Title: Cosplay Complex
Published by: ADV Films / Section23 Films
Based on: Original Anime Series
Genre: Comedy, Fanservice
Audio: English and Japanese Dubs
Aspect Ratio: 4:3
Runtime: 90 Minutes
Cost: $14.95 from Rightstuf as a Double Pack (With My Dear Marie)
Classification: This title was originally rated 17+, however I threw away the original packaging which I believe had the actual information on it.
Blurb: Cosplay Complex is a series originally released in 2002, and is what the title expects it to be, a series about a group of students cosplaying together. Having three episodes surrounding pure cosplay would have been boring, so they added some relationships, a wide variety of different character personalities and a number of gags, all of which are hit or miss. The design is average, with more focus being put on the cosplay more then anything else. Voice acting is decent with some average music alongside it. An overall enjoyable, if not a bit bland watch.
First of all, I am aware that this series was not on my review list, however whilst I initially stated I would be on a break until Wednesday, some important things came up in terms of my education and my timetable which has thrown my review schedule in disarray, normal reviews will begin this weekend. This however, intends on just being a small review to tide over until then.
You may be asking, “Hold on Sam…. I can’t find this title on either Madman Entertainment or Siren Visuals websites? Where can I get it?”. Unlike most of my reviews, this is actually a title that never made it to the shores of Australia, and was released solely in America by ADV Films before they went kaput. This series is all about cosplay and a group of students in their pursuit to becoming the countries best cosplayers, but how does the storyline fare overall? Read on to found out in my review of Cosplay Complex.
Meet Chako and her friends from the Cosplay ASsociation at East Oizuki 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! Errr…. yeah… right….
In reality, Chako and her friends are barely able to keep their club alive at all. Feeble club membership and a lack of sponsorship might be the end of their cosplay dreams before they can even start. But don’t you dare underestimate their group of spunky girls! They’ll survive a barrage of pervy newcomers, cosplay rivalries, costume disarsters 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!
Do not just pass on this series because you think it will just be a series about girls cosplaying as characters from different anime….. errrr…. actually it is that, however they do try and add a few other plot lines here and there to make it seem more of a series that surrounds a vaster degree of comedy then just a general slip-up. The characters are a well-rounded group of people, each with their different “otaku” trait…. the loli, the corresponding foreigner who goes after said loli, the protective big sister, the yandere, the ditzy girl and the all-knowing pervert male club leader to name a few.
Be reminded that this is a 3-part OVA series, therefore there isn’t as much in terms of character development or storyline as you would expect in a full-blown series. The first episode is what you would expect from a series like this, the club is down on members and they have someone wanting to join…. so why not get the whole school in and watch the fanservice put on by the main character Chako and foreigner, child-loving stalker/crow/furry/hyperactive student Jenny. Whilst it is all in good fun, and the series does keep throwing out new things to the viewer, it wouldn’t keep my interest at least for another couple of episodes.
In the second episode, they choose to do a beach episode which is the normal maid cafe and miko themes to it (Surprisingly there is absolutely no going into water) and whilst it carries over the cosplay theme, it is more about developing the romance between some of the characters in the series with some subtle prodding from the other characters, for pure comedy purposes of course. Then lastly, the third and final episode I feel was more made to keep the door open for any future series they had, as it was very similar to the first, but had more characters in it.
If I were to say anything about this series, it was very fun trying to pick out the references to anime series throughout the episode, in which case there were numerous ones as pointed out by a bonus “anime identifying” video included in the DVD. However, with the exception of that, if it were spread out over more episodes and focused more on the development of characters over cramming as much into every episode as possible to, from what I can guess appeal to as many people as possible, the series might have been better then it was. Overall, an average job.
For a series such as this in 2002 without all the fancy design techniques that they have today, it is a solid design performance although nothing special. Without having any major action scenes or anything that required any movement other then basic every-day movements, there were no issues I had with the animation. The character designs were most probably the thing that really picked this series up from being bland, as whilst the appearances were generic looking, their designs were well adapted to the cosplay of their choice and was overall bright and where warranted, cute. Environment designs were suitable but nothing above average. For example, in the scene the picture above comes from, whilst the characters freely move, there is no hint of animation from any of the background characters, making it seem very awkward.
Moete Koso Kosupure by Nogawa Sakura
A light-hearted and well paced song with some suitable design and animation included alongside it.
Cosplay Ondo (Kosupure Ondo) by Nogawa Sakura
An enjoyable song, however despite the purpose of the design choice, I cannot say I spent more then 10 seconds watching it through my watches.
In terms of music, it is not overly used, and whilst there are some dramatic and more serious tunes, the majority are upbeat and cheerful however lack in overall number. The dub is something interesting. For the most part, the one thing I think ADV Films mastered over anything was English dubbing, with a majority of their titles I watched having a good selection of voice actors and actresses. Whilst maybe not matching to the standard of other ADV series, was far superior to the Japanese dub which for the most part sounded plain.
Larissa Wolcott voices the character Chako and having heard her in appropriately exaggerated voice roles such as Excel from Excel Saga, I couldnt help but feel disappointed when listening to her in a more normal paced role. However, voice acting got better from there. Jenny Larson voicing the yandere character Reika suited her role well and is well suited to similar roles. Carla Witt and Tiger Darrow are two voice actresses I havent heard before and in comparison to their Japanese counterparts, gave their characters a new life, and hell, with the same couple of voice actresses doing child characters in series, Tiger Darrow would have been a good addition to them, voicing Athena well. Without a doubt, the best performance was done by Jessica Smolins who voiced Jenny, and suited the creepy and ever-changing personality of her.
First of all, in terms of the overall package design, it is average, no more, no less. The cover art is quite well designed and keeps with the overall cosplay theme by having coloured fabric overlayed with the characters from the series. The back cover has several screenshots from the series and some rather well placed text. Inside the DVD, there is no inside cover, just comprised of a disc with Athena on the front of it.
Now, there are a couple of interesting extras on this set which are:
- Cosplay Identification 101 – A 5 minute video listing every single cosplay outfit shown in the series. Hard to believe how many there are in total….
- Annotated Sketches – A 6 minute video outlining production sketches with English comments on them.
- Japanese Opening – Not a clean opening surprisingly.
- Clean Closing – All three ending sequences, each with the same song.
- ADV Previews – There are previews for a total of six series: Steel Angel Kurumi 2, Happy Lesson, Puni Puni Poemy, Excel Saga, Najica Blitz Tactics and Full Metal Panic!. Honestly, I love the ADV series trailers, they usually put a lot of effort into them.
and so another review has come to a close. Personally, this is a series you are supposed to enjoy for the references to other series, and I enjoyed seeing all the references made throughout the episodes. However, I still couldn’t overlook the fact that they did try and cram too much into three episodes, alongside the ending which basically ended on a cliffhanger and didnt amount to anything like they wanted to do more episodes…. Anyway, it is an enjoyable series, but not one that you would watch over and over.
Character Development: C-
OP/ED Sequences: B
Voice Acting: B
Personal Opinion: C+
Overall Score: C+
…. oh, and apparently this series has Cosplay Faeries…. Interesting concept….