Making Human Network Visible through Costume Making and Scaffolding: A Fieldwork Study of Cosplay Culture


This paper analyzes the relationship between agencies and artifacts represented in ethnographic case studies of ten female informants aged 20-25 participating in the cosplay community. Cosplay is a female-dominated niche subculture of extreme fans and mavens, who are devoted to dressing up as characters from manga, games, and anime. “Cosplayers” are highly conscious of quality standards for costumes, makeup, and accessories. Cosplay events and dedicated SNSs for cosplayers are a valuable venue for exchanging information about costume making. Professor Mizuko Ito studies the possibilities of learning with friends and peers in fan culture in the US. However, there are still not enough studies about fun culture learning in Japan. First, I share an overview of cosplay culture in Japan and our methodologies based on interviews and fieldwork. I group our findings in two different categories: (1) Cosplayers’ agencies and relationships with others mediated by usage of particular artifacts, (2) Cosplayers agencies visualized through socio-artificial scaffolding and collective achievement. I conclude that cosplayers are producing and standardizing available artifacts for their cosplay objects, and in doing so, they are designing their agencies.

Author Information
Rie Matsuura, Keio University, Japan

Paper Information
Conference: ACAH2017
Stream: Humanities - Teaching and Learning

This paper is part of the ACAH2017 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon