A Sweet Maid is Sweeter with a Deadly Weapon

In the last year, I’ve seen three new anime that have gotten me all lit up, and one of those is Re:Zero. It got plenty of other people lit up too, and I’ve seen about a million cosplays of Rem, the character lauded as the show’s “best girl.” BUT what I have not seen a lot of is Rem with her flail. Because a sweet maid is sweeter with a deadly weapon, I thought I’d post a tutorial for Rem’s flail. It’s my first tutorial so bear with me.

You’ll need:

a styrofoam ball and five styrofoam cones from the craft store

a piece of plastic chain (the length is up to you–I got mine off Amazon. Pictures below!)

a 3/4 in dowel

black and rose gold acrylic paint

black spray paint

a screw eye

a drill (though you could probably fight through using a hammer and nail instead)

a handsaw

hot glue and glue gun

mod podge and (if you want) clear plasti-dip

  1. So you have your styrofoam ball right? Mark it so that on one side you have a spot for the chain to attach, and directly on the other side mark the “top” spike. Or be like me and just make a bunch of random ass circles without planning at allIMG_5463
  2. arrange the spikes as shown and glue them on with hot glue. Yeah, it melts the styrofoam a little. It’ll be fiiiiiineIMG_5473
  3. seal it with mod  podge. You can do stuff to make the ball smooth if you want, like use a BUNCH of mod podge or cover it in craft foam, but I personally thought the texture wasn’t a big deal, so I just sealed and painted and moved on.
  4. paint the ball with black acrylic and the spikes with the rose gold acrylic. Get help from a six year old if possible.IMG_5475
  5. I drew on the design with a white crayon first, then went over it with the paint. to do this, I put a glass that was about the size of the circles I wanted over the spikes and traced them. Using the positioning of the circles as a guide I free-handed the clover shape, and just prayed it wouldn’t suck.IMG_5491
  6. drill a hole in the center of the dowel and screw in the eye screw. your goat chain has one end that opens and you can use that to attach it to the eye screwIMG_5490IMG_5497
  7. Spray paint the chain and dowel black.
  8. attaching the other end to the ball is a little tricky. I used jewelry wire, made a loop, and then jammed the long part of the jewelry wire into the ball. Then I sealed the hole over with hot glue. Is this the best way to do this? Probably not. But again. It’s fiiiine.
  9. Put masking tape on the handle to paint the rose gold lines. This worked… ok. I had to touch it up a bit after the factIMG_5509
  10. Finally, I sealed mine with with clear Plasti-dip, but you can seal it with mod podge too. The plasti dip was just fastest and I had it on handIMG_5698 IMG_5699 IMG_5700

And, that’s it! You are a sweet maid, best girl, lovely Rem-rin, but you are also scary as fuck, and isn’t that the Rem we love?

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Is Cosplay a Weird Sex Thing?

sexy no face

Ever since I started hanging out with my sister-in-law, grand master cosplayer SuperKayce, I’ve heard people both inside and outside this community of dresser-uppers asking this question. Of course, you’re more likely to hear the people who are sharing your convention space ask the question in these words, than the cosplayers themselves—for the uninitiated, this question can be more of an accusation, while for those on the “in” it’s more philosophical. And yes, the question is mostly for women. If you’re a man dressed as a character that is also a man, then you probably haven’t been accused of being slutty or deviant, by anyone else, or by yourself.

So, is cosplay about sex? For me, the obvious answer is: yes? But only in the sense that about 90% percent of the things that human beings do and make are, to one degree or another, sexual in some way (PS-that’s a statistic from my imagination). Sure, there’s a spectrum of sexual-ness in art, of both “serious” and popular types: on a scale of one to ten, one being a macaroni necklace, ten being actual pornography with people having oiled-up foursomes, most cosplays probably rank somewhere between a two and a seven, depending on what the cosplay is. It IS about sex, but it’s also about sewing, fabricating, problem solving, studying your facial expressions in the mirror, budgeting, working with other artists, making connections, and, for many, supporting charities and the greater community. In cosplay you connect with people through what is really a shared fantasy, which might be a fantasy of a sexy sort, but is also usually a fantasy about many other non-sexual things. They are fantasies of being effectual, of helping others, of being cherished, of being a child again, of being part of a family, of living up to your own expectations of yourself—of being not just physically, but ethically, morally, spiritually the thing you want to be, in spite of your circumstances, and in spite of past failures.

