The Consequences of Being You: “Original Characters” in Cosplay

Hey there, back with another piece on cosplay. This is a compilation of what I’ve read and heard (mostly read on Facebook, where all of the drama is) over the past year. There’s a particular area of cosplay which receives an arguably fair amount of attention: original characters (abbreviated as OC). So, here’s me just being the badmouthed critic who everyone loves.

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What’s So Original about Them?

The OC is a rather unique area of cosplay. First, it’s the only area that has the word “original” in it (which must mean something, right?). Second, it’s that special area where criticism can’t and shouldn’t get to you. OC cosplayers have that special privilege to not give a f**k about their costume flaws, whether they’re “in-character” or not, or what version they’re cosplaying as. But seriously, what’s so original about them?

The amazing aspect of any human is their infinite imagination. Well, not infinite. Try imagining a color outside the known color spectrum. Anyway, with enough imagination and time (and perhaps a bit of chuunibyou), a person can create almost any character inside their head and some will continue to actualize that character in concrete drawing. Those with resources will continue climbing the ladder until the character becomes part of an anime/manga.  However, those without the drawing skills or connections in the business will try to actualize the character in flesh, known as cosplay. That, my friends, is how an original character is born. It’s not only limited to original characters by normal people; the most famous original characters are Mirai Suenaga, created by Danny Choo, and Hatsune Miku, created by Crypton. Heck, all famous anime characters were once “original” characters inside the heads of their creators.

The only reason we call them “original” is because we need a category for people who have the guts to actualize their abstract ideas but don’t have the resources to make it in the anime business. However, we also can’t call them 100% “original” because there’s just too many characters from games, anime, and manga that just look alike. But, they are “original” because they are the fruits of a creative person’s imagination and if we assume that one person’s imagination is different than others, any character born from said imagination can be considered original. And “original character cosplay” refers to the act of cosplaying as an original character which originates from the imagination of the cosplayer. This SHOULD include: gender-bend and alternative (unofficial) versions of a well-known character (such as cosplaying Gintoki from Gintama wearing a hand-me-down white t-shirt and cargo pants wielding a cheap wooden stick which is supposedly his bokuto).  There, you happy now, definition fags?

Why Cosplay as an OC?

I don’t care why you cosplay as an OC. There’s a bunch of reasons why people want to cosplay an OC and I don’t give a damn about them, as long as they behave civilized and respect other people. But people just have to know, right? So here are some rather personal reasons, since I too have tried OC cosplay.

  1. An emergency back-up costume. Events in Indonesia tend to run for more than one day. My costumes soak up a lot of sweat since the venues are often outdoors and the temperature is way too hot. So, by the end of the day, my costume will stink like wet dog. Obviously, I’ll need to take it to the cleaners. Since it’s no fun going without a costume, I always have my OC costume in reserve.
  2. A change of costume. It’s boring being Kirito all the time. I won’t cosplay any character I don’t like, except when a friend asks for help for a project. So, my OC costume is there whenever I feel bored. Also, my OC costume is lighter than my Kirito set, so it reduces the hassle of getting stuff on the public bus.
  3. To explore the limits of my own creativity. If you’re wondering what my OC is, his name is Trick, the assassin. I made him because I loved the Assassin’s Creed games. He’s a silent mercenary who works for money. Given the right price, he’ll kill his mother. But, he also has a soft side for the girl he likes. On the job, he wears a modified red-black version of the signature Assassin’s Creed robes with the signature hood. He is adept at dual-wielding any weapon, but he usually prefers dual guns or a gun-knife combo. His left gun is called Sieg, a silver G-18, while his right gun is called Revanche, a blood-red G-18. He also has a survival knife and a small scythe as melee weapons; the former named Staccato, the latter named Purger. See? It’s fun having an OC. I can easily modify the character without fear of ‘ruining’ it.
Trick the Assassin, my OC.
Trick the Assassin, my OC.

Those are the top reasons why I cosplay as an OC. If you have any other reasons, share them.

Original Cosplay Doesn’t Exist!

