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THS cosplayers play dress up

Mary Catherine Miller, Staff Writer, The Hi-Times

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Costume and play equal fun for Tupelo High School sophomores Emma Crockett, Sanders Higgins and Retta Maxwell.

“It’s the extreme intensity of dressing up,” explained Crockett, an active cosplay enthusiast who meets once a month with about 20 other cosplayers at the Lee County Library. “A bunch of nerds get together and dress up as their favorite characters.”

Cosplayers go all out for their characters, who can come from television shows, books, movies, comics and imagination.

“I’ve just always been big into anime,” Maxwell said. “When I found out about cosplay, I just thought it was really cool.”

Anime is a style of Japanese animation.

“It’s basically Japanese cartoons,” Higgins said, noting that animes typically air on Cartoon Network. “They’re really intense cartoons. They have a really big plot and everything.”

Another common place to find inspiration for cosplay characters is manga, or Japanese comics.

“They’re backwards,” Higgins explained, meaning they are read from back to front.

Any character is eligible, even imagined ones, and cosplayers just know when it’s right.

Crockett describes the process like this: “Oh, my gosh, this character is me, and it just kind of happened,” she said.

She cosplays several different characters.

“I really like Fem Kaneki, because I really relate to that character in general, being able to experience the him as a her,” Crockett said of the Tokyo Ghoul character. “Also I did Midori from Sound Euphonium, because she looks identical to me, and I made that one, and that was really fun.”

Higgins, who once bought a very expensive Harry Potter costume, said her favorite cosplay is low-budget Mikasa.

“That’s because I made it all myself and I was really proud of it,” she said. “I’ve done three others. I did two Doctor Who ones, the Doctor and the TARDIS, and I did Nymphadora Tonks.”

Maxwell chose a character from a show on Cartoon Network.

“I really like Marceline, the Vampire Queen from Adventure Time, just because she seems like this sassy person that I dream to be,” Maxwell said. “I have two of her outfits that I cosplay as.”

But cosplay’s not just about dressing up. If they choose, participants can learn the character’s personality and poses, and also use their dialect.

The girls say they’re not really sure who invented cosplay, but it might have something to do with Halloween.

“It’s been around forever,” Crockett said.

“Probably as long as anime,” Maxwell added.

“It kind of became a big deal as time went on,” Crockett said.

Cosplayers meet at national conventions like Dragon Con and Comic Con.

At cons, “You feel so cool being surrounded by all these fellow geeks and nerds and dorks dressed like you, that are interested in the same thing,” Maxwell said. “You don’t have to worry about being judged. And you get to walk around as this completely different person than who you are, and people are like, ‘Hey, I like your costume.’ And just simple compliments like that just completely make our day.”

The downside, however, is the expense.

“The thing that kind of stinks about it is that you have to pay for Cons,” Crockett said, citing the ticket and travel costs. “It’s expensive, other than just the cosplay. But it’s such a rewarding hobby.”

“You definitely have to pick out your budget and resources and plan,” Maxwell said.

Cosplay is also time consuming.

“At the beginning of the summer, all of June I was just stuck in my room sewing,” Crockett said. “Every morning I’d do it, take like a five-minute break, and then I’d just keep going until you’re done.”

Sometimes they choose different characters, but that’s expensive.

“We’re in high school and we don’t have like money,” Crockett said. “It’s more of, if we can get a new one, that’s fantastic.”

Anyone can participate in cosplay. Groups and families attend together.

“It doesn’t matter how old,” Higgins said. “There’s babies and there’s like, really, really old people. Anyone can cosplay.”

“There are families that cosplay,” Maxwell said.

For the new Star Wars film to be released in December, “My family said that we might do a family cosplay,” Higgins said.

“Anyone can cosplay,” Maxwell said. “It doesn’t matter how tall you are, your general body structure, skin color, looks, it doesn’t matter. Anyone can cosplay.”

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THS cosplayers play dress up