The Nerd Renaissance: History of Cosplay in America!

Every year (before the pandemic) nerds and geeks from all walks of life would congregate together in sanctuaries of geekdoms known as ‘conventions’. Not matter if you’re an anime, manga, or Marvel/DC fanatic, these places were basically a haven for the collectors of Pokemon Cards, the consumers of anime wall scrolls, and the seekers of rare comics. In these conventions that are so near and dear to nerd culture, we find ourselves spending hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on fabric, accessories, and all other things needed to create the costumes of the characters that we adore so much from the series of shows that we crave.

 

A shot of Cosplay at our home convention in Baltimore, MD (January 2020)

It is also at these conventions; that people see a parade of nerds dressed up in multicolored wigs and medieval outfits that look like something straight out of Game of Thrones or K-Pop bands. We all know that every October 31st America dresses up as pop culture icons, bugs, strippers, you name em’. For nerds and conventions; every weekend is October 31st!

One words that has popped up at every interview outside of an anime or comic-con convention is the word “Cosplay”. For those who aren’t very familiar with the word or even its origins, check it out!

Cosplay is basically the combination or portmanteau of the words “Costume” and “Play”. It’s known as an performance art in which participants (often called Cosplayers) wear costumes and accessories of the character that they’re trying to portray. The term was first coined by Nobuyuki Takahashi in 1984 at the World Sci-Fi Convention (Worldcon) in Los Angeles. Originally, the word “Masquerade” was used as the term for Cosplay until Takahashi wrote an article in the Japanese magazine entitled My Anime after the convention.

Even though the term came about in the early-to-mid 80’s, we actually have to give credit to the first cosplayers who kicked off everything that we’re seeing in cosplay now! Forrest J. Ackerman and Myrtle R. Douglas (aka Morojo) are the true pioneers of the cosplay game; kicking it of at Worldcon 1939. (Not to mention the first “rave party” happened at the same convention in 1940; of course they were called Masquerade Balls.)

Since the 1970’s cosplaying has been a fan activity for Japan, and although the term didn’t catch on at first, it wasn’t until a couple years after Takahashi wrote his article that it started trending. The trend really took off in the 90’s after exposure on TV and magazines, and in the late 90’s came what we know today as one of the first cosplay maid cafe’s promoting a video game called Welcome to Pia Carrot! (Many might remember this game.) Hard to believe that all of this started from two sci-fi fans from the 1940’s, and Takahasi who went to Worldcon in the 80’s.

We started from the bottom…now we’re here!

Even though cosplay is more popular now that ever, it did have its ‘scantily clad’ moments. Back in the 70’s there were people who ‘appeared’ naked at sci-fi conventions in America; which prompted the “no costume is no costume” rule because it was happening so frequently each year. Now, we’ve been to a LOT of conventions in the past ten years and we’ve seen our fair share of scantily clad cosplay, but if 90% of your birthday suit is showing, the rule was that you had to return to your hotel room and change into something less revealing. That rule is true especially now with a large handful of conventions being more family-friendly; at the same token there are a handful of cons just for our age group (90’s and early 2000’s kids).

The second generation of the “no costume is no costume” rule is the “Cosplay is NOT consent” rule found at every convention we go to – even our own. With the cosplay trend continuing its popularity well past the 2010’s, it came and presented it’s own share of challenges; this being one of them. In 2013 Rochelle Keyhan, Erin Filson, Anna Kegler brought the issue of sexual harassment to the mainstream; and to this day this movement continues to gain momentum.

Another issue plaguing the cosplay community is the controversial point of cosplay ethnicity; the fact that people of color are seen as ‘not authentic’ or ‘faithful’ to their cosplay by ‘detailed elitists’. Although many cosplayers in the community feel that anyone can cosplay, it becomes difficult when some argue that they’re not being respectful to the character’s ethnicity. Even now this is quite a polarizing topic among the community, but as for where we stand, we love ALL cosplayers – that it!

