My First Cosplay Competition Experience

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All of us is or has been a fan of at least one television series, movie, game, etc. We fall in love with the story, most especially with the characters to a point that some fans would express their admiration by dressing in their favorite character and mimicking their actions. This fun form of role-playing is more known as cosplay.


Costume play or popularly known as "Cosplay" is about portraying and dressing like a certain character. Cosplaying originated in Japan and this fun vibrant activity had since then spread across the world. Of course, Philippines had also embraced the world of cosplaying. It began in the Philippines around mid 1990s and became very popular early 2010s. I am not certain how cosplaying gained its popularity in my country but I guess anime showed on local tv and cosplayers had something to do with it, like one of the well-known cosplayers in the country, Alodia Gosiengfiao, who was dubbed as the "Cosplay Queen of the Philippines." Other popular Filipino cosplayers are Liui Aquino, Myrtle Sarrosa, and more. Meanwhile in Japan, one very popular cosplayer is Reika who frequently gets invited to international anime conventions and a judge to cosplay competitions.

(video source: Alodia Gosiengfiao via Youtube)

The anime convention is the sanctuary where cosplayers gather to flaunt their costumes. There are actually lots of big anime conventions at the capital of the Philippines while there are also occasional small cosplay or anime events in the province. Of course, cosplay isn't only limited to portraying anime characters. Anime is only the mainstream cosplay preference since it originated and popularized by Japan, but you can certainly cosplay any character you wish to. You can be a character from a movie, television show, cartoon, game, or be like your favorite singer, etc. You can literally be anyone or anything with cosplay! 


(image source: Katsansimites)

Wait..What?! Katsanslimites cosplayed? When? Where?

Yes, I did. (Haha!) Surprising but yes, I did. It was last 2012 when our college department held a cosplay competition during our acquaintance day. List of contests were posted almost two months before the big day, one of which is the cosplay competition. Honestly, I have no interest in joining any of the contests. I just plan to sit and watch because being watched by a crowd makes me nervous and uneasy. But then one of my friends was persuading us to try joining since most of our classmates had already listed their names on some contests. Well, we've seen the first cosplay contest by our department on the previous acquaintance day and it looked fun.

If I remember it right, I was the first among our circle who was convinced by our friend while our other three friends were still hesitant. However, they slowly gave in but they set a condition that we are joining only if we have decided which characters are we cosplaying. These three friends were not very much into anime and so it was a challenge to convince them to join. Actually, it took us about a week to convince them.

After some discussions, the characters we have agreed to cosplay were Haruno Sakura, Hyuga Hinata, Tenten, Temari, and Deidara, all from the anime my friend and I were currently obsessing that time—Naruto Shippuden. Naruto Shippuden is the sequel to the anime Naruto. Our group was then called "Naruto Girls."

(image source: Katsanslimites)


A meeting was held with all the contestants after the registration period and were told to have our costumes prepared a week before the competition for a photo shoot. This made us all excited because aside from the contest we also get to have nice photos with our costumes. However, our group was nervous because only a few weeks were left before the photo shoot. As newbies in cosplay, we have no idea how much are we going to spend to have our costumes made and where to buy props or at least how to make them.

The proceeding weeks were very hectic for us. We have to attend classes, do assignments, make our thesis, and prepare for the contest. Whenever we have free time, we go to tailors to canvass for our costumes, visit random shops and travel to nearby towns searching for materials to be used for our props. Then we make time during class days to meet at our friend's boarding house to make the our props. We even meet during weekends to have more time making it.

I even asked help from my brother who was then at the province of Pampanga to buy the Naruto forehead protectors, kunai (dagger), shuriken (hidden hand blade), etc. Of course, the kunai and shuriken we bought were only made of plastic, not metal. On the other hand, Mhaiiiself also asked her sister to buy us wigs. (If only we haven't joined this contest then we wouldn't be stressing ourselves. Indeed, our problems and stress are made by nobody else but us.)

