Have you ever seen cosplay photos of the entire cast of your favourite anime and wondered how these cosplayers found so many people who not only love the same anime/manga series as they did, but also have the dedication and enthusiasm to join and plan a group photoshoot together?
Cosplay groups have long been a thing mainly set up for a particular photoshoot or even an event gathering. A group of cosplayers come together to cosplay different characters in the cast to make up a full group. Ideally a group photoshoot would have a cosplayer for each of the main characters in the series, but some groups have even gone as far as to bring in literally all the characters there are in the series, no matter how insignificant their role may have been.
Recent years have seen a rise in the recruitments of cosplay dance groups that do performances and activities during events. Most regular photoshoot and event groups are temporary since they are only meant for that one series cosplay or that one particular event, but dance groups are more permanent and require higher commitment levels to the group since there are dance trainings, performances and practices involved that span a longer time frame.
So then, you might be thinking: where do these people even find one another? Did they all just happen to already have like-minded individuals around them and just naturally gathered together as a cosplay group?
The process of establishing a cosplay group starts out with one person deciding to recruit members for the group. The initiator of the group can literally just be anyone as long as you have the motivation and passion for the photoshoot or event. He or she would then list out the characters needed to make up the group. Some popular series with a large ensemble of characters such as Haikyuu!!, Boku no Hero Academia, Naruto, Magi and Love Live! have been frequently recruited with a huge group.
It is admittedly pretty hard to have a full group just by going around asking your friends, and we don’t really want to get people who don’t even know the series to join, so the next step would be to post a recruitment notice on social media platforms with high cosplayer traffic such as Facebook groups or even cosplay community forums.
If you do happen to see a post looking for cosplayers for a character you love, message the initiator of the group (a.k.a. group leader) to discuss the details. Get to know the date, time and venue, go over logistics such as transport arrangements, and also some basic expectations that the leader might have for the group such as how long they expect you to stay with the group, props and items you may need to bring or contribute and etc.
Basic cosplay etiquettes still apply: if you are joining a photoshoot group, do remember to be on time with all your necessary cosplay items ready. Prepare your wig, makeup and costume to the best of your abilities – sincere efforts do show at the end when you show up in full cosplay. Maintain an open communication with other members of the group whether it is to ask for help with making the costume or voicing your opinions on group pose ideas.
One important thing to note when deciding to join a group is to not bail on the group last minute. The group is counting on you to make it a full group of characters, and even if you are cosplaying a character with a minor role in the series, your absence will still throw off the group’s plans. While certain situations are inevitable and you may be forced to withdraw from the group, remember that the feeling of being called off like an hour before the group is meeting up is not pleasant at all.
Joining a cosplay group is the best way for a cosplayer, especially one that is just starting on this cosplay journey, to make new friends and get to know the local cosplay community. It is also a great way to get to know cosplay photographers and find friends who are as passionate and excited about the same series as you are. While it is indeed intimidating to approach strangers to join their group, rest assured as this is the way that most friendships in the cosplay community blossoms. Keep an open mind about meeting new people, but definitely keep a look out for your personal well-being and safety at all times.
The first ever cosplay group that I joined was also my first ever photoshoot, and I was just a newbie at the time who had not yet discovered the extensive cosplay community we have here in Malaysia. The experience of joining the group and going through the photoshoot was very precious for me as I not only learnt a lot about cosplay and photography but also managed to meet group members who are now some of my closest cosplay friends.
The leader of the group was also very kind and took care of a newbie like myself with a lot of patience and guidance. Joining a cosplay group brings about a new sense of joy and excitement in this hobby that might not otherwise be there with just cosplaying solo, and I definitely recommend all cosplayers to try joining a cosplay group at least once in their cosplay lifetime!
Have you ever joined a cosplay group? How did you approach the group and what was your experience like? Let us know in the comments below!