Now that the long weekend is over and everyone has returned from PAX and Dragon Con, cosplayers and fans alike can look forward to spending the evening recovering from exhaustion and watching the latest episode of Heroes of Cosplay.
This week we move from the general comic convention theme to an Anime convention. For people unfamiliar with Anime shows, it can be summarized as being similar in nature, however with a focus on Asian movies, television, and manga [comics]. Matsuri is a large event in Houston, Texas that draws in tens of thousands of attendees annually.
Not to miss any time focusing back on Yaya Han, after a brief introduction to Matsuri, the episode jumps for a few minutes to a photoshoot for her 2014 calendar. During a costume change into her Jessica Rabbit dress, as she’s being laced into her corset she tells her dresser, “lace it up as tight as possible, I don’t need to breathe.” Well the next thing to happen as anyone familiar with wearing corsets (and also well known to anyone who’s around people who wear them) is she gets lightheaded and eventually collapses.
I can’t even begin to talk about the level of dumb that scene comes across as – if it was staged for the episode, that’s unfortunate because anyone who wears corsets as often as Yaya does (especially one that’s been worn before) knows their limitations. If it really was accidental, then that’s also an alarm that she turns around and instructs them to cut the lacings (again, another no-no – with a sudden release of the compression at once is another awesome way to get someone to faint). These scenes, as with the prior episode’s scanning of her for her action figure, just don’t relate to the rest of the episode beyond trying to remind the viewers that the producers really think highly of Yaya.
She also talks about how her calendar is what sets her apart from other cosplayers. Huh? Well, true, no one else has a Yaya calendar, however there are plenty of others that have top-notch calendars, so it’s definitely not something unique to her.
After that bit of suspense is completed, we move onto the costumes and run up to this week’s convention.
The spotlighted contestants this week are:
Monika Lee & Victoria: This week Monika and Victoria team up to create a pair of costumes from Fushigi Yuugi, with Monika as Miaka Yuki and Victoria as Yui Hongo. Monika talks about her concerns that Victoria wasn’t able to complete her costume in time for Emerald City, and that she can’t afford to have a partner that won’t be ready. Victoria assures her that she’ll be on it night and day.
Holly Conrad & Jessica: Jessica comes up with the idea of doing a pair of costumes as Internet Cat memes in the style of the characters from the musical Cats (Think Nyan Cat crossed with Macavity). Holly tries to talk Jessica out of the idea, but it emerges that doing costumes from Cats has been a longtime dream of Jessica’s.
The idea is put into additional peril by the revelation that Jessica is severely allergic to wool, but they decide to use that as the cat fur due to its cost and availability.
Victoria is called by Wizard World and offered a job, which almost immediately derails her timeline by making her unavailable for nearly a full week.
Holly & Jessica land a gig to design and create a Kaiju monster for a viral video as part of Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim marketing campaign. This is another one of those completely missed opportunities to look at the process of development and construction of a full-scale monster suit.
Many series have webisodes to help expand on a particular episode. Syfy would do well to consider using those in the future to help draw in more viewers around the costume development and construction process.
Yaya is shown working on her Dark Elf costume from Lineage 2, which again, since she’s such a known cosplayer, it would also stand to reason that viewers are fully aware that she made that costume over a year ago and is not something that she only recently worked on and came up with in the span of a few weeks between conventions. Her costume diary entry at DeviantArt is a great insight into the length of time and effort the planning and materials gathering can take.
Becky Young is present in this weeks episode, but as one of the judges (along with Judy Stephens from Marvel) of another of the costume contests at Matsuri.
Monika goes down to check out the stage where the contest will be held, and sees Becky and this spins up our drama for the episode. She goes into a bit of a tirade to the viewer and to Victoria about how she doesn’t think that Becky has sufficient construction credentials to be qualified to judge a contest.
A few minutes later, Becky stops by their room to ask Monika if she would like to team up to do a cosplay at an upcoming convention. Monika responds by reiterating that she doesn’t think much of Becky’s skills. Following up with telling Becky that, “she would be the last person she’d think to ask to team up with.”
Now to be fair, the line expresses that Becky would be the last person she would have thought to ask, but the episode paints it that Becky takes it as if she’d said, “she’s be the last person she would ask.”
So that was the harsh part of the episode, but my suspicion will be that it’ll wind up setting up a showdown between them at that upcoming convention in a future episode.
Victoria is once again battling against the clock, racing to complete her costume.
This particular contest has a pre-judging; where the entrants go before the judges without an audience so the judges can inspect them up close and personal. The pre-judging score is worth 50% of their overall score. Once of the contestants has costume issues while before the judges causing more tension on a team.
Even before the main contest begins, Jessica is feeling progressively worse from a reaction to wearing and handling the wool. Before going onstage she starts getting sick, putting their participation in question. Their names are called, and the stage remains empty and silent for a long moment.
This episode was another generally enjoyable one, however the drama setup between Monika and Becky was another of those contrived moments. While many cosplayers have their own negative opinions of others, they tend to be more politic than telling them to their faces that they think they’re not worthy to take the stage with them.
It also was nice to spend some time seeing what else these individuals are up to in their lives alongside their competition cosplay efforts. It seems that there’s more of this coming along in each episode, and the more that it gives an opportunity to show that cosplayers are far more than just costume makers – and also gives insights behind what drives these different individuals.
I expect within the next week or two that we’ll have Becky and Monika going head to head in a contest with Becky doing her best to win on the construction side to prove that she’s more than able to stand alongside the best of them.
Jessica and Holly (and Chloe in prior episodes), continues to be the voice of the everycosplayer, “this is supposed to be fun.” I think that’s what continues to need to be reiterated above and beyond the drama. Looking back over the last week at Dragon Con (the largest and best collection of costumers from around the country) it was indeed all about the fun.
There was some talk floating around about the series, people who liked it, hated it, loved it, or chose to have no opinion on it. But within a day, people settled in on the idea that people weren’t there to talk about the drama, they were talking about the costumes, and having fun. After all, that is the point.