or an adjective ... or any exchange of ideas at all to inquire or explain either sides' confusion or understanding.

I feel that this article didn't explain anything, that readers who were previously confused by cosplayers will be even more confused by the end. We have to ask ourselves, what was the point of writing the article to begin with? Compare it to this Reader article about adult fans of anime, in which only the last half page concerns sitting in with anime fans, and the rest is background and research.

Thank you for the link on such a well done article on anime as opposed to what this so called reporter has done.

My daughter recently showed me this very poorly done article on cosplayers. While I have no doubt that the author was correct about her experience, she did not portray these kids in a positive light. She started from a negative slant and stayed there. She didn't do her homework as a journalist should. I actually find it humorous that she was snubbed by teens. So here is my list of why I am a proud parent of a cosplayer:

  • Cosplay encourages teamwork and socialization.
  • It encourages acceptance.
  • It keeps her focused on her hobby and not on sex, drugs or alcohol.
  • Cosplay encourages creative thinking that most innovators in our society say is necessary for professional achievement.
  • Cosplaying teaches the value of money and planning.
  • Through Cosplay, my daughter is learning a valuable trade. She is learning how to sew her own costumes. Once she becomes proficient, she can actually make a living as a seamstress while going to school.
  • Cosplay encourages good grades. In order to work on her hobby, her grades must be good.
  • Most of her friends are artists in one form or another. They are using a combination of hand drawn and computer made graphics to write their own anime, or post their work on fan sites. She has become proficient with the internet, and graphic design programs at twelve.
  • Anime, computer gaming, and cosplay has helped my daughter look forward to what she wants to do as a career, combining her artistic skills and computer skills. She already has colleges picked out.
  • Cosplay and role playing in general encourages kids to have confidence.

The bottom line is, these are good kids. But they are that, kids. Even though the age range is from 10-22. The reporter would have been better off showing up in jeans and a t-shirt and being herself, asking questions then trying to immerse herself in a culture she didn't understand. Kids can spot a poser right away. Because they are in groups and tend to protect each other, you will be snubbed if you lie about who you are or try to manipulate them. They will accept you for who you are, if you act as who you are. They will love it if you act as your favorite character. It is like going to another country without understanding anything about the culture. If you are rude, they will be rude. If you truly try to speak the language, or appreciate their ways, they will help you. Cosplayers tend to be very helpful. It is after all about fitting in, being your self, letting go of societal rules and basically embracing life and yourself through FUN! It is an act of letting go.

I am so proud of being a MoCK that other parents and I have just started so other parents can understand more about what our kids are doing and have resources to help them.

"'Cosplay,' short for 'costume play.' is a type of performance art in which participants wear costumes and accessories to represent a specific character or idea."

When I grew up we called it Halloween.

Becca: Lolita derives from the Spanish word 'Lola' which means sorrow. Nabokov popularized the word in 1955. Without him, you wouldn't be using it. To say that it "is totally and completely unrelated to Nabokov's literature" is insane and I suggest that you do a little research beyond what you cull together on Wikipedia.

Imitation is the sincerest form of failure. Instead of playing dress-up as your favorite character, why not create something original on your own?

Dear Scott, I suggest you to do a little research yourself, before arrogantly giving off your superficial knowledge here.

Firstly, there is no such word as 'lola' in spanish. Secondly, technically Lolita is not exactly a word in the first place, but a name, like every other and a short form for Dolores, which derives from the word 'dolor' in latin meaning pain/suffering. (So I guess one could say you were marginally right in this point)

While the protagonist of Nabokov's novel is named Lolita indeed, the name of Lolita fashion has a completely different origin. It might be true that Nabokov has popularized 'Lolita' as a synonym for the sexualisation of a child-woman in the USA, Lolita fashion is neither from the US, nor has it anything to do with pedophilia, thus proving your argument of "Without him, you wouldn't be using it." as completely nonsensical. It is a mere coincidence that they have the same name.

Please stop belittling other people and calling them insane while sprouting so much bull yourself. Thanks.

But it really has nothing to do with the book. You would also know this if you knew anything about the fashion.

