Top 200 Photos: #22

Another Otakon photo in this Top 200 Photo

photo #22 is:
Looking for Donald and Goofy

This photo was taken on the first time I discovered Otakon in Baltimore. We were just walking around Baltimore and noticed cosplayers here and there. At first I thought it was just a strange group of friends. But when we kept seeing more and more of them, I figured something was up. I didn’t know it yet, but it was the last day of Otakon. Since it was the last day and the convention was officially over, people could just walk into the convention center and so I did and took some candid shots with my 55-200mm lens. I didn’t know at the time that these people wanted to be photographed and were used to being photographed. So I was doing most of it candidly.

This cosplayer is dressed as the main character from Kingdom Hearts, a Square-Enix & Disney RPG. This photo took about 1.5 years to get 1000 views and used to be on my top 20 most viewed photos. However, it has plateaued since then and only has 1120 views after five years.

Top 200 Photos: #49

Otakon and some familiar faces for this Top 200 Photo

photo #49 is:
Some Strange Witch Anime?

These Soul Eater cosplayers have appeared before on this list and will appear at least once more. I think this photo is unique in showing them from head (or hat) to toe. For the first time, I’ve realized that the woman on the right has “elf shoes” or shoes with curly toes. I think it’s pretty odd how much of a gap there is in the number of views between all these photos of the same subjects.

Cosplay, a Japanese portmanteau short for costume play, is a pretty interesting hobby. If you don’t count the types of Halloween costumes on display at the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade, Halloween costumes tend to revolve around mass manufactured costumes you get at Party City or Wal-Mart. But cosplay (as far as I know) tends to be 99% home-made costumes. So a cosplayer needs to either be good at creating costumes, or know someone who is. Then, unless their costume is something like Iron Man, they need to be the type of person who’s comfortable being the center of attention. While most artists tend to make work separate from themselves, a costume that someone wears depends on that person as well. This is exacerbated by mean-spirited sites that showcase people who are “too fat to cosplay”. Additionally, some costumes tend to be a group affair. So you need to have a group of like-minded and dependable friends so you can have the entire ensemble.

Heroes of Final Fantasy IX

And there’s always a trade-off between an impressive costume and one that won’t be a pain to wear all day long.

Winner for Most Elaborate Swords

Of course, there’s also the decision of what game, movie, or TV show you’re going to choose for you inspiration. I think that the two biggest reasons why I haven’t done a cosplay involve the work required to get the costume not to be embarrassingly horrible and the fact that I can’t decide what I’d actually like to be.

Top 200 Photos: #117

Back to Otakon for today’s Top 200 Photo.

photo #117 is:
Otakon Lolita

Confusingly, Lolita fashion has noting to do with the novel by Nabokov about a man falling in love with an underaged girl. ( Instead, it is an emphasis on Victorian-age fashion. It is, according to Wikipedia (and substantiated by what I’ve seen), subdivided into Gothic Lolita, Sweet Lolita, Classic Lolita, and Punk Lolita. I think this girl falls somewhere between Gothic and Sweet Lolita.

I think the Lolita fashion trend is very interesting visually. While it has been documented how much of a pain Victorian fashion was (especially for women), the intricacy of the patterns and dresses that we’d lost in modern fashion is so compelling. It also evokes an element of fantasy for me since I’ve mostly seen these types of fashions in fantastical movies and TV shows. Interestingly, quite a few works of science fiction have predicted a return to Victorian fashions and, in some cases, values. This is evident in The Diamond Age by Neil Stephenson and Firefly episode where they attend a ball. I wonder how likely this would really be. When I said it was pain that was often literally the case with the use of form fitting bodices. And, I’ve read that it was quite a few decades after public restrooms debuted before they had women’s rooms because it was such a pain to undress to the level where one was able to use the bathroom that most women just held it in until they returned home at the end of the day.

Top 200 Photos: #123

Otakon and video game characters in today’s Top 200 Photo!

photo #123 is:
I love the Moogle!

I’ve mentioned my love of Final Fantasy before. And that was the main reason for photographing the girl on the left. I saw the moogle and had to photograph her. Later I found out she is a character from Final Fantasy X. Every time I see this photo I’m filled with regret that I chose to do it in landscape orientation to include her friend (From Elite Beat Agents) because the bottom half of the costume is very intricate. It was only my second time photographing at Otakon and I was very nervous to ask people to take their photos and then I tended to rush through it. I’ve gotten better with each Otakon, but I’m still working on getting over it completely.

Top 200 Photos: #152

Back to Baltimore for this Top 200 Photo.

photo #152 is:
"Saotome, Why did you come to Otakon as a Panda?"

Another photo from Otakon. I was especially happy to see these guys at Otakon. Ranma ½ was the first anime I ever saw. It was my entry into the whole genre. I remember discovering it at a video rental store in Tualatin, OR. They had some VHS tapes of Seasons 2 and 3. I remember being so psyched that there were cartoons that weren’t for kids. I couldn’t wait for them to get the next tape. I spent all my time in the library at school researching Ranma and learning about the story and getting into fan fiction for the first time. If I’d been born about a decade later I probably would have really gotten into the whole fan-sub scene. Bandwidth was just too small back in those days.

Top 200 Photos: #155

Here is today’s Top 200 Photo

photo #155 is:

Crazy Cowboy Anime


Ever since I moved to Baltimore, I’ve been in the city during Otakon, the annual anime convention. The first couple of times it was a complete accident. For the the past two years I’ve looked up the dates ahead of time and made sure to be there to take some photos. I haven’t yet bought a ticket, but almost all of them tend to spend some time outside and everyone’s amenable to photos. After all, they’ve spent as much as the entire last year working on their costumes in some. I usually have a great time enjoying all the awesome costumes and they usually do pretty well views-wise on flickr. So I know there are at least two more Otakon photos on the Top 200 Photos.

