When Cosplay Gets Remixed: Shogun Vader

ALA-27-thumb-550x367.jpg Photo: Shannon Cottrell/LA Weekly, Anime L.A. 2010 Earlier this year, I wrote about a cosplay spotted at Anime LA known as Shogun Vader. It's probably my favorite cosplay. I like that Alexander Lam, the guy behind the Vader mask, reinterpreted the costume by highlighting some of the early influences on the film series. The idea of remixing seems to be integral to the culture surrounding fandom conventions. Anime cons typically have AMV contests, where people re-edit animes to fit a particular piece of music. Then there's fan art, fiction, films and other activities that revolve around reworking characters and stories you love into something new. The one aspect of fan culture where we don't see as much remixing is cosplay. More often, it seems like the goal is to recreate the character with as much attention to the source design as possible. However, when you see someone who uses a character as a launchpad to create an alternate version that is both well-researched and quite detailed, cosplay becomes even more exciting. Link: Shogun Vader (LA Weekly)


    1. sweet link!

      I still want a cape or those long coat like pieces that they where over the kimonos on both versions.

  1. Well I would consider the “steampunking” of everything / every character you can think of remixing. And that has been going on for a while. I’m neo-victorianizing a cartoon character for Dragon*Con but not steampunking it per se.

  2. By the way, I was not meaning to diminish the efforts of Alexander Lam in any way by saying it is not an original idea. I love his ingenuity and creative repurposing of materials like posterboard and shoelaces.

  3. In fact, George Lucas’s design of Darth Vader helmet was inspired by a white samurai helmet in the famous Japanese movie masterpiece ‘The Hidden Fortress’ (隠し砦の三悪人) by Akira Kurosawa. In addition, the motive of R2D2 and 3PO was also from that movie.


    1. You beat me to it. I was going to comment that Kurosawa did it first. Haven’t seen The Hidden Fortress, but Vader-esque helmets abound in Ran as well.

  4. It’s been part of fandom for quite some time, actually. Back in the early 90s, a coworker of mine went to a Trek convention and told me that she’d seen an interesting twist on the Mirror Universe concept: playing off the premise that the Mirror Universe Klingons were as much unlike the “regular” Klingons as the Mirror Universe Starfleet was unlike Kirk and crew, the cosplayers came up with these sort of flowing, luxurious, almost Pre-Raphaelite versions of the Klingon costumes. No pictures, sadly, but just her verbal description made me laugh.

    In general, I think that Trek cosplayers have used the Mirror Universe concept to come up with variations on the official uniforms post-original series that weren’t part of the official canon. Also, I’ve seen quite a few female versions of various superheroes, in the best Rule 63 tradition, although sometimes they’re based on “imaginary story”/alternate universe appearances in the comics themselves.

  5. I would say it was more McQuarrie’s design than Lucas’ (of course, based on direction by Lucas)


    And it isn’t just R2D2 and 3PO that are from Hidden Fortress, pretty much the whole story is.

    Also, I find it funny to refer to anything in Ran as “Vader-esque”. The armor in Ran are not anything-esque, they are simply historically-derived. It is Vader’s helmet that is samurai-esque.

    And then there are the magical xylophones…

  6. “A cosplay” now?

    I thought at the very worst one was a cosplayer who cosplayed in costumes at a cosplay event, not a cosplayer who cosplayed in cosplays at a cosplay.

    I call it “fancy dress”.

  7. Yeah, Lucas was hugely inspired by Kurosawa. That is what I like about returning Vader to his samurai roots. And Tensegrity is right. McQuarrie deserves most of the credit for the design. He is one of my heroes.

    I just found a line of custom figures that re-imagines what the Star Wars characters would look like if they existed in a Kurosawa film:


  8. Years ago, I did Elizabethan versions of Jack Skellington & Sally from “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” It worked surprisingly well.

    I was also part of an X-Men / Cabaret mashup at a convention. See, Alan Cumming played the Emcee on Broadway, and he played Nightcrawler in “X-Men”… we just took it from there. I’m just glad I wasn’t the one with my entire torso painted dark blue.

  9. For some reason I was expecting the Vader Shogun of Harlem, Darth Sho’nuff (or maybe Darth Nuff?).

    1. Am I the meanest?
      Am I the prettiest?
      Am I the baddest mofo no doubt around this town?

  10. Cosplay remixes have been going on for quite some time. My cosplay friends and I have done some steampunk Final Fantasy costumes before, and I’m particularly fond of genderbending (we’re even getting guys into the group now!)

    But that turned out very well, dude’s got some skills.

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