Cosplay Complex

October 21, 2011

It is evident that with the growing popular of anime, cosplaying as your favourite character is a must. If you’re a die-hard otaku, that is. So I guess if there is an anime about cosplaying, I thought to myself why not watch it and see how the cosplaying world is about. After all, we had animes based on the doujin world and for a guy like me, it was deemed an insight. And thus, that is how I came to watch the 3 OVA episodes of Cosplay Complex. For the record, cosplay is made up of the words ‘costume’ and ‘role playing’ whereby one dresses up in their favourite characters of anime, manga, games and such. It’s like bringing 2D to real life.

At first, I thought the word ‘complex’ was referring to a place like a mall. Therefore my impression was that it is going to be a big place filled with cosplaying geeks and perhaps a room the size of several shopping outlets filled with cosplaying outfits, enough for cosplay freaks to live and die in their dream fantasies. Then while watching the series, it dawned to me the word ‘complex’ leans more towards a condition. You know, such as brother complex, sister complex and inferior complex. Yeah, that kind of complex. Hope it isn’t anything that complex either. Don’t worry. It isn’t. What you’ll mainly get to see in this series are a bunch of wacky group of young people practising cosplaying. Sounds like fun? You bet since this is a comedy genre. Oh, with the synopsis bearing the line, “Clothing and costumes will fly…” means that we’ll get our fair share of fanservice. Aren’t some cosplay so?

To sum it up, this series focuses on a struggling cosplay club at East Oizumi Academy. They need to put in lots of effort and practising before they can reach their dream of participating and winning the Cosplay World Series competition. Even the road of cosplaying is a tough one. What makes this club a likeable one is of course the members. They include the president and the only guy, the baldy Gorou Yorozuyo, the stubborn leader of the crew, Reika Aoshima, a pair of sisters the bespectacled Maria Imai and the younger one Athena, the cheerful and clumsy Chako Hasegawa, and newest member Jenny Matel of Italy. Chako has a pair of magical creatures to help her out. For instance, fairy bunny girl Delmo is able to morph into items to help Chako while the little owl Ikebukurou isn’t just hooting around but does the sewing and ironing of the clothes. Wait a second. Magical creatures? Well, if you’re going to add a bunch of wacky characters, might as well throw in these guys too. After all, we’re in for the laughs, right?

Episode 1
East Oizumi Academy is next up for a group cosplay competition. But it seems Chako has forgotten to bring some of her cosplay clothes. Though Maria and Athena seem to have theirs ready. Thankfully with Delmo around, she changes into Chako’s cosplay outfit. Since it’s a Hand Maid May character, Gorou thinks of putting a plug in her ass! Reika hits his head with a basin. Back in their clubroom, Gorou in his own secluded booth in the corner warns of the problems facing the club that will threaten their goal to conquer to cosplay world. They need a sponsor/club advisor and additional members. The peeping guys outside won’t do (man, they’re desperate to peep via ladder outside the window). So Gorou blasts them away with his Intruder Beam. Reika is upset he wrecked the classroom and throws a basin at him. Then he thinks he hears a rat (Jenny in a rat outfit) in the ceiling and furiously stabs it, wrecking the roof. But he goes back after really thinking it’s just a rat. Reika is upset she will have to spend more on reconstruction. Chako along with Delmo and her other owl fairy, Ikebukurou goes back to her dorm and greet Sachiko Arii. She throws a party to celebrate Delmo and Ikebukurou’s 3 month anniversary since moving in here. A short flashback how Chako first met them when they came from some other world at the shrine. She also remembers some nice guy named Kosuke Tamiya who became an instant fan of hers when she first cosplayed. As Reika is doing the budget for her club (you know who breaks all the stuff, right), Gorou enters via window and did a steamy romantic caressing voiceover-cum-act, enough to send Reika paralyzed into his soft tenderness. The moment is ruined when Jenny crashes in and wants to join the club. Next day, the rest are introduced to Jenny, the Italian transfer student. However Gorou thinks of putting up an exhibition match to see if Jenny is worthy to join the club. He picks Chako to go up against her. Initially she was reluctant but after Gorou’s passionate speech, Chako is all for it. Yeah, that’s what he’s good at.

