During my teen years, I had an active and flexible imagination.
I lost the ability to let my mind wander through flights of fancy in my 20s and 30s. Victim of long hours at work, the struggle to establish a career and the inevitable financial stress of purchasing property, my imagination languished in a dark cave, waiting to blossom under the grow light that is the furry fandom.
I encountered this little girl during a stroll up the Newport Pier on a cold and windy morning. She came running towards me, trailed by her older sister, excited to meet this oddly tall canine.
“Mr Dog!” she exclaimed, “What are you doing running about without your leash?” I explained that I left it in the car. She admonished me never to leave the house without my owner, who must be worried sick. I told her that my owner was still in bed, and wouldn’t be up until after I got home (which was partly true.)
She was precocious without being smug, and curious without being annoying. She wanted to know what kind of dog food I ate, where I slept ( I assured her I slept on the bed, and she was quite pleased,) and if I had been to the vet recently (I hoped she wouldn’t ask if I was neutered.)
When she asked if I wanted a bowl of water, her sister stepped in and said “Now Amanda, you know he’s not real, right?”
Amanda just looked at her sister with those “are you serious?” eyes. “Of course he’s real” she said. She reached out to grab my paw and feel my fur. “See?” Amanda dared her sister to contradict the empirical furry evidence, clearly real beneath her fingers.
“No,” her sister said soflty, “I mean he’s not a real dog.” Amanda’s eyes grew wide and she summed things up for her obviously misled sibling. “I imagine he’s real. So he must be.”
Amanda’s sister just looked at me and shrugged. I was beaming under my fursuit head.
I’ve mulled over that piece of wisdom for a bit now and I see the nugget of truth. Imagination adds spice to life, and if you believe in that ingredient, and I mean really believe in the importance of imagination, I guarantee you a richer, more colorful life experience.
Exercise your ability to dream every day; Insert yourself into your favorite song, becoming a character in the lyrics. Picture yourself in a beautiful piece of art, gambling through a field with a unicorn. Close your eyes and see yourself flying over the tree tops, unfettered by worry and free of earthly constraints.
Or imagine that you meet a talking dog on the pier, and have a nice chat.
The great thing about going to Japan is that there are some moments that are just like the clouds part and everything becomes clear. The first time was when I really understood the “I vs We” concept of Japanese society; another was when I was walking to school and it was just snowing sakura petals because they are EVERY WHERE and are so delicate just the barest wind sends them flying. When I went back this past time, I wasn’t planning on doing anything new, so I wasn’t expecting any great revelations. But boy did I get one and it changed the very basis of how I look at cosplay.
I think I mentioned before, but my friend who I went with, Lisa, speaks fluent Japanese and has quite a few Japanese friends who both draw doujinshi for or cosplay from Hetalia. Several of them were in town for Comiket, so we went out to an izakaya for dinner the night before we were going to the con.
The great thing about drinking is it really is a GREAT ice breaker. Your language skill vastly improves, their inhibitions about being polite vastly decreases, and things usually go swimmingly from there. In this instance, it only took about a drink before we were pulling out phones to show each other our cosplays. It took another before I finally asked a question that had been grinding on me for YEARS. Note: the following conversation is how I remember it going but it was a combination of English, Japanese & Lisa translating when I just didn’t have the vocab.
“Okay, please explain to me why Japanese cosplayers use velvet for the Revolutionary outfits!” I asked, gesticulating with my third screw driver. “It’s supposed to be wool! And the designs! They don’t even try to make them look historical!”
“Well of course they don’t,” Cotton-san said, looking at me as if I were asking why the sky was blue.
“… Wait what?”
“If they make them historically accurate that might offend someone,” she said, again, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.
So here’s how it goes down, guys. When a manga/anime/whatever is based off of a historical person (or in Hetalia’s case, full armies), it is widely considered polite to make it obvious that this is an interpretation of the person by changing their appearance and dress from what it was so that no one mistakes it for being an actual historical representation. The cosplayers also don’t want to offend anyone by wearing actual uniforms from another country/time period, so they don’t even bother trying to make them historically accurate.
To say that my mind was blown was a complete understatement, but it was definitely one of those things where everything just kinda clicked. Why Rose of Versailles is hilariously inaccurate. Why Takarazuka doesn’t even really attempt to make their actors look like an individual if it’s a historically based play (I’ll have to show you there take on McArthur, LoL). Why there is lace on military uniforms where there should NEVER BE LACE.
So, just remember, when you’re looking at that reference and tearing your hair out and screaming, “What IS that?! Why is that there?! No one would ever wear that at this time!”, they know and it’s completely on purpose. Because they don’t want to offend you.
I will figure out how to properly tag this for this blog later, but a definite must-read for cosplayers. It provides a very interesting perspective.
You are very lucky you were only going 4mph when you hit me.
Just a refresher on driving law: 1. When pulling away from a curb, you MUST look over your shoulder as well as check your mirrors. 2. If you hit a bicyclist, even if they were in the wrong, 90% of the time YOU will be found guilty. Your car is much bigger than me. It can hurt me much more easily than I can hurt it.
Luckily it was just a side-swipe, and my art portfolio padded between me and the car.
Art Saves. >_<