A certain cosplay group in Indonesia started the embers to what would become a massive definition debate. Basically, they claim that “original cosplay [sic] doesn’t exist” (actual quote). Then they go all Definition Nazi. Hitler should be very proud of them. The result is a long thread composed mostly of Definition Nazis and people who need ice for their burnt asses.

Here’s my stance on whether original character cosplay should exist or not: it’s there, it’s not gonna go away as long as people still have the capability to imagine and create. Nobody’s gonna ban OC cosplay. They’re not Cosplay Gods who can write the Ten Commandments of Cosplay, the sixth being “Thou shalt not do original cosplay”.

Is It Fine Cosplaying an OC?

This is the question that any cosplayer would ask. Since some Puritans insist that OC cosplay is not “real” cosplay, they decide not to OC cosplay. But here’s the thing: you are who you are. If you let someone else decide for yourself, you might as well get a mechanized body and get that brain exchanged with a motherboard. Just because they say OC cosplay is not “real” doesn’t mean you can’t OC cosplay.

Cosplaying an OC requires creativity. Okay, how about simple everyday characters with normal outfits? You think it’s easy coming up with a decent backstory for an OC? For more complex OCs, like those clad in armor, imagine the effort the cosplayers pour into crafting said armor, frustrating over details and meticulously getting parts right. The hardest part? Doing all of that based on mental blueprints. Unlike mainstream costumes, OCs have no definite blueprint. You can easily get or design a Shingeki outfit, but where are you gonna get that awesome robe you imagined in your head for your Necromancer character? There’s nobody else who knows how it looks like except you. This is where OC cosplayers get respect: their effort in getting their costumes done, to some extent, is far greater than normal cosplayers.

I’m not Being Taken Seriously because I’m an OC Cosplayer!

If you cosplay just for the likes, you’re in the wrong hobby. The exit is right over there; go try another hobby like dancing. Basically, cosplay is all about loving the character to the point you WANT to be them in real life (please don’t take it too far). So, if you just wanna be liked, please, find another hobby. The point of cosplay is not about getting attention; it’s about love and passion. And I find this certain love and passion more in people who do OC cosplay.

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Of course nobody’s gonna take you seriously. People tend to gravitate towards things they are familiar with. That’s why the Shingeki cosplayers get so much attention. Because everyone fan of anime should know Shingeki, thus they can instantly recognize cosplayers cosplaying Shingeki characters. Your OC is not in any anime, manga, game, or anything. People don’t know about it. That’s why you’re getting minimal to no attention. Unless your OC is outstanding and flashy, like the pic below (yes, that’s a friggin’ OC, he’s a friend, and he’s won several competitions to boot), it is very unlikely you’ll be the center of attention.

This is an OC based on an insect found in Indonesia. This particular insect caused quite a ruckus in East Java a while back. He made it based on that insect. Enjoy your insectophobia.

But, that’s the thing about OC cosplayers. They don’t live off attention. They live off the passion and pride of being able to bring their character to life. I know a certain OC cosplayer who more than enjoys cosplaying as his OCs (he has three OCs). He doesn’t care about the likes he gets; he just wants to be himself (well, HERself while in costume). They love their characters, period.

If you really want attention, you should expose some skin (for ladies) when you cosplay. That’ll get you attention, you whores.

Can OCs compete in competitions?

Yeah, they can. Trick competed once and won. But that was because the judges were idiots and it was a small-scale competition. You can compete as an OC and if you win, you can gloat in front of the butthurt fags who lost to a friggin’ OC.

As I said in an earlier post, you should really watch out for competitions in Indonesia. They’re rigged and the judges are mostly idiots who claim to know “cosplay”. You can use this stupidity as an edge to your OC. Since they won’t ask anything (just hope so), as long as your OC performs well, you’ll have the competition in the bag (unless it’s been rigged, then you should just walk away and don’t let it get to you).

In larger scale competitions, there are OCs present. However, these are mostly the outstanding OCs (those with armor and all the nifty visuals). And most of them have won recognition from the community. Thus, they are at the level which I like to call “Advanced OC”, where they’re still OCs, but have been recognized by the community and thus, accepted as “legit cosplay” (whatever that means).

Assuming that the judges are alright and competition’s clean, I wouldn’t compete as an OC. It would be hard to garner the judge’s votes because I’m cosplaying as something they’re not familiar with. They would obviously pay more attention to more familiar characters.

So, I’m wearing a wig. I’m an OC, accept me!

Now this is where it gets a bit messy. Many months ago, an event called the “Pre-CLASH” was held in Jakarta. Now, cosplayers were granted free entrance. There was a person; no costume or attributes visible; just normal clothing, no make-up, no wig, no nothing; who claimed to be an OC. This is the case that started the snowball of events leading to the OC debate. The intentions of this person are still unknown; many say the person just wanted free entrance, maybe the person was actually being an OC… nobody knows.

There is a difference between a real OC and a Fake OC (FOC). A real OC has a solid backstory. A real OC should be able to act according to its character sheet. You can tell whether a person is actually putting effort into a real OC by looking at their costumes, accessories, or the way they act. If you ask them about the OC background, they should be able to tell you in a very enthusiastic manner because they think you’re interested in their OC. A FOC can’t do shit. A FOC doesn’t even have a solid character foundation; they change according to whatever’s happening in the person’s head. If you ask them about their background, they’ll just say “I’m an OC!” and just that.

Those are the differences. See how vast they are? Some people are just too lazy to actually peruse these details.

OC Cosplay is Only for Those Who Know the True Meaning of Passion!

Yeah, that’s a pretty long post. Here are the main points conveniently summarized:

  • OC cosplay is called “original” because the characters come from the imagination of creative people.
  • “Original cosplay [sic]” exists, and it will continue to exist as long as people still have the capability to create. It won’t go away just because a certain group dislikes it.
  • It’s more than OK to cosplay an OC. In fact, OC cosplayers show more passion and love for their characters.
  • If you want attention, find a different hobby. If you still want to cosplay for attention, cosplay as any mainstream character or show some skin. OC cosplayers don’t live off attention.
  • OCs can compete, but remember that people gravitate to stuff they are familiar with.
  • There’s a large difference between a real OC and a person who claims to be an OC.

So those are the consequences of being you in cosplay. There are positive and negative consequences. If you focus too much on the negatives, congrats, you’re a sheep.

If you really want to cosplay as an OC, go for it. If you don’t, then don’t. Go for something mainstream. The OC is a very unique field in cosplay: only those with real passion and love can bring to life the dormant characters within.

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4 thoughts on “The Consequences of Being You: “Original Characters” in Cosplay

  1. this really helped me out since I am a newbie cosplayer. I had no experience in cosplaying and I’ve always been curious about OC. I’m actually planning to make an actual Assassin’s Creed Apprentice (Brotherhood) costume, but ended up having Accelerator costume and one OC (it’s just for fun), funny things is that we had the similar costume lol.

    Maybe we should team up sometimes with the Assassin’s Creed costume.

    Like

  2. Woah,just read this thing it’s an old post though and I just know your blog a few sec ago.
    About OC yeash,I know,I understand and I do it lol.
    I think OC cosplayer are much unique and stand out rather than others who did the mainstream ones as long as they do it right.
    I honestly prefer to use my OC costume than the mainstream because as you know Indonesia have these suckszz rules telling “only white flawless ppl can cosplay as [insert chara name],you brown ppl CAN’T” and that’s a solid rule you can’t change like.
    Not to mention the judges are sometimes stufd.
    Well dats my opinion sorry I just did it by Pewds way.lol.

    Like

  3. Oh my, of all the cosplaying tips, this is one of the best and it made me appreciate my ocs more!
    I created a candy girl before, she was very different (well, excluding the candy themed characters). I want to cosplay as her, but sadly, I was very busy with study, I can’t learn how to sew and make clothes yet. Eventually, my mother started to make a business of tailoring. I was so happy. So, I am taking this opportunity given to take part on OC cosplay now. Although, I hesitated. I was worried if the community pushes me away. As I see this post, I am more than flattered to know there are more people accepts OC Cosplay 🙂

    And I thank you for giving such beautiful support for OC Cosplayers :’D

    I will surely hope that people will love my candy OC ♡

    Like

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