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Looking back: rAge 2012 Cosplay

rAge 2012 showcased the best South Africa (SA) had to offer in terms of technology, gaming and eSports. Many of those moments will soon be forgotten, filled by other eSports events and new game releases.

Then there was the Cosplay.    

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Miguel Lima as Pyramid head, photo by El Rey Photography and make-up by Kelly Kii Meyers.

I remember walking around with my mouth hanging open, awestruck by the display of ingenuity, artwork and mind blowing characters that were mingling with us ordinary folk. I will never forget the rAge 2012 Cosplay. The “Free Hugs” I got from Miguel Lima as Pyramid Head, bumping into the Pyro, Medic and Scout from my beloved Team Fortress 2 community, and seeing so many of my favourite characters coming to life right in front of my eyes.

It was magical and rAge will always be remembered for these artists. They were like a splash of colour in the midst of a dull, grey world. They added depth, entertainment and unforgettable moments for countless expo goers, young and old. I remember seeing a kids face, filled with wonder and admiration as he shook hands with Mario and the queues of people waiting for their turn at taking a photo with their favourite character.  

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GenevieveLesch and Sasha Perdigao with the Mario brothers.

As expo goers, we get to reap the benefit of entertainment that these artists provide, but few of us understand the hard work and dedication it requires from Cosplayers to display their craft. I therefore caught up with two ladies who play a significant role in our local Cosplay community to hear their thoughts on the Cosplay at rAge.  

Could you please introduce yourself and describe your role in Cosplay South Africa?

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Legion Ink, Anime Category Winners, photos by Ernst Späth

Sashi: “I’m Sasha Perdigao (aka:Sashi) and am the creator and admin of the Cosplay South Africa group (as well as Cosplay Cape Town) on Facebook. I’ve been cosplaying since 2003 and created the group in 2006.”

KomboKitten: “My name is Genevieve Lesch and I go by the gamer tag KomboKitten. I am a cosplayer from Cape Town. When it comes to Cosplay South Africa I am an active community member, responsible for building and maintaining our local cosplay website. I also maintain several other public channels related to South African and international cosplay.”

What is your opinion of the Cosplay at rAge 2012?

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Legion Ink, Trophy Category Winners, photos by Ernst Spät.

Sashi: “I think that the turnout of cosplayers at rAge this year was absolutely fantastic! Not only that but the quality of the craftsmanship of so many costumes were outstanding and we definitely measure up to our overseas counterparts. I really enjoyed the fact there was such a variety of cosplayers ranging from anime and gaming to comic book and movie characters.”

KomboKitten: “So far the annual rAge expo event is the biggest cosplay gathering in South Africa. I think this year we have seen the best cosplay at rAge yet! There were so many awesome cosplays going around but the dome; unfortunately it was so packed we hardly got to capture photos of all of them. I think the organizers may need to look into a bigger venue for future rAge events.”

How did you experience the Legion Ink competition?

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Legion Ink, Pop/Western Culture Category Winners, photos by Ernst Späth.

Sashi: “I did not enter the cosplay competition but rather supported it as a spectator. I will be bluntly honest in saying that, as a cosplayer and spectator, I was highly disappointed by the way the competition was handled. It seemed more like a huge advertisement for the sponsors than anything else and just using cosplay as a drawing card.

Each cosplayer only had a few seconds on stage and after every second cosplayer appeared, one of the hosts would yell out, “Who wants free stuff?!”, and the people in the stands were going crazy. People were just standing up and literally jumping on the chairs trying to catch whatever was being thrown into the audience. It was ridiculous and I felt that it was demeaning to the cosplayers and it completely took away from what the competition was meant to be about.

This continued the entire time and I just couldn’t handle it (not to mention that I couldn’t even see the stage anymore), so I decided to leave. This is not what I was expecting. I was hoping to sit down, relax and enjoy watching the show and seeing what the cosplayers had to offer. The main sponsor, Corex Alliance, had control over the flow of the event, I understand that Legion Ink could not dictate it. This is a learning curve and we can only improve on things in the future, we are grateful to Corex for their involvement.”

KomboKitten: “I experienced it as a spectator. I happened to receive a spot prize by Animeworx for attending in cosplay and was called onto the stage to receive it, (thanks very much Animeworx!). They called me Nurse Jenny though when, in fact, I had been cosplaying Nurse JOY from Pokemon. This was a minor blunder.

