Next level fandom: Cosplay explained

Why Mayu loves to dress up as her favourite game character, Red.

There’s a growing trend in fan culture to not just enjoy your favourite games, comics or movies – but dress up as characters from them, too.

It’s called cosplay, and you’re most likely to find crowds of costumed fans at conventions like Comic-Con, Gamescom or PAX.

Mayu, a 25-year-old Italian, is one such cosplayer. By day, she works in video production; but in her spare time, she is part of a flourishing community crafting elaborate costumes to celebrate their fictional heroes. Among the characters Mayu has cosplayed as, Red, from the classic App Store game Transistor, is among her favourites.

Transistor stars Red, a sword-wielding former singer looking for revenge in a dystopian world.

Why Cosplay?

Crafting and creativity has always been part of Mayu’s life. Her mother and grandmother are both skilled, self-taught seamstresses and she tells us that she learned plenty from them as she created her outfits. In fact, the joy of making something with her own hands was part of her attraction to cosplay.

“I still enjoy spending hours searching for the right fabrics, materials and tools,” Mayu tells us. “I love sitting at a table trying to figure out how to do something.”

I still enjoy spending hours searching for the right fabrics, materials and tools.

Mayu, Transistor cosplayer

This has helped Mayu join a growing cosplayer community that is welcoming to every type of fan. “I’ve met some of my actual best friends by attending conventions,” says Mayu.

“We’re like a happy family and we’re so close that we don’t need to wait for a convention to get together, taking cosplay photos or working on our costumes and helping each other. This is the most beautiful thing that cosplay gave me.“

The creative process

For Mayu, Red from Transistor was an obvious cosplay candidate. "I played Transistor as soon as it came out,” she tells us. “It has a touching story, amazing characters and the best soundtrack I could have imagined. It soon became one of my favourite games ever.”

To become Red, Mayu made detailed plans for her costume and props, bought fabric and materials, then began to sew together clothes. And she built and painted the titular Transistor, too.

Careful planning is required for something as complex as Transistor cosplay.

It takes a lot of time to get this stuff just right, of course. ”Usually it takes one to three months for a single costume, especially if you can’t work on it everyday,“ says Mayu.

And sometimes, things will go wrong. “I accidentally poured a bottle of glue on a laser-cut piece of plexiglass, and wanted to throw everything out the window,” says Mayu. “But my father stopped me.“

Want to get started yourself?

So, any advice for budding cosplayers? “Being inspired by people more talented than you is fundamental to keep improving,” adds Mayu.

“Don't feel discouraged looking at other people's work. Start with something simple that can keep you motivated through all of the creation process. And of course, have fun with it!“