To cap it all off; cosplay popularity kicked off in the 1940’s with Worldcon, and continued on throughout the 80’s and 90’s all the way to present day. With anime conventions in the U.S. taking the top spot in convention popularity; beating out traditional sci-fi and comic book conventions (though some have combined with anime cons like Zenkaikon for example), cosplay in Western countries among the general public is more accepting than their Eastern counterparts. Guess we’ve got Halloween to thank for that, right? XP

From movies and documentaries cosplay has been a part of nerd culture for 70+ years, and although there haven’t been any conventions due to COVID, we’re 1000% sure we’ll see cosplay and cosplayers again! 😉   

D&A Anime Blog: What Will Cons Be Like in 2021 and Beyond?

We don’t even need to tell you how brutal 2020 has been for most of the country. In fact we’ve seen it pan out since March; from the pandemic to the protests and everything ugly and unpleasant in between. While the threat of COVID is still ramped throughout the world, many of us are trying to hold it together through any outlet of escapism that we can find. For fans of anime and manga our consumption of the medium has tripled since March (we’ve got the numbers to prove it), however that month was also the last time any fans have been to an anime convention.

As soon as COVID hit the con scene was shut down. At least 80% of the community that goes to cons (like ourselves) was devastated by the news; but at the same time, we knew how much the staff and founders of the con wanted their attendees to be safe. (The same cannot be said for a small few who decided to do the opposite.) For most conventions they don’t have ‘Pandemic Insurance’ but others decided to get a little create by going live online. Right now there’s a handful of special convention events happening online to take the edge of reality for a day or two. (We’ll keep you posted.)

So now the question is; what will conventions be like when they DO return once COVID-19 is over (via vaccination)? Well, we don’t think the ones you know and love will disappear completely, but what might happen is that many of the mega conventions like Anime Expo may cut their normal annual attendance by 50% (they average 100,000+ people a year). Sadly as a result of the pandemic the cost of badges will probably increase by 30%, but smaller convention badge prices might still retain their usual cost. If some of the bigger-name cons are unable to bring back their con in 2021, more than likely they’ll roll over to 2022. Masks will probably still be required until enough people get vaccinated; which will take 4-6 months due to the fact that it may be administered through phases (most vulnerable to least vulnerable).

We don’t see conventions going anywhere for awhile; even if Japan stops producing anime all together (we’ve got 30+ years of anime titles already, but we hope that they’ll still continue to produce). As for what they’ll be like beyond 2021, we’re seeing a glimpse of what that reality is like already thanks to the pandemic. There’s nothing like seeing cosplayers, VA’s, and fellow fans in person, and as soon as we get that vaccine, we look forward to seeing our fans and you guys again!   

The Top Ten Things We Miss About Cons!

Let’s be honest; 2020 has been the most stressful and exhausting year that we as humanity has ever endured! From COVID-19 to racial injustice we’ve been hit with gut punch after gut punch and have been asking ourselves the question; ‘when will it end?!’ With mass gatherings being a super spreader for the virus, we’ve had no choice but to shut em’ down all together – except for the percentage of the U.S. population that’s hasn’t gotten the memo yet! (Don’t even get me started!)

One of the greatest mass gatherings that we’ve ever been a part of, are anime conventions. Many of us remember the last con we’ve been to before COVID hit, and now about roughly 80% of the anime community is going through con withdraw; including us! With con season as dead as dust all we can do is put our hopes and dreams into next year when we get the vaccine. We’ve been going to cons for over ten years, and there are ten things about them that we miss and wish to see again next year and beyond. So from us to you, here are our Top Ten things we miss about cons!

10. The Deadpool Invasion

Since 2010 we’ve been going to our former home convention known as Otakon, and every year we would see an army of at least 20 Deadpool cosplayers in various outfits; such as Luffy from One Piece, one in a business suit, and one that was president. Every year they’d do wacky stuff and if you’re lucky, you might have been able to spot a Deadpool conga line. What we wouldn’t give to see the merc with a mouth again…

We miss you buddy! T.T

9. Hallway Line Dancing

Anime conventions are like a three-day party, and when there’s a party, there’s music! If you’re convention vets like us then we’re pretty sure you’ve seen them; about 50-to-100 cosplayers doing the “Cupid Shuffle” or “Wobble”. We’ve even joined in on the fun as well, so if you ever go to a con and see line dancing in the hallway, jump in!

8. The DBZ Abridged Ghost Nappa / Vegeta Guy

There’s always one guy at a convention who does this, and it’s freakin’ hilarious when he does it! He’s been going to our con for over five years, but I’m pretty sure you guys might have your own version of this guy. Though we don’t know his full name, we’ve just dubbed him the ‘DBZA Ghost Nappa / Vegeta Guy’.

