Rheality Lapse started her journey as a cosplayer way back in 2010 when she met fellow cosplayer Niha Novacaine in Mumbai Anime Club. Not having been familiar with the concept of cosplay prior to that, her first cosplay was a modest Diva from Blood+ for the Mumbai Anime Club Halloween meet. She describes that first cosplay as having been “flimsy” and recalls all of the work that went into it regardless. She even remembers having used all her craft skills to make a cardboard coffin cello case for her boyfriend which even ended up scaring her parents!
While Rhea picked up cosplay as a serious hobby from then on, she does note that cosplay is both an expensive hobby as well as one that requires a lot of effort. “People think that ‘I’m gonna be epic at level one,’ and when they can’t do it they’re scared that they’ll get judged,” she says, having learnt from experience that even the simplest cosplays require an immense amount of effort. While that thought did strike her initially, she soon found that it’s absolutely worth it to keep on trying.
People think that ‘I’m gonna be epic at level one,’ and when they can’t do it they’re scared that they’ll get judged.
That, however, is not the only thing that keeps amateur cosplayers from getting into the scene. According to Rhea, while the cosplay scene in India is very friendly and welcoming, cosplay bullying is still common, when it comes to issues of race and fat-shaming, as well as with people from outside the otaku/cosplayer communities slut-shaming those inside it. And while most cosplayers band together against discrimination and the Indian Cosplay Community (facebook group) is quick to shut down unnecessary disputes, the existence of such attitudes do get in the way of people getting into cosplay.
Skin color being a huge issue in every facet of Indian life, and not just cosplay, Rhea feels that the cosplayers who only cosplay dark characters because of their own skin tones are just limiting themselves for no valid reason.
You will never hear the opposite, like people saying ‘You’re not dark enough.’
While she does approve of providing constructive criticism on someone’s work, she believes in always standing up against people who will criticize a person for being too dark, too “flat-chested”, too skinny or too voluptuous to cosplay a certain character.
Rheality Lapse is now part of a cosplay group called Phantom Ramen, comprising of Niha Novacaine, Dancing Kitteh and herself. The group, other than partaking in group cosplay, shop for supplies together, game together and argue over the superiority of their favourite MOBAs. Other than cosplaying they also plan to start streaming their playthroughs, being into everything from RPGs and MOBAs to indie titles and Otome, between the three of them. We can hope to see group cosplay by Phantom Ramen soon, when they launch their official Facebook page.
Individually, Rheality Lapse recently won first runner up in the cosplay competition in the Indian Gaming Expo. She went as a bloody and battle-ravaged version of Lara Croft, which she says, “definitely earned [her] some brownie points,” considering that people only expect Lara Croft cosplay to be “Clean and sexy.” She didn’t just stand out because of her creative concept but also the amount of effort and creativity put into the costume. She made Lara’s bow out of real branches and medical tape and even got splinters in her hands while making it! Despite the effort put into the costume itself, she says that “It’s about 90% acting in a costume like Lara.” She describes having to stay in character the whole time at IGX, which involved not smiling and learning to emulate Lara’s British accent. Rhea stresses the importance of body language while cosplaying characters that aren’t armor intensive, saying that she spent a lot of time watching walkthroughs to observe Lara’s movements and behavior.
While all of those factors went into her winning the competition, doing justice to the character is the most important part of cosplaying to Rhea. “People recognizing and liking my cosplay is what drives me to do it,” she says. While she thinks it’s perfectly fine to cosplay at a convention, just because one thinks it looks cool, cosplay to her is really about having a connection to a character that you love.
People recognizing and liking my cosplay is what drives me to do it.
Rheality Lapse is currently working on several League of Legends costumes and we can hope to see those and many of her future cosplays in not only future conventions but also in her cosplay shoots on her page and on the upcoming Phantom Ramen page.