Pasco News

NPR cosplay group ventures to anime convention

TAMPA - You can usually find them tucked away in library anime club meetings on weekends or discussing their favorite manga at Denny's at 3 a.m.This past weekend, however, Pasco anime enthusiasts and cosplayers ventured to Tampa for the state's largest anime convention, Metrocon.Thousands of people from around the state and around the country convened at the Tampa Convention Center for panels and entertainment centered around anime and other popular shows, like the BBC's "Doctor Who" and "Sherlock." The convention center and area hotels swarmed with con-goers dressed in costumes, many handcrafted, from their favorite tv shows, movies, videogames, comics and more. One of the costuming groups that attended was First Choice Cosplay. The New Port Richey-area group specializes in custom-made props and wigs for cosplays, or "costume playing," in which costumers not only dress the part of a character, but typically act the part, too.In Japan, all animated cartoons are called anime but in the west, anime refers to a specific style of Japanese cartooning characterized by colorful graphics, large-eyed characters and fantasy themes."Manga" is also a Japanese word referring both to printed comics and cartooning. Manga outside Japan refers specifically to comics originally published in Japan.Chelsey Morley, a PHCC student, heads up First Choice Cosplay with a group of friends, many of whom she met while attending Ridgewood High School. They just started the group and hope to begin selling their designs and taking commissions for custom work soon."We've all been friends for a long time and have been wanting to make a cosplay group for a while," Morley said. "We are going to start doing commissions for costumes, mostly costumes and wigs. We will be selling our costumes when we're done with them. We are just starting out and literally no one knows about us."Last weekend, the 21-year-old was decked out in pale blue facepaint with icy blue contact lenses. Her staff was handcrafted and her hoodie was decorated with fabric paint. This was her first effort at portraying Jack Frost, a character from an animated children's movie called "Rise of the Guardians.""He's my favorite character from 'Rise of the Guardians,' " Morley said. "I really wanted to try making his staff for the first time so it's my first prop ever. I also wanted to work with fabric paint, and it's pretty easy, and interacting with children is a lot of fun."Although the convention is primarily an anime convention, con-goers can expect to see cosplays from all walks of geek life, ranging from Star Wars and Doctor Who to Disney and Pixar characters. Some groups of friends cosplay characters from the same show, videogame or manga series while others, like First Choice Cosplay, wore a variety of outfits tailored to the taste of each member. Some participants strive to replicate a costume down to every last "canon," or "official" detail, but others, like Alyssa Lydting, tweak their costumes based on fan art or other ideas. Lydting's Rise of the Guardian's costume was an evil version of the tooth fairy from a sketch she found on an online art community called deviantart. Stephanie Prinz went another direction and refashioned her Adventure Time outfit from a previous cosplay. She again wore a T-shirt and pants bought the last time she cosplayed Finn the Human, but cut and styled a wig and added bloddy scratches for a battleworn look. "If I love a character so much, I totally want to be them," Prinz said. Most of the numbers cut their teeth in middle school on anime dubbed in English and aired on United States television, like "Naruto," "Full Metal Alchemist," "Sailor Moon" and "Inuyasha."They worked their way up to creating costumes and attending local conventions like Metrocon to display their wearable art and act like their fictional character of choice in an accepting environment that fosters creativity. First Choice Cosplay's Facebook page is at 815-1067
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