Photo credit: Bakephotogatari. V5prinks as Hana Song/D.va of Overwatch. Used with permission.

AU Cosplay and Its Role in the Community

AU is shorthand for “alternate universe”. It defines, within any media, a version of the story or characters separate from the main continuity. Some series manage their own AU’s such as Marvel’s now cancelled Ultimate Marvel line of comics. Some are done by the fans where they might do fan art of a character in a differing environment or fan fiction taking place in a new world entirely.

In the cosplay community, an AU cosplay is simply a cosplay of a non-canon version of a character. This could be a steampunk version of Mei from Overwatch or modern version of Jon Snow of Game of Thrones fame. This can, in some cases, extend to genderbent characters as well, genderbent being the act of changing a male character into a female and vice versa.

Not particularly controversial, but still an interesting question. Perusing the comments and image boards of cosplayers, there seems to always be someone presenting a point about alternative versions of a cosplay.

Photo credit: Travis Lionel. Captain Spider-Man orignally designed by Luc Luzzo.

Some members of the cosplay community have had enough and feel it’s not a real cosplay unless it’s accurate to the character. Often times, the AU version of the costume is seen as lazy, slutty, or both. At times, the viewers felt that they could hardly tell who the person was supposed to be dressed as. Another complaint is that it no longer counts as the character if it doesn’t look exactly like a character. Understandably, many cosplayers feel accuracy is one of the most important aspects of a character.

On the other hand, a good number of people are quite supportive, or at least indifferent to AU costumes. On a poll I created, many left comments such as, “ Its great to be able to see characters in ways that aren’t canon and how different cosplayers express that.” Many others expressed love of various interpretations and the creativity and time put into the creation of an AU cosplay. Some, more skeptical, went on to state that, as long as it’s done well and the character is recognizable, then it’s no big deal and can actually be really cool.

Photo Credit: Travis Lionel. Wolf and Roni as Genderbent Dixie and Diddy Kong.

In the end, this seems to be an example of the minority being the loudest within any group. Well, almost. There is a consistent argument against “slutty” cosplay such as bikini, beach, and lingerie versions of characters. However, the very nature of sexuality and revealing costumes is something that could be its very own series. The end result is that most people are generally accepting of AU cosplay, and even those who are more skeptical are willing to give credit when it’s due to a very well done one.

So, do those AU costumes. Make them work for you. Sleep tight.

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