Anime Expo and My Growth as a Cosplayer

Hi Everyone,

Know I haven’t been as diligent on blogging lately, been busy with a lot of other things, excited for this summer cosplay season!  Below is a blog of my experiences and growth as a cosplayer from Anime Expo, what I consider my “home” con.  Hope this is insightful for any up and coming cosplayer.

Anime Expo is the biggest anime convention in the United States. However, to me, the convention is a place of many unique experiences and accomplishments to me as a cosplayer.
Anime Expo was the first convention I ever went to. My friends introduced me to Anime Expo back in high school. Prior to that, I didn’t know a forum for Anime, Manga, and Video Games existed. I didn’t even know what cosplay was. Upon entering my first Anime convention I was blown away at the amount of people that shared the same enthusiasm for video games, predominately, as I have. Even more so, people dressed up as their favorite characters and interacting with each other in ways only the imagination can conjure.
During my first years of attendance, I mainly just enjoyed the scene, watching and taking pictures with some of the cosplays that I found most interesting. I was also a spotter for my friends who cosplayed, helping them patch up any issues with their cosplays and help them in taking pictures.
It was very inspiring seeing my friends build, suit up, and show off the hard work and effort put into these cosplays. Seeing how their tireless labor and sleepless nights bear fruits in the form of people excited to take pictures with them and tell them how much they appreciate their work motivated me to eventually give cosplay a try.

Anime Expo is the first convention I ever cosplayed at. After years of talking about potentially cosplaying, I finally allocated time to build one in 2011. That year, my friends who cosplayed decided to take a year off of cosplaying, so it was essentially a solo project. I wanted to do something that hasn’t really been done before and would blow people away at first sight, something that would be the equivalent of a group of cosplayers. I chose to the Md Tank from Nintendo’s Advance Wars Series. It was big, and had easy geometry for a first-time cosplayer to design and build quickly. When I rolled into Anime Expo with it, I was met with a large group of people flabbergasted at what I built. As I rolled through the halls, I was constantly stopped for pictures and people telling me how awesome my cosplay is. I was featured in many interviews and blogs for that cosplay.
After that experience, this supposed “one-and-done” experience ended up igniting my cosplay career. I challenged myself to pursue more difficult, original projects and become a better cosplayer.

I’ve been kicked out of Anime Expo on TWO occasions. In addition to the fun experiences growing as a cosplayer, I was also met adversities that needed to be overcome. In 2012, I decided to step-up my cosplay by going bigger than the Md Tank. I made Blitzcrank from League of Legends that stood about 9’ tall. It took 3 pickup trucks to transit it to the convention and was met immediately by large amounts of praise. Unfortunately, I was asked to leave the convention hall due to the cosplay being so large. As I
Advance Wars Md Tank at Anime Expo 2011 was escorted outside, I was followed by the LoL cosplay community, who stated that they really appreciated my cosplay and would stick around outside with me. A new cosplay size policy, dubbed as the “Blitzcrank Rule” by my friends who worked Access Control, was enacted after that year limiting future cosplays at the convention to within 7 ft. radially.

This experience really solidified to me of how supportive the cosplay community is. The hard work is recognized and appreciated, and the cosplay community does it what it can to stand
up for and not leave behind their brethren. The second instance that I was asked to leave the convention came in 2014. I had built full Heavy Arms cosplay for the Masquerade, but for day one, wore a cardboard box with the word “Gundam” in the front as a build up for Heavy Arms which was to follow. As I was about to enter the exhibition hall, I was met with staffers stating simply the “Gundam Box” was not allowed and it violated sign policy and I was asked to leave. I was fueled by this experience and promised myself I would be impactful at Anime Expo that weekend with my Heavy Arms cosplay that was waiting.

I won Best in Show in the Anime Expo Masquerade. Fueled from being kicked out the day before, I was dead set on winning it all at the Masquerade. Competition day was exhausting. From pre-judging to stage rehearsals and walking around the convention center taking pictures with everyone, I was physically drained, geared up in the Heavy Arms cosplay in excess of 12 hours with no breaks. During the Masquerade, I was set to go perform second, however, the elevator that was used to lift me onto the stage malfunctioned in front of the entire audience, and it forced me to be deferred to the last performance. When my turn came, it was determined there would be no safe way to get my cosplay onto the stage, so I was escorted back stage. While backstage, when the host stated all the performances were done, chants of “Gundam! Gundam!” filled the venue. To please the crowd, the decision was made for me to do my performance on the ground, Heavy Arms Performance at Anime Expo 2014 Masquerade in which I did and Blitzcrank at Anime Expo 2012 was stunned by the roaring applause I received. I won the Rose Award, which signified composure and congeniality as a competitor, and Best in Show.

The masquerade at Anime Expo really pushed the limits of all my cosplay abilities. I made a full Gundam suit that was walkable and was reinforced to be able to withstand physical impacts of a performance. I pushed my physical endurance limits wearing that heavy cosplay for many hours. I maintained composure through the physical pain and the hiccups during the Masquerade. The experience propelled me to pursue more ventures in cosplay. Utilizing the principles and lessons learned at Anime Expo 2014, I pursued more competitive cosplay and would eventually become a finalist at World Cosplay Summit USA and win a Best in Show at Power Morphicon. It opened the door for me to do guest appearances and judging at other conventions, telling my story as an up and coming cosplayer and sharing my tutorials and techniques to people considering their own projects. In summary, Anime Expo has been a forum of many “firsts” for me. Through good times and rough times, Anime Expo has propelled my growth as a cosplayer. I continue to challenge myself, pursue new ventures in cosplay, and push the limits of my ability. In between all of it, I continue to build and spread my story of growth, hoping to encourage the next aspiring cosplayer.

Thanks for reading!