What They Say
Meet Chako and her friends from the Cosplay Association at East Oizumi Academy! They’re the hottest new cosplay team in Japan…fresh from a winning streak of local battles, they’re set to sweep the Cosplay World Series!
In reality, Chako and her fellow students are barely able to keep their club alive. Feeble club membership and no adult sponsor might be the end of their cosplay dreams before they can even start. But don’t you dare underestimate this group of spunky girls! They’ll survive a barrage of pervy newcomers, cosplay rivalries, costume disasters and dating mishaps in order to reach their ultimate goal of competing in the World Series. The clothing flies as the girls suit up (and strip down) for Cosplay Complex!
1 ” The Cosplay Club is Born
2 ” Summer Training Camp of Charm
3 ” The Final Battle: Showdown in the East Oizumi Academy Gym
Audio is provided in Japanese 2.0 and English 5.1 version – I listened to the Japanese audio for this review. Speech is easy to pick out against the background music and effects, while good use is made of the available channels to add direction to the audio. There were no obvious encoding problems.
Video is presented in its original full-frame aspect. Given that it’s a few years old now (the show was produced in 2001), the transfer here looks extremely good – plenty of bright colours, with very little in the way of defects. There’s not a huge amount of detail in many of the scenes, but what there is comes across very well.
The front cover of the packaging features most of the main cast (although Reika and Jenny are sadly missing), with the girls resting on Gorou’s oversized head – it’s a fun piece of artwork which lets you know pretty much what you’re getting from the show. The rear has the usual screenshots, promotional summary and disc information.
The main menu is a simple static piece that has pieces of bright coloured fabric as the backdrop and a shot of a blushing Chako changing out of one of her outfits with the series logo next to her, with the closing theme playing in the background. Individual episodes are directly selectable from the main screen, along with options for language select and extras. It’s all quick & easy to use.
There’s a reasonable selection of extras on this release, most usefully the Cosplay Identification 101 film that runs through most of the outfits used in the series & lets you know where they were taken from. There’s some fun to be had trying to identify them all yourself, but this clip lets you see what you got right and wrong. There’s also a set of annotated production sketches, the original Japanese opening sequence, and a clean version of the closing sequence.
First up, a warning: if you like your anime to tell a complete story, then you may want to give Cosplay Complex a pass, as it ends without ever getting to the much-mentioned Cosplay World Series, and without following up a number of little plot threads that are dropped in to introduce some mystery into the storyline. There’s a definite feel that there was meant to be more than the three episodes here, but something seems to have gone wrong along the way and no more was ever made ” which is a damn shame, to be honest.
On the plus side, these three episodes are very plot-light anyway ” I doubt there are any people watching for the engaging storyline, at least. East Oizumi Academy’s cosplay club is gunning for the bigtime, but is being held back by their lack of members, and their lack of a teacher willing to sponsor the club. At the start of the series, the club consists of bald & bespectacled chairman Gorou, a cosplay master in his own way who also has a particular approach to life that you could maybe describe as a bit strange. His #2 in the club is Reika, an upper-class girl who seems to harbour some sort of feelings for Gorou ” although the way he flirts with her maybe isn’t entirely appreciated. Other members are Athena, the little girl who is cuteness personified; her big sister Maria, a shy shrine-maiden who loves her little sister in a frankly disturbing way; and Chako, the pink-haired star of the club who, thanks to her rabbit-eared fairy companion Delmo, can cosplay just about anyone or anything ” although she is just a little bit clueless.
As the show goes on, we’re introduced to Jenny, the loud American exchange student who’s no slouch in the cosplay department herself, and really loves Athena, much to Maria’s disgust; Tamiya, Chako’s first fan and object of affection; and a variety of other characters, all in some way deranged or dysfunctional (always in entertaining ways, thankfully).
Each episode is geared up simply to provide excuses for the gang to have one big cosplay outing, for Jenny to torture poor Athena (except in episode two, where she receives a pointed lesson in the joys of older women and spends most of the episode recovering from the experience ” she never thought it could be so good), and for Chako to make good use of Delmo’s shape-shifting skills to create the ultimate cosplay experience. Along the way there’s acres of fanservice and more than a few good laughs. Rinse, repeat, until the end of the disc. Sounds simple, but it works so well that three episodes really isn’t enough.
Towards the end of the disc, other elements are introduced that seem to point the way to further episodes having been planned: the introduction of Ranko, star of the cosplay club at the rival Shin-Takarazuka Academy, who’s also being helped by a fairy just like Delmo; and the mysterious purple-haired woman who seems to worry Chako’s landlady so much. There’s enough teased out about them to get the curiosity going, but then the series comes to an end and you’re left frustratingly un-enlightened about what it was all about. Normally, that would leave me raging ” I like everything to be nicely tied up, thank-you ” but because this disc is just so much fun to watch, I’m happy to let it slide.
Another AoD reviewer once called Cosplay Complex “so wrong that it has me in fits of laughter”. I can’t argue with that verdict at all ” almost everything the show does is pitched to make you laugh, and it manages to keep you going for the whole length of the series. It does have its flaws ” it’s clearly unfinished and some people will probably find that the humour runs just a little close to the line at times ” but it’s one of those shows that, while it has no redeeming artistic merit (in the highbrow sense), you really should see. Being comparatively cheap only adds to the appeal. Go get it now.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Cosplay Identification 101, Annotated Sketches, Original Japanese Opening and Clean Close
Content Grade: A-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: B+
Released By: ADV Films UK
Release Date: May 21st, 2007
Running Time: 75 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Panasonic TX-W28R30P 28″ widescreen TV; Pioneer DV-626D player; Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.