Of Cosplay and Death Notes
For more than a decade, Japanese girls have been dressing up for fun, or “cosplay” (short for “costume play”) as it’s come to be known. The phenomenon is rooted in an individual’s (or group’s) passion for characters who they admire in manga (Japanese comic books), anime (Japanese animated films), and other popular fantasy stories (not to mention the occasional actress or pop singer).
Cosplayers in the Yoyogi district of Tokyo; photo by Brett Davenport
The trend is so popular that certain well-known districts of Tokyo (including Harajuku, Yoyogi, and Akihabara) have become tourist attractions for everything from photo opportunities to… other more… err… shall we say, “personal encounters.”
Says Wired Magazine: “Many Japanese gals lead double lives: Mild-mannered students in plain-Jane uniforms by day; French maids, furries, and goth Lolitas by night.” And furry cosplay, my fine cat friends, includes Nekos.
No matter what you call it — silly dress up, cosplay, a kawaii movement, catgirls, a strange Japanese schoolgirl fetish, or the “playfulness (that) can allow us to have generous curiosity, to cross borders between cultures, beliefs, genders, ages… the true beauty of Japanese culture…” — it’s huge, alive and going strong in Japan.
Not to mention the rest of the world: several fascinating books have been written on the subject, cosplay events are held nearly every weekend, thousands of websites have been dedicated to cosplay (from character fan sites and Japanese schoolgirl fashion trends, to internet-based cosplayer games), and every year cosplayers from around the world come to the World Cosplay Summit to show off their costumes and compete.
Considering the upcoming Halloween season, I felt it was time to have a little Neko cosplay fun of my own — based on a Japanese manga series called “Death Note,” created by writer Tsugumi Ohba and illustrator Takeshi Obata (later turned into an anime). The story goes something like this:
One fateful day, high school student Light Yagami inadvertently discovers a supernatural notebook dropped to Earth by a rebel shinigami (“death god”) named Ryuk. Light soon discovers that by writing the name of a person in this book, he can cause that person’s death. Vowing to use the book only for good, he seeks to rid the world of evil by identifying (and inscribing) criminals in the Death Note book. The story follows the complex conflict that evolves between Light, his opponents, and the authorities.
The character I’ve chosen to portray is none other than Misa Amane, who began worshipping Light after he punished the criminal that killed her parents. Misa possesses yet another Death Note book, and wants desperately to help Light do his work.
In putting together my outfit, I was surprised to discover several Second Life stores were already far ahead of me: Gothic Passionate (Neko) Dreams has an exceptionally well-made “Death Note” belt with all the pieces my little Misa would want to carry.
Misa’s blond hair was available at one of my favorite hair stores “Kin” (the hair is appropriately named ‘Misa’), and JaqueMate offered the entire Misa outfit, for those of you Neko girls who’d rather not waste time mixing and matching.
Should you want to reenact the entire story, a store called Final Heaven (by Fuyuko Nishi) offers full avatars of Ryuk, Rem, and L … as well as clothing outfits for both Light and Misa.
Me? I love pulling together various parts from different designers to create my own Misa attitude. Now where did I put that silly book……………
Images on left and far right: Death Note Belt by Passionate Neko Dreams; Middle image: Kin’s “Misa” hair (complete with skully pigtail holders), Last Call’s collar, and Sakka Studio’s Balkan Cross
| Hair | Kin: Misa
| Necklace | Sakka’s Studio: Balkan Cross
| Collar | Last Call (no longer available)
| Cuffs | Armidi LTD: Pyramid cuffs in black/silver
| Gloves | Avid: from the Ellagarto outfit
| Bra | SSH / Style Starts Here: Black Two Negligee Set (bra only)
| Top | MichaMi: GlamTank in Black
| Shorts | Tuli: JeansPack Black shorts (no longer available; substitute DeLa)
| Belt | GPD / Gothic Passionate Dreams: Death Note belt
| Boots | Shiny Things: Chunky Ribbon boots, laces tinted grey
All Second Life photos by the drop-dead talented Bobby Yoshikawa <3***
What is Cosplay?
Read the Death Note manga online:
Cosplay and Tokyo — a Long Love Affair:
Death Note II: The Last Name — coming to a theater near you!
© Stacia Villota / Virtual Neko in Second Life – 2008