On match day, the club are selling tickets (even renting cameras) to perverted geeks who are so eager to watch a couple of woman battle it out in cosplay match. While Gorou is the announcer, Reika, Ikebukurou and Sachiko are the judges. The competition will be over 3 rounds and the one with the highest overall score wins. First round has the girls dressing up as witches. Jenny dress as a traditional witch but on a bicycle while Chako slips and gives the crowd a full view of her fanservice slip. Jenny has the edge of 23 points against Chako’s 22. For the second match, it’s a video game girl fighter. Chako has problems with her clothes because it’s torn so Delmo offers to help in exchange for dumplings. While Jenny unknowingly dresses as Reika’s favourite character and earns 23 points, Chako comes out as a witch first and then magically transforms to a sexy fighter, earning her 28 points. The third round is supposed to be a robot girl but at the backstage, Jenny is having problems putting on her outfit since her boobs are too big to fit in. Chako helps her out so she feels grateful and will like to return the favour. All the other members have watched this and are touched. Including Gorou, who is soon packing with Reika’s basin for peeping. At the end of the match, though it ends with a draw, the rest mention that they intend to let Jenny join. They were anyway going to let her join from the start. So the competition’s real intention was to make money for the club! Athena starts crying and feeling sorry for Chako when Jenny starts hugging her. She nose bleeds upon seeing Athena’s cuteness and starts rubbing her like a molester. Maria freaks out and takes Athena away. Maria gives Gorou to her instead but she insists she hates men. What about Reika? She prefers little girls. Oh God. Lolicon. Yeah, notice how she spied on Athena at the very beginning when she was changing and totally loved her little naked body? Jenny starts harassing Athena so poor little innocent Athena cowers behind her sister, who starts protecting her and warns Jenny not to lay her fingers on her. Jenny teases Maria that she’s a siscon like her so she denies anything like that. However Athena misinterprets and becomes heartbroken. While Maria tries to dispel the misunderstanding, Reika notes how this club has attracted another weirdo. All that matters to Gorou now is that they need a club advisor.

Episode 2
Coach Kuroba strictly tells his Cosplay Club members that they’ll be going on a training camp at the beach tomorrow. Who the heck is he? Gorou introduces Kuroba to the girls as he is the advisor of the club who has been hospitalized for a long time. The girls are shocked because due to the previous episode, the teaser saw the advisor as a sexy woman. Upon closer inspection, Kuroba is in the picture but at the distant edge. Who the heck can see?! However Clover has to be whisked away to hospital when he starts coughing blood. So Gorou has no choice but to have Sachiko as the new special advisor. The girls shop for their swimsuits. Chako uses Delmo’s help to bust up her own swimsuit when Tamiya comes by. Ikebukurou lets the rest know that he is Chako’s crush, causing her to blush as they tease her. When he learns Chako and co will be at the beach tomorrow for a cosplay conference, he tells that he too will be there the day after for a photo trip and looks forward to meet her.

Next day at the beach, the girls are being made by Gorou to work as part time waitresses in Cosplay Beach House. Though Gorou gives an excuse as cosplay training but in fact he is colluding with the house owner for some toy model in exchange for bringing in the business. The girls work while Jenny attracts the customers. Actually she’s in some outfit while the little kids hang out around her. She’s loving it… They are staying at an old temple and the monk is a real pervert, rubbing his face in Sachiko’s boobs. Reika hits a basin on his head and it will be stuck on his head ever since. Reika doesn’t want to live in this rundown place and is going to a hotel but Gorou restraints her with ropes in an S&M position. Chako and Maria learn from the priest about the local legend of the origin of the festival called River Ceremony. Seems like a twisted version of the Japanese folklore, The Crane Maiden. Why is Gorou the man and Reika the crane trying to kill each other? The girls except Jenny start their cosplay training like speed sewing and speed changing (both in which Chako flops). Then for the body transformation, everyone has a hard time getting into those little Keroro suits so Gorou shows it how it’s done! How the heck does he fit in it?! Put your heart and soul in it?! That night, Jenny sneaks into Athena’s room for a sex romp. However she got the wrong person: Sachiko. She gets more than she bargained for when Sachiko takes this as a wrong signal and starts undressing herself. Yeah, she’s been a lonely widow for a very long time. This is going to leave a mental scar on Jenny for a long time… As Reika soaks in the hotspring alone, Gorou seems to making his usual stalker-like voiceover. Reika gets alerted but in the end she gets turned on, surprising Gorou very much. Oh, don’t forget she dropped the basin on him too.

