EJEN CHUANG: Cosplay in America

Jordan. Altadena, CA
Dhalsim, from 1991 Street Fighter II
Photograph © Ejen Chuang

Scott. Chapel Hill, NC
Cloud Strife, the protagonist of Final Fantasy VII
Photograph © Ejen Chuang

Ali, Becki, Clayce. Plano, Texas
Photograph © Ejen Chuang

Ejen Chuang was one of 100 photographers chosen to participate in Review Santa Fe 2011. When I met him, I admit I wasn't familiar with this fascinating sub-culture. Cosplay is the act of dressing up as your favorite anime, manga, comic book, movie, video game character or pop culture icon.

Chuang photographed over 1,600 cosplayers traveling 16,000+ miles and spent half a year (more by now) taking portraits.
He has created a beautiful, hugely popular book.
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Ejun Interviewed Jordan (top). Altadena, CA

Tell me about the outfit you are wearing – who are you cosplaying and how did you decide to pick this particular character?
I am cosplaying Dhalsim from the Street Fighter series. Being a big Street Fighter fan, I’ve grown up playing the games, and Dhalsim has always been one of my favorites. With his stretchy limbs and fire breathing abilities, he has always been one of the more interesting characters to me. Because he and I share a few looks in common, my small and thin size, and tan skin, I thought it would be a great idea to cosplay him!

Tell me about the process of making your outfit – was it easier or tougher than you imagine it to be ?
Making the outfit was not difficult at all, I assumed it would be much harder to put together because I had no idea how I would do a few of the props, such as the skull necklace and the bracelets, but things fell together nicely. Since I started putting together the costume around Halloween of 2009, I easily found some skulls that matched the look I needed at Party City, and for a good price. The bracelets were simply dog toys I painted silver!

Any interesting stories from people’s reaction to your outfit at the con ? ^^
People freaked out when they saw me, and it caught me by surprise the entire time! No one had seen a Dhalsim cosplayer before. There are a few in the world, but not many people dare to do it. There was even one kid who ran up and hugged me whenever he saw me at the con, which would scare me quite often because he would run up out of nowhere and surprise me. People shouting at me from all over, asking me to do Dhalsim’s victory dance or shout “Yoga Flame!” or “Yoga Fire!” It was a lot of fun, and I enjoyed making people happy during the con.

How did you get started cosplaying and what got you interested ?
I started in 2006, and to be honest, I had never even heard of cosplay before that. A group of friends in High School would tell me all these awesome stories they had at Anime Expo, back when it was in Anaheim mind you, but that got me interested. I have always had a flair for the dramatic, and I thought this would be a fun and new experience. To pretend to be someone or something else for a weekend seemed exciting! It’s been a blast ever since!

What are the con did you first attended and what’s your favorite con that you’ve attended so far and why ?
I’ve attended every Anime Expo since 2006, I went to Mikomicon, and Pacific Media Expo (PMX), but by far my favorite con has to be Anime Expo! With it’s large crowds, amazing guests of honor, and a spacious convention center, nothing is left to be desired in my eyes.

What does cosplay mean to you ?
Cosplay means a lot to me. I’ve made so many new friends because of it, doors have opened for me and it gives me the option to be creative and flashy. This hobby is by far the most productive one I have ever had, and then being able to put on your hard work and walk around in it and have people recognize you, and maybe even compliment you on your work, it feels great!

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"I will be with Crunchyroll at Anime Expo in Los Angeles this year. Yup, I know some of y'all had trouble finding me at other cons well, fear not, I should be very hard to miss at AX this year. ^^." – from Ejun Chuang's Cosplay Blog. Drop by the Crunchyroll Booth at the Anime Expo July 1-4th and buy Ejun's book - support Creativity and Diversity!

La Lettre de la Photographie:
Review Santa Fe Part I / Part II

1 comment:

JL Cancio said...

Nurses from Silent Hill 4 video game, it´s disturbing and beauty, at the same time.