(image source: Katsanslimites)

I volunteered sewing 75% of the cloth for the scrolls, by hand. These were scrolls for the character Tenten. Other props that we made in preparation for the photo shoot were Temari's mini fan (purchased a white fan and painted with purple circle), black gloves (purchased black gloves, cut and readjusted to have a better fitting on our hands), Deidara's mask (made from folder, match box, and cellophane), leg bags (made from boxes and white and black garter), and our footwear. We're quite lucky because sandals with garter straps were popular that year. What we did was find the sandals nearest to our character's footwear then just fixed its design a little. Meanwhile, our costumes were also finished the night before the photo shoot. We also bought colored contact lenses, by the way.


The call time for the photo shoot is in the afternoon and so we did more retouch with our costumes in the morning. We also fixed the wigs for characters Hinata, Sakura, and Deidara. The wigs were cut and styled just like the hairstyle of its respective characters.

After lunch, we wore our costumes and prepared to head to the venue. This is our first time to wear wigs and contact lens. It was fun! We left home a little early to buy color hairspray for Temari's hair.

Some participants were already at the meeting place when we arrived. The first thing we did upon arriving was to fix our costumes again and do Temari's hair. The photo shoot began as soon as everyone was there. Honestly, we felt quite intimidated because some participants really got nice costumes. However, despite the intimidation and knowing that they are our opponents, we mustered up some courage to have photos with them as a remembrance. This isn't only a contest for us but an event to have fun with other contestants.

(image source: Katsanslimites)

Each group was sent to different areas of the venue. We had our photos taken at the grassy area to have that Leaf Village (Konoha) and forest vibe, perfect setting for a ninja characters. The photo shoot was quick but some groups who were finished with their shoot were watching us which got me a little conscious. Well, I have no choice but to do it because I chose to join this contest. After the photo shoot for each group, we all gathered and had a group picture. The group picture was fun, we even attracted some crowd who watched our group pictorial. We then had draw lots after for our sequence during the performance. We were 8 groups in total and we got the lucky #7. (A perfect number for us because the main characters in Naruto series belong to team 7. Yay!)

(image source: Katsanslimites)

Since it's only a photo shoot, we didn't bring our bigger props like Tenten's huge scroll, Temari's oversized fan, and Deidara's explosive clay. (Don't show all your cards until the day of the contest. That's a tip!)


After the photo shoot day, we had a week of intensive preparation. Only a week left before the contest and we still have to make and fix other props, do our skit for the performance, and edit our audio. There will be no microphones so I picked some dialogues from the Naruto anime and used it as our voices for the skit. I also got some sound effects from the anime. Of course, we already planned what to do during our performance before making the audio. During our free time, we would practice our dance which was the 8th ending song from the Naruto Shippuden called "Bacchikoi." Bacchikoi means "bring it on." We altered some of the steps from the original dance animation to make our dance livelier. What we did was we mixed some of the dance steps from the 10th opening song called "Newsong." For some reason, it goes perfectly with the Bacchikoi song.

Thankfully, Tenten's huge scroll and Temari's fan was finished the night before the contest. The huge scroll was made by Mhaiiiself's father while Temari's huge fan was made by a fan maker from a nearby town. My friend who was in charged of the fan even got in trouble because the fan maker kept postponing the deadline.

We had no sleep before the contest since other props still have to be made and fixed so we can avoid cramming in the morning. Call time for the cosplay participants was 7 in the morning. I also rushed doing Deidara's explosive clay which is a huge origami crane made from coupon bond. (I had fun doing the huge origami crane!) Next we did was practice our 3 in the morning! All we practiced in the past few days was the dance, it was only during a few hours before the big day that we practiced our fight scenes. We just practiced it for almost an hour and took a few minutes to rest before taking a bath and dressing in our costumes. I also made two copies of our audio just in case the copy we have submitted got lost.


The sun has risen, the day has come! We rented a jeepney to take us to the venue since my brother wasn't there to drive our car. We arrived at the venue a few minutes before 7, sleepless just like the ninjas in Naruto after an intense mission. (Or maybe zombie ninjas or vampire ninjas would sound better. Just kidding!) Most of the other contestants were already there busy preparing too. As we arrived, I immediately noticed the props of other contestants and stared in awe. We got anxious for we might have a slim chance on winning because the others look so good and their props looked awesome.