Excuse me, I'm well aware of what Lolita, the book, is. The reason why it is called that is because it was lost in translation by the Japanese girls who named the fahsion 'lolita', so please do not tell me that I am a little girl who is sexually devious with older men. That is extremely offensive when I just told you that the fashion has nothing to do with the novel, and gave you the explanation as to what the fashion is about (last time I checked, modesty is the opposite of being sexually deviant). You seem to be a generally rude person so your opinion isn't valued by me anyways. I'm pretty sure I know a whole lot more than you do when it comes to the lolita fashion, as I've been a member of the community for 4 years. As for the book, I've never read it.

It's interesting - and telling - how several commentators complain about the writer being "judgmental," who then pass their own disparaging judgments on that writer. One could pose to them the same questions they posited - did you RESEARCH the writer's frequent work for the Reader before commenting? Did you bother to get to KNOW her at all?

Miss Braun has forged a niche at the paper as an observational "on the street" reporter whose conversational accounts tend to represent an "everyday person" POV. As such, one wouldn't expect her to self-school herself into an "expert" on cosplay before writing about what she sees of that scene (an admittedly small slice of the local incarnation of that scene, anyway). She found something interesting, talked to some people, and wrote about it.

I too would love to read a more in-depth and in-the-know account of the imaginative cosplayers of SD (especially the steampunk crowd that has emerged from the last few years' of Comic-Cons and SP events) - that wasn't what this cover feature was intended to be, nor should anyone have expected it. The author was clear from the outset that she wasn't familiar with the scene or its participants before looking into it - the article was ABOUT her looking into it. And about what she found.

It was an interesting read, and I don't think her interviewees were shown in a poor light. These are interesting, imaginative, and daringly gregarious young people (well, MOST were young), who represent just one emerging faction of a growing artform of self-expression. There are clearly many more fascinating stories to be told about their scene. But, for starters, this one was just fine.

Jay, I agree. It wasn't a fan article, or a research article, it was an impressionistic article. Not my favorite style of reporting, but when done well it's highly readable.

I also agree that it would be interesting to read something in the Reader about Steam Punk...a good friend of mine, who's a professional astronomer, just came back from a steam punk convention and I'm envious.

Plus, you gotta love these two videos:


Cool stuff! Here's a piece I did awhile back about a local steampunk event and local SP band Steam Powered Giraffe (who can be seen frequently at the Zoo) -

The Professor's all-steampunk home castle project is pretty amazing!

made an account just to respond.

yeah, okay, she was just trying to get an outsider's view on it. that's fine, but did she have to phrase it in a rude, condescending way? did she have to portray cosplayers in a negative light? no, she didn't. whether or not this article is from an outsider's perspective doesn't change the fact that she took a lot out of context, recorded people when they didn't know their conversations were being recorded didn't actually ask any real questions to even TRY to understand cosplay, and added a lot of details that frankly were unnecessary and had nothing to do with the article at hand(like how one girl wanted to get a different job.). the list of why this article was extremely unprofessional, poorly written, and frankly RUDE to cosplayers goes on and on. and maybe, just maybe, this topic isn't suited for this type of article, which still makes the point totally invaild. she wrote a bad article that showed the cosplay community in a bad light, and you can say that she was using an "outsider's POV" for this article but there are a MILLION people out there who've done the same thing and what we need isn't more people looking down on us and calling us freaks. we need someone, a good reporter who actually respects us, to write an article HELPING us, something that goes in-depth and shows us for who we really are-- good people who happen to have a hobby we can share with others. she's not helping or being original. i've read this exact article a million times and it's equally awful no matter how many times i read it. i'm not falling for your goddamned apologetics, dude. just admit it.

she wrote an article treating us like aliens and weirdos and freaks and then used the "oh but it's an OUTSIDER'S PERSPECTIVE!!!" as an excuse as to why she treated cosplayers like crap and took everything out of context, AND didn't even BOTHER to actually try to understand, or do ay research, or treat us like ACTUAL HUMAN BEINGS. so no, it WASN'T just fine for starters. we've had a ridiculous amount of "starters". what we need is some to actually try and understand us for once.

Made an account just to comment on this awful article. Did the tone of her friends' voice matter? Why did you include the sighs? What does that have to do with cosplay? Things like, "Everything looks identical in Shannon’s Spring Valley subdivision, all beiges and stuccos, with the types of yards that gardeners maintain." and "Two shiny crucifixes hang around her neck. She introduces me to a housecat stretched out on the carpet. She talks to the cat in a high-pitched baby voice." have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO with cosplay, and are very personal, insulting remarks. You're just judging her neighborhood and family, what's wrong with you?

