Style File: Zach Baker and Cosplay

“I’ve always thought that it’s like Halloween, but all-year-round”

Brianna Ifland, Editor/Reporter/Photographer

With Halloween comes costumes, and many of those who celebrate go all out, counting the days until they can dress up as their favorite Power Ranger, vampire, or newly rebooted superhero. However, for cosplayer and MHHS sophomore Zacharie Baker, bringing your favorite characters to life isn’t confined to just October.

“I got involved [with cosplay] about four years ago,” says Baker.

For those ill-versed in anime or online slang, cosplay is a combination of “costume” and “play,” a term that describes the practice of creating and wearing costumes, learning iconic poses or catchphrases, and otherwise embodying a fictional character (which is more often than not that of anime or manga) through dressing up.

I would say that it’s rough at first when you don’t know exactly what you’re doing, but it’s easy to get a hang of it– oh, and thrift stores are your best friend.”

— Zach Baker

However, starting to cosplay can be daunting. Where can you find the money or materials to embody characters from beyond imaginative stories? 

“I would say that it’s rough at first when you don’t know exactly what you’re doing, but it’s easy to get a hang of it– oh, and thrift stores are your best friend.” 

Using everyday clothes that one already has at their disposal is known as closet cosplay, and is often how people first test the waters.

“I did start with closet cosplays,” says Baker. “A lot of my newer cosplays still incorporate my everyday outfits. There have been multiple times where I have cut and dyed my hair to fit a character. A lot of the outfits I wear are very much inspired by characters.”

Baker has cosplayed characters such as Junko Enoshima, Chiaki Nanami, Peter Graham, and more. From leading horror characters to anime schoolgirls, they range in genre, medium, style, and even gender.

Baker as Chiaki Nanami from Danganronpa 2

The act of cosplaying a character with a gender opposite of one’s own is known as ‘crossplaying,’ which many members in the community argue can help with gaining a more nuanced understanding of one’s femininity/masculinity. 

“I think that gender shouldn’t really be brought into cosplay in the way that anyone can cosplay, no matter how they identify, which I think is probably my favorite part… I think that cosplay can help people understand a lot about themselves, whether it’s gender identity or what to wear the next day.” 

Despite the hype behind Halloween, there’s still a stigma against cosplayers, all for the exact practice a major American holiday surrounds— and therein lies the hypocrisy. 

“I think in recent years [cosplay has] become more popular but people still view it as some sort of taboo for some reason, but I’ve always thought that it’s like Halloween, but all-year-round, or like a really intense performance. Some people just can’t understand it and that happens, not everyone is gonna like it.”

Other MHJH students in cosplay– such as Kurapika from Hunter x Hunter

Unconventional methods of self-exploration are often the ones that push us to learn the most about ourselves, and for Zacharie and other Mountain Home students, cosplay is a perfect example of such. 

Baker can be found on TikTok as @zachariebae.