So. The UK Preliminaries for World Cosplay Summit are approaching fast, and in under less than 5 weeks next year’s UK representatives will be chosen! This year the preliminaries are hosted at Play Expo in association with Hyper Japan!
As one of this 2013’s representatives I highly recommend and encourage anyone willing to enter – it’s an amazing experience and a fun-filled 10 day trip in Nagoya with some of the most amazing, talented cosplayers you’ll ever meet! No matter how long you’ve been into the hobby, or what your reason to enter may be, as long as you’re enthusiastic enough about cosplay to go for it it’s worth giving it a try. The great thing about WCS is that everyone is there because of their love of cosplay!
This post is basically a bit of advice I’m giving as a previous entrant, and to show what you should expect from the competition itself. WCS is a huge contest, but a lot of entrants don’t know much about the competition until they get there – myself included! – so I figured it was worth giving some advice from my personal experiences, not only for future entrants from the UK, but for cosplayers across the world wanting to give it a go!
Firstly – the hardest part of WCS isn’t the competition itself, it’s the preliminaries. There’s no point preparing for the finals if you don’t even know you’re in it. This is advice I’d recommend for anyone who’s qualified already for the finals but more importantly for the preliminaries – if you want to get in, you need a good approach.
1. Make a costume you WANT to make.
It’s all fine and well to make something that’ll look amazing and take months to craft, but if you don’t love the character or design there’s no point making it, right? If you love what you’re working on you’ll enjoy making it, and that’ll show on the final result.
2. Quality over quantity.
A complicated costume does not automatically win a competition. A well executed, well made costume does. Just because a design may be simple does not mean it can’t be made extremely well and take it to a competitive standard – consider every aspect of the design and polish it. Consider your fabric choices, finishing touches, makeup and effects – everything counts toward your score and will make your costume look much, much better.
3. Be confident.
Confidence shines through in cosplay competitions. Being arrogant isn’t great, but there’s nothing wrong with having pride! Being nervous is natural, but always be confident in your own skill – you are entering this competition to show your skill, so if you don’t believe in it, who will?
4. Enter with someone you care about.
Whether it’s a friend, family, partner, whoever – make sure it’s someone you like and want to be around! You might be going to Japan with them, so make sure you like them from the get-go. WCS takes a lot of time and effort so if you win, you’re going to have to work together so make it count!
5. Practice your routine and poses together.
Once again, confidence counts for a lot in these sorts of competitions. Practice your performance. WCS stands for World Cosplay Summit, not World Costume Summit. The ‘cosplay’ part is important, and it’s what WCS is all about! People want to see you perform and perform well! Play things up for the audience – if your characters interact, make them interact! Your performance routine is one of the most important parts of your entry, so don’t rush it – make sure you consider what is going to look good on stage, reflects your costumes well and will impress the audience. Character interaction counts for a lot, and having a gimmick always helps – try researching previous performances from WCS itself for inspiration and see what works!
This counts for everything on-stage and also when posing together – even if you only come up with a few, make sure you have some unique poses to interact with – generic poses make your costumes look cheap, you want to show them off as best as possible!
6. Rehearse how you will explain and present your costume to the judges.
Judging is easily one of the most important parts of the whole experience, so make it good!
Typically you have a 5 minute slot to explain your costume to judges – sometimes split, but usually each. Make sure in your time you highlight the finest parts of your costume. Explain what you’re proud of on it. Explain the parts you had fun making. Ignore the parts you had problems with. Ignore the parts you didn’t get time to finish properly. If you point out the bad parts to them, the judges will see them. Explain the good parts with pride and the judges will be impressed and look beyond any ‘mistakes’. Keep the judges interested and it makes your costume memorable and gives an excellent impression.
Additionally, you will be required to make a progress book to submit for your costume. Put some effort into it. This is the key that explains how you made your costume. Take photos as you go, explain the key elements, and put it together in a neat fashion. Putting effort into every aspect makes not only the book look good, but you also look dedicated. That’s a good trait to have.
7. Don’t be scared of the judges!
Most of the judges for WCS preliminaries and the finals in Japan are cosplayers themselves. If not, they’ve been around cosplayers long enough to understand the effort that goes into making a costume. It is their place to judge, but they will judge fairly.
8. Don’t be upset if you don’t win.
If you don’t win, you can always try again. You are trying to get into a world-class competition and are going up against some of the best cosplayers in your country – of course it’s going to be a challenge! Don’t be disheartened and take it in your stride to try again!
Finally, a little advice about WCS itself and what to expect when you arrive.
9. Be prepared if you DO win.
WCS is a huge responsibility. You’re not only representing yourself, you’re also representing your team, and you’re representing your country! So make sure you represent it well! You need to be prepared to appear on TV, go to planned shoots, feature in every parade and still keep a smile going long after the championship is over!
10. Understand the work that goes into WCS.
WCS is not a one-day deal – it’s a 10-day event where you go to different events, meetings and then do the championship. You need more than one costume for 10 days. Typically, you’re expected to take 3-4 costumes, so if you do win, you’ll need to plan more than just your finals: you usually take one for parades, one for press events, your finals costume for the championship and finally, an optional ‘additional’ costume. Across the time from qualifying you need to plan each costume as something that’s appropriate, comfortable and suitable for Nagoya heat in blazing summer, and things you can (ideally) wear together.
11. WCS can be expensive.
Your flights to Japan will be covered, but keep in mind you need to make all those costumes and prepare for an intensive cosplay holiday! If you need any supplies buying them in Japan can be tricky, so take all of the essentials you’ll need with you – there are stores that sell supplies by the hotel but trying to find specifics can be hard, so pack well!
12. Take health into consideration.
Nagoya reaches temperatures of up to 40 degrees in summer. We Brits barely cope with 20 degrees sometimes. It IS hot and most importantly, consider your personal health before you go. I have syncope which made coping with heat and dehydration pretty hard on some days, so make sure you take care of yourself, pack vitamins and keep hydrated as best as possible!
13. Costumes are hard work!
Kind of paired with taking care of yourself, make sure you’re prepared for extremely tiring, extremely hot cosplay wearing stints! You’ll be expected to wear costumes most days for at least 6 or so hours, so make sure it’s comfortable, easy to get in and out of, and ideally is made to deal with the heat. Nobody likes seeing a sweaty costume in action, and nobody likes wearing one either! You can get cool patches in Japan, but more importantly keep hydrated and ventilated in your costumes. Make sure makeup you take is long-wearing and can deal with heat, and ideally has SPF included. If not, take sunscreen. Literally prepare for every last thing you can imagine – you WILL need it.
14. Practice. Everything.
You need to keep face as part of WCS no matter the weather, and every event you visit has an audience. So practice posing together. Practice interacting together. Practice smiling together! The audience wants to see the best of you, and are there to see you so be excited to see them, too!
15. Enjoy it!
We Brits love to complain, but this is an amazing once-in-a-lifetime experience and you should make the most of it. The people you meet will be lifelong friends. Everyone is there for the same reason, and everyone is as excited to be there as you are! Take pictures, videos, make sure you enjoy every last minute – it won’t last forever!
Hopefully this has been a little helpful! I went into WCS not knowing what to expect, and this doesn’t cover everything, but it IS something worth preparing for. I’m always open for extra advice if you want it, so if you’re wanting to enter this year or any other year please don’t hesitate to ask either here on this blog, via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or via my Twitter or Facebook.
Again, it’s an amazing experience and the people you meet are phenomenal so give it a go! Good luck! <3