Cosplay is a young person’s game—or so it seems. Just as with athletics, which takes advantage of the physical peak of a young person’s body, cosplay seems to be a fit with the energy, beauty, and concerns of teenagers and young adults. But that would be a misconception—there are many who cosplay regularly into their 30s and beyond. In fact, Koh, a grand prize-winning cosplayer, mentioned to me that a number of the cosplayers she admires most are of that age. Just as with many anime fans who still enjoy the medium into their thirties and forties, many cosplayers never “grow out” of their hobby.
I wondered, what about the young cosplayers I interviewed for this series of articles? Where will they be in ten years, when they’re about 30? Would they still be cosplaying? It’s a question with some gravitas, as cosplay is more than hobby—it becomes part of who these individuals are, so in a sense, I was asking the subjects what they saw their futures to be. That’s not an easy question to answer, and many, like Sara, who has been cosplaying for years, love the art but just weren’t sure where they’d be with it in ten years time.
Others, however, have found both a passion and possibly a career through cosplay. Ally, who I have to say is one of the most polite and gentle people I’ve met, thinks it’s possible that she’ll attend fewer conventions when she’s older; instead, she’ll be more focused on a career as a seamstress, an idea that’s grown within her since she started this hobby. Anna, who began as purely a Harley Quinn devotee and is now diversifying, mentioned something similar. She would like to go into costume design, and being the force of nature she is, I’m sure she’ll be successful in it!
Some cosplayers are already living the dream, as it were. Jimmy has received notice and prizes for his cosplay (he joined Koh, his girlfriend, in winning the San Japan prize I referred to earlier), but his focus is really on the behind-the-scenes. He’s built a strong reputation with his prop-building business. Though its admittedly a tough balance between running a small business and working at his day job (he doesn’t recommend this path for most people), the growth potential is there and Jimmy wants to continue expanding. He could see himself in a few years developing a team that produces props.
For most cosplayers, though, far-off plans involving their hobby might feel intangible. It can be hard to wrap your head around where you’ll be in two years, much less ten. But if they were to see Confection Nerd’s life, they might consider that a realistic model of what their futures might be. He’s about my age—we reminisced some during our interview about what Austin was like before it blew up—and also has a wife and kids. But he only started cosplaying a few years ago. Using his background in mechanics, he builds intricate cosplay focusing on accuracy, including the Gundam RX-178 he’s most known for. Now, he frequently enters and wins contests (he fell into his first one by happenstance) and attends conventions with his entire family (his kids cosplay, too). In fact, they see conventions as “mini-vacations.”
Anime conventions, cosplay contests, and cosplaying with family? I think if Confection Nerd’s life represents where they could be in a few years, these cosplayers would take it! After all, who said growing up means growing out of cosplay?
We’ll continue with these series of posts in coming weeks. In the meantime, consider following our Cosplay Conversations Instagram account, where you’ll get to see the participants and read some of their cute, funny, amazing quotes!