The Not-so-Good of Indonesian Cosplay

Before I start, apparently it’s forbidden to have an opinion on the Internet. But it’s the Internet, so f**k you. I’m not mentioning any names because I could get sued for breach of Indonesian IT Law (which has a lot of loopholes and were made by politicians without any sense of IT) that covers defamation on the Internet. This is a rather long piece of writing. This following points are all purely from my point of view. If you want to argue in a civilized way, post in the comments section. Flames, bashing, and troll comments will be disapproved.

The Beginning

Before I started thinking of diving into the art of cosplay, I was just another fan of all things Japanese, especially pop culture. But you don’t care about history. Long story short, after going to a few major events in Jakarta and witnessing the cosplayers, I decided to try it out myself. I thought cosplay was gonna be fun, exciting, and socially beneficial for me.

Now, it has almost been 2 years since I started cosplaying in Indonesia. I’ve been to events in Jakarta and just recently, I’ve tasted some of the events in Bali, my hometown. I always thought that cosplayers were a fun bunch of people to hang around with, but my experiences proved me wrong. I’m not saying that all of them are jerks; some are just way more civilized than the others. From there, I discovered a dark side of Indonesian cosplay and surprisingly, it all revolves around 1 thing: social media, in this case, Facebook.

All of the “fun” I’ve seen, all of the “camaraderie”… some are a just facades. What lies beneath is a rotten vortex of negative emotions. So, here’s what I’ve seen and found during my cosplay experience in Jakarta and Bali, both bright and dark.

Before starting cosplay, read this f**king book first.

Rule Number 1: Get Your F**king Theory Right!

I’m going to start with the most basic, the most fundamental: definition. What is “cosplay” exactly? Can I wear just a wig and call it “cosplay”? Or do I have to spend hundreds of dollars to buy the best materials to make the best costume ever before I can call it “cosplay”? Do I have to cosplay as a character from an anime? Can’t I make up a character in my head and cosplay as that character, known to the community as “original character”? These are just the tip of the iceberg.

We are obsessed with definitions. Only by abiding to the definitions can awesome cosplay be achieved. Wow, I should put that on a plaque and hang it. If you’re a member of the numerous cosplay forums in Indonesia, you should know pretty well about the “definition wars” that happen frequently.

The drama that often happens is like this:

>A person cosplays as an “original character” at a major event.

>Feeling satisfied, they upload their photos to their respective forums just to show that they can cosplay.

>When they classify it as “original character”, the wars begin. Some say there is no such thing as “original character” cosplay, some say yes there is, look at World Cosplay, and some just don’t give a damn, while some enjoy the flames as they merrily dance.

That’s just one example of how definition can tear a community apart. There’s a lot more, but it’s not worth my time to go scouring for every little bit of conflict. So, in Indonesia, before you even think of starting cosplay, go to college, study your books, pass the finals, and get a degree in Cosplay Arts.

Know who’s above and who’s under you.

Know Thy Neighbor: A General Classification

You can basically put Indonesian cosplayers into one or more of these categories:

  1. The Elite: these are cosplayers who have earned their fame for going international or making prominent appearances in the world of Indonesian cosplay. Some are highly revered by the community and their actions and words have power. Simply put, they are (and have done enough work to earn) the best.
  2. The Puritans/Perfection Seekers: these are the cosplayers who strive to “conserve” the ways of cosplay. They abide strictly to the Cosplay Codex, learn from prominent cosplayers abroad (some even worship them as gods), and do whatever they can to make their costumes as perfect as possible. They cannot tolerate any bullshit when it comes to cosplay and are serious about what they do. Sadly, there are some Puritans who take it a little too far and push their views on gullible newcomers.
  3. The Hobbyists/Pleasure Seekers: these people are in it for the fun or just because they have a hobby. They cosplay as they please, without pressure. These are normally the people I want to hang around with because they have a sense of humor and are very easy to socialize with.
  4. The Noobs: yes, “noob” as in “you don’t know what the f**k you’re doing”. These are the people who show no effort for cosplaying. Slap a DeathNote and long-sleeved white T-shirt on me and I’m automatically Lawliet. No dude, that does not make you Lawliet. Try some makeup, get a wig, just… do something! These are the most targeted people for bashing and cyber bullying.
  5. The Sensational Sensation: I don’t know if some of these people are bored or actually on to something. There’s always a hot issue in Indonesian cosplay, and these are the people who either create it or feed the flames of war on social media.
  6. The Watchers: the Watchers are people who watch silently from the sidelines because they either enjoy watching people hurting each other via Internet or just don’t know what to say, or are just afraid to voice out their opinion.
  7. The Merchants: these are people who have chosen to the path of money. They are the ones who make props, costumes, and other stuff for themselves or as a living. Some are highly respected, some are just frauds. A high portion are cosplayers as well.