Also, “That reporter is here!” There is heavy emphasis on the word that." No, YOU felt that there was emphasis, so you're telling us she WAS RUDE. That's not how journalism works, you should know that.

All you seemed to do was interview a very immature 19 year old girl about a subject you didn't even seem to want to know anything about. You spent more time telling us what an awful family and friends she has, and NO time explaining what cosplayers usually do. You should have been able to tell VERY EARLY IN that she was not interview material.

"From the top of the stone steps, someone shouts, “Hey, sluts!”" Why was adding this necessary? It tells the readers nothing, except to show them your clearly negative disposition on cosplay. This was the most uninformative, sloppy "journalism" I've seen in a long time. And you STILL didn't educate anyone on cosplay.

I'm a 30-something cosplayer and obviously these two idiot girls don't realize they contradict themselves. They think it would be "weird" to do it at 30, yet state that cosplay is so welcoming and inclusive of everyone.

Please don't judge cosplay by the idiots in this article. Many of us are normal, well-adjusted, highly educated people with a desire to sew and design costumes.

Hello. I am Marina. yeah her -_-. I sincerely apologies for this article. Like my friend Shannon stated earlier, we were highly misrepresented. The vast majority of what we said was was meant in humor and to be taken with a grain of salt.

as for the comment about cosplaying into our 30's, I believe there is some miss representation. When that question was asked, I thought it was addressed to me alone. Not the whole cosplay community. I have absolutely nothing against any age of cosplayer. I have seen 60 year old cosplayers who were stunning. I personally don't know if I will be cosplaying in my 30's and the reason I thought it may be odd is because by then I will be a full fledged surgical nurse and regretfully, I am afraid I will be judged by my pears and treated differently if they new I cosplayed (due to the reputation cosplayers have and I unfortunately have made worse by participating in this article

Again, I am truly truly sorry. She failed to mention that I too am a well-adjusted member of society. If I would have known that this article was going to be more about myself and my friend and less on cosplay, I would have explained myself better. I would have explained that cosplay is only 1/8 of who I am and though I love to sew and design, it is not everything that I am.

Its laughable at how bad their cosplay is.

Everyone starts off kind of bad, but the only thing they can do now is IMPROVE!! No one is perfect from the get go. Their cosplay is NOT laughable. NO ONE likes to be laughed!

hi Marina from the article here. Yes the cosplay I was warring was horrible. To be honest, at most of the gatherings, no one wares there good cosplays. Most are more like half way cosplays. The day the reporter came, we wore our better ones but a photographer came a different day and caught me off guard with a not so grate outfit. We are good cosplayers I swear lol. This is what I we wore the day she came. What i personally make from scratch was the red suit and everything for the gray haired one (me)

Also made an account for the purpose of commenting on this article. Please don't dismiss this comment as someone trying to tell you that you are wrong and that you are disgracing all cosplayers (you can't disgrace us cosplayers because you have to be a cosplayer to do that Haha! You're just putting out some propaganda). We all have opinions and biases (All news are biased anyway, no stopping the media). Let this be a lesson to you and a critique so that you can learn from this mistake and become a more respecting reporter! :) I'm going to do my best to express my feelings about this article so that maybe you'll be able to understand why there are so many angry comments.

First of all, a huge percentage of your article has completely nothing to do with cosplay. Like how Marina isn't dressed yet (that's EVERYDAY LIFE! We don't need to know all the trivial details!!!). And why on Earth was your car even blocking Mrs. Downer's car in the first place?! Kind of rude blocking people's driveways. I'm not even going to go on with everything else that could have been left out of your article.

"From the tone of Shannon’s written response, it was clear she was not pleased with my request...I had crossed a line...“That is just not how cosplay works.” ...Anime fans dress the way they do because they are passionate about it. Loaning out costumes is not something they do."

I understand you wanted "to be part of the experience" but for cosplaying, you can't just be part of the experience unless you honestly have a love for comics/anime/manga. If you lack in that interest, and try cosplaying, it's completely meaningless. It's like going to an amusement park while either having no interest in the entertainment they provide or disliking rollarcoasters. You're trying to grow a tree without first planting a seed!

