Cosplay Complex Review

Cosplay Complex is an OVA (Original Video Animation) made of three 30 minute episodes that centre around Chako and her friends, who belong to the Cosplay Association at East Oizuki Academy. Their sights are set on entering and winning the Cosplay World Series, after a succession of wins from local Cosplay battles.

There is a problem that besets the girls and that is lack of funding for their club. With no sponsorship deals and hardly any members it looks as if things might end for their club but the girls' sheer determination propels them onward. In order to make it to the World Series they must defeat their upcoming rivals and stick together as a team, throughout the zany rounds that make up this short series.


Ah, the world of Cosplay is a strange one indeed. Throughout the year, millions of teen boys and girls and even adults attend various conventions around the world. These conventions bring together fans of just about every genre and television show there is, and none seem more popular than the anime convention. This gathering of fans results in an assorted confusion of various characters as each one tries to outdo the next in terms of costume design but more often than not you'll find a hundred boys and girls dressed up the same i.e. as Squall or Rinoa from Final Fantasy in one big embarrassing situation, at one time.

No costume is more ambitious than what you see in an anime series - Big hair, big boots, tight clothing and straps are the order of the day and the only limitation is that of the cosplayer's imagination. Many costumes are poor, many are amazing, but why do these people participate in such events? Well, the show's theme song perfectly captures the spirit of Cosplay and tells us why.

"A maid, a little girl, an angel, a schoolgirl
I promise I'll do my best to stick to one style
Cut it, glue it, sew it and then try it on
Change completely into anyone you wanna be
You can be violent or as sexy as you want to be
That's what Cosplay is all about."


Cosplay is a means to live out a fantasy life just for one day, if it brings more people together and makes them happy then so be it, even if it does seem a little too weird at times. Cosplay Complex is a celebration of such a phenomenon that offers plenty of laughs and opportunities to spot all your fave fantasy figures.


Director, Shinchirou Kimura isn't too concerned with giving us explanations to everything and every person; this is a show without rules that requires you to just go along with it. The first thing that is striking is how our lead, Chako Hasegawa lives with a fairy named Delmo and a pink owl called Ikebukuro and that's the set up. The only explanation as to why they are there is that three months ago they just appeared one night at Chako's house and now Delmo helps Chako by transforming into costumes in exchange for cakes, she's always up for taking confectionary bribes. Ikebukuro does nothing more than carry signs around and hoot in hilarious fashion. These three characters are just the tip of the iceberg.

Making up the rest of the cast are Chako's friends. Sachiko Arii is a relative of Chako who also lives with her, Delmo and Ikebukuro and wears nothing but a black ceremonial kimono of mourning, ever since her husband (a once famous cosplayer) passed away.

Jenny Matel is a foreign exchange student from Italy. She has a love of young, innocent girls and her perverted tendencies causes much trouble for the club as she continually chases Maria's young sister around. She is the newest member to the girls' club.
Maria Imai belongs to the Cosplay club. She is kind and caring and all too frustrated that she has to protect her sister from a perverted lesbian. Athena Imai is Maria's sister. She is too young to be able to officially join the club but she is encouraged by the group to participate in Cosplay.

Reika Aoshima is the quiet member of the group. She is embarrassed to wear her glasses in public and she is closest to the club leader, Gorou. Gorou Bandai is very passionate about his work and looking out for his young team. He has a thing for Reika and tries to woo her with bad lyrical prose's but it often backfires in his face.

Coach Kuruba is the club's new sponsor. A military type who the girls struggle to take seriously. Finally there is Kosuke Tamiya, a young photographer who is also the love interest for Chako. He supports her from the very start and encourages her to be the best she can be.


The show has an underlying sense of mystery to it that sees a couple of characters deal with memories from the past. These moments of drama don't play out long because at heart the show is all about fun, though it does manage to wrap up the small elements of mystery by the finale which is good it can be said for a three part series that has its main focus elsewhere.

Obsession plays a huge part in the show and that's all part of its charm. It's interesting to see the characters in mass panic as they struggle to find the next prize winning costume. The conventions themselves, well this is what they're like - a big chaotic event that demands a winner. The fame that comes with winning drives on these girls but it mustn't be forgotten that Cosplay is all about fun and that is the message that is ultimately driven home.

Oh the perversity. Let it not be said that the Japanese don't know how to put together the most politically incorrect and taboo filled shows in the world. Once again Cosplay Complex is a fine example of breaking certain boundaries, crossing lines and kicking sand in the face of the media - and it's oh so hilarious.
Jenny is the kind of character that you rarely see in anime. She's obsessed with young girls and I mean really young. She gets nose bleeds at the sight of an innocent and tries to cop a feel every chance she gets. I don't think this element will win over many fans but if you’re into anime then you have to take it on the chin and just accept it for what it is, although this sort of thing is more commonly associated with male characters.


