Teenage mutant Leela's girdle? The Cosplay Corner at the Winter 2012 “Wonfes” sported someone (or some thing) so shocking, disturbing and, er, cute it deserves a blog post to try to explain it... and the more you know, the more disturbing it gets.
The Tokyo Wonder Festival (“Wonfes” or ワンフェス for short) is a bi-annual event that showcases “garage kits”; mainly hand-made, labor intensive models and figurines that fill the gap left open by mainstream model manufacturers. This year's event took place on February 12th at the Makuhari Messe International Exhibition Hall in Tokyo with approximately 50,000 visitors and around 2,000 garage kit and accessories dealers attending.
If the concept seems more than a bit skewed to the peculiar tastes of Japanese otaku geeks and anime nerds, then you don't know much about the wide world of Wonder... and likely you won't be attending WonderFest 2012 this coming May 26th and 27th weekend in exotic Louisville, Kentucky. But I digress, so back to Tokyo we go!
One of the highlights of any Wonfes is the Cosplay Corner where cosplayers of all types and, evidently, ages strut their stuff to the admiration of amused and bemused onlookers. Intrepid Japanese Pop Culture watcher/watchee Danny Choo took in the scene and took a few photos that he was gracious enough to share – it's not known whether he was wearing his trademark Star Wars Imperial Stormtrooper suit at the time.
Three images from Choo's set stick out like a sore thumb in a cyclops' eye. Not coincidentally, they feature a pre-teen or tween who's managed to turn the concept of anime cuteness so far inward upon itself it rebounds off our retinas, finally landing in that uncanny valley between mounting apprehension and peak anxiety. It's right disturbing, is what I'm sayin'... not that I'm a rabid anti-cyclopite in any way, shape or form: depth perception's way overrated anyway.
A closer look (and it wasn't easy) at the person's outfit reveals the fact that it's actually quite elaborate and obviously took considerable time and effort to produce. The cosplayer's cyclops “mask” is much more than that: it's a full-face cover that includes a wig and for reasons unknown, a full neck cover. The wearer isn't saying but it just HAS to be horribly hot & humid in there, regardless of Tokyo's spring still several weeks away.
WHAT she's wearing is one thing, WHO she's trying to look like is another. Westerners familiar with Matt Groening and David X. Cohen's animated science fiction sitcom Futurama will immediately guess the homage is to everyone's favorite purple-eyed and purple-haired cyclops, Leela Turanga (left, voiced by Katey Sagal, formerly Peg from Married With Children) but not so fast, meatbags. Besides the fact that the young cosplayer sports a blonde wig, the rest of her outfit is decidedly non-Leela-like.
Could she be channeling Chihiro Shindou (right), a popular purple-eyed and purple-haired anime heroine who lost one eye in a car accident? Close but no cigar (sorry, Bender), the unfortunate Shindou is a cyclops by misadventure, not as a result of mutant genetics, and it has to be MUCH easier to just wear an eye-patch than to mold a full-face & neck cyclopean mask. Also, there's the hair thing again: blonde, not purple. It's a cosplay mystery of the nth degree!
And so it will remain, for the moment at least. Those who think they know the miniature cosplayer's true object of admiration and imitation are invited to state their case in the comments section. (via Danny Choo and Tomopop)