This is just a general classification; it’ll take a long time of exhaustive research if I were to provide very detailed classifications.

Troll mindset, check. Facebook, check. Harsh vocabulary and flawed logic, check. Good, I’m ready to capslock someone to death.

Social Media is for Making Friends, Enemies, and Fun

The Indonesian cosplay community’s life revolves around social media. That’s where all the good stuff, like friends, transactions, and love occur. It’s also where the butthurt, drama, and jealousy resides. Also, one thing about cosplayers: I think they hate their real names seeing that most of their FB names are Japanized or Koreanized. Just saying.

Let’s start with the good.

  1. A lot of communities and groups have risen, allowing cosplayers to easily connect with whoever they want. This has also given way to more events and cooperation among communities.
  2. The economy benefits because makers can show off their goods and cosplayers can easily trade items. Shopping’s never been easier.
  3. Public relations and dissemination of information has never been easier.

Now the bad, and I mean, real bad.

  1. Groups. It’s so easy to make a group on FB. Just turn it to “secret” and you can talk about anything without the fear of anybody knowing. This is also used for backstabbing and behind-the-scenes defaming. In open groups, some people don’t know how to write a civilized comment or post which ends up in feelings getting butthurt. Some groups are just a bunch of cosplayers making fun of others behind their backs.
  2. Behind the Scenes Backstab. Social media is useful when you’re talking about someone you don’t like. It’s also the perfect place to start a hate wave towards a certain group/person. Don’t expect that friendly cosplayer you met to act the same way on Facebook. She may have a harsh tongue behind a veil of anonymity. So, let me just be short and blunt: the friendly exterior masks a rotten interior.
  3. “Oh why?! Why must woe befall me?” There’s a high amount of drama in the social life of Indonesian cosplayers. A lot of hypocrisy, talking behind backs, and drama queens making a small problem unnecessarily huge. Some internet conflicts have escalated into real conflicts.

So, the things that new cosplayers should watch out is what they say on social media. Just remember the Miranda rights: what you say in social media will and can be used against you. Talk only when necessary, don’t get into too many arguments, ignore the flames and trolls, and you should be fine.

Picture explains enough.

A Competition? More Like a Contest of Connections

We Indonesians so love our friends. We’d do anything for them. In return, we also expect favors. Indonesian friendship knows no boundaries; it even surpasses the boundaries of professionalism. Just like DOTA, if you’re new, YOU SUCK. New cosplayers who have the guts to prove their skills on the stage or internet will have to face these truths.

In a performance-based competition (this means you act on stage), your performance will be judged by a panel of judges. The judges may be professionals, a rep from the event host, an acknowledged seasoned cosplayer, or a person that doesn’t know shit about cosplay but is a judge just because they’re important enough. If you’re being judged by a pro, you can assure that your win/loss is worth it and acceptable. If you’re not, then there’s something fishy. The most common practice around is the abuse of connections. Let’s say I’m a cosplayer from team X. I’m in a competition and my opponent is from team Y. It turns out that one of the judges is a member of team Y as well. You should get the idea.

In a likes-based competition, your fate depends on how many friends you have. Sometimes the epicness of your costume doesn’t matter; what matters is how many people actually vote for you. This is arguably the most practiced type of competition. Likes-based competitions can be divided into two: internet and on-the-spot. Internet likes-based competitions rely on the power of virtual friends casting votes on a certain page or website, while on-the-spot likes-based competitions are held during an event. The latter is rarer than the former. I’ve only once been to an event where people were asked to purchase coupons to cast one vote. Those with strong finances and support would clearly win, no matter how their costume sucked. Face it, that’s the reality.

An Unsupporting Community of Jerks

This section covers those jerks who are overly critical of newcomers to cosplay and those who don’t seem to be “doing it right”. We Indonesians have surprisingly harsh tongues and frequently use uncivilized language on the Internet. Perhaps it’s our way to relieve stress: by taking it out on other innocent people.

So here’s the thing: there are a lot of promising newcomers who quit cosplaying altogether just because they hung out with a bunch of jerks. These so-called “seniors” are overly critical of the newcomer, of their costumes, of their performance, or sometimes, of their plain existence. They criticize this newbie so hard, the newbie actually breaks and forever buries their dream of having fun cosplaying. Believe me, this happens a lot, but most goes unreported.

Conclusion: Cosplay is No Fun in Indonesia!