7. The Lines before going into Panels

When it comes to panels at anime conventions you always wanna plan ahead! That means leaving one panel 45 minutes early to be the first one in line for the next one. We can’t tell you how many times we’ve gotten lucky enough to get to many of the panels that we wanted to see by doing this, so once cons are back up and running again, this will feel like nostalgia!

6. The Dealer’s Room

This is where it all goes down; the merch, the posters, the OST’s! It’s all right here! We’re crying just thinking about it! (*sniffle*) I’m 100% sure when cons come back, none of us are going to take this room for granted! EVER!

5. The Raves

Back in 2008 we went to our first one during Otakon, and it was LIT! Some of us miss these and some of us won’t, but once cons come back you’d better bet your sweet waifu that there will be a party!

We’re gonna party hard after this is over! Believe it!!

4. The Pokemon Nerd March Down The Hallway

On the last day of the con, you’ll see about 200-300 Pokemon fans march down the hallway chanting the opening theme to the very first season! We all know it. We all have heard it. We just miss seeing it! T.T

3. The Autograph Line

Next to the Dealer’s Room, the autograph line is where you go after you get your merch! We’ve been fortunate enough to get all of the things we wanted signed by the people that we admire the most; the VA’s! Which brings us to Number 2…

2. The VA’s

These men and women with extraordinary voices are one of the major reasons why we love going to conventions! They’ve been a part of your childhood/adult life for a long time, and plus many of them are down-to-earth just like you and me. Once cons come back we can’t wait to meet these awesome people again!

Can’t wait to see you when this is all over!

1. The COSPLAYERS!!

They’re the BIGGEST reason why we go to cons, and their what we miss the most about cons! Seeing all of the awesome cosplayers is the bread and butter of our existence as an anime blog (plus the VA’s too). We miss these awesome people most of all, because you guys helped us to make the blog what it is today. We’d be nothing without each and every one of you, so to that we say Thank You!!

You guys have made the blog awesome!!

We’re all waiting for the day where we can step into hotel or convention lobbies and experience these things again, and rest assured once we get the vaccine, we will return to the fun times that we’ve had! If there are some things that you miss about cons, let us know in the comments section. Until next post, stay safe and stay united! 😉

New Video Post: Otakon 2016 Cosplay Music Video!!

So awhile back we shot footage for a cosplay music video that we were going to do during Otakon’s last year in Baltimore back in 2016! Well, after a four year wait it’s finally here! Check out the awesome video we put together, and we also want to give a huge shout-out to all of the cosplayer’s that participated! 🙂

DigiCon: The Rise of Virtual Conventions

It has been two whole months since our state (Maryland) was issued a ‘Shelter-in-Place’ order due to COVID-19. With large gatherings like festivals, sporting events, and yes…even anime and gaming conventions cancelled all around the U.S. and the world, nerds (and otaku) like ourselves have been wondering what the future of our three-day sanctuaries would look like in a post COVID world. It bummed us out after receiving word that our next convention, Zenkaikon, was cancelled after the state of PA issued its state of emergency. However, it was also nice to see that they take the safety of their con goers, staff, and potential guests seriously. With Summer knocking on the door, it’s already set in stone that con season is pretty much dead, and I can only imagine how bad the organizers and staff are feeling; having to scrap everything because you don’t want to take the chance of infecting more people, because at this rate, it seems like con season won’t have the same effect that it once did even after this year is over.

We’re not saying that you won’t have the same experiences you did back in year’s past, it just that with the mega conventions like Anime Expo, SDCC, SXSW, and E3, they probably won’t be returning next year either – at least not at the capacity they once had. There’s at least 6-8 months worth of planning that has to go into making cons that size what they are, and with COVID hanging around until Fall/Winter, that doesn’t give the organizers a lot of turn-around time to work with…which sucks! So yeah, we feel your pain, and though we can’t go to any of our favorite conventions to see you guys, many organizers have created digital alternatives to many of your favorite cons. Heck, even FUNimation has their own con!

