What Is It?

Cosplay Complex BoxartCosplay Complex is a three-episode OVA about, well, cosplay. Specifically, the series revolves around Chako, a bubbly student at East Oizumi Academy. She’s a member of the school’s Cosplay Association, which dreams of cleaning up at the Cosplay World Series.

I know, I know! Such a deep concept!

Anyway, the club is hurting for members, as there were only two crazy enough to actually sign up. There’s also the token lolita bait, but she doesn’t count, for some reason. Chako has a secret weapon up her sleeve, though, in the form of Delmo and Ikebukuro. Delmo is a magical pixie that’s able to fill out Chako’s bustiest costumes in the bustier region, while Ikebukuro is a super-intelligent owl that can sew and iron like a champ.

The club gets a much-needed third member one day, when a mysterious chesty blonde literally falls from the ceiling. The lass, known as Jenny, is an Italian exchange student with a flair for cosplay and a truly unhealthy love of the sweet meats of little ladies. But that’s okay! The club’s willing to overlook Jenny’s criminal perversion, as her presence gives the club just enough members to compete! And if it’s in the name of cosplay, what’s a little casual pedophilia? Right?!

Oh dear god, I need a drink…

No, really. What the hell is it?

Cosplay Complex is a 2002 OVA from Wonder Farm, better known as the monsters that unleashed the blight known as Angel Tales upon this planet. Yes, that Angel Tales. But I digress.

Cosplay Complex‘s first volume was released in May 2002, about five months after Angel Tales’s first season finished airing in Japan. Much like Angel Tales, the series was attempting to capitalize on a particular trend. In this case, though, it’s the subculture celebration, which was brought about by titles like Comic Party and Animation Runner Kuromi.

While the idea sounds good on paper, Wonder Farm dropped the ball with their execution of Cosplay Complex. The series attempts to merge slapstick humor and crude jokes with a heaping side-order of fan-service. And, while this has been done spectacularly in the past by other programs, Cosplay Complex struggles to find the right balance between humor and cheesecake. Oftentimes, the humor