These are some of the dark sides of Indonesian cosplay. I’ve seen, heard, and read about these experiences befalling my fellow teammates and friends. Well, most of the info was really the result of exhaustive interviewing and heart-to-heart sessions, and also Facebook lurking (some people just don’t know who to set their privacy). Thus, my conclusion is this: it’s no fun cosplaying in Indonesia! You are always expected to “be in character” (whatever the f**k that means); if you’re not, you’ll get bashed by the “perfectionists”. Your right to have fun while cosplaying is constantly challenged by nit-picky definition debaters. You need to have a humungous heart to accept rigged elections and nepotism in competitions. And last but not least, you need to have the patience of a saint to deal with all of this shit.

You’ve been warned. Still have the nerve to cosplay in Indonesia?

UPDATE (11 September 2013): A fellow cosplayer from the Philippines has shared her experiences. Surprisingly, what’s happening in the Philippines is similar to what’s happening in Indonesia! Check out what Jiandra has to say!

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146 thoughts on “The Not-so-Good of Indonesian Cosplay

  1. I am deadly agree with this one
    Although i am indonesian, but i feel it’s already fucking shit from the very beginning
    Indonesia Cosplay WILL NEVER BE FUN!!!!
    Just a media to stab one another, specially in financial!!!!

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    1. About money, i don’t think it was right (gomen). If you don’t have the money to buy a costume (except for the wig) then we can make it ourselves. If you don’t know how and the result is bad keep trying. Bought some fabrics may be expensive but at least it more cheaper. If you short of money, you can save some of your money, or do some job. You can wait to cosplay until you’re able to save your money. i’m indonesian but i think the people who are in “it(i mean in the character)” is more better than the cosplay who are just using expensive costume without trying. Cosplay isn’t everything about costume, we can cover our mistakes by make something else which is look smiliar or makes the attention to the things that is good so no one will realize. I think the character act is the most important. Cosplay is a hobby, do it for fun, don’t laid back or be too serious. Everyone can make mistakes. And if the comments in the media makes you down, you should think “am i worth to be commented like this? if yes where’s my mistakes? ahh, i should ask the person who commented me. If he/she can’t answer maybe they’re not as good as i am because they just see and complain” just like that hahaha

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    2. exactly its not me being a prick or anything but that is why I cosplay less there and more outside Indonesia. it is terrible and negative environment, no fun!

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  2. uum, for me i don’t know how to respond… hahaha that’s true… well, some people do over-reacted… hehehe i’m a newbie right now… my knowledge is still nothing, and i think i just started. because for now i’m only do the costest, or wig test at home(i still have to wait for my test because i’m on the end of senior high year) and i still not good with stuff like make-up, or costumes. To be honest i want my first to be the mots happy memories (i guess everyone is the same) idk if it good or not to cosplay in indonesia, but right now i’m trying my best to learn make up, divide and quality of fabric, and i learn to behave like the character i wish to play. hehehe, but this kinda make me a bit down. To tell the truth i’m afraid of rejection, i think i’m not good enough to be a cosplayer, and i’m very clumsy because of that i feel pessimist about doing it at every aspect. But since i loved anime, manga, japan very much and the first time i saw people who was cosplaying , i feel excited and i feel this worth to try. hahaha, well every people have they own thoughts, idk the future but i think we don’t need to hear anything people said. We should do what we wants, do everything we can. If the others think that is no good, i may say “well, at least i do my best”.

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  3. umm… bahasa inggris saya kurang begitu bagus,, tapi itu semua memang benar… beberapa pendapat teman dan yang saya rasakan sendiri. jika kalian adalah cosplayer dan mencintai cosplay itu sendiri, satu satunya cara adalah diam, membuat telinga anda tuli, dan lakukan saja apa pun yang anda suka.. 🙂

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    1. umm … my english not so good, but it’s all true … some opinions are my friends and feel alone. If you are the cosplayers and cosplay love itself, the only way is silent, make you deaf ears, and just do whatever you like .. 🙂

      Like

  4. A late comment I know, but w/e.

    A large amount of details written in this article also happens in Indonesian rhythm arcade gaming scene. For example, until recently, mockery of pleasure-seeker gamers is a common discussion topic on one of the largest gamers’ Facebook group. Name-calling and photo spreading is also common. Since the group rules changed, the mockery dwindled down, but every once in awhile there would be a post like “si anu nih, RCT, mainannya lagu level anu, tapi masukin kreditnya segini” (RCT is a derogatory slang for those pleasure-seekers coined by the members btw).

    Another similarities is how “circles” can influence a player; it is common for the players to join “clubs”, which mostly consists of players hanging around in the same arcade. Competitions are also common, whether held by the arcade or by a group of player themselves. After a competition ends, it is not uncommon for groups to talk shit about their rival or the event organizer behind their Secret FB/Line/BBM group. Some of their talk even spilled to the largest group, causing unnecessary drama.