What disappointed me was when they referred to the Natsu cosplayer from Fairy Tail (Anime) as Kakashi from Naruto (Anime) because I had spent a lot of time working on producing the costume with which he entered the competition. My fellow cosplaying friend Sasha had styled his wig for him and we were looking forward to supporting him and others, and also to enjoying the competition. Unfortunately, we did not find it very enjoyable.

Yes, a lot of people worked hard on the organizing and executing, including the cosplayers themselves - obviously we are thankful for that. We disliked how Corex interrupted the cosplay competition after every few cosplayers to throw lanyards and other stuff into the crowd. The reason I feel this way is because it's like that spoiled a special moment for SA cosplay - since we have so few cosplay competitions as yet and our cosplay scene is still small compared to some other countries. I strongly feel like they should have left the free stuff for after the competition was over.Sasha and I abandoned the competition spectating before it was midway. The flow of the competition was interrupted too much for it to be enjoyable to spectate.

Besides the competition, I loved all the amazing cosplay people brought to the table and wish more of them would have stayed around in costume after the competition ended. Apparently the stage area at the time of the competition belonged to Corex so the cosplay competition was lucky to have been able to get stage time there. No matter our perspective thereof it was pretty much the best deal the cosplay comp could get it seems. I do not bear any grudges towards any of the organizers, just giving you my opinion.”

What improvements do you think can be implemented for the Cosplay competition at rAge 2013?

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Legion Ink, Gaming Category Winners, photos by Ernst Späth.

Sashi: “Well, first and foremost the competition needs to be about the COSPLAYERS and not the sponsors, and not exploiting cosplayers for the benefit of the sponsors. I think this in itself will already be a huge improvement. The different categories also need to be made more apparent and judged in their respective groups since different genres seemed mixed up. But I can’t comment too much on that aspect of the competition since I didn’t watch it through to the end.”

KomboKitten: “I don't think it is my place to be making suggestions because I am not involved with managing it at all. But, as a spectator and cosplayer I would have been happier, like I mentioned in the previous answer if they let their sponsors do stuff only before and after the cosplay competitor display is OVER. Some spectators are not interested in spending so much time having to deal with free stuff being thrown around, or they aren't able to stick around for that long. The sponsor prolonged the cosplay competition unnecessarily in my opinion.

I know some people may not be happy with my perspective, but I would rather be honest about my opinion. Also, since they have a stage and sound access for the comp at rAge maybe they could have incorporated a kind of a skit/dance opportunity of about 3min max for cosplayers, so that the competitors can make a stronger and more relevant impression - not only on spectators but also the judges. That is an idea our cosplay community can tap into in the future. I don't want to be cramping the style of the rAge cosplay organizers because, in the end, any cosplay groups are free to host their own competitions.”

What’s next for Cosplay South Africa?

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Legion Ink, Performance Category Winner, photo by Ernst Späth.

Sashi: “Judging from the turnout of cosplayers at rAge I really believe that it’s going to just keep growing. It was great to see that there were people cosplaying all three days, even when there was no competition but simply for the enjoyment of cosplaying. It really has grown in leaps and bounds since I first started cosplaying in 2003.”

KomboKitten: “I think a lot of growth will continually be happening. You can check the upcoming events out on the Cospplay South Africa homepage. It is up to our community members to organise/host the events, so if you don't see one happening in your area soon, organize one! If you are not discouraged by how small it may start I am pretty sure you will see awesome development with future events. This has been tried and tested in Cape Town and we are nurturing a phenomenal cosplay scene with our events.We will definitely be seeing amazing cosplay being produced in SA in the future, more and more on an international standard! “

Closing thoughts

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I want to thank Corex Alliance for sponsoring the Legion Ink event. Your acknowledgement of this discipline as a core attraction at rAge 2012 has added to the growth of Cosplay in South Africa and for that, we are extremely grateful.

Cosplay SA is in its baby shoes, so let us be careful how we plot our course. We need to listen to the community leaders in order to understand the heartbeat of these creative individuals. They deserve our utmost respect and consideration for their craft. I believe that Cosplay should form an integral part of all our gaming events (away with the booth babes ;)) and we acknowledge them for the artists they are.Maybe someday we will have Cosplayers who can make a living from their craft. 

Please support!

Cosplay South Africa: Website | Facebook | Twitter  Legion Ink: Website | Facebook | Twitter  Kombokitten: Blog | Facebook | Twitter Sashi: Facebook | Twitter Corex Alliance: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Because one can never have enough Cosplay photos, check out these.

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Photos courtesy of Kombokitten Online and Tarryn-Leigh Wood

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Photo courtesy of NAG

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Photos courtesy of LKO Photography, Kombokitten Online and NAG

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