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Book Review

Book Cover

The Fantasy World of Role Play


Author: Lauren Orsini
Publisher: Carlton Books
RRP: £20.00
ISBN: 978 1 78097 630 3
Publication Date: 22 May 2015

Welcome to the amazing world of cosplay, where devoted fans personify the appearance and mannerisms of their favourite fantasy characters. Through elaborate costumes and meticulous makeup, they transform themselves into visions so fantastic, they not only change the way others perceive them, but how they perceive themselves...

Cosplay: The Fantasy World of Role Play is a strange book. It's not of a large enough format to be considered a coffee table edition, but the content is very much in that vein. This is the sort of book you'll want to pick up and dip in and out of.

Featuring over 200 images from the best and most well-known cosplay photographers (yes, I know, I was also surprised to learn that this was a photographic genre) in the world, and interviews cosplayers themselves. This book offers a unique insight into this fascinating, fun and action-packed world.

On first glance, very few of the photos included here appear to be actually taken at conventions, but if you look carefully you can see that the photographer has carefully chosen a quiet area with a decent, plain backdrop. Quite a lot of the snaps are posed and appear to be have been taken in photography studios and several of these (most notably in the Japanese anime/manga costumes) are heavily Photoshopped to the point you have to do a double take to check whether they are not computer generated images.

In addition, there's no fat Spider-Man or flat chested Wonder Woman; this book collects together mainly good looking, fit cosplayers in action (with the possibly exception of the "cuddly" Ghostbuster - sorry sir, no insult intended). So probably not a fair representation of the average cosplayer. In addition, some of the models are not named, making it unclear (especially in the game character genre) whether these are real models paid by exhibitors at the exhibitions, or genuine cosplayers who have constructed their own costumes.

But by far my biggest complaint is that despite featuring several Star Wars costumes there was only a lone Borg to represent Star Trek (the Trek universe is awash with colourful aliens). The absence of Klingons is inexcusable?!?!

While it is indeed an interesting book, and may provide inspiration for regular cosplayers, it's not one that I think warrants a £20 price tag. Larger format; hardback; more pages... possibly, but as it stands it's a little over priced. And, as the text is a little on the sparse side, the intended audience for this book could no doubt find much better and way more images by doing a quick Internet search.


Nick Smithson

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