Second, let me tell you that this is coming from someone who had similar views as you do (I'm just going to assume you have a negative view on cosplay even though assuming is a terrible thing to do) until I actually started to cosplay and formed a passion for it. When I was still a kid, I used to look down on cosplayers, thinking it was a weird, dumb, and humiliating type of hobby (but I was in love with anime). As I grew older, I started to try to keep an open mind, I gave cosplaying a shot. It blew my mind. It was one of the best things I have ever decided to do. It goes to show that you can't judge something without trying it out first.


HERE IS PART 2 (I went over the word count)

From an outsider's view, cosplaying might seem lame and stupid but an insider knows cosplaying is much more than dressing up. This hobby is a costly hobby which you won't make money off of (unless you sell your hand made cosplays). However you do get some things back in return. You're able to find and connect with people from all around the states/world at conventions and you develop skills in money managing, planning, social skills, and possible learn how to sew. It's much more work than it looks. At times it can be a little stressful but the work pays off. I can tell you that the days I look most forward to isn't Christmas or my birthday, but going to anime conventions and cosplaying with my friends.

Oh, and some people even become professional costume designers, photographers, cameramen (for the more dedicated cosplayers) because just from cosplaying, they found something that they are good at and enjoy.

If you read through all of that, then I thank you. I really hope you don't take all the negative comments to heart. I don't expect you to understand why we cosplay but just please try to understand that we cosplayers are upset about this article since it puts us in a bad light and we have pride in what we do.

P.S. (Sorry I have no idea where this should go but...) Always keep in mind that this is a HOBBY!! Cosplaying isn't even a job! Sure some might thing cosplaying could be a job, but then that would be modeling or tailoring. It's not the same thing.

This is really rude. I can't believe you're using their names, where they live, where they go to school, etc. Also, about lending a cosplay, just imagine you working on something expensive, and someone asks to borrow it. Sure, some people are ok with it, but some people aren't. You're going to have to respect people's decisions about their stuff.

This was another mistake actually. I don't mind sharing my cosplays with my friends. In fact it is very common for us to trade cosplays in the community. the reason I did not lend her a costume (and I told her this), we did not have a costume that would fit her. I am a size 18 and my friend Shannon is a size negative (I can't remember her pants size but she is a slender one). It was not that we did not want her to use our stuff its that we had nothing that would work for her. Other than piecing together random things I had like wings and what not but that is not a cosplay that is a costume.

I am yet another person to make an account so I could comment on this article. This article is downright rude and judgmental. Sure, she's doing an "outsider POV"...But that doesn't mean she needs to go into this with a negative view and remain that way throughout. The writer has made no attempt to try and understand cosplay, or what it is about. It is a hobby, it is for fun, and it is about accepting others (unless their behaviour is unacceptable, at which point people usually band together to make sure they are known to others/con organisers so people can be aware of them). I am willing to say that the focus of this piece did appear to be quite childish...But there are quite a few people like that in the cosplay community, and it's generally because they are only young.

My name is also Shannon, I am 23 and from Australia (Yes, your article has reached down here, I will be sure to pass it on). I have bachelor in marine science and management...And I am a cosplayer. I make my own costumes and props to the best of my abilities. I push myself to do greater and greater things because of this hobby. The hobby takes creativity, talent and flair, as well as unbridled passion for both the material you cosplay from, and the hobby itself. There is often a lot of stress involved, yes. Some of us enter competitions, they often means $1000s of dollars in prizes, or money itself, and even trips to Japan. These prizes often don't even cover the costs of what you might spent to make your costume (or for those who buy costumes).

I started in 2011, I had never been to a con and I bought my first costume. I was all alone, but I quickly made friends. Every con I go to now, I seem to make a few more friends and contacts. I also managed to be a finalist in a world-wide contest held by a company for one my costumes I made...In fact my first (though it has had a lot of work done to over a long time).This community is supportive, helpful and understanding; though, like anything there are exceptions to the rule.