I haven’t been involved in anime since university, so I usually don’t recognize the costumes. People also make costumes related to video games, but I am usually in the dark about those as well since I tend to buy them years after they come out. So I have no idea what anime or video game this girl is dressing up as. Considering how scantily clad she is, I’m surprised that, as of the time I am writing this, it only has 397 views. That is quite low for flickr. HOWEVER, I do find it quite disrespectful that there are two guys you can see in my photo who are taking photos of her from behind. (Her butt was essentially leaking out the bottom) Just because she’s chosen to dress in a provocative manner, it doesn’t mean she’s not someone you should respect by photographing her from behind without her permission.

Otakon 2010

Just like last year, I went to Otakon, but didn’t pay to get in.  Perhaps next year.  So, like last year, I mostly photographed people  under the the awning of the convention center.  Unlike last year, I asked lots of people if I could photograph them.  It paid off as I was able to get lots of shots I would have otherwise missed.  It also yielded me a lot more single person portraits rather than just massive group shots that everyone else happened to be shooting.  So, here are some of my favorite shots.

Street Fighter Cast
Ensemble groups are always fun to photograph. I loved this Street Fighter group, especially E. Honda.
Dr Gordon Freeman
Yay for Half Life Cosplay. Although perhaps a bit out of place at an anime convention?
Winner for Most Elaborate Swords
This poor guy was standing there patiently for 15 to 20 minutes as people photographed him.
It's been nearly 20 years and there are still Final Fantasy VII Cosplayers at every convention.
Dr Who Convention
Yes, there is a huge overlap in anime fans and Dr Who fans, but I think the Dr Who cosplay was most out of place at an anime convention.
Great cosplay from Kill Bill
Big Daddy and Little Sister
Another video game cosplay. This time Bioshock.
Crazy Cowboy Anime
I don't know what anime or video game she's from, but she attracted a lot of popularity.
Shampoo, Ranma, and P-Chan
As I mentioned last year, I love seeing Ranma 1/2 cosplay because the anime is pretty old.
Heroes of Final Fantasy IX
More Final Fantasy cosplay; this time from Final Fantasy IX
Tim Burton's Mad Hatter
An amazing costume from Tim Burton's Alice and Wonderland.
Some Bayonetta cosplay.
Steam Punk Group
There's also huge overlap with steam punk fans and this steam punk group was pretty impressive.
Steam Punk Sailor Moon?
Sometimes people combine genres to get new, unique costumes like this Steam Punk Sailor Moon cosplay.
Faye Valentine
Good Faye Valentine cosplay - just needs to have hair that's a bit more purple.

Looking back over these shots as I selected the ones to include in this post, I realized that, for an anime convention, there were a lot of video game cosplayers. Yes, they were Japanese video games – which often have anime-inspired character models, but it’s still a bit odd.

Dan also went with me and got some different photos based on anime and video games he’s familiar with.

You can see more of my Otakon 2010 photos here.

Otakon 2009

"Honk if you're going to Otakon"
People came to Otakon from all around the USA

For the first time since moving here, I found out about Otakon ahead of time. Unfortunately, the economics didn’t work out we didn’t buy tickets. But I did go to hang out outside Otakon on Saturday to get some photos. Lessons learned:

  • Remember what you learned in Hawaii and don’t be afraid to approach people. This is especially the case with Otakon. The cosplayers have spent a long time working on their costumes, sometimes up to a whole year. They want to show off their costumes. So go up to them and ask to photograph them.
  • With a 1.6x crop factor camera like the Canon 400D, 28mm is not wide enough. It’s very, very crowded at Otakon. They had something like 19 000 preregistered attendees. I missed out on getting some awesome shots of costumes such as this one where the girl on the left had an amazing bottom part to her costume, but I couldn’t fit her and her friend in without backing up a lot more
  • Buy tickets to Otakon! I missed out on a bunch of costumes because they were walking into the conference too quickly for me to intercept them at the door. So attend so you can see all the costumes

And now here is my photo essay on Otakon 2009.

A Bunch of Pokemon Trainers
Lots of Pokemon trainers including multiple Ash Ketchums and Mistys. It can be hard to have an original costume at Otakon.
Some of the Team Fortress Team
People didn't only cosplay from anime, they also cosplayed video games. In this case, it was Team Fortress 2.
A Slick Costume, Wish I knew the Anime
This was another video game cosplay - this time from Street Fighter IV.
Otakon Lolita
Goth Lolita is a very popular style in Harajuku, Japan and is often cosplayed at anime conventions. There were quite a few women cosplaying lolitas.
Looks like Captain Hammer is in Trouble Again
A very unique cosplay came in the form of this group cosplaying Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-long Blog.
Quite an Elaborate Costume on the Left
These women are cosplaying an anime called Soul Eater. Many costumes ranged from the skimpy to the elaborate and full-body-covering.
A unique costume not only in its complexity, but also its subject. By choosing an anime that came out a while ago, one can get a better chance of being the only one cosplaying that character.
Iron Man
This Iron Man cosplay was very, very intricate and he was constantly stopped to pose for photos.
Phoenix Wright is a video game where the player is a lawyer. His signature catchphrase is on the sign.
Still Alive
Yet another video game cosplay with this pair from Portal.
"Saotome, Why did you come to Otakon as a Panda?"
I wanted to finish up with a cosplay from my favorite anime, Ranma 1/2. It was a special treat to see this since Ranma is a pretty old anime so there is less of a chance of people cosplaying it. The characters are the heads of the Tendo and Saotome households.