The great thing about manga, anime and video games is that they don’t always have to be realistic. Sometimes they are, and that’s also cool. We appreciate character designers taking the time to make detailed, impressive outfits. Even when we start to wonder how anyone could really wear something like that.
Impractical doesn’t always have to mean ‘revealing’. It might be a weird choice of materials, or an oddly skin-tight fit. Wouldn’t it be hard to run in? Isn’t that sword heavy? Would that character get cold, or uncomfortable, or kinda itchy?
One way to find out is to try cosplaying that outfit. Before starting on a costume, researching it should give you an idea of how practical it’ll be to make and wear. We wouldn’t suggest challenging another anime fan to a duel in any of the following outfits. We picked out some battle costumes that are more showy, less sensible.
Ivy’s purple costume (Soul Calibur)
To be honest, there are a bunch of oddly-dressed characters from that game we could’ve picked for this. Tira… Setsuka… Maxi… Voldo… shirtless Kilik… but we chose Isabella Valentine for her backwards approach to protective wear. What’s she trying to protect here?
It feels like Ivy has her armour in all the wrong places. “Yes, I must be sure to cover this small bit of my thighs!” At least she’s always had at least one gauntlet on. That didn’t fix the exposed stomach and hips, though. Seeing those sharp bits of blade spin around so close to her bare legs makes us tense.
And… who seriously fights in heels? We don’t care if they’ve got steel toecaps. Check the floor of a Soul Calibur level, and chances are it’s an uneven surface. That’s a ‘ring out’ waiting to happen.
Eriol’s (Eli’s) battle costume (Cardcaptor Sakura)
This outfit drags on the ground! The shoulder cover stops you lifting your arms up. The hat’s designed to constantly tilt to one side. How does anyone fight effectively in that? It feels like it’d topple the average cosplayer.
This type of robe is exactly why magic users stay near the back of the party in RPGs and stuff. It’s not to buy extra time for casting spells, it’s so they don’t trip over their own sleeve and eat dirt right in front of the enemy.
Come to think of it, everyone who isn’t Cardcaptor Sakura herself has a long-sleeved battle costume by default. They never seem to get tangled up, because that would be too much of a pain to animate.
Any/every Senketsu (Kill La Kill)
Sure, there’s an… obvious… problem with cover and skin protection here. Senketsu’s many forms leave little to the imagination. It feels like the more powerful Ryuko gets, the less she wears.
“People are people! Clothes are clothes!” – does that mean they can’t be seen together? You’d get that idea from looking at some of the Kill La Kill figures. If you want to see someone who’s been separated from a lot of her clothes… there she is.
The issue with Senketsu’s practicality is about more than just baring some skin. The outfit draws blood from the wearer in order to function. ‘Senketsu’ means ‘fresh blood’ in Japanese. It’s like bleeding before your enemy hits you. Fighting while anaemic rarely goes well – as we saw when Ryuko collapsed after her first fight.
Link’s Magic Armour (The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess)
Taking ‘pay to play’ to a whole new level, this costume drains your cash as you walk/run and take damage. When you run out of money, it turns black and makes it way harder for you to move around. Too encumbered to run, because of your own damn armour.
Is it worth it? That’s the big question.
To add insult to injury, back in the original Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, the armour didn’t consume rupees. The new system was put in place for Wind Waker HD. And even then, it didn’t cost you to move around – that was a brand new feature for Twilight Princess.
Naga’s shoulder spikes… and not much else (Slayers)
She hurts herself (in the face!) every time she lifts up her arms.
We’ve never seen a piece of armour this counterproductive before. It’s like deliberately holding the wrong end of your sword. Never mind that they look like spraypainted blue shells from Mario Kart.
The rest of the outfit isn’t even worth talking about. Hell, it barely exists. The Slayers ‘Naga the Serpent’ figure by Charagumin (Volks) has huge boobs and a very defined… uh… front shape.
Can we call it a battle costume if it’s below a certain amount of fabric? You’d be saving money on the cosplay, no doubt. Assuming you’re brave enough to dress as Naga in public, and we doubt that many people are. In any case, it’s one for the summer cons or else you’d freeze.
Maybe that’s why some people prefer 2D…
Basing a cosplay on almost any character is challenging – that’s half the fun. Battle costumes can be even trickier to pull off. Eventually, you’ll say “what the hell are they wearing?” or “how the hell is that meant to work?” out loud without realising.
It might make you scrap the whole thing and stick with someone who always wears jeans. Or it might motivate you to make the BEST COSPLAY EVAR. Fight the good fight – and see if you can pick up some helpful cosplay supplies and accessories from Japan.