Thursday, August 15, 2013

Matthew's "Heroes of Cosplay" Review

NOTE: The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not reflect the official policy or position of the California Conventions Blog.

Before this show even got on the air, it was already stirring controversy within the cosplay community through cropping out watermarks, some comments from an executive producer regarding women and men cosplaying, and the general idea of the show's nature.

I really didn't want to watch this, but after watching the first episode I really want to see how this series plays out. It's like watching a horrific train wreck: you can't help to watch it to the very end.

The first thing that got to me was all the Anime Expo 2013 footage that they were using. It was alright that they used that footage for the introduction, but then when the scene shifted to Portland Comic Con, they used that same footage from AX to paint the scene at PCC. At least when they showed that footage, they didn't use cosplay that wouldn't had really existed in February when the convention was taken place; it would of been a big inaccuracy to have an Attack on Titan cosplayer when the show/visual novel wasn't popular at the time, but to use something like Legend of Korra cosplay seemed alright. According to some there is a certain reason why SyFy had to use AX footage, and I'm still looking into that. Apparently all the PCC footage got lost or corrupted and had to resort to AX footage. We'll see what happens when they go to Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle next episode.

Notice the AX ticket booths in the background. You can even make out AX's mascots, the signage, and the Access Control in the red vests. We're in Portland baby! Screencap provided by Scarlet Rhapsody
Basically, there was too much drama, too many lies, too much pandering, and not enough cosplay. People were excited to see the methods and work put into building cosplay, but it didn't play out like that. There's a scene where Yaya Han is working on her League of Legends cosplay at PCC and saying that she was doing last-minute detailing at the hotel. The problem is that her LoL cosplay was already done the week before at Katsucon in Washington D.C. She even did an interview with it on.

The second noticeable "lie" is Becky and Victoria's "first encounter" with Yaya at PCC. They play it up to the cameras and made it seem that this is the first time that they ever meet her...that is, if you don't count the My Little Pony shoot that both of them did with her as well as Jessica Nigiri at Anime Expo awhile back.

Originally found on
It was the same way when the two found out that Yaya was judging the Masquerade at PCC and made it seem like "now we're going to get really judged." Ladies, all of you know each other. In fact, she's the reason why you're in this show: this is Yaya's pet project, and she brought in the people she wanted to be on this show.

The one scene that got me really up and arms was the final scene at the Masquerade when they were announcing the TF2 Engineer and not Victoria as Lulu because she got drunk and was hand-sewing her outfit last-minute. Instead of showing the Engineer on stage, they cut to Yaya's reaction of "why isn't Victoria on stage?" and then cue her calling her boyfriend and crying saying "I can't do this without you."

If only her cosplay was already Katsucon LAST YEAR.

It also seems from my observation that all the men in this show except for Jessie are there to support the female cast with no credit. Yaya's boyfriend is the one that makes all the cat ears, does all her shoots, and even puts her armor on in the first episode. Victoria's boyfriend was sticking to getting the embroidery machine working for Lulu but she went against his wishes and went to the convention without having the full costume. Is it me, or does it seem that the men in this show are just background fodder to the success of the women on the show? Combine that with the "men's cosplay is simple and boring, women's cosplay is more sexy" comment from one of the executives of the show, and you got the makings of sexism towards men.

The reason why so many don't like this show is that it doesn't paint what cosplay is truly about. Cosplay should be about bringing a character to life, the love of the series that you're representing, and love of the game. Sadly, we've gotten to a point where "it's all about [Facebook and social media] likes" because we're seeing that all the time. That's why I don't share contests on cosplay pages anymore, because they're no longer about showing off your progress and giving back to the fans; instead, it's a medium for more likes, then more contests because you hit a milestone because of said likes, then more likes because of your second contest, and so fourth.

Sure, there is a competitive side to cosplay but it's only a small fraction of the whole community. And not a lot of conventions can offer cash prizes as portrayed in the show; I wish I could do SacCon or Kintoki-Con with a thousand dollar pot on the line.

Overall, I'm not very impressed with this show and with the season preview that they showed during the first episode, it's probably not going to get any better. Even with mainstream media picking up on "geek" and "nerd" culture, cosplay is still a small niche that has never really shared the positive spotlight. And as of right now, there's no counter to this series as a way of showing that "we're doing this for the love of the game, not the war of popularity and likes."

I won't write a review for each episode, but I will be writing a full season review once the final episode airs.

And one final message: Yaya Han, YOU ARE NOT AN AMBASSADOR TO COSPLAY.

Editor's Note: Here's what colleague Ryan had to say about this show:

1: What's with excessive and semi-unneeded recycled footage from Anime Expo? I mean. Wizardworld was in Portland, not LA. I hope this doesn't continue unless there is an episode taking place at AX.

2: Now I'm no screen/script writer by any means but from what I saw in the opening and the way the narrator commented and mentioned how we are. I firmly believe that this show could be worded differently for us cosplayers as a whole. Were not money grubbing obsessors of our craft, and we all always compete. We do what do as a hobby. Right?

3: What is this, the Jersey Shore of the Masquerade world? (Actually, it's more like the Real Housewives of Cosplay or the more common name being passed around on the internet, the Yaya Han & Friends Cosplay Hour.)

4: I like the fact that they filmed one newcomer to the scene, but let's focus on the cosplay community as a whole rather than just the pros and competing.

5: I can respect the show's perspective and my friend's perspective on the competitive and stress of it. I remember my first Masquerade; it's not easy and you can't be a one trick pony. I know the stress of making cosplay on time and getting it ready for a con and the stage fright of a novice.

6: Rumor has it the producer is sexist saying men can't cosplay therefore dubbed uncool where woman do it right and cool and sexy. Um... really?

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