Next day, the girls continue to work at the beach house. Jenny is out after last night’s horror and goes on a day-long waterfall meditation. Chako meets Tamiya at the house and he is glad to see her. He is here for the River Ceremony tomorrow. Since Chako knows a little about the legend, Tamiya suggests that they go see it together. The hot chemistry between them has Reika vowing to support Chako in her love as Maria, Athena and Ikebukurou also agree to help out. It’s going to be a big mess. Next day as Chako accompanies Tamiya through the forest, she is rather annoyed that Reika, Ikebukuro, Delmo and the monk are following them. Yeah, they even go to great lengths by giving their unwanted support like battle panties, hi-fi set to lighten a mood and a bed in the middle of the forest! WTF?! Then at the flower field, they put up those annoying signboards telling her to kiss so Chako just yell at them to butt out. Though Tamiya didn’t realize what’s happening, at that moment he looked cool so Chako was in the mood and prepare herself to kiss him. However he was so infatuated in taking photographs that he is oblivious of his surroundings. How disappointing. Time to move to the next plan.

At the town festival, the busybodies tell Chako to catch a fan thrown by the priestesses (Maria and Athena) as legend has it she’ll marry the man of her dreams if she catches it. Chako is pumped up to catch it (even getting Delmo to transform into a baseball glove). As Maria and Athena throw their fans, unfortunately Gorou is the one who catch it! Damn! Foiled again. Chako gets disheartened by Tamiya extends his helping hand so that they can go to the River Ceremony. Tamiya mentions a different conclusion of the legend. Seems more romantic and legend-worthy. A man met crane, she turned into a woman, fell in love and got married. To commemorate their love, the crane released her old crane skin down the river and lived happily ever after. He thinks this is the origin of the legend and another reason is to show appreciation for marriage. Chako says she’ll be taking part in next month’s big Cosplay World Series competition. He says he’ll go support her so Chako gets her confidence to do her best. The other members watching also vow to do their best but the mood is ruined when crazy Jenny in a crane suit kidnaps Athena away into the sky to start their new legend together. Gorou says she has reached enlightenment?! WTF?!

Episode 3
The cosplay gang pays Kuroba a visit in hospital. Seems he’s recuperating in time for the Cosplay World Series. Jenny wants to start getting horny with Athena (disgusting licking the stethoscope!), sending Maria into panic. She starts using the defibrillator but Kuroba is the one who gets the shock treatment. His heart stopped! So much for getting better. While waiting for the rain to subside, Delmo teases Chako she is buying new clothes for Tamiya’s sake so he can take snapshots of her cosplay. Suddenly a shy clumsy girl named Tsukasa Tomii overheard their conversation and wants her to take her to East Oizumi. Sachiko pays a visit to her husband’s grave and is surprised to see purple roses on it and before that a lady with blue hair. Gorou is also praying at the site and mentions that it is has been 2 years.

