Sunday, September 4, 2011

My thoughts on crossplaying

What are the similarities between crossplaying and heavy metal music?

My answer is:

-Both are stereotyped and easily dismissed by the public
-People outside the scene just don't get it
-The proponents and fans could easily get too carried away
-There's a surprisingly strong circles and communities for both scenes
-I don't know the exact words in English, but in Bahasa Malaysia, we call them 'bajet ganas' - the rough translation would be the projection of an image to scare or disgust the public, whereas their actual personalities are the exact opposite
-To the principal upholders, it is awesome

Obligatory shuuzou picture

This post has actually been sitting in my draft since early this year, from what started out halfheartedly from 'le fffffuuuuuuuuu'. Somewhere along a couple of posts later, it moved along to a 'OK now that's just horribly wrong', and eventually reaching the 'yea I'm okay with this'. So this post have the whole of seven months for the thoughts to evolve. Cool.

And if you think I'm here to condemn or condone the practice, then you'd be mistaken. 'cause the only side I'm from is that of an active observer, right?

Right then.

And the beginning of thisl goes as such: Way back when I had more free times, I've been looking at some cosplay pictures, and not surprisingly, one theme kept on repeating every now and then: crossplaying.

I know that feels, Kogasa

And when you speak of these crossplayers, it basically come down to these two:

#1: Those that doesn't really hide the fact (or simply failed to do so) that they're guys who wear girls' costume (female to male crossplayers also counts, but they're not discussed here for obvious reason);
#2: Those who, to some extent, manage to fool us to think otherwise.

You know the ones.

There is actually a few reasons why I decided to resurrect this post from stagnancy.

The biggest one would be from what started as some random late night chat with a few fellow crossplayers. I couldn't remember exactly how we got the whole thing started, but pretty soon we were discussing about traps, crossplay experience (from their side, mind), tips, and a load of other unrelated topics. Of course, being the cat (read: curious) I was, I did some other background readings - cause I was too curious for my own good - and I found out that, hey, these stuff actually goes more than meets the eyes.

Take the thing itself in the first place. Get a guy who looks more on the feminine side, give him a dress, and you get a convincing (or at least passable) crossplaying, yes? So I thought - until I'm reminded that there are other items such as makeup, specialized clothes, facial expressions, and gestures to be considered about.

So, it's more than just putting on some frilly dresses - as someone put it, 'it's a physical activity'. There is surprisingly a lot that goes before all that: Pretty usual, normal stuff. Some pretty otherwise embarrassing things for the uninitiated. Some quite painful stuff. The show of creativity to solve some problems - I mean, rice? Pudding? (if you get what I meant there, it means you've been reading through some materials. Or probably experienced).

The overall effect of knowing all this is... well, a more understanding of some knowledge in which I'm not so sure of the long-term practical application from my side, I guess. Still, it ain't too bad getting some new information, eh?

I feel enlightened.

And that is for the what of crossplay. And as for the who - what of the crossplayers?

Sure, it's no big surprise that they receives more discrimination and sideway glances than the opposite gender counterparts (some have come to call it 'the rare occasion where society double standard works against men'), and this is without a doubt the place where the whole controversy of the subject originate - but it's not that there's much that could be done about this in the first place, isn't it? Then, why did they go ahead with it?

You might be interested to read this forum topic here, if you want to get some perspective from their side. Pretty interesting read; and besides, it's better than making wild guess on what goes on in their mind. Goes on to show the whole thing isn't as straightforward as some would make it to be.

Whatever it is, I don't think it's that easy for someone to actually be converted into crossplaying on their own accord. Some suggestions, coaxing, and encouraging words must have been included somewhere along the line.

Because some might eventually say, 'OK, so what's about your own experience on this?', my side of story is this: on the first anime convention that I've been to, I had the chance of seeing a crossplayer right smack in front of me (or perhaps two - on the account of an almost similar experience with Kogasa there). It was perhaps something to be expected, sure, no surprise about that -what I'm more surprised was how accepting the crowd was at that time. Of course there's the occasional 'hey, that's a dude!' and 'dude, don't be flashing your armpits like that!', but that's it.

It changed my perception on how onlookers view those crossplayers. Of course, for the not so good ones...

I'm... okay with this (up to a point anyway)

What I failed to mention so far on why I've taken so much interest in the subject in the first place is because of the nature of the Touhou series. Well, nothing to really be surprised about there, since, well, practically all the characters are girls, with the exception of a shopkeeper, a fist-throwing cloud, turtle, swordman, cat, catfish, and some nameless faeries and random enemies (unless if I missed someone/thing there).

So for the opposite gender, when it comes to cosplaying the characters, it's either a) pick any of the exceptions; b) genderswap; or c) crossplay.

Very tricky, the third option. You've seen worse pictures than the above, perhaps. So bad that it made this one looks pretty acceptable:

Of course, you'd very much find this happening in other series too, but you'll have to be foolhardy (or just unlucky) if you really want to come across them.

In my opinion, the Japanese are probably still the best when it comes to get the job done well. Case in point: this Alice. You'd best believe it's a guy, no kidding!

Her- I mean, his Curecos page

Although personally, if you want to see something more amazing, there's the Byakuren cosplay. OH YE GOD DAT BYAKUREN. OHHH.

Meanwhile, elsewhere you get those... well, you know. I don't wanna vomit blood by forcing myself to find those pictures. It's there in the 'net for you to relish. Ohoho yes.

Well, what is there to say about them at the end of it all? That they got the balls to do it? (I apologize for this horrible pun, but it's just inevitable) That you should be highly suspicious whenever you saw what appears to be a girl cosplaying? That whenever you go to cons, mindfuck are mandatory?

