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THE CATíS PAJAMAS. Cosplay: Catgirls and Other Critters (left) features many costume ideas.

From The Asian Reporter, V16, #42 (October 17, 2006), page 13.

Alter egos

Cosplay: Catgirls and Other Critters

By Gerry Poulos

Stone Bridge Press, 2006

Paperback, 80 pages, $16.95

By Josephine Bridges

Dressing up as a character from Japanese animation (anime), Japanese comics (manga), or one the many video games created in Japan Ö or from elsewhere, as long as it has a decidedly Japanese flair" is such a popular phenomenon that it has its very own word, "cosplay" (a combination of "costume" and "play"), coined by Japanese journalist Nobuyuki Takahashi. Cosplay: Catgirls and Other Critters arrives just in time to inspire and instruct readers in search of a new look this Halloween.

"The addition of cat ears to a female character suggests that she is like a cat ó but in what way? Is she playful, or aloof? Haughty, or affectionate? Placid, or energetic? Catgirls can be any age or size, from grade-schoolers to mature adults." Curious? Gerry Poulosís book starts out with "Catgirl Basics." Youíll be pleased to know that "a catgirl costume is inexpensive, simple to make from a minimum of easily obtainable materials, and open to creative license." Included here are patterns for basic and "less basic" cat ears, as well as suggestions for attaching and customizing them. Tails and paws are covered, and there are also wonderful illustrations of everything from a rock star catgirl to a catgirl clad in a kimono.

"Creating Other Critters" introduces modifications to ears, tails, and fur that can turn the wearer into anything from a lion to a mouse. All of the illustrations in Cosplay: Catgirls and Other Critters are terrific, but the skunks and skunk-inspired costumes in this section are real standouts. This chapter also ends with a wealth of animal characters from a baseball bunny to a roller-skating kangaroo rat.

"To many cosplayers, the real challenge of cosplay is duplicating an established character from a popular manga, anime, or game right down to the last, painstaking detail." Part three, "Duplicating Characters," will help you choose a character ó there are 25 popular catgirls, "only a small sampling," listed here ó and then get the proportions right.

Cosplay isnít just for Halloween, and "Taking the Stage" describes cosplay competition, "nearly always the single most attended event at any convention." Here too are a few cautionary notes: "Dangers abound for the catgirl in costume, far beyond rooms full of rocking chairs! Revolving doors, escalators, and other objects designed to move people about are particular concerns ó a tail can easily get caught in any one of these." A section on modesty reminds catgirls and other critter impersonators that "even if you arenít particularly embarrassed by a flashing incident, someone else might be."

Three pages of resources and general information round out Cosplay: Catgirls and Other Creatures. Author Gerry Poulos is a long-time anime reviewer, illustrator, and photographer, and his enthusiasm for his topic is infectious. Be on the lookout for catgirls, batgirls, squirrelgirls, pandagirls, monkeygirls, and foxgirls.

To buy me, visit these retailers:

Powell's Books

  Amazon