While we were in Tokyo I visited Acos – a specialist cosplay store in Ikebukuro. Read on for the full report~
Many anime fans who have been to Japan, will be familiar with Akihabara as the place to go for anime goods. However, in the north of Tokyo lies another ‘otaku heaven’ – Otome Road. Located next to Ikebukuro, a popular shopping district, the area nicknamed ‘Otome Road’ is a heaven for anime fans, a street filled with anime goods stores. And, just behind amazing Otome Road, lies a cosplayers’ gem – ACOS!
Acos is the sister store of one of the largest anime emporiums on Otome Road (Animate) and a one-stop shop for everything cosplay. Entering on the first floor was like walking into a cosplayer’s paradise –costumes from floor to ceiling. All kinds of cosplay were represented – maid uniforms, shinsengumi outfits, and numerous high-quality licensed costumes from popular anime series. Many of their costumes are aimed at a female market, but there are plenty of unisex male characters’ costumes, too.
On the third floor lies a wig and make-up emporium. Acos sells Pri-Chara wigs, which is the cosplay brand of high quality wig makers Prisila. Once again, many of the wigs were official licensed character ones, making it easy for cosplayers who want to cosplay characters with gravity-defying hairstyles. A wide range of theatrical “pan” make-up in an array of colours was also on display. Many Japanese cosplayers prefer to use theatrical make-up as it is inexpensive, works well for character make-up and looks great in photos. Even contact lenses and props for specific costumes (e.g. Sebastian’s tray and white gloves from Black Butler) were on sale too. Hanging on one wall was a selection of “chest binders” for female cosplayers who want to crossplay as males – literally everything you could need for cosplay was on sale here.
In the UK, it’s often difficult to find the right fabric to sew a costume, let alone pre-made costumes themselves, and many things have to be ordered online – meaning that making cosplay is often a huge challenge. So what motivates Japanese cosplayers when they can buy the costumes so easily? “Many customers collect costumes in the same way that other anime fans collect figures,” says Acos staff member Ikenoya. “When a new anime series comes out, there are many cosplayers who can’t wait to own the costume right away. It’s very addictive!”. Having costumes so readily available doesn’t mean that Japanese cosplayers lack skill, however. More experienced cosplayers often buy the pre-made costumes and customise them to their own body type. Many Japanese cosplayers also put in huge amounts of effort with character make-up and wigs, to ensure they represent the character well in every detail.
Walking into a store and being able to buy everything in one place – costume, wig, shoes make-up – was a unique experience. Whilst I enjoy the ‘treasure hunt’ challenge which comes from making costumes in the UK, I’ll definitely be visiting Acos again the next time I’m in Japan and stocking up on everything I need to make my cosplay 100% perfect!
Check out the Acos store here.
〒170-0013 3-2-1 Higashi Ikebukuro Toshima Tokyo www.animate-costume.jp/shop/acos/ikebukuro/
A selection of cosplay costumes can also be found at Animate’s other stores around Japan. www.animate.co.jp