    Well, there would be a lot more to cover and I will blog about it (in Indonesian, my English sucks), and I will link to this site. cheers.

    Like

  5. Hi~
    I’m an indonesian cosplayer…
    I’ve been cosplaying about 4 years now..
    I agree with some of your points of view, and i get why wrote this..
    I cannot deny about the dark side in Cosplay.

    But for your statement about “it’s no fun cosplay in indonesia. And still have the nerve to cosplay here?”

    For me, i still am having fun, despite all of the dramas that has been going on…

    I try to not take those dramas seriously, and decided to just having fun with my friends. It’s my hobby, and hobby is supposes to be fun, right? Even though it seems like i’m not really serious about cosplay, but i really am taking my cosplay costume seriously… When i’m doing something, i want myself to be as close as possible to the real character… Coz i really love to make my dream character into life, even though i’m not perfect enough…

    And just so you know, it’s not only in Indonesia that people feel this way about cosplay… It’s also in singapore and any other countries… But, we, who has a hobby in cosplay, just wanna have fun! Try to know some people whose also having fun in cosplay, then maybe you’ll also find happiness in cosplay 😀

    Nice blog by the way… It’s alright to have your own opinions 🙂

    Like

  6. Do you still cosplay? Can i contact you? I got events in Bandung, jakarta, Surabaya and Denpasar that might want to invite cosplays..
    Btw, I really wish to have a Warhammer 40K Space Marine or Empire Terminator costume.. that’d be cool. I wouldn’t mind the size. I’m big enough, tee hee

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  7. sankyuu… 😀
    saya merasakan banyak sekali hal buruk dalam cosplay… kadang membuatku kesal.. bahkan saya berhenti bertahun-tahun.. tahun ini adalah tahun ke 6 saya d dunia cosplay.
    tapi saya juga tidak menjadikannya hal yang buruk.. banyak hal positif yang saya dapat, contohnya:
    – saya merasa lebih menghargai uang
    – menghargai kehidupan normal saya, karena terkadang saya merasa beberapa orang menjadi berubah menjadi aneh karena cosplay.
    – banyak pengetahuan yang bisa saya dapat, seperti cara make up karakter, menjahit, hair styling.. ohh! banyak sekali! dan itu menjadi keuntungan untukku. menjual kemampuanku tentunya.
    saya hanya berpikir.. “suatu saat nanti saya pasti akan kembali.”
    jadi? apakah anda beristirahat dari cosplay karena masalah itu? (seperti saya..haha..:D) sepertinya akan sangat sulit jika anda menyukai cosplay.

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  8. i totally agree with you!
    there are so-called-judge, that actual favoring her/he friends or one community. what a jerk, But the last thing i heard about one of those people that no one care about them anymore because, just because that person have a so call power, that doesn’t mean that person can go what ever she/he pleased. many bitches that try to be popular just because she cosplay a character that many people cute or -moe- but sadly bitch will stay a bitch even she sorry for her actions.
    and don’t forget about promise breakers, they sure give other hard time!

    so The Hobbyists/Pleasure Seekers is always be my best friends as well, not only they nice person but also willing to help when we get trouble. and of course we help each others.
    oh BTW I’m also an Indonesian cosplayers.

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  9. Hello~ First of all, let me say this : Thank you. Just, thank you for writing this. For saying everything I’ve kept inside my head, all this time.

    I’m a fellow Indonesian cosplayer, and I’m kind of new, having started 2 years ago. Like you, at first after going to a few events I became curious and decided to try it out for myself. Sure, among my friends I’ve been doing it alone (none of them are that much into it), nearly no help and not much support from other cosplayers, but it was okay. I found myself falling in love with cosplay. The first few months were really fun, but after getting not-so-welcome treatment so many times, well I must say I’m tired.

    Call me a wimp, but if I dare go to an event without my usual circle of friends, I’m always overwhelmed by feelings of isolation. Loads of other cosplayers, and wearing my best effort, surely there’s many chances for starting friendship and getting to know others right? Haha apparently not. Any more talk beyond a photo request would get me cold stares or held back ridicule. Life lesson : The importance of connections. Nepotisme, really.

    Eh, but that’s only 80-90% of the time. I’ve met some really kind and fun cosplayers by chance and purely random events. In the end I’ve realized that it’s the experience of enjoying cosplay together with these few friends that make cosplay worthwhile. So I’ve put it down for quite a long while. Besides I’ve got school and other stuff in life to handle. When this kid matures enough to ignore emotional garbage and enjoy the craft, she might cosplay again.