Back at the club room, after Chako and Tsukasa take a shower, Chako gives her temporary clothes to wear. She realizes Tsukasa is into cosplay since she could recognize the cosplay outfit. When Athena asks her what cosplay suit Tsukasa is wearing, Jenny gets jealous and thinks there’s another lolicon rival. Oh, Maria is going to die of another heart attack. Actually, Tsukasa isn’t used to dressing up, the reason she was looking at Athena with those eyes. Suddenly an accessory from Chako’s outfit threatens to fall off so Tsukasa quickly sews it back good in lightning speed. Reika gets suspicious which club Tsukasa belongs to when Ranko Takara barges in. This pretty but arrogant lady says that they are from Shin Takarazuka Academy, the school that won the Cosplay World Series last year. She was bringing Tsukasa her assistant along when she got lost all of the sudden. She slaps Tsukasa for her ‘betrayal’, especially for someone who has never done cosplay at another school. The rest aren’t amused so Ranko decides to show off her cosplaying moves. Her cosplay was so good that she even changed her voice to the character! Chako praises her and imitates her move. So this has Ranko on alert that this girl is able to imitate so after seeing her just once. Then she did a body transformation into a little Keroro suit and she does it good!

I’m sure Jenny wants her to cosplay as some lolicon but Tamiya shows up. Thing is, they know each other as Ranko goes up to hug him and calls him Ko-chan. Oh Chako, didn’t you just felt a woman’s intuition? Tamiya is here to show them the photos he developed during their outing at the beach. He also has those of Ranko cosplaying so Ranko brags his good skills is like as though she’s making love to the cameraman! Chako wants to know her relationship with Tamiya so Ranko coolly says it can’t be described in words and shoots back the same question to her. Chako is embarrassed to say so Delmo says it on her behalf that she is Tamiya’s number 1 fan. Ranko falls into shock. Both girls start to grab confused Tamiya’s arms each and you can tell it’s going to be a cat fight over him. Thus Gorou announces a cosplay battle between both schools at the gym in an hour’s time and the prize will be Tamiya. Don’t tell me this is another way to make money for the club. Ranko says Gorou has never changed and is still pushy as ever. That’s what she used to like about him. Now it’s Reika’s turn to get annoyed. Later Reika confronts Ranko at the store room but the latter knows she called her about Gorou. She tries to deny but Ranko continues to control the mood saying that she’s afraid that Gorou would lose interest in her and that she will snatch him away from her. Amidst Ranko’s steamy molestation over paralyzed Reika, Gorou is heard narrating steamy passionate voice over like as though he’s reading from a romance novel. Oh, wait, he is. Is he? They find him hiding in a box and beat him up. Both girls continue their rivalry. Kuroba hears about the cosplay competition and is on his way to rescue his girls. Unfortunately, he ‘died’ halfway there.

As the competition starts, the judges will be Ikebukuro, Sachiko, the monk (still have the basin on his head. Hey, what the heck is he doing here?! Isn’t he supposed to be stationed at the temple?), a mysterious lady (the one thought to be the cosplay club’s coach) and Tamiya. For the first free-for-all cosplay round it will be a team match between Reika-Chako and Ranko-Tsukasa. However Ranko is cocky and decides to do this on her own. Though Reika-Chako scored a high 92 points, Ranko takes cosplay to a whole new level by changing her appearance into that character! WOAH!!! UNBELIEVABLE! That’s why she scored 100 points. The second round of style pits Ranko in a devilish S&M outfit against Maria’s S&M policewoman. Though Ranko earns 92 points, due to Maria’s authentic bashfulness, the crowd goes wild and she gets full marks. But why is Maria loving it at the end? The third round has the competitors using their creativity in dressing up a model, which is Athena. Now we see Ranko’s other superb skill. She manages to change Athena’s body structure too! Now she’s grownup! I wonder if it’s painful. How many bones did she crack just for that effect? It is for Jenny because she’s not a loli anymore. Then it’s Jenny’s turn as she has Athena dressed in a mourning outfit and as her kid self. Both sides score 100 points so there’ll be a sudden death match as each time must choose 1 member from their side. Chako volunteers to go so the rest give their blessing. Ranko says it’s Tsukasa’s turn to shine but she lacks the confidence and thinks she’ll lose. Ranko comforts her by saying that the seniors will be gone after graduation so it’ll be her responsibility to take over the cosplay club since she’s a real member of the club. She has confidence she can do it.

