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Title:
  Cosplay Fever

Distributor:  Ablaze

Authors/creators:  Rob Dunlop & Peter Lumby

Suggested Retail Price (SRP):  14.99

Number of Pages:  256

ISBN-10:  978095430038

Reviewer:  Tom (Webmaster)

 

Anyone who has been attending UK anime events for the past five years will have noticed that the number of cosplayers has risen dramatically.  Since anime has increased in popularity over this time, the number of cosplayers keeps going up, and the starting age keeps going down.  This has been most noticeable at the MCM London Expo, the biggest anime event in the UK, where it first started with a small proportion of cosplayers.  Now the number has increased largely due to younger attendees cosplaying for the first time, it is as though cosplaying is a rite of passage for them and all part of an anime event experience. 

Many of these will be inspired by popular shows such as Naruto and Bleach for their outfit, largely due to ready made costumes being more widely available now.  Some first-timers will still make their own costume but, either way, both groups are still contributing to the popularity.  This can also be illustrated by an increase of cosplay panels at events, as well as the popular UK website Cosplay Island, photography websites and more and more people offering a commissioning service to make outfits and accessories.  It was only a matter of time before someone released a book which focused on the UK scene exclusively, and Cosplay Fever is that book, containing photographs of cosplayers from various UK events. 
 

The first thing that strikes you about Cosplay Fever is that it is big and colourful.  256 high-quality glossy pages await the reader, all in full-colour.  It contains over 300 professional photographs of cosplayers, taken at a variety of events.  It is certainly extensive as cosplays from all genres of anime are featured, alongside a selection of sci-fi ones such as Doctor Who and Star Wars.  Each photograph contains information on the person, the costume and quotes from them on why they cosplay.  The costume information is of particular interest as it says if the outfit is self-made, commissioned or purchased (from sites such as eBay).  Some self-making cosplayers may disapprove of the inclusion of bought costumes, but I was impressed by this decision.  It shows the reader that cosplay is more about having fun wearing the costume and not necessarily making it as well, something I am sure the creators wanted to get across. 

Although it is great to see a wide range of well-known to obscure character cosplays from anime, gaming and sci-fi, it is disappointing that the name of the series the characters are from is not included.  Even the most hardened fans are going to have difficultly knowing what every cosplayer is from.  Readers may have wanted to search for an image of the original character in order to see how good the cosplays skills really are.  It also seems odd the series name is omitted, since it is included for the front and back cover photograph


El as Norway from Axis Powers Hetalia - as featured in Cosplay Fever


It is also disappointing to see some cosplayers appear more then once in this book, some even appear four or five times.  Although some repetition could be expected considering the amount of photographs, the multiple photographs of some cosplayers may look like favouritism to some.  Also the spine does state this is volume 1, so other costumes by the same cosplayers could have been saved for volume 2, allowing each cosplayer only one appearance in the first volume. 

Regular UK con-goers may also question why they should buy this book when they could look at the costumes.  Most of the costumes could be found on sites such as Cosplay Island or Cosplay.com, plus the more cynical may note that the style is very similar to that of Japanese cosplay magazine FRUiTs.  To dismiss this book for those reasons would be going too far though, since the internet really does not allow you to appreciate photography fully.  The detail of the costume really does show in Cosplay Fever, plus its far easy to pick the book up and flick through it rather then spending ages searching online.  It can also be a handy reference if you look up to see a particular costume.  With regards to the being similar to that of FRUiTs, it is simple style which works well and does represent the cosplayer brilliantly due to the full-page photographs.  It does work very well indeed. 

The main issue for me is the price.  14.99 for what is essentially a coffee-table book is a big ask to be honest, even if it does contain a huge amount of photographs.  Members of the UK scene will no doubt purchase a copy at events for the special price of 10, but it is questionable if it is worth the full asking price.  Also the points mentioned above of series name omission and certain cosplayers appearing more then once also give the book a rushed feel, which is more apparent when you consider the composition of some shots.  Some of the shots have been taken inside an event hall, but some are more professional shots taken outside where there are not distracting factors such as passers-by, stalls and other cosplayers.  Although this may seem picky, it gives the reader the impression that some of the cosplayers where treated better then others.  Also, the book confirms that the shots were taken during a five month period (from March to July 2009) and this adds to the rushed feel.  Had more time been taken, all the cosplayers could have been given shots with equal treatment and the same cosplayers would not have appeared more then once, which does still smack of favouritism. 

Personally I would like the next volume to include articles with cosplay tips for newcomers, which the makers could no doubt ask experience UK cosplayers to do.  Articles on tools, sewing, fursuit creation, weapon making, etc.  could open up the book to a wider audience and make Cosplay Fever the ultimate cosplay book.  As it stands though, it is just a big collection of photographs to marvel at.  It's your choice if that is worth 14.99. 

Extras:

The book begins with a foreword by cosplaying professional artist Sonia Leong, detailing her discovery of cosplay, why she does it and talking about the UK cosplay scene.  There is also an introduction by co project creator Rob Dunlop who talks about the project, the meaning of cosplay and why people do it amongst other topics.  It is a good read which provides an great insight into the world of cosplay to those not familiar with it. 

In the back there are acknowledgement, a list of events where the photographs were taken, plus biographies of Rob Dunlop and Peter Lumby - the project creators.  An index could have proved useful though, since the costumes are in no particular order it would have made finding certain outfits a lot easier. 

Ratings

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