    If you managed to read this to the end, thanks again for putting up with my overly long comment – NGAKU AJA CURHAT XD-

    Like

    1. Thanks for sharing!
      I’m also on a cosplay break because of work and my impending thesis, but I am planning to cosplay again at AFAID 2014.

      As you have said, it seems we really need a close circle of friends to survive the harsh cosplay world here. Unfortunately, my little group of merry friends have gone their separate ways, so I’m alone again. But, it’s a good thing I’ve desensitized myself to the negativity and (to use your words) “emotional garbage” and I’m slowly re-discovering my passion for the hobby.

      So I hope you re-discover your passion and start cosplaying again! (for the sake of the craft and not the likes, of course)

      Like

  10. Maybe, just maybe costplay event should go hand in hand with comic con and gaming expo ?
    I would really like to chew on some kawaii costplayer while trying a new gaming experience =w=

    Like

    1. Actually, events in Indonesia tend to be “one-stop”. AFAID 2014 was held alongside Indonesia Game Show (IGS). They were literally side-by-side. Also, sometimes, comic cons also incorporate cosplay, such as Comic Frontier and POPCON.

      Like

  11. as indonesian cosplayer,i’m agree about half of your article. but i still cosplaying because i dont give a fuck about what happened around me except it worth it and i’m involved in the problem. everyone have their habit, its their duty to keep their habit so it doesnt annoy other people. example, if you look sailormoon with beard and without makeup, what do you feel?next question: do you prefer others know you feel or not? if you ask me, i feel confused: what this guy think when he do it? and i just keep that question in my head. But,maybe other people feel fun about that and some people feel like me but they post his picture and upload on FB so the cosplayer ended being bullied. About competition, the result is already known, so for me, what i can do about it? they are many act i can do: dont join the competition, talk behind, or just silent and give a fuck about it,etc. There are so much people on this hobby, you cant make everyone happy. How i can still cosplay? this is how i think: I begin cosplay just because i like the character, so i try to bring the character in real life.Maybe be some people can bash me,some give a suggestion to help my cosplay better. Its still up to me to respon them.

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  12. there are still many good things about indonesia cosplay, much judge that you can believe about score, not everyone use japanese name, etc

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  13. holy crap this is sooo true tbh, when you cosplay in indonesia, it’s as if you’re under so much pressure that you won’t even make it unless you’re either “this” or “that”. despite that, i still cosplay because it’s something i genuinely enjoy doing, however the cosplay community here still feels kind of off most of the times.

    Like

  14. Sup’
    Actually I’m not cosplayer. I’m in the position which would easily get bashed or hated in one wrong step. A cosplay photography hobyist.

    I’ve joined in cosplay photography comunity about 3 years ago, while I’m just a blockhead who don’t really paying any attention to any drama which is happening. Of course I’ve met many kind of cosplayers that you mention above but I don’t think bashing is a good way to express incompetence of someone’s cosplay. To give an example for solution, so we could move on from this problem…

    I think, showing what they did at cosplay with photos is a good way.

    This is you.
    Look at what you did.
    You could do some more with your cosplay.
    Keep up your cosplay work.
    Improve, do better changes.

    Like

  15. Hi, I accidentaly found your blog and I tough your articles is really interesting
    I, myself has been living in the realm of cosplay for 7 years now and I cannot stressed how accurate this is. But it wasnt always like this
    at the begining of my cosplay year the comunity was very friendly and loving, they felt more like a family. No matter what you cosplay, wherever you are from, you are wellcome in my house. of course back then there are only a few comunity so everyone knows everybody. sure there are a few jerks, but they eventually disapear since nobody care about them. But the the comunity grew and the drama begin to spread like a wildfire. I do not blame the newbies since the drama sometimes also start and fueled by the so-called “seniors” as well.
    I’m glad that cosplay nowadays grew into a very famous hoby, more and more people love it and take it quite seriously, I just really hate the dramas. its very unecesary and it is the one that grew us appart. But well this world aint a Utopia and in the end I’m only an opinion on the internet.
    I am looking forward to your new articles, good sir

    Like

  16. LOL I’m completely agree with you and I’ve seen too much drama on Indonesia cosplay community especially from the “cosplay celebrity” whose hobby is crying and whining about how she often get harassed and after that shoving her boobs to sns like facebook and instagram lulz. And honestly I felt she’s only cosplaying as sexy female characters so that horny lonely otaku will fapping to her photo, and honestly she’s look pretty weird with all the plastic surgery and creepy makeup. Her jaws look like she can cut a glass

    Like

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