While changing, Chako once again forgot her clothes so it’s again Delmo to the rescue. Meanwhile Tsukasa doesn’t know what to do so Ranko tells her just do her best. Chako comes out as a stunning bride but it seems Tsukasa hasn’t come out yet. She is still scared of showing herself in public. Chako goes over to extend her hand and support for her to come out. As they both strut their stuff on stage, Chako says that cosplay is fun to make and wear. And the best part is to have others look at them while in it. Tsukasa’s fear subsides as the crowd cheers them on. Sachiko sees the blue haired lady among the crowd and fears that she might be that person. Kuroba finally (and amazingly) arrives at the gym but it’s way over. He missed everything… As the gang meet up outside, Ranko admits that everything has been interesting. Yeah, Gorou has made loads of cash from it and has some new ideas coming along. Though the competition ends in a draw, Ranko and Chako become frenemies. Yeah, till it comes to Tamiya, who is still clueless about the girls tugging over him. Tsukasa thanks Chako for helping her today but she feels it’s no big deal. Both sides vow to do their best at the next Cosplay World Series. As Ranko and Tsukasa ride in their limo back, we see Tsukasa have her own fairy bunny girl, Jirumo. Where the heck was she all the while? Well, she went to get something to eat… And their chauffeur turns out to be that blue haired lady.

Cosplay obsession…
Such a disappointment! The series? Heck, no! I enjoyed it!  What I meant was it was such a shame and disappointment there wasn’t any continuation of this series. There were so many potentials for this series that it seemed like it was wasted by just having 3 lousy OVA episodes. Because of the short nature of the series, there were a few plots left hanging and definitely will have viewers scratching their head. For instance, that blue haired woman. Only appearing in the last episode and the way Sachiko reacted by just seeing her seems to indicate that she must have some connection in her life. Especially the teaser at the end, I’m sure we viewers would love to know more who this blue hair babe is. The short flashback of Delmo and Ikebukurou is much welcomed but it would be better if they expand that a little. Heck, how can you do it with a miserable 3 episodes? But otherwise, this series is fun and enjoyable though it wasn’t cosplaying all the way. Plus, since it focuses pretty much on the antics of the gang, I don’t think it gives any much insight on the world of cosplaying like how Genshikin and Comic Party did with its doujinshi theme. And though we get to see the characters in many different outfits, it wasn’t that tad many. It wasn’t what I had it mind when “Clothing and costumes will fly…”. Yeah, I was expecting something like they would be changing outfits after a few seconds. How the heck did I set my expectations so high in the first place? Maybe the series title has something to do with this mind pre-set thingy… So the club continues their struggle to achieve their goal. With all the practice, I think they’ll get by. Probably they’ll be the underdogs and even steal the trophy, surprising all the favourites. See, how everything is too short for all these mouth-watering potential? Just keep practising because practice makes perfect. But since nobody is perfect…

Gorou has got to be the most amusing and interesting comic relief character. You can’t help his overacting ways and at times feels he deserves to get a basin whacked on his head. Hmm… Maybe that’s how he got bald. Then his tendency to read aloud dirty stories causing awkward moments for Reika is definitely a laugh-out-loud moment. It feels like he is reading from a novel the way he perfectly narrates those steamy lines but sometimes I wonder if it is really his original words deep down from his heart. And that he is the most skilled cosplayer in the club shows why he is leading it. I’m still puzzled (and awed) of how he did his body transformation when others couldn’t. I felt Jenny’s appearance in the series was just to cause some lolicon mayhem. Because that’s what she mainly does. Other than that, I don’t see her doing anything that has an impact on the show. Sure her lolicon fetish really gets to you and poor Athena has to put up with her perverted ways. Each time she does that, poor sister Maria would go into heart attack mode. I guess there is only so much you can (over)protect your little sister from fiends like her. Oddly, Jenny prefers to wear full-bodied animal costumes when she’s not in real cosplaying action. Kuroba also lacks the impact of doing anything memorable because he’s always getting hospitalized, though it serves as a running gag for us. It’s amazing how he just didn’t die. As for Chako, I find that her absent-mindedness in forgetting to bring her costumes and tendency to rip them at crucial points are part of her personality. Where would she be without Delmo? Of course in exchange for favours, she’s got to give lots of tasty snacks for her. A funny thing when Delmo transforms into an outfit or item, you can see a pair of tiny bunny ears sticking out. It makes the item look very odd. Another interesting character is Ikebukuro. This owl has no proper lines but it seems everybody perfectly understands what it says! Say what again? I don’t think Ranko’s superb cosplaying abilities are imitable in real life. Going to the extent of changing her voice to perfectly suit the character and even the appearance, you got to be a shape shifter to do that. She sure brings cosplaying to the next level. She may be obnoxious but if you know her and is a worthy cosplay opponent, she’s quite the alright girl. Just now with another girl in the picture, Chako won’t be monopolizing Tamiya. Yeah, I’d love to see this love triangle played out while seeing how clueless (and annoying in the sense of not realizing the feelings of the girls) Tamiya is. I wonder if there is any chemistry between Gorou and Reika. They don’t seem like a couple and during those voiceover moments, is Reika really paralyzed by just his words or him?