I think we have a sort of cultural assumption about fantasizing, that it is, at best, a waste of time and mental energy, and, at worst, dirty and deviant. We’re better off, though, if we embrace our desire to fantasize. It’s not a waste of time—rather, it’s a way to connect with other people about things that are actually really important, especially to young people. Modeling yourself after others, real or imaginary, trying on different characters to see how each feels—this is what we do when we form or re-form our identities. We try different things, and see how it sticks. Often the way we “try” these identities is through fantasizing about them (which can happen when you are alone in your car, or reading, or playing a video game). Sexuality is often at play in these fantasies because sex is part of our identities, but sexuality in-and-of-itself isn’t dirty or deviant (does this need to be stated? I don’t know, sometimes I think it does). Community fantasy can help us know ourselves and others better, which doesn’t sound like a waste of time to me.

Another aspect of this that I think I shouldn’t ignore is the aspect of audience, and the role perception plays in whether or not cosplay is a weird sex thing. I wear some costumes that I think are sexy. I wear some costumes that I don’t think are sexy. But regardless of how I view myself, I find myself the subject of critique–we all do, and especially if we’re women. In a way, when I cosplay I almost feel like I have more control over this critique than when I wear regular clothes—what I wear is so stylized that I can almost force the reaction of the audience. That is, I get to decide (to a degree) if this cosplay is about sex, whereas when I when I wear normal clothes, people pick out my character for me: she’s dressed like a mom, or like a slut, or like a dude. I think part of why I like wearing costumes is because I’m reaching for control over the way I’m perceived, which is so often filtered through a patriarchal lens in my regular life. I may not be achieving this control, but I think that might be an underlying impulse for me, and maybe for others of us.

So there’s my answer to this self-reflecting sort of question. Cosplay is a way to play with identity through fantasy, and, for me, it’s a way to play with gender and sex, and control and subvert perceptions of my identity. There are probably cheaper ways to do this, but hey, I really like cartoons. I like sewing. I like bumming around with the otakus, the Pokémon Professors and Star Wars zealots. It makes me joyful, and joyfulness is always super hot.

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But seriously, Kushina is a bad bitch

Kushina nine tails vessel

I cosplayed Kushina Uzumaki (Naruto’s mother) this past weekend. I don’t get a lot of character recognition when I do this cosplay, because I’m not wearing the clothes that Kushina is depicted in for most of the show, a white blouse and a green jumper. But that’s okay. Because I need to play this mama like the badass that she is—and if that’s expressed in terms of clothing, then you gotta lose the jumper.

I wear Kushina in the clothing she wears as jounin, a member of the Leaf Village ninja ranks. That is, I wear her dressed as a soldier, which is what she was before she got pregnant. We all know that when it comes to feminism, Naruto is not especially progressive, and is sometimes downright infuriating. The cool thing about cosplay, and about fan art in general, is that we can sort of re-frame these female characters and cast light on their more powerful, independent aspects. And if we’re talking about power, Kushina has A LOT of it. Unlike Naruto, Kushina is able to contain the will of Kurama almost effortlessly. She’s a capable ninja, and, like Naruto, she’s ambitious—she wants to be Hokage, so she’s not quite as hopeless as poor Sakura, whose original and ultimate goal is to fuck Sasuke. And let’s not forget the best evidence of Kushina’s raw power which is that she GAVE BIRTH and then had enough chakra to help restrain Kurama and seal him inside of her newborn baby. And then she STILL had enough chakra for Minato to seal inside Naruto, enough to later have an hour long conversation with him, and then RESTRAIN KURAMA AGAIN. I’ve given birth, and that after that ordeal, I barely had enough energy to move, let alone magically contain an angry, immortal, fox spirit twice over.

Which brings me to that other kind of power that Kushina possesses. Her and Minato’s story resonates with me because in this weird, symbolic, purely emotional kind of way, Naruto’s entry into the world unfolds like the beginning of real life parenthood. Minato and Kushina are excited about Naruto. They carefully pick his name, they take ridiculous pains to bring him safely into the world, and then there he is! They have him! And everything is perfect and beautiful for about ten seconds, and then what? Chaos. Violence. Danger. Kushina fights her heart out. She knows she’s doomed, but this is the way that she has chosen to protect her baby, by protecting his home. They win the fight, and for their efforts, they are rewarded with the opportunity to blurt out all the hopes they have for Naruto. They give him what they know will be an enormous burden, having to believe that he can handle it, that he will overcome it. And then they die. That’s a bleak-ass metaphor for parenthood, and fantasy characters get to cop out with literal death, whereas real parents only let a portion of themselves die, keeping the better portion alive, and compelled to keep fighting. Still, bleak or not, flawed or not, I feel a connection this symbolic story, and to Kushina. To me, she represents ultimate mother-power, even if she if she is too often depicted doing Minato’s dishes.

And that’s why when I wear Kushina, I don’t wear the goddamn jumper. Her military dress is a better representation of the kind of power she has, and the kind of mother she is as well.

 

(Art credit to AgentWhiteHawk Art. Because, wow.)

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