Cosplay is so much more then this, it is an art. People who cosplay often use their time to volunteer for causes involving children like visiting hospitals; which is something I would personally like to do at some point since I have a cosplay of Ariel from Disney's The Little Mermaid (specifically the dress she wears while she sight-sees with Eric). Some even make a living off it, by doing commissions for others or become "professional" cosplayers, being PAID to turn up at events; or even do things like work for companies that make video games. We also are a massive boast to pop culture in general...People often go to cons simply to cosplay, or see others cosplay. Many go in order to watch the competitions held at cons. Photographers often want to use us as models, or to help give variety to their portfolios.

Please forgive us for coming off childish. That is normally not how we behave. We meant it in humor but we did not take into consideration how easily our actions and comments could be miss interpreted. I will say though that much was taken out of context. such as my two worst comments ( the cosplaying at 30 and the mime comment). I thought the age comment was directed at me and not a representation of the whole cosplay comunity. I believe it would be odd for me to cosplay into my 30's because (as a stated in a previous comment), that I would be a surgical nurse and I could not see myself being able to juggle work, raising a family and cosplay.

As for the mime comment, I did comment that mimes in general were freaky. It is slightly embarrassing but I am deadly afraid of clowns and mimes. Don't ask why, long story from childhood and Halloween.


So before you judge all of us in a negative light, try doing some reaching on what cosplay is, and how the people closest to it feel about it. You could have done a professional interview, instead of this sneaky and negative piece. You could have ACTUALLY asked proper questions to find out more, left out all the stuff that doesn't have anything to do with cosplay...You could have made an effort to go in open-minded.

If you want to write a proper piece on cosplay, or what it is like I am happy to answer questions via email. Or, go to the proper source on cosplay news and articles: - People who actually understand us and nerd culture.

To get in contact with me, go to my Facebook page:

HA-Larious! Cosplayers MAD!! Also sued? Oh Dafuq! You are just adorable!

there is so much wrong with this ...article.. that I don't even know where to begin. I created an account to be able to comment. it's so painfully obvious that you, in no way shape or form, understood what you were seeing. and so many personal details were revealed, its a wonder you didn't tell us what color their underwear was for sobbing out loud. in no way was including that a girl wasn't wearing pants relevant; simply stating that they were still getting into the costumes would've sufficed. right now, I"m not only questioning your judgment, integrity and education in your field; I'm also wondering what on earth convinced your editor that this was a finished piece ready for the world to see. I'm absolutely horrified and sad that THIS may be some people's introduction to our world. you have done us a great disservice and I R DISAPPOINT

A lot of the comments here represent the viewpoints of people who feel personally attacked by your reporting style. But like Jay Allen Sanford has expressed, based on your history with this site I can hazard a guess that you're not out to post extensively researched features on subcultures. This article has done its job of piquing many an interest and encouraging San Diego Reader account creation. And from a career perspective, I don't think there is anything inherently wrong with that.

But as a framing device, the 'stranger in my own city' approach only serves to make the subjects being observed feel cheapened if you deliberately choose to pepper your recount with more throw-aways than substance. While I take no issue with the conversational nature of this article, most of these exchanges feel like no conversation I would have with someone if I were genuinely interested in their hobby. They stop after the first point of confusion rather than attempt to dig any deeper. It's almost as though the youtube video was included to make up for the article rather than enhance what's actually written.

Next, I have concerns about the ethical ramifications of "on-the-street" style reporting like this. I wasn't aware that it was okay to use the full names of underaged sources, but I am admittedly only familiar with the ethics and codes of anthropology and I know they differ from those of journalism. I am genuinely curious about what is and what is not acceptable as far as publishing personal details goes.

Lastly, I came to this article via a link from another cosplayer. While anecdotes about how oh-so-awkward it is when things are lost in translation are hardly fresh or insightful, yours have served as a starting point for lively discussion, and I imagine that's a pretty satisfying result for a reporter to achieve.

I am not a regular reader; in all actuality, this is my first time on this site and my first time reading. I'm from the midwest. I do not know these people and thus have no obligation to 'defend their character'. I simply want to tell you what I thought of this article.