Though my anime knowledge isn’t that high, I couldn’t recognize the various cosplay outfits that the characters put on. From what I read, they are supposed to be of costumes of characters in other animes. Especially the opening scene in the first episode as I found out the cosplaying characters’ outfits are from previous animes that was directed by the director Shinichiro Kimura such as Burn Up, Popotan and Maburaho. So it’s sad that I couldn’t excitedly name the characters the costumes the girls were getting into. There were a handful but I think I have more fingers on my hand :p. If you love admiring real people doing real cosplay, then stay and watch the ending credits. Here, we have lots of real pictures of various people in various cosplaying outfits whether it is solo or group, famous series or more obscure ones. Some look good, some mediocre (in my opinion) while some look quite close to the real deal. But kudos to all of them for giving their best shot. As for the fanservice for this series, I would rate it between mild and moderate. Mainly the fanservice parts are when the girls are changing but at points you could also see their tits. Not much, but there are. Rie Kugimiya was very identifiable as Delmo. One squeak and I was like “Oh, it’s her alright”. So much so this was the voice that Ranko imitated during one of her stints. Ai Shimizu as Athena was also recognizable since little girls role like Sayaka/Cruje in Oku-sama Wa Mahou Shoujo and Mikoto in Mai-HiME suit her pretty fine. Of course tsundere lolis are better left to Rie Kugimiya. But I couldn’t recognize Kikuko Inoue as Ranko because she wasn’t in her dreamy roles like Belldandy in Aa! Megami-sama. Other casts include Sakura Nogawa as Chako (Nemu in Da Capo), Chiaki Takahashi as Reika (Nanami in School Days), Saeko Chiba as Maria (Dokuro in Bokusatsu Tenshi Dokuro-chan), Akeno Watanabe as Jenny (Rito in To Love-Ru series), Susumu Chiba as Gorou (Kondou in Gintama), Takahiro Sakurai as Tamiya (Suzaku in Code Geass), Masumi Asano as Tsukasa (Risa in Hayate No Gotoku) and Yuki Masuda as Sachiko (female version of Hibiki in Strawberry Eggs).

I haven’t had the thought of going into cosplay yet but given the chance I would definitely love to dress up in my favourite characters. Mostly ladies, by the way. Don’t get the wrong idea that I’m a cross-dresser but the thing is that I find the designs of female outfits to be more beautiful and better looking than most of the male counterparts. Take for the case in point, the ubiquitous school uniform. Notice that there are no 2 school girl uniforms with designs that are the same but as for the guys, it’s usually that black/grey long sleeves blazer or white short sleeves ones. How boring. But true cosplaying also takes up lots of time because it is preferable to make and sew the costumes yourself for utmost satisfaction and appreciation. Then it isn’t just wear and show off as you need to get into the character and act out like as though you are the character. That’s because cosplaying without knowing the character is considered rude. Since my sewing skills suck and the cost of fabric taken into consideration… Ah, I have a feeling I won’t look good in any cosplay outfit anyway. It’ll look like I’m ‘killing’ the character by looking so ‘fake’. Well, I guess there are some characters you can’t really turn 3D and it’s better left at 2D.