The Anime Otaku will have a field day in trying to pick out every single costume that is featured in the show. The costumes range from video games and Anime to traditional kimono wear and a lot of the fun to be had is in guessing. I guessed correctly on quite a number of costumes but I'll be damned if I could get 100%. It's great to see the girls dress up as characters you really like from other shows and the creators certainly have had fun in playing this little game with the audience.

Cosplay Complex offers fan service aplenty. Throughout the show the viewer is treated to a number of panty shots, bra shots, bra and panty shots and nudity - hardly anything titillating though as this show is simply comical and the assortment of underwear soon loses its appeal, although the detail in them is something that only the animators can justify, from tiny straps to ribbons. The perverse nature of the show also extends to prepubescent boys staring at girls changing but naturally signifies a sense of curiosity. Throughout the show's advertising campaign these shots were edited with a mosaic effect and it was promised that the retail version would be fully uncut so it is nice to see that it is.


Cosplay Complex features the following three episodes:

Round 1: The Cosplay Club is Born
The Cosplay Club is struggling to make ends meet and if nothing can be done soon then all their hard work will go down the drain. Chief of the club, Gorou tells the girls that they need sponsorship and a new member; one that can Cosplay amongst the best of them and achieve success - enter Jenny. Meanwhile, Chako and Sachiko celebrate the three month anniversary of Delmo and Ikebukuro arriving at their house. Chako meets her first fan, a young man named Tamiya who quickly wins her heart. And so the gang must get used to a few new changes but who is the stranger that awaits them?

Round 2: Summer Training Camp of Charm
The Cosplay Group is visited by Coach Kuroba, the new sponsor who demands they take their visit to the beach seriously. They must show off their best Cosplay outfits upon arrival. The Coach is soon taken ill, leaving Sachiko to look after the girls.
Chako's friends decide to play matchmaker in a bid to bring Chako and Tamiya together. Meanwhile, Jenny is having the time of her life, surrounded by school children.

Round 3: The Final Battle: Showdown in the East Oizumi Academy Gym
Coach Kuroba is recovering in hospital from an unknown illness. Sachiko sees a strange woman visiting the grave of her dead husand and elsewhere Chako bumps into a girl named Tsukasa and she asks her to take her to the Acadamy. It is soon revealed that Tsukasa belongs to the famous Shin-Takarazuka Academy Cosplay Club headed by Ranko Takara. Both clubs must now prepare for the ultimate showdown at the upcoming World Series.


The DVD

ADV presents Cosplay Complex in an eye-catching package that features a reversable cover and a fold out poster inside. On the reverse of the poster is an article written by Kunihiko Fujiwara and his experiences in visiting a Cosplay convention.

Picture

The show is very colourful and presented nicely on DVD in its original 4:3 aspect ratio. There are a few cases of noticeable shimmering but once again ADV have produced a nice looking series that features bold colours and attractive designs.

Sound

A choice of Japanese 2.0 or English 5.1 is available. The Japanese track is clear, especially for a show with so many characters on screen at one time. The voices are brilliant and I found myself laughing every time Kenichi Ono performed as Ikebukuro. The English dub provides a lot of fun with its over the top performances but some of the dialogue changes are not as funny and I recommend the Japanese dub to be the one to listen to first.

Extras

Cosplay Identification 101
This runs for about five minutes and features every costume from the series with the name of the Anime or game that it originated from. This is very helpful if you missed a few along the way.

Annotated Sketches
Sketches for all of the principal cast members. Many of these have some amusing comments and insights into each character.

Japanese Opening
This time the opening isn't clean as it features hard matted Japanese characters but it is still a fun intro to the series.

Clean Closing
This is a collection of the three different closing credit sequences that feature real life photographs taken from Japanese conventions. There are some nice photos, some are awful and some are amazing.

ADV Previews
Trailers for: Street Angel Kurumi 2, Happy Lesson, Puni Puni Poemy, Excel Saga, Najica Blitz Tactics and Full Metal Panic.

Easter Eggs
1. On the main title menu highlight "Round 1" and then press up on the controller. You will highlight the "O" in the series' name, press enter and you will be treated to a 30-second Japanese promo spot.

2. Go to the "Extras" and press enter. Now highlight "DVD Credits" and press enter again. Press up on the controller and you will highlight the whip that Ranko is holding. Press enter to see a four minute Japanese promo. This features footage from the series with many shots covered in a mosaic effect. It is a teaser trailer really and has a few newly recorded lines featuring the Japanese vocal cast that play during the full length intro song.


Overall

Cosplay Complex is completely off the wall, offering some hilarious moments and inspired animation that lifts it high. The performances are passionate, the music is catchy and it comes highly recommended from me, that is unless pink owls and pedophilic lesbians offend you.

Film
8 out of 10
Video
8 out of 10
Audio
8 out of 10
Extras
5 out of 10
Overall

7

out of 10

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