With many of us who are FOLLOWING THE RULES AND STAYING HOME UNLIKE SOME PEOPLE WE WON’T NAME, digital conventions are the new norm – at least for now anyway. I’d say between 2021 and 2022, we’ll find ourselves back to doing what we do best; going to cons and meeting our cool friends and fans! (We’ll be hugging our super fans, and pounding fists with everyone else.) Hopefully you guys stay safe during this time, and remember, we’ve got discord and all of our other social media, so you can chat with us anytime! 😉

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We shall return! Believe it!

D&A Super Update: AnimeSnap Con 2020!

Hey guys! Hopefully you’re all washing your hands and staying safe during this difficult time – which we will all get through (and I can’t stress this enough)! As we said in our previous post, we’re setting up a special unofficial ‘digital alternative’ to everyone’s convention cancellation woes due to COVID-19, and in this post is an invite link to our discord channel so you can check out the unofficial AnimeSnap Con 2020! We’ll be running this special channel for a week (or longer depending on demand), and we’re hoping this will at least take your mind off of the virus. The link’s down below!

https://discord.gg/QkNk4a

D&A Anime Blog: March 2020 Anime Cons!

Hey guys n’ gals! We’re only a couple of weeks away from the first day of Spring, and with that comes warmer weather and more anime conventions for you to check out if you haven’t already. The March list may be a tad short as we’re trying not to replicate any conventions that we’ve already listed, and as a reminder if you plan on attending any of the conventions we list on this post, wash and sanitize your hands and any surfaces that you may touch, and if you feel ill before the con, it’s best not to attend. (Coronavirus sucks, but we want you all to be safe.) Now here’s all of the March cons we found online for you guys, and until our next post, stay safe and stay nerdy! 😉

D&A Anime Blog: February Anime Cons 2020!

So we’re now into the second month of 2020, and just three days away from the big ‘V’ day – Valentine’s Day. With a new year comes new conventions, and this month we’ll be highlighting some new cons for you guys to check out! Some of these cons we didn’t even know existed until now, so if you get the chance to go to them, send us some pics! 😉

D&A Anime Blog: Best Con Moments!

Since we’ve launched our blog back in 2016, we never imagined that it would reach the level that it currently is now. Between the fans, the voice actors, and all of the conventions we’ve gone to in the last ten years, we’ve had some awesome moments as the dynamic duo of D&A Anime Blog. (A. Goldman, and Yours Truly.) Although we’re still growing as a blog and taking on new experiences in our lives, it’s been quite a fun ride doing this – and we ain’t stopping anytime soon! Here’s a handful of some of our best con moments between other fans, as well as voice actors.

Going to Zenkaikon for the First Time!

Back in 2017 we went to our first anime convention in another state. We didn’t know what to expect when we got there, but after going for our first time, Zenkaikon was a blast! We’ll be returning for Zenkaikon 2020, so if you didn’t get the chance to see us in 2017 or 2019, come check out Zenkaikon (and say ‘hi’ if you see us)!

Meeting Monica Rial for the First Time!

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Anime USA 2018

20+ years in the VA biz? Check! Over 500 characters to her name? Check! The Most Iconic Voice in the World? Yep! Have we met her? Yes we did! (Twice!) Needless to say, Monica Rial is one of the coolest ladies you’ll even met; next to Collen, Jamie, Felecia, and many others. She’s also the voice actor welcome wagon if you’re an aspiring voice actor, and we’re hoping that we get to meet her once again.

Going to Thy Geekdom Con for the First Time

Although this convention is now a four-day con, we were able to check out this convention back in 2017 (on the birthday of D&A’s Donte’ J. Lewis) and met One Punch Man himself, Max Mittleman. Even though it’s been three years since our first appearance at this convention, we hope that we’ll one day get the chance to go back to this con some day.

Although the first month of the year is officially in the books, there’s plenty more moments and memories to be made at the coming conventions that we got lined up for 2020. Until next post guys n’ girls, stay nerdy! 😉

D&A Anime Blog: January 2020 Anime Cons!

The first two weeks of the new year is already in the books, and although we’re not even close to the middle of the Winter season, anime convention season is well underway! With that comes the grand launch of many different anime cons both big and small, so from us to you, we’ve got some awesome cons for you to check out – as well as help you kick off your 2020 nerd season. Just click on the links below! 😉

January 2020 Anime Conventions