Cosplay is always full of drama.
Title: Complex Age
Publisher: Kodansha (JP), Kodansha USA (US)
Artist/Writer: Yui Sakuma
Serialized in: Weekly Morning
Translation: Alethea Nibley & Athena Nibley
Original Release Date: December 13, 2016
Like many cosplayers’ lives, Nagisa’s is filled with drama — but she’s hardly ever the instigator. As Nagisa continues to wonder if she should stop cosplaying, she speaks with her mother about her own past while watching friends fall deeper in and further out of the scene.
Nagisa’s life continues to move on in spite of all of these frictions, but another obstacle appears in her way in this volume. Nagisa is convinced to go to a school reunion and there she reunites with a classmate who appears a little too eager to get a girlfriend — especially one who doesn’t immediately tune out when he talks about the Magi-Ruru game he’s been working on. Nagisa is perfectly happy to go on a few dates but it seems like she and this classmate, Senda, have different expectations about the relationship, and Nagisa’s cosplaying gets caught in the crossfire once more.
The world is giving Nagisa more and more reasons to stop cosplaying but funnily enough, these are all external forces. It’s clear that Nagisa still loves making and wearing cosplay, that she’s a good cosplayer, and that she’s able to capture the characters really well. Nagisa’s complicated feelings towards Aya being an even “better” cosplayer than she is are ones that I think a lot of cosplayers have had, especially when they see someone with only a couple of years under their belt already churning out incredible craftsmanship and stunning photos. In that way Aya is a bit of a Mary Sue; the implication is that it’s not even her posing, charisma, make-up or craftsmanship that draws the “camera-kos,” it’s literally that she just has the perfect face! It’s especially funny because Nagisa herself is drawn in a very anime-like way, and this is clearly all on purpose. Aya is essentially the greatest challenge a cosplayer like Nagisa can face: Can you still love a hobby that takes so much effort for a fickle audience?
I do think Nagisa will find her answer in the end, but I am curious what the second half of the series will bring. Nagisa’s family issue was resolved suspiciously neatly, in a way that feels like it was both resolved and not, and it looks like Nagisa will be hearing back from her former coworker soon as well. Complex Age is far more sympathetic to cosplayers than I expected; it doesn’t judge anyone for why they do or don’t continue to cosplay, but simply tries to show their feelings — all I could hope for and more.