Marketing senior Jennifer Capodiferro has been in the cosplay scene for more than eight years. She started in the business during her freshman year of high school when a beloved friend decided to take her to the once-small Phoenix Comic Convention.
Criminal justice and social work junior Victoria Houle befriended Jennifer Capodiferro years ago.
“Jenn Capodiferro is the type of person you can count on,” she said. “She is funny, kind and always willing to help even if she is super busy with other things.”
Capodiferro developed an early interest in Eastern culture.
“When I started taking Japanese in the ninth grade, a lot of other people in the class were into anime and comics, and it wasn’t really my thing, but there was a new convention,” she said. “One of my friends said that if I got DVDs for some of the anime then I may be able to practice listening to Japanese.”
Capodiferro explained that she agreed despite her initial hesitancy about the cosplay world. That first experience ignited her interest, and she began assisting her friends with their costumes. Her sewing class during her sophomore year in high school allowed her to start making her own costumes.
Sewing for Capodiferro came naturally.
“My teacher was super supportive, and she let me do what I wanted once assignments were done,” Capodiferro said. “So, I got to make costumes in class.”
Without the sewing class and her friend Shannon, she admits that cosplay may have stayed only a slight interest. The anime/manga series “Full Moon” inspired her first costume.
Capodiferro said that her first foray into cosplay was rife with misconceptions.
“A lot of times, cosplayers are stereotyped as people who don’t want to live in the real world, but no, these people are artists,” she said. “It’s a huge community of people who work off of each other and work together. They’re bringing someone else’s character to life in every possible way.”
She went on to explain how cosplaying is an amalgamation of different crafts like hair design, wig styling, make-up artistry, costume design, costume construction and acting.
For her, the hardest part is the debate between realism and accuracy. While some costumes may look amazing, they can be challenging to wear during conventions. Therefore, costume designers must be smart about their work.
Capodiferro explains that there are more female than male cosplayers, which makes for an interesting debacle when considering that the majority of anime characters are male.
Crossplay is the term for cosplayers playing characters of the opposite gender, which Capodiferro said is not really understood outside of the cosplay community.
“There is this idea where others are like, ‘Does this mean you want to be a guy?’ and they admit that it freaks them out,” Capodiferro said. “I just think it’s important for people to be respectful about it.”
Conventions, which give cosplayers a way to compete and receive recognition for their work, have masquerades where they judge cosplayers on costume construction, performance and artistry. Capodiferro runs panels to showcase her work. With paneling and word of mouth, she built her reputation and began obtaining commissions.
Capodiferro started Broken Doll Cosplay in 2008, and she now has a Facebook page where she displays her costumes.
As a fan of Broken Doll Cosplay, pre-med sophomore Tayla Erickson described Capodiferro as creative.
“That may be a simple word and overused word to some people,” Erickson said, “but she explores different ideas and possibilities to cosplay and never does she disappoint.”
Capodiferro anticipates presenting at Phoenix Comicon this summer and plans to attend Anime Expo in California. She remains unsure if her cosplaying will become a career, but she promises “to do it until it’s not fun anymore.”
Capodiferro said she wants to learn as much as she can, attend more conventions and see where the future takes her. For her, cosplay nurtured her self-confidence and has given her memories of a lifetime.
Reach the reporter at Stephanie.Tate@asu.edu or follow her on Twitter @StephanieITA