When I was in high school I got introduced to anime and fell into a deep romantic relationship with it. I became so attached that I completely enveloped myself in the culture and started to spend all my time and money into cosplay and anime conventions. It was a really great time in my life since I didn’t really have any friends at school and was able to make instant friends at these events. Just putting on a costume made it easier to socialize and be comfortable around new people who you know are interested in the same things as you.
Lucy Heartfilia and Gray Fullbuster from Fairy Tail, NDK 2014
My first con ever was NDK 2014 in Denver, Colorado. I went alone and I was very nervous, but I pushed through and ended up meeting a lot of people who ended up becoming close friends of mine. Here I am in my Lucy Heartfilia costume from Fairy Tail. I actually bought this online for $75 on some Chinese shop. I was a newbie and had no idea that people were making their own costumes most of the time. However, to make up for it I went insane on the detail, making sure my hair was the right color, that I wore brown contact lenses, had all the keys, the guild tattoo, the right colored socks, I didn’t want a single detail to be wrong; I even wore the same heart shaped earrings she wears in the ending theme of one of the seasons. By the way, I didn’t become friends with this Gray in the end, I ended up befriending a different one. In fact, this costume ended up being a signature thing for me and I would often cosplay from this anime alongside the same people.
We were all good friends who talked almost everyday and even did a Fairy Tail panel together at NDK one year. Every con we would meet, catch up and have a good time. We would meet in between events sometimes but those days were the ones we all looked forward to together.
Another thing I tried out at my first convention was the Lolita Gothic Doll. I really liked how I was able to make myself so cute but scary at the same time and I spent the day at con walking around with similar people who enjoyed being cute and frilly every once in awhile.
I still liked to be characters though, so I would always theme it a certain way. This group of people were more likely to meet in between convention dates, so it was fun to spend some time with them having tea, going to the ballet, and walking around the city together in our “outrageous” clothing.
I wore the Lucy outfit a lot, almost to every convention actually. I identify with the character and find that I can pull her off well.
Original Character and Lucy Heartfilia, Cosmic Con 2015
I wanted to wear something different though, but with how busy school was I went simple at my next con and wore Asako Natsume from My Little Monster, no one recognized me at all and my sneakers were 3 sizes too small so I was miserable.
Asako Natsume from My Little Monster, Animeland Wasabi 2015
My next outfit I wanted to be simple, but outrageous and interesting. I really wanted to cosplay Misa Amane from Death Note, but at the same time I didn’t want to walk around con just wearing all black holding a notebook. Instead I decided to go with an outfit she never actually wore in the anime, it was only featured on the cover of one of the manga books.
Misa Amane frrom Death Note, NDK 2015
I wore this one at my next NDK and it was a hit, most people were able to recognize me despite the outfit not being in the actual anime and they were impressed with my props. I bought the clothes and altered them myself, while the blades were made from my own blood sweat and tears out of cardboard. They held up decently with only a few trips to the hot glue gun during the day, but they broke not long after the con in storage.
I also wanted to debut a new Lucy outfit for our Fairy Tail panel my friends and I were doing so I decided to go all out and make one that was a bit more obscure and difficult, completely from scratch.
Lucy Heartfilia (Dragon Arc) from Fairy Tail, Photo by MalecArt Photography
I am really proud of this outfit, it was the first thing I made completely from nothing, all by myself. I did have a mentor, however; Yokaze Cosplay gave me many tips and pointers.
I was so proud and excited about it that I even competed in the convention’s cosplay contest and won best performance! I had my whole Guild there supporting me and cheering me on, their Lucy Heartfilia.
Fairy Tail Guild, NDK 2015
My last con came around and for the first time I wasn’t cosplaying Fairy Tail anymore. I had lost touch with my friends from traveling so much and it was a last hurrah for me to attend NDK 2016. I decided to go with a cosplay I always wanted to do, but never had the time and energy for.
Rize Kamashiro from Tokyo Ghoul, NDK 2016
This con was so hard, I was saying goodbye to all my friends who I had relied on for companionship for the past 2 years. I enjoyed so many times with them and they helped me bring out a more creative side to myself. This cosplay actually broke after 20 minutes since I didn’t ask anyone for tips or pointers and tried to finish it within only a few days.
This community I had was really wonderful and I was really sad to have to leave it once my work started to take off and I was traveling so much. Eventually, I want to return to doing cosplay every once in awhile. However, that won’t happen until I settle down somewhere. If you want to go to an anime convention or are just interested in anime, I really suggest going even if you’re scared or socially awkward. If you wear a simple cosplay, people will still approach you and it will provide you an easy line towards friends and a sense of belonging.
Here are a few more photos from my time in the anime cosplay community of Colorado:
Male Yoko Littner and CC from Gurren Lagann and Code Geass
Trying to get organized
Performing & Fairy Tail Shoot, NDK 2015
Mixing costumes, Cosmic Con 2015
Lolita Adventures. Halloween, walking around & the Ballet, 2015
Now all I can do is dress up in simple costumes on Halloween like everyone else, but I wont forget the place I had in the cosplay community and will always treasure it.
Alice from Alice in Wonderland, Halloween Tokyo 2017
Thanks so much for reading! Follow me on Instagram so Marc Jacobs will finally book me @emmakarla77