Created by: Mark Cronin, Susan Cho, Derek Lee Bell
Starring: Rebecca Denise
Syfy is finally starting to get the right idea when it comes to bringing reality TV into the genre based network. Honestly shows like Ghost Hunters do make sense considering they are focused on the fan favorite element of the paranormal. Heroes of Cosplay though is interesting because it’s much more niche even if it shouldn’t be. Cosplayers will gravitate to the show and those who regularly attend fandom based events such as Comic-Con will also appreciate the show but those that watch series such as top model and design Star should also give the show a go. The big question I had about this series is are these real cosplayers or are they just models throwing on costumes. Back when G4TV was making a go of it there were too many folks hosting shows and pretending to be into geekdom that were in reality were just pretty faces looking for a paycheck and a chance to be in front of the camera. The decision to not go with real geeks covering the subjects G4TV was trying to cover discredited the network and caused the potential fan base to give up on the network completely.
I’m happy to report that the cosplayers in this series, at least in episode 1 are legit. What’s a cosplayer? What web site are you on again? Cosplay is short for costume play and it has to do with fans crafting costumes from their favorite characters and when they put the costume on they literally become the character. Crafting a perfect rendition of a given costume is only half of the process; the other half involves everything from taking on the mannerisms of the character to the posturing to even the accent if the character has one. The best cosplayers not only look the part but they act the part too. Once their version of a character is complete they hit the show floor at conventions for photo ops and finally they compete for cash and prizes in costume contests. Honestly cosplay contests are often a trial for me to watch at conventions. I enjoy seeing the costumes but many of the competitors build lengthy skits to demonstrate just how deeply they have taken on the persona of the character and these skits can be rather boring. I am in the minority here though; most audience members love this aspect of the competition.
This episode focuses on several girls and one guy that are all creating contests for the Portland Oregon wizard World convention. Many of the cosplayers focused on have been in the convention and cosplay game for years and one in particular, a judge, is well known to convention attendees. So it was refreshing watching the episode to see real fans doing real fan stuff, to loosely use a Tarantino line. The female characters are the focus with a computer analyst just getting into cosplaying getting the backseat but he does get some good scenes in the show. The formula is pretty straightforward; they cosplayers decide what characters they want to become for the event and we follow them through the struggles of both crafting their costumes and learning the attitude of the characters. One cosplayer even takes time to learn archery as part of her planning to become Merida from Pixar’s Brave.
The best part of this episode, and probably the series, is seeing the crafting process. Some of the drama feels manufactured but some of it definitely isn’t. The cosplayers are beyond fans they are obsessed, they have to be in order to be successful. To the show’s credit real situations including some failures and some surprises during the final climactic costume contest are shown proudly. The show doesn’t appear to be tweaking situations such as the outcomes of costume contests in order to build a suitable end to the drama that they followed throughout the majority of the episode. The flaws are many though with the biggest one being the cookie cutter presentation of the episode all the way down to interviews with glamour shots style backdrops behind the subjects. There just doesn’t seem to be any heart behind the production. It’s as if the filmmakers simply opened up a production template and started dropping scenes into it. It might have been more interesting to have serialized the show and followed cosplayers throughout the season building costumes and characters for one major event instead of cutting up the proceedings in order to show a different event each week. By the closing credits though I was curious if the show could sustain itself; curious enough to watch more so I may have answered my own question.