Officially Leveled Up: Journeyman Craftsmanship Cosplayer

I entered my Grimm Reaper cosplay into yet another cosplay contest, this time at Anime Dallas. AD’s contest rules stipulate that Judge’s Awards do not count towards your total number of awards and therefore doesn’t disqualify you from entering that cosplay into the contest. With this in mind, I was effectively at zero awards, so I entered into the Inexperienced (Novice) category.

Registration & Pre-judging

Sign up was Friday and I was the first to do it. I picked a pre-judging slot in the middle of the day Saturday. (Didn’t want to be first but also didn’t want to be last.) I turned in my flash drive with my music and that was that.

Saturday’s pre-judging was even more intense than the one I did at Animefest because I knew one of the judges, Mikomikocosplay. We had met at Animefest and I knew he was going to really be looking closely at my costume and not playing favorites. Having him look at my zipper and seams was extremely nerve-racking. After giving my elevator pitch and leaving my build book with the judges, I grabbed a quick snack before rehearsal.

Pre-contest Jitters

It was here at rehearsal that I learned I was one of three entries to actually submit music. I was so worried that maybe it was a bad idea since I was really only being judged in craftsmanship and not performance. I got to rehearse with my music, my walk-on a mix of choreographed moves and poses with a little improvisation. During rehearsal, my mask slipped off. I felt it falling off my face and at one point just grabbed it with one hand and threw it onto the stage dramatically. I had hoped the magnets I added would prevent the mask slipping, but I was wrong and now had to prepare for the worst. When time came for the real walk-on, I decided that if I felt the slightest hint of it falling, I’d take control of the situation and throw it off myself to make it look planned.

I thankfully didn’t have to do that.

When the time came for the cosplay contest, my mask stayed on throughout the whole performance. I felt confident in my movements and was pleased with how I had timed it to the music. After running to my seat, I watched the rest of the contestants on stage and anxiously awaited the results.

You can watch video of my performance here!

At this point, Finnthecosplayer pointed out to me that I had been bumped up a division, from Inexperienced (Novice) to Experienced (Journeyman). She said that they had announced me as Experienced, but I had no recollection of that cause my ears were laser focused on my musical cue to get on stage. The only thing I remembered hearing was “Ashweez Cosplay” and the applause of the crowd before I got on stage. I didn’t believe her at all.

Final results

Performances and judging done, the judges got on stage, introduced themselves and then proceeded to announce the winners. First was Inexperienced, which went to a MHA Momo cosplayer. At this point, I still didn’t believe I had been bumped, so I resigned myself to not winning anything. But then they announced the winner for the Experience division.

And called my name.

I cannot believe that I not only got bumped up a division, but I won said division. It’s still surreal to me. Being on stage with the judges and other winners was exhilarating. I felt on top of the world for the second time. And, with this new bump up in division, I was officially a Journeyman craftsman. That means that the next time I compete, it’s gotta be high caliber. No shortcuts. No messy seams. No excuses. At least this time, I would know from the start if I’d be entering my cosplay into competition. Knowing that before building the cosplay means I would be more acutely aware of the mistakes and fix them immediately, rather than my usual “Eh, 5ft rule; if it looks good from 5ft, it’s fine.” That means finishing seams neatly and right away, rather than trying to haphazardly clean them up after the fact.

Retiring the Grimm Reaper & Future Plans

I have to retire Grimm Reaper from competition but I’ll still proudly wear her to cons. I’m so happy that this cosplay has gotten as much recognition as it does. It means so much to me because of how much time, money, and effort I spent on it.

As for future competitions, I already have a costume in mind. I don’t know when or where I’ll compete (or when I’ll even get to start said costume), but I’m looking forward to it! Competing really helps me improve my craft and meet some extremely talented cosplayers. I’ve never regretted entering a cosplay contest.

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