This is a question I see on the internet a lot: “What should I cosplay!?” But this is also a question that hardly ever gets an adequate response. Whether they are newbies looking for a popular costume that will jettison them into convention fame, or seasoned cosplayers who have simply run out of challenges, it seems like every cosplayer, at some point, will unleash this question upon the internet, and expect strangers or irrelevant Facebook friends to answer their call. Sometimes a close friend or cosplay mentor can provide a suggestion that the inquirer can get excited about, but for the most part, even if we the internet sincerely want to help you, our suggestions fall short of expectations. And there are many reasons why…..
[In this list, "you" is interchangeable with "cosplayer seeking advice from an open forum," and "we" is interchangeable with the helpful people of the internet.]
1. We don’t know what you look like
Even though you have a 200×200 pixel avatar next to your post of you in a cool hat and half of your face obscured, we the internet have NO idea what you look like. I know you posted your measurements, your height, and your hair color (which we don’t need because wigs are great), and maybe even a blurry picture of yourself in the bathroom mirror, but we really, cannot for the life of us tell what you look like in daylight. We cannot tell how you move or what your posture and proportions are like, and these are more important factors for cosplay. We need to know how you carry yourself and how your body shape is perceived; we can’t tell how your appearance will change at different angles, or how a wig is going to manipulate the shape and proportions of your face without having you move and breathe in front of us.
2. We don’t know what you want to look like
Cosplay is less about what you actually look like and more about what you want to look like. Who do you want to be for a weekend? How do you want to move, how do you want to pose and act? Do you want to be a sexy character? A badass? A goof-ball? Cosplay is an opportunity to become someone totally different, so skip the “who I am now,” and get to the “who I want to be (temporarily) tomorrow.”
3. We don’t know you
We don’t know what you are like! We don’t know what you like and dislike, and we don’t know what kind of costume you are capable of carrying successfully. If you are really shy, and we knew that about you, then maybe we would avoid the femme fatale role. If we knew that you are really loud and expressive, we wouldn’t cast you as a pensive, brooding hero. If you list off a number of your favorite anime for us to choose from, each of those series has a dozen characters in it, all with different demeanors, and we the internet have no idea which character you would play best. (If you know which character you would play best, then why are you asking us?) No cosplayer has to role-play as their character for the entire convention (in fact, please don’t), but it will make your costume all the better if you can slip into character convincingly for a photoshoot.
4. We don’t know your skill level
Some cosplays are incredibly difficult! Others are insultingly easy. Most people are not going to look through your profile to find out what your skill level is, and rightfully so because those skills are always changing. It would be helpful to know what kinds of skills you have that would help you in cosplay: Can you sew? Can you sculpt? Can you paint? Can you work with wood? Foam? Leather? How well can you do all these things? If you don’t know how to sew, and you tell us that, the internet will likely suggest only “thrift store cosplays.” If you are a master at metal working, but have never touched a paint brush in your life, again, the internet can suggest accordingly.
5. We don’t know how much money you want to spend
Cosplay is a very expensive hobby. Many costumes can be made on a budget, but most of the extraordinary ones cost hundreds of dollars to assemble. Money is something that many people are not comfortable discussing publicly, but if we don’t know what you are willing to spend, we may suggest a costume best made from silk chiffon or covered in crystals. It’s not our money, so we aren’t thinking about the cost. On the other hand, if you do give us a budget to work with, that restricts the number of possibilities, now doesn’t it?
6. We don’t know how much time you have to work on this cosplay
We don’t know anything about your crazy busy, or incredibly boring lifestyle. Maybe you have two years before the convention to work on your costume, or maybe you have four days. These are all factors that will influence your (or our) cosplay selection.
7. We don’t know what time of year your convention is
If we tell you to dress as the Ice-Climbers, and your cosplay is in the middle of August, are you going to listen? Should you? No. We need to know climate details, here.
8. We don’t know what you’ve already cosplayed.
Again, very few people are going to look through your cosplay portfolio to see your past work. Some will, but most people are going to want you to list everything they need to know in your post, and not spend any time doing homework on you. Maybe everyone thinks you totally look like Tifa Lockhart. Maybe you already know this and have already cosplayed her. You should tell people you’ve already done that one so you don’t get the same suggestion from everyone.
9. Sheer Volume
Sometimes there are just TOO MANY CHARACTERS to choose from. Especially if you have a pretty generic look. If you don’t give us a way to narrow our selection, we might just get overwhelmed with the possibilities and give up. There are also a zillion people asking who to cosplay on sites like cosplay.com. You might have a hard time getting noticed if your thread title isn’t interesting.
10. We Don’t Want to Read Paragraphs and Paragraphs about you.
The biggest reason that we cannot help you decide who to cosplay is that we know very little about you. Unfortunately, we also don’t want to read a novel in order to find out more. Most strangers on the internet are not going to give you more than five minutes of their time. Most contributors are going to look at a photo of you, suggest one of their own favorite characters, and leave it at that. If you don’t like the same characters as they do, then you are not going to take their suggestion into consideration. You’re not going to cosplay a character that you don’t like, or from a series that you have never seen, right?
A lack of time, knowledge, and personal investment is the biggest reason why when you ask, “Who Should I Cosplay,” the internet cannot, or will not answer.
So What Can You Do?
Well, if you are really still stuck on what to cosplay next, why don’t you try answering these questions for yourself. Sit down and make a list! What do you look like? What do you want to look like? How much time and money do you have? Etc. If you take the time to answer all of the above questions, you’re going to know exactly what type of costume you want to make. Now, if you go through a list of your top ten favorite games, anime, & comics, I bet you can find a short list of characters that fill your requirements. Its always easy when a cosplay idea hits you in the face, but hopefully this list will help you out when inspiration is totally lacking.
Good luck, and thanks for reading!