The program didn't begin until 11 am which made us irritated because they made us wait 4 hours. We could have made used of the time to take a few hours of sleep in our beds instead! Less than an hour before the contest, the crowd was going larger and some students and classmates were asking to have photos with us. I remember there was a girl who asked me to have a photo with her because the character I was cosplaying was her favorite character. (I hope she kept the photo until this day! Lol!)

(image source: Katsanslimites)

It was ridiculous that my friends and I have no appetite to eat because we were all nervous. I also got a problem with my contact lens. I can't remember if it was my left or right eye, but I was seeing a slight white blur at the corner of one of my eyes. I'm not sure what happened to my contact lens but the show must go on so I have to deal with it until the contest is over. As time drew near, we reminded each other to just have fun all throughout our performance and not think that it is a contest we have to win. Besides, we joined this contest only to experience cosplaying, express our appreciation for the anime Naruto, and most of all, have fun memories together as friends and students.


The program began around 11 am and as expected there was a big crowd at the venue. The venue for the second cosplay competition was still held at a resort owned by our school, although this time, it was held at the open cafeteria beside the pool instead inside the gymnasium. The first cosplay contest was held in the gymnasium and we're a bit jealous of that. They had light effects and fog machine back then. Anyways, it was still good because the smaller venue was less intimidating for us.

After the emcees officially opened the program, the first contestant was immediately called to perform. Lucky that we were second to the last to perform because we got more time to calm ourselves. Other groups cosplayed characters from Hunter x Hunter, Katekyo Hitman Reborn!, Fairy Tail, Death Note, K-On!, Tekken, and Naruto (Akastuki). The scoring concept of the contest, by the way, is that judges will show the contestant's scores right after their performance. Exciting!

Our turn came and we went to our respective positions. When our music played, we did what we have to do—perform and have fun! (The maximum time given per group was only 3 minutes. It was originally only 2 minutes but we asked the organizers to extend the time limit.) The first half was the fight scene and the second half was the dance. Can you believe that we danced together after fighting? Only in cosplay, friends!

(image source: Katsanslimites)

I know you want to see the video so here it is! Please don't judge!

(video source: Viene Pacubas via Youtube)
Our cosplay performance!

(I won't say anything about the video. If you have something to tell about it just comment it below.)

After performing, we stood and waited for the judges to show our scores. To be honest, I was already not feeling good after our performance. I was heaving and feeling dizzy like almost fainting. Oh, the effects of no sleep and no breakfast! Shortly, the judges lifted their score cards.

Our scores were, 10-10-9.

We could hear the crowd go "ooooh" after seeing the scores. With our almost perfect score, we currently hold the highest score, but one group still has to perform to confirm that we won. After the last group performed and was scored, the emcee had finally announced the winner for the contest.


*drum roll*

Group #7!!!

I guess our score was difficult to beat. We were overjoyed and honestly can't believe that we won. It was only a cosplay competition but it was one of the most memorable achievements of us friends together. After the announcement, we were then told to go to the gymnasium in the afternoon to attend the awarding ceremony.

(image source: Katsanslimites)

However, there is one thing that I didn't like much about the contest, and that is the scoring method. Revealing the scores every after performance is not a good idea in my opinion because it lessens the mystery of who got the highest score. When the emcees officially announced our group as the winner, everyone was just like, "Yeah, we already know it," at the back of their minds. Most of them just left quietly like nothing happened. We don't know if the crowd was disappointed that it was us who won, or were they bored, or less surprised because of the scoring method. It hurt us a little seeing their reaction for we were expecting the crowd to at least give us a round of applause. Well, actually, about 97% of the crowd were friends and classmates of the other groups. I guess that's enough reason why almost nobody clapped their hands for us. One contestant even walked pass our table while we were eating our lunch and indirectly spoke something unpleasant about us. Two of my friends heard it. There were other groups too who thinks we did not deserve to win. On the contrary, we also made friends to a few contestants.

