Oh sure, sometimes I’ll throw on a mask or a hat when I’m running a roleplaying game, but I’ve never been a cosplayer, outside of the occasional Halloween costume or dressing up for a Vampire LARP. What that means is that for me, good cosplay is magical. My brain understands all the hard work that has gone into it, but it is the best kind of hard work; it pays off by being invisible. It just looks like, hey, these are people from The Legend of Korra and Avatar: The Last Airbender!
I think the Ember Island Players are a perfect example of what I mean; there is just so much meta going on; dressing up as people dressed up as other people? Fantastic. I wasn’t able to go to Comic-Con to see the costumes this year, but Gaash Shakh was kind enough to show me his pictures, and so here they are. Click any picture to enlarge.
Look at this Korra. Seriously, how… I don’t even. I’m at a loss of what to say because, wow, that is a pretty incredible Korra. The cosplayer herself, the costume, the whole thing just comes together and leaves me feeling like…”was the Avatar in San Diego?”
Another great Korra. I find the differences and similarities between the costumes really interesting; the color saturation in the blue, the cuffs and the fur; interpreting something from a cartoon into real life leaves the creator with a wide latitude. No two Korras will be alike!
I like that this Asami seems to be caressing her glove; you don’t need Mako, Asami— you’ve got a taser glove, a custom sato-mobile, some mecha and all the money of Future Enterprises, or whatever is left of it after all the lawsuits that stem from having an evil genius father.
This General Iroh is impressive…
…but not as impressive as Iroh Man. That is another element of cosplay that really tickles me; the way that it intersects with fandom. Not surprisingly, since cosplayers are fans— but I mean rather, the way the memes of the fandom can become almost canon. I guess that is what the word “fanon” is for, huh?
The “Deal With It” meme is another case in point. When baby Korra smashed through the wall in the first episode shouting “I’m the Avatar, you gotta deal with it!” I think the internet collectively and all at once went “yes.” How it morphed into Kanye glasses for the whole Krew escapes me, but it is most excellent.
One of the rules of the internet— excuse me, Rules of the Internet— is Rule 63, that for any given character there is a gender flipped version somewhere online. I have a bad habit of getting the numbers of Rule 63 and Rule 34 confused, which is mortifying. This genderswapped Korra and General Iroh on the other hand have nothing to be embarrassed about at all!
In my head, these Equalists are the ones from “Out of the Past,” you know, the sarcastic duo from the tunnels under Republic City? Even if they aren’t, the ability to take a minor character and make it your own is another perk of the hobby, and turning (literally) faceless minions into your own thing? Well it worked for the 501st Legion of Stormtroopers!
Speaking of relatively minor but beloved characters…as I understand it— at least, as rumor has it— this gentleman used to cosplay reliably as the Cabbage Merchant, but now he’s adapted his costume to be Lao Gan Lan of Cabbage Corp. The evolutions of form is another admirable thing about the hobby; look at what you’ve got and then take it to the next level.
Even animals get represented in cosplay at Comic-Con. A cute Pabu and a spot-on White Lotus Warrior are knock-your-socks-off great.
…but the “Yip Yip” bling really puts this Appa up and over the top. You know, you could do a really great Appa in the style of a Chinese street fair dragon, but barring that whole thing, a “Yip Yip” medallion ought to do the trick nicely. The costume holds together beside that, though; the fuzzy belly, the arrow on the head, the furry boots; it is a lot of fun.
Hah! Someone dressed up as the Miyazaki Godzilla from the end of the first season of Avatar: The Last Airbender? See, I wouldn’t have thought of that! Extra points for the tiny stick-figure Aang in the belly of the beast.
…but I definitely wouldn’t have thought of dressing like Azula in the Earth Kingdom! Now that is high concept. I’m “an Azula,” by rights—you know how you and your friends all talk about which character is most like you, right, everyone does that—so I’m partial, but the cosplayer is selling it extra hard. The cruelty of that smirk (especially when you look at the similar smirk on the Zuko cosplayer below) is grandiose!
Okay so my theory about spirits was proven wrong in this book, but it is still nice to see Yue! I’ve actually seen this Sokka around in other photos before, probably because he looks exactly how I pictured the character.
Speaking of “the right look,” this guy might have too much facial hair to really match Zuko— though who knows what sort of experiments Zuko might have tried, in light of Aang’s chinstrap— but the smirk and glower all at once is killing me!
…but not as much as this exasperated Zuko and Uncle Iroh. I know I’ve been following a lot of pictures with “…but” and then another photo, but I think that is the fun of a convention; you get see all these cosplayers and you get to see everyone playing off each other.
Much as Azula is my favorite, Kyoshi is my favorite Avatar. While I identify with the crazy cruel genius of Azula, I don’t see myself in Kyoshi, but she’s definitely my favorite. The scene where she’s telling Aang to kill Ozai, and Aang says the she didn’t kill Chin the Conqueror, just let him die, and Kyoshi says she doesn’t see the difference? That moment of taking responsibility for the consequences of her actions endeared her to me— and presumably to this cosplayer!
Saving, perhaps, the best for last, I present to you The Amazing Fighting Beifongs! All of this, just, all of this. The armor. The wire. The wigs. The bare feet! This is just intense. If you saw a couple of Beifongs coming down the street at you, it might behoove you to tally up all the red and black in your ledge, just to make sure they aren’t coming for you. This! Is why I like seeing cosplayers; it is like getting to see Lin and Toph hang out.
Mordicai Knode would like to thank Ghaash Shakh again, and to let everyone know that “ghâsh” is Black Speech for “fire”— the orcs of Moria say it when the Balrog comes, so presumably he’s a firebender. Like Tolkien & Korra mash-ups? Mordicai has more where that came from on Twitter & Tumblr!