Watch: Call to Cosplay

I've often thought it would be a good idea to have a Project Runway-styled show for cosplayers. Imagine what cosplayers, many of whom already work with unconventional materials and low budgets, could do with guaranteed funds and dedicated time just to make costumes. Heroes of Cosplay hits on that a little bit with the tight turnaround time on some of the competitions, but it's not quite the same thing. That's where Call to Cosplay comes in.

Call to Cosplay is an original competitive reality TV series from MYX TV, a new Asian-American channel. The show is being simulcast on Crunchyroll and it's worth a look for people interested in seeing how cosplay comes together.

Each week, two contestants are given $100, a mystery item, and a time limit of eight hours to create a cosplay based on a given theme. In one episode, the theme is magical girls. Another sees the theme of American (non-Asian) characters. Mystery items so far have included coffee and coffee filters, a plug-in electric fan, and canned beets. The contestants can work alone or with an assistant, and everything from shopping to finishing details needs to be completed in eight hours.

Call to Cosplay is clearly a low-budget series and that's not a bad thing. Remember how cheap the first season of RuPaul's Drag Race looked? With competitive reality TV, it's all about the substance and Call to Cosplay delivers.

The casting department did an excellent job finding eight contestants with very different cosplay aesthetics to compete on the show. One contestant hand sews all of her costumes, while another can construct armor but not sew at all. Certain elements keep popping up in all the costumes--craft foam, storebought wigs, and a whole lot of glue. The rest is far more varied than you can imagine.

I have to give bonus points to the show for not punishing a contestant for doing an original character for the magical girl theme. She was clearly overwhelmed by the possibility in the genre and chose to pull recurring elements from the genre rather than replicate one costume. She actually received a solid score in accuracy because she represented the theme so well in her original character.

The format of the show feels like it needs a little tweaking, but it's good for a first effort. There will be four rounds of 1v1 competitions leading to a showcase round where the grand prize winner is selected. The first few competitions might not even have a huge impact on the results since constructing the costume in eight hours is only worth 40/100 points. That's the same as the score for performing for a crowd in the costume. If nothing else, having each contestant put on their completed costume at the end of the first round would make for a more exciting episode. Only one has done that so far; everyone else described their costumes on a work table for the camera.

You can stream Call to Cosplay for free on Crunchyroll. Episode five is only available to premium subscribers but will unlock tomorrow.

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