Essa Al Bastaki, a prominent figure in the UAE’s cosplay community, reflects on his over 10-year journey in the world of costume playing. He, along with his partner Alex, recently clinched victory in the Cosplay Competition at the Middle East Film and Comic Con (MEFCC) festival 2023. The duo went on to represent Team UAE at the World Cosplay Summit in Japan.
Cosplaying: An Art of Costume Playing
The term ‘cosplaying’ is derived from ‘costume playing’ and involves dressing up as characters from various media, such as films, video games, or anime. Al Bastaki acknowledges the initial challenges he faced, with his parents finding it hard to accept the intricacies of cosplaying, including costume creation, makeup, and sewing.
From Skepticism to Recognition: Winning Hearts at University
Al Bastaki’s turning point came during his university years when he combined his passion for cosplaying with academic excellence. Presenting a history report through the lens of a costume, he not only showcased his creativity but also earned high praise, leading to greater acceptance from his parents.
Evolution of Perception: Overcoming Challenges
Over the years, Al Bastaki’s parents transitioned from skepticism to pride. His achievements, including representing Team UAE in Japan, garnered support and interest from his parents, who now inquire about his costumes and future plans in the cosplaying realm.
Alex’s Journey: Advocating for a Safe Hobby
Alex, Al Bastaki’s partner and fellow cosplayer, emphasizes the need for understanding and communication with parents. She highlights the importance of conveying that cosplaying is a safe and enjoyable hobby that doesn’t harm anyone. Open communication and transparency about the nature of the hobby contribute to parental acceptance.
Collaborative Cosplay: Smooth Coordination and Challenges
The duo shares insights into their collaborative cosplaying efforts. While the process of selecting characters and planning skits may take time, collaboration, understanding, and effective communication are essential. They emphasize the need to view things from each other’s perspectives, especially when deciding on an act.
Budgeting Challenges: The Cost of Creativity
Both Al Bastaki and Alex acknowledge budget constraints as a significant challenge in cosplaying. Creating costumes from scratch involves sourcing raw materials, multiple trips to shops, and meticulous planning. They discuss the importance of budgeting and the impact it can have on the quality of the final outfit.
Months of Preparation: Crafting the Perfect Costume
Preparing a high-quality costume can take months of dedicated work. The duo explains that a medium-complexity costume, intended to look exceptional, requires one to two months of continuous effort. The intricate process involves meticulous attention to detail and craftsmanship.
Cosplay on a Budget: Closet Cosplay
For those on a budget, Alex suggests exploring “closet cosplay,” a more accessible approach. This involves selecting clothing already available in one’s wardrobe and matching them to a chosen character. While it may not be as accurate as custom-made costumes, it serves as an excellent starting point for cosplayers.
Getting into Character: Study and Practice
To truly embody a character, Alex emphasizes the importance of studying the source material, whether it’s a game, movie, or comic book. Understanding the character’s personality, interactions with others, iconic catchphrases, and unique poses or expressions are crucial. Practicing in front of a mirror helps bring the character to life during performances or photo sessions.
Preparedness for Wardrobe Malfunctions: A Lesson from Japan
Reflecting on their experience in Japan, Al Bastaki recalls a last-minute wardrobe malfunction with his shoes. The duo stresses the significance of being prepared for unforeseen challenges, highlighting the need for a repair kit. This readiness ensures that cosplayers can address issues promptly and maintain the integrity of their costumes.
Passion and Joy: The Heart of Cosplaying
Both Alex and Al Bastaki express their love for certain characters as the driving force behind their involvement in cosplaying. The joy, creativity, and imaginative boost derived from portraying beloved characters motivate them to explore various personas.
UAE Representation at World Cosplay Summit: A Proud Achievement
Representing the UAE at the World Cosplay Summit in Japan holds special significance for the duo. They describe it as an incredible and humbling experience, contributing to a sense of pride in showcasing their country on a global stage.
Cosplay Community: A Supportive Environment
The cosplaying community in the UAE is lauded by both Alex and Al Bastaki for its openness and support. The creative exchange among cosplayers, willingness to share knowledge, and collaborative spirit create a strong and welcoming community.
Looking Ahead: Future Characters and Adventures
As they prepare for the next convention in February, Alex and Al Bastaki engage in discussions about the characters they will portray. The vast array of characters available for cosplaying offers endless possibilities, ensuring that each event brings new adventures and creative expressions.