Um. I'm actually out of coherent thoughts to go on about this, except that the whole thing gives me the hebejebes while at the same time amaze me. Like so:

my faces when I see crossplay pictures

So then. Have a nonomy while you're at it. Most probably a coincidence, but doesn't the pose remind you of a certain overused fad off the 'net? (except that she's - screw it, the gender is a lie! - too elegant to be conceited, eheh)


  1. There are always going to be people that think they should pester others just to make sure they're not doing anything bad, when their own suspicions come from ignorance. I think that's mostly the cause of the discrimination you've noted.


    I see this as an instance of 4chan propagating culture across the web, and turning pretty stupid. It's like associating lolcats with every single cat you ever see.
    People seem to be quickly confused into thinking that someone that dresses as the opposite gender is trying to fool them, and usually fool them specifically. I think people should be treated in the way they present themselves, because they really don't owe strangers anything.

    Ultimately I think that if you get really worked up about someone that dresses in a way that you find attractive, to the point you possibly entertained a brief fantasy, only to find out they weren't exactly what you thought they were... -gasp- If that is the case then I think maybe you really like them. If you lash out at them, call them names, or marginalize them, then you are probably just embarrassed and trying to hide your feelings from society.
    The worst part is that now they will rightfully hate your guts, and you probably ruined your chance at finding love or friendship forever and ever.

    >Have a nonomy
    I really think she makes a much cuter Byakuren than most girls. If people really prefer some walrus faced pig that doesn't make an effort and is generally a huge slob, well... That's their prerogative.

  2. I don't have a problem with crossplaying unless it turns out like something like that Koakuma. If the end result is something cute or pretty then I don't see the problem. I mean, you're appreciating the beauty, right? Just because a guy thinks another guy is cute or pretty doesn't mean they want to engage in sodomy with the other person. But I guess that's what people with a normal mindset would believe. It's stupid that normals don't apply this logic when a girl finds another girl cute. It's the same scenario, but this is considered okay for some reason. It's a shame that people think this way.

    Oh well, it can't be helped. I like treating it as a guessing game and I'm okay with whatever the answer may be.

  3. I don't see a problem with guys wanting to crossplay. In fact, I don't really see it as much different to regular cosplay, since the vast majority of anime characters, and especially the most popular ones, are female. There are some really awful looking crossplays, but there are some awful looking cosplays in general, so I wouldn't attribute the problem to guys dressing up as girls.

    I think a lot of the negative reaction to particularly good crossplays is an overcompensation. A guy thinks she looks good, she turns out to be a he, the guy now tries to divert all attention from the fact that he found it attractive. Unnecessary, but that's the way many people's minds work.

  4. I agree with Ojousama's comments.

    >Well, what is there to say about them at the end of it all? That they got the balls to do it?

    Yes, definitely. Good on them for having the courage and self-confidence. I salute you, good crossplayers.

    >Most probably a coincidence, but doesn't the pose remind you of a certain overused fad off the 'net?

    Yes, and if I'm correct in guessing the one you're implying, then how fitting/adequate as a concluding statement to this post.

    Hrrrrng, nonomy is too cute!

  5. @exaltdragon: Well, what can I say to that? FUCK YEAH

    @ojousama: Well said there. The propogated culture example there is quite true, although honestly I haven't known anyone that I know having that view.

    I neither disagree nor agree with the last point there (haven't seen too much Byakuren cosplay at the moment... so yea).

    @Cpt: Yeah, pretty much. Traps? Sure, go ahead. Bad crossplay? I'll pass, thanks.

    @serenity: You know, a fellow cosplayer also said the same thing in response to the topic. I think it's pretty well accepted among con goers in generals. Whereas for outside the circle...

    I have no problem with the pretty crossplayer/traps, even if I only find out about it much later (with reaction ranging between sanae and nitori up there, heheh).

    @Nevah: Yup, even if they did a s0-so work at that, I'll still give them some marks for effort. But yeap, like you said, I salute them good crossplayers too.

    Aha, you get the point eh? I was pleasantly surprised when I came across the picture and thought, now this is something...

    And yes, I know right? :3

  6. I've never been interested in cosplaying, crossplaying and such, and don't really have any opinions on it. I'm fine with it as long it's not awful.

    I also have to agree on what Cpt.Awesome said. Thinking another guy is cute doesn't make you a homosexual.

  7. @Link: Yeah, unfortunately I guess it's one of those double standard that some people talk about.

  8. That's a clever list, you are very observant haha. Rice? Pudding? :O

    >'hey, that's a dude!' and 'dude, don't be flashing your armpits like that!'
    what the, who says that? Unless they're hairy, but girls have hairy armpits too!

    >Get a guy who looks more on the feminine side, give him a dress, and you get a convincing (or at least passable) crossplaying, yes? So I thought - until I'm reminded that there are other items such as makeup, specialized clothes, facial expressions, and gestures to be considered about.
    A lot of anime/manga/fanfic/whatever tend to think that way. Even if there are effeminate guys, they still have a sort of bone structure/shape that can still be recognizably male.

    I remember there was a very, very good Finnish Reimu cosplayer and everyone thought he was a girl.

    It's too bad that it's completely normal for a girl to crossplay as a guy but the opposite is both more rare and a big deal, with the whole "OMGGG TRAP" attitude.

  9. @Butters: Normally I wouldn't look around for those stuff, but curiousity + load of time to kill gets me there haha.

    Er, those guys seems more of normal uninterested passerby than usual con visitors. And I do know about that fact too, yup.

    Yup, it's true, but I guess it can't be helped.