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Undressing the Art of Playing Dress Up: Cosplay Deviants
Book Reviews

Undressing the Art of Playing Dress Up: Cosplay Deviants

A book full of gorgeous T&A, but I found myself desperately wishing it also had some Q&A.

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Cosplay is an art practiced by enthusiasts of each sublet of nerd culture. Whether the obsession is video games, anime, manga, comics, or TV/movies, these fans pour their heart and soul into their craft, making elaborate, ornate costumes to do their very best to imitate their favorite characters. The main draw of these costumes, however, are the actual costumes themselves. That’s why I found Undressing the Art of Playing Dress Up: Cosplay Deviants a curious tome.

On one hand, the cosplayers themselves are gorgeous and tasteful. On the other hand, they’re barely dressed up enough to be cosplaying. I understand the “deviant” connotation, but wigs and bras alone barely constitute cosplay.

I get that this is an adult coffee table-styled book, but right off the bat its title is quite misleading. I suppose I was under the impression that it would include a lot more text over full-color images of nearly-nude women “cosplaying” as select video game, anime, comic, and science fiction characters. There’s no “undressing” as far as getting to know the art form goes. This is simply a collection of eye candy in fancy dressing. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, or showcasing tasteful nudes (and even titillating photos) of these talented women, but fifty dollars for a book of non-official cosplays complete with some outfits that pale in comparison to those I’ve seen at conventions on other women who have clearly spend more time on their outfits is a bit pricey.

There are over 360 full-color images that span different geeky mediums, including cosplayers from Mario, Final Fantasy, Neon Genesis Evangelion, and even Adventure Time. Some of the costumes (or what’s left of them) range from excellent quality to obviously haphazard, which as a fan of the characters did irritate me. The cosplayers are gorgeous, of course (Cosplay Deviants obviously hires a certain “type” of girl, though they say they do not hire models) but unless it’s your thing to appreciate nude cosplayers, this isn’t that fantastic of a product.

You could buy it to support the models if you’re not already buying their prints at different conventions and shows, but the whole thing reeks of pandering – especially since some of the photos aren’t high quality and show off some shoddy construction. Some of them could very well have been taken with a high quality camera phone. It’s obvious which cosplayers went for professional shoots and which decided they were good taking their own photos.

Obviously this product is meant to show off costumes and the women wearing them, but the whole project comes off as a little “off-brand,” especially without the consent of authors/those who own the respective series and whatnot. I would have liked to have seen expansive interviews with the models, and while the literature about the book states they’re in there, they’re not. It might be beneficial to clear that up with the advertisements and product information on Amazon and promotional material, because it’s misleading as well as disappointing to open the book and find no way to get into these girls’ heads to see what kind of geeks they are or what makes them tick.

There are also no ways to identify some of the characters, so less avid geeks will have trouble identifying what each girl is supposed to be. What’s the point of avoiding labels? Avoiding copyright trouble, perhaps?

Undressing the Art of Playing Dress Up: Cosplay Deviants is a book full of T&A, but I found myself desperately wishing it had also included some Q&A. If you want to look at nude or nearly-nude cosplayers dressing up as favorite characters without having to worry about Mom or Dad or roommates stumbling in and thumbing through the book, however, you might be better served just trolling DeviantArt (or Google Images) for free.

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Troy Doerner

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Schiffer Publishing

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1/14/2014

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About the Author: Brittany Vincent