I don't understand why other contestants have to feel that way. It's a contest so there's definitely a group who'll win and groups that would lose. Can't we all just have fun? If you want to see a comparison, then here's a video of one group I found. In my opinion, I think we deserve to win. I am not being arrogant or even bragging, in fact, I consider our performance mediocre compared to other cosplay performances you could watch anywhere online. It's just that based from my observation, our performance was better among the other 7 groups. Besides this is not the biggest cosplay contest in the universe. There are much better awards out there that they could get through cosplaying. 

Winning wasn't in our minds when we joined the contest. We just came to perform, have fun, and make it part of a wonderful college memory we can look back to in the future. Aside from that, the anime we cosplayed was a show we really loved and so we were really eager to cosplay it to the best we can to give justice to the characters. The award was only a bonus. I'm thankful the universe has conspired to hail us the winner for this contest. If the other groups have the same mindset as ours, then maybe they could've done better and probably have won.

I think I should also mention that we lost some props after our performance. We lost one kunai (dagger) right after performing. We searched for it, the emcee even let everyone know but we still failed finding it. Well, someone from the crowd probably have gotten it and refused to surrender it. That person who got it should feel lucky because one kunai back then costs more or less Php 200. Second thing we lost is the large origami crane. Actually, we have forgotten about it because of exhaustion and probably left it somewhere. It's just made of paper so we just let it go. And look where our origami crane went. Good for this group for they had a photo with the origami crane while we didn't have any.

(image source: Katsanslimites)

So enough with the bad vibes! We went to the gymnasium in the afternoon and received our award. We got a certificate each and a cash prize of Php 2,500, if I remember it right. Tenten was also awarded as the "Best in Costume." And she deserves that too. Her small and huge scrolls were really magnificent! Hard work definitely pays off!

We divided the cash prize to each of us. Even if it was only a small amount, I kept it in a different pocket of my wallet and avoided spending it. But then a few months later, my mom took it when she borrowed money from me while I was taking a bath. It was replaced but the sentimental value of it was gone. Sad, but oh well, life goes on.


If given a chance, why not! If my friends wants it then we'll do it. Or if anyone of you I know here wants to cosplay then let's talk about it! The problem in our province is that cosplay events are very rare. If ever I want to cosplay again, I might still have to go to Manila. If that happens, I might cosplay Kuchiki Rukia or Sarugaki Hiyori (both from Bleach), Saber (Fate Zero) since I have two of her swords, or just go full otaku with small version of Doma Umaru (Himouto! Umaru-chan). Maybe I can cosplay Kuroki Tomoko from WataMote too, my hair is as messy as hers and adding eye bags and dark circles aren't a problem because I already have them naturally. But before anything else, I need some budget to make that happen.

Cosplay is quite an expensive hobby, not to mention stressful too! I think my friends and I had spent around Php 4,000 to 5,000 each for our costumes, props, and miscellaneous expenses. If you're going to cosplay a character with a more intricate design of costume and props then be ready to shed more money, unless you know how to make the props and costume by yourself.


(image source: Katsanslimites)

Joining the cosplay competition wasn't a regret at all. We may have spent quite a lot for it (money, time, effort), but the result was really rewarding. Winning on our first cosplay competition was a very amazing experience. Like I've said on the previous paragraphs, this serves as a fun memory us friends could look back to if we suddenly missed our days as students. Even though seeing our cosplay photos make me cringe, doing cosplays with your friends is so much fun and watching our video today just makes me want to thank God for giving me crazy and slightly gullible friends. Just kidding! I love them! 

Maybe it wonders you why I suddenly wrote a blog about my cosplay experience. To answer that, the month of August always reminds me of this memorable event. The memory is so precious that I remember it just like how I remember birthdays. In addition, I haven't written about it anywhere else, so I decided to write and share my wonderful experience here because I trust bitLanders.

If you still haven't tried cosplaying, please try it even just once. You may feel awkward with that weird costume but I assure you, it is going to be one of the best memories you can have in your life. Aren't the crazy things we did the best memories we can keep?

Thanks for reading!

✧ Katsanslimites

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