Dressing up as your favorite science fiction, video game or anime character
is popular at conventions in the US, but it has not attained the level
of enthusiasm in the States as it does in the East. Cosplay, as it
is called, is a popular hobby in Japan, especially among women, where people
work months on a costume that they will wear for only a few hours.
There are books giving the novice Cosplay designer tips and hints, and
even DVDs devoted to the sport. Now there is an OVA anime series
that revolves around dressing up: the adult oriented Cosplay Complex.
The plot is pretty straightforward: East Oizuki Academy has a
small Cosplay club. There is the not too bright but enthusiastic
Chako, the quite Maria and her very young and innocent sister Athena, and
the senior member of the team: Reika. In addition there is
a Cosplay contest MC who hangs around with the girls, Gorou. Unfortunately
they don't have a teacher to sponsor the club, nor do they have enough
members under the school rules. So they have to recruit more players
and a teacher, while preparing for the Cosplay World Series.
It sounds simple and cute, but the show is really very funny and off
the wall. Though there is a lot of fan service, something that doesn't
really do much for me, there are some odd things that they throw into this
simple plot that had me laughing pretty consistently throughout the show.
First there is Ikebukuro a sentient owl like creature from another dimension.
He really doesn't have a part in the show; he just sits around and occasionally
holds up a sign. At first I thought it was strange to have an oddly
colored alien owl in a show with very few fantasy elements, but after a
while just his presence causes you to giggle. Then there is Delmo,
a fairy from the same dimension as Ikebukuro. She is has the ability
to turn herself into a costume for Chako to wear, but she'll only do it
for large quantities of food. Delmo also has the unusual ability
to enhance Chako's natural attributes, giving her larger breasts.
(Sometimes MUCH larger.) Delmo doesn't really solve any problems
in the show, or win contests with her magic; she's just a small flying
fairy that no one seems to think twice about.
One of the funnier scenes in the shwo was the flashback to Ikebukuro
and Delmo's origin: They just showed up one night. That's it.
No elaborate plot devices to explain magical creatures in a normal world.
They just turned up without any explination, and no one seems to find that
Eventually the club gains another member, a busty foreign exchange student
from Italy, Jenny. Jenny has the hots for young Athena, and is always
trying to take her clothes off or seduce her, much to Athena's sister's
dismay. Thinking back on it, I can't recall a large number of pedophilic
lesbians in other anime shows, but this decidedly unusual character provides
some of the funniest, though decidedly politically incorrect, moments in
An irreverent show, this series takes a simple premise of a school-based
club and turns it on its ear. The jokes and humorous situations
fly by quickly, and even the fan service isn't too gratuitous and often
amusing. (Something that rarely happens in my opinion.) Well
worth checking out.
This DVD gives you the option of listening to the show in the original
2.0 Japanese or an English 5.1 dub. There are removable subtitles
for the signs in the show, and an English translation.
I viewed this DVD listening to both tracks and, surprisingly, I prefer
the audio on the English dub by just a bit. The dub was a good one,
with the voice actors putting a lot of feeling into their characters, but
the 5.1 soundtrack was able to outshine the stereo mix of the Japanese
track. The rain in the third episode was much fuller and surrounding
on the English track, and Gorou's narrations had an interesting echo effect
that the Japanese track lacked.
Both languages sounded very clear and crisp. The slightest background
sound was easy to discern. There was good use made of the front soundstage
also. This was a nice sounding DVD.
The full frame video on this DVD looked great. There was very
good definition with the lines being tight and very few digital artifacts.
The colors were bright and vivid as fits the subject matter. I was
very please with the quality.
This disc includes some fun extras. There is a Cosplay Identification
101 featurette that has stills from the shows and identifies which
anime series or video game the costume came from. This five-minute
reel is helpful when you know that you've seen a character before,
but just can't quite place it.
There is also a six-minute reel of production sketches with annotations
from the illustrators, the original Japanese opening, and a textless closing
There are trailers for
Steel Angel Kurumi 2, Happy
Puni Poemy, Excel
Blitz Tactics, and Full
I really enjoyed this show. It had me laughing through all three
episodes. The characters are amusing, the situations strange and
comical, and the jokes frequent. Heck, even the idea of a club where
you practice dressing up in costumes to prepare for competition is decidedly
odd. If you are a fan of offbeat comedy, be sure to check this show
out. Highly Recommended.