Gijinka (擬人化) is a popular form sometimes used in cosplay that literally means “humanization” or “anthromorphic” in Japanese. In cosplay terms, it is the art of cosplaying non-human characters in reimagined human versions. A widespread and common gijinka cosplay is of the Pokemon series, most notably of the Eeveelution and starter Pokemon characters.
Gijinka cosplay requires more time and effort to plan since cosplayers need to think about how to portray a Pokemon in human form. Many Pokemon gijinka illustrations serve as main sources of inspiration for cosplayers looking to start working on their cosplay. For those who would prefer to design their gijinka cosplay, they have more freedom and flexibility to come up with their own patterns and styles for costumes, wigs and accessories.
Since gijinka is a personal interpretation of the Pokemon, there are no strict rules when designing it. Calling a girl in a green hoodie a Pikachu cosplayer might be going a little far, but the base colours of the Pokemon are often kept as close to the original as possible. Some defining characteristics of the Pokemon are also retained so it would be more obvious what character you are cosplaying, such as wearing a costume with a base yellow colour and black stripes on the sides as representation of Pikachu.
After figuring out the style and colours of all parts of the cosplay, the cosplayer would then go on a search to assemble these items, such as finding fabric that would match the design or styling a wig to fit the character. It takes a lot of creativity to do a gijinka cosplay since it requires one to think out of the box. You could use a green backpack and alter it to make it look like the bulb behind Bulbasaur’s back, or alternatively craft a brown bag to suit Squirtle’s shell.
Since it is impossible to look 100% like the Pokemon you are cosplaying, perhaps the most important part of gijinka cosplay is to act the part when going to events or portraying it in photoshoots. Pokemon have distinct personalities (apart from just making different sounds) and portraying them is vital in making it clear which Pokemon you are cosplaying as. Many cosplayers also carry around plushies of the Pokemon they are cosplaying, which really helps others appreciate the cosplay more when you realize what each part of the gijinka design represents.
Doing a gijinka cosplay is an extremely fun experience, even though it may seem challenging and scary for those who have never tried to design their own interpretations of a character in preparation for a cosplay. It is a process that is entirely of your own imagination and effort so the end cosplay will be so much more rewarding! Pick your favourite Pokemon and start planning out your gijinka cosplay today, and you may even cosplay it for the Pokemon Ultra Sun & Moon Official Launch Event happening on the 18th and 19th of November!