This has been one contemporary issue that quite a lot of people still discuss about (especially with Cosfest here) which is quite interesting. So, without further a due…
Cosplay, as Wiki defines it, “is the short for “costume play”, is basically describing a performing-art behaviour of self-rigging out as a character with corresponding costume, accessories and/or parameters.” So basically, people get to dress up as their favorite characters and behave as them, as though in the 2D/gaming world.
On the other hand, the problem is that these people do not usually hold the best looks since they are not really super models in a sense, but just ordinary humans trying to be extraordinary characters. To me there are a few factors that determine a good or sometimes, even a top-notched cosplayer.
First of all, from the word “cosplay” itself it already means “costume play” as mentioned earlier. So obviously most of the judging on whether a cosplayer will be deemed as win or fail will really depend alot on their costume. Like how intricate, detailed and accurate to the character being cosplayed is, as well as the proportions to the cosplayer’s physique. Of course, a lot of people who cosplay nowadays tend to get their costumes professionally tailored or buy them pre-made from cosplay stores. A cosplayer with wrong shirt/hair/sock color etc, would mean that he/she did not study the character sufficiently to get the most accurate costume or in other words, the cosplayer is simply colour blind. Now, we wouldn’t want to see alternative colours made to the anime characters we love, do we? Unless it’s the alternative colour that Dizzy has above. ^^;
Another important factor – role playing. What I mean here is how the cosplayer behaves. Let’s say you were walking randomly on the streets and you saw a Haruhi cosplayer. Does this certain Haruhi cosplayer really give you the feel that she is actually in control of everything? Then I must say that that is one good cosplayer as a cosplayer doesn’t neccesarily mean to have a 100% perfect costume. Nothing is perfect. But with a slight touch of some decent acting and correct postures/gestures that would portray a certain image to the audience, a cosplayer can truly become one with the character and prove to the people that he/she can actually do this well. One example is Matsuyama Ken’ichi that followed L’s quirks and behavioural traits flawlessly during the Death Note movies. Also, props and weapons can also help facilitate the cosplayer with their poses and actions to bring out the character that they are cosplaying. How a cosplayer carries a sword for instance – carrying it high, or dragging it on the floor can tell much about the cosplaying character.
Finally, onto the core of the discussion. Now, as a fact of the world, not all people are born sexy and good-looking and there will probably be people who may not agree with me on this but physical appearence does play a part in the stage of deciding whether the cosplayer is good or bad to a certain extent. And one’s physical appearence is the first thing that would go through anyones’ first subject of thought. Afterall, we are still humans. You look at slimming advertisements on newspapers and judge their services based on their models. It’s the same idea. And as for those thinking that I’m some bastard that thinks highly of cosplayers who have the physical traits, I am not. With the usage of Photoshop or some image editing software, one with average looks could tweak their appearences and turn the tables around for them. So know the looks factor can either be natural, or man-made. Gosh, that sounded so wrong.
With that, cosplayers should not be discouraged by having dark skin, poor physique etc. as there are times when this factor is totally cancelled off the list. The number of character designs of anime, manga and video games are so diverse that a cosplayer can choose to do Kamen Rider or Zero and immediately strike off the looks and gain attention with their costume and acting skills.
In summary, there are times when one or more factors do not play a part in making a good cosplay. It really depends on what character is being cosplayed and how well it actually fits with the cosplayer though there is a limit as to one can take as to how the cosplayer looks. As I’ve said, we’re all humans and we’ll have to live with the fact that the world is not perfect.
P.S. I just can’t get enough of Kipi :P