Do you want to be the best, the best that ever was? To win competitions as your test? To cosplay characters your cause? If you’ve been ranking up through the local cosplay scene and are ready for the Challenger Tier, then suit up for the World Cosplay Summit (WCS). The WCS is an international organization that brings together the best cosplayers from around the world to conduct an ultimate cosplay battle of ultimate cosplay destiny. Whoever wins will be able to say that they’re the best freakin’ cosplayer on the planet.
Now don’t just pack your bags and fly off to Japan (where else would you expect it to take place?) with dreams of victory. In order to qualify for the WCS, you have to win a regional preliminary first. While there are WCS preliminary events in China, Brazil, France and Russia, this is a report on the U.S. regional semi-finals held during Katsucon 19. Since the U.S. is such a large country, you need to have multiple events in order to give everyone around the country a chance to compete. Other semi-finals were held in Hawaii and Colorado with the finals being held in Texas this year. Whoever wins that will earn a free trip to Japan to represent America.
The first part of the competition is the craftsmanship judging. There each team meets with the judges privately in order to closely examine their cosplay. They discuss things like how accurately the cosplay portrays the target character, how well it’s made, whether the person made it herself, and sewing. I wasn’t able to check out the judging itself but I did chat with Laura Butler, the U.S. Organizer, who took the time to inform me about the WCS in general.
The main event was held the next day. There the nine teams would perform for the crowds and wow the judges with their costumes and choreography. The affair was hosted by cosplay idol Yaya Han. She introduced audiences to the WCS as well as the judges. They were all young ladies who were in cosplay themselves. I personally think their cosplays were top notch. Since they were all previous preliminary winners themselves, that should come as no surprise.
After the intros, the teams took to the stage. The easiest way to describe it would be a cosplay masquerade amped up to eleven. Each two person team had a short time to set up their stage props and then performed their (mostly dance or fighting) routines to mostly instrumental music tracks. The allowance of stage props enhanced the sense of the scene. There were people popping out of eggs, walls being busted down, monsters on slits, and special effects being waved around. The only flaw was that you couldn’t appreciate the fine details of all their costumes.
After all the teams performed, the judged secluded themselves to decide on a champion. While they deliberated, the audience watched videos of past performances by previous U.S. Teams during the final finals of the WCS. Each team introduced themselves on a big screen before they performed and there was a lot of graphics to go along with it. It was a big deal to be there. Like I said, ultimate cosplay battle of ultimate cosplay destiny. I also saw someone I recognized. Back at Katsucon18, I took a picture of a Lady Kraehe running late for an event. Well it turns out it was for the WCS finals that year, and she won it. Cosplaying at Princess Tutu characters and doing actual ballet with it is a simple but marvelous idea.
Eventually the judges returned to render their verdict. Last years’ winners Bubble Set Cosplay appeared to speak about the experience of going to the WCS. Then the winners were announced. The third place went to Kiwi Teacup Studios. The second place award went to Fox Gloves with their Fate Zero cosplays. They were the ones who set up a mini wall to bust through for dramatic effect. They also won the award for best resume. I can only wonder how that award is decided (“I just can’t resist indenting references!” proclaimed the judges!). The first place winner was Karma Luna, who cosplayed Chrono Cross. Their routine included a juggling segment. Both Karma Luna and Fox Gloves won trips to Anime Matsuri to compete in the U.S. Finals. Hopefully one of them will go on to Japan and finally win the world championship for America.
In the meantime, you can check out some links to learn more about the WCS. There’s the offical website of the World Cosplay Summit, the Wikipedia entry on the World Cosplay Summit, their Deviant Art account, and the Facebbok page for the U.S. preliminaries You’ll find tons of great cosplay pictures and some further info on how the event works. Who knows, maybe you’ll want to compete too?