I was excited to read this article when someone linked to it on another site. I thought, "finally! someone is covering this!" You know, not many people tend to report on non-mainstream hobbies like this and, initially, I had major respect for the reporter who was taking on this venture. When I started reading, however, I started thinking I had stumbled onto someone's private blog post. This article sounded too much like "the joke's on them." I would have appreciated a more objective view of this hobby from the reporter's standpoint; the reporter inserted too much of her biases here. Although I think her style of writing keeps you interested (it's certainly not dry writing by any means--very, very creative and readable), it seemed like a creative writing assignment--not a news article set to inform the general public about a widely practiced hobby. This upset me. As some others have said on here, now was the chance for the reporter to display this hobby in an objective, informative, and educative light. Instead, it was sensationalized. Please be wary of this in the future. I'm sure there's a fair compromise between creativity, self-expression and journalism. However, when your words have the power and potential to sway opinions of those who are less informed, you may have to tinker with the ratios a bit.

"Circus freak"? Come on now. Wasn't there any other way you could describe her outfit creatively without using a word with a negative connotation?

"dressed as a bunny...or maybe a yeti." This? Now this was good at evoking imagery while also being humorous. Sure, the cosplayer may disagree, but it certainly doesn't sound as condemning as the previous example. Do more of this in your article and it'll sound less judgmental.

Hello I am Marina from the article. I know Shannon has given our point of view and I have commented on some of my comments that others found offensive and wrong. Please believe me when I say they were taken very far out of context. We are not "die hart" cosplayers. Cosplay is only 1/8th of our lives and if we had known this article was going to be more about us then cosplay, we would have taken a much different approach. We are not just losers that role play. I surf, snowboard, ride horses, sail, and I also happen to like to sew and make costumes. I work in yacht repair and I am paying my way trough SDSU. I am just a normal 19 year old with a different hobby. I know most of you probably think I am a "douchebag" and to be honest, I don't blame you. If I read this article and only knew that about me, I would think the same thing.

To all of my fellow cosplayers out there, I have one word of advice; avoid the media at all costs. People will tell you they are there to write a non-bias story on cosplay, but that is mostly never the case. The author came to us and she looked very sweet and kind. She was very friendly and we had no inclination something like this was going to come of it. It is sad that I have this felling now but I do not think cosplay will ever be put in the right light by main media. So for now I say avoid the whole hassle and stay away from newspapers and TVs.

Siobhan -- This is probably the biggest piece of garbage I have read.

So, I'm a cosplayer and that might make me a little biased in regards to this article, but I think I'm being pretty sensible when I say that you're making unfair generalizations about a much bigger group/community than with the few people you encountered in order to write this article.

And if you were wondering why it was that they were so hesitant to allow you to come with them, then this is why. Because this entire article is written in a very negative way, portraying cosplayers in a very negative light. As if we don't already have awful stigma's attached to our hobby, now it's being added to and judged in a public forum.

I'll admit, the people you encountered are probably not the best example of sane, friendly cosplayers, in fact by the sounds of it, I'd even go so far as to believe they are "weeaboo's", everything cosplayers don't like about their own community. But I am a cosplayer, my closest friends are cosplayers, and I've met a lot of very incredible people through cosplay. Many of them are incredibly smart, funny and overall lovely people, bu of course, you couldn't know that, not from the small amount of exposure you had to this community of people.

There are reasons for what we do, reasons that might not make much sense to anyone who isn't already a cosplayer, but really, isn't that the way with most hobbies? Unless you yourself do it and enjoy it, you probably won't understand what makes it so special to us. We do it because these characters mean something to us, the series they come from are important to us, because we want to show how much we enjoyed something, because we like making works of art just like any other artist would. We do it because it makes us happy, which is pretty much the base rule for why anyone does anything.

So to you, I say congratulations. You have successfully judged a very wide and varying community based on the actions of a few people who clearly were very cagey about their hobbies. Perhaps if you went into this sort of thing with a more open mind, you might have found answers a lot more satisfying than the ones you did through this experience.

I too have created an account to comment.This article over all is very negative and and slightly offensive. If you were looking to understand and learn about the cosplay world it would have been better to attend a convention instead of a small group of cosplayers. Just like not all people are the same, not all cosplayers are the same nor do they have the same opinions. There are different kinds of cosplayers, some people sew their own cosplays and even make their own wigs or some buy offline or do closet cosplay which is making cosplay from things you already own. There are also a variety of reasons to cosplay, some people might do it to make friends or meet new people. Some just feel more comfortable with this as their hobby and some might do it because they are proud of showing their skills, like sewing,crafting or even acting. You seemed to not be writing an article on the cosplay culture but on the life of Marina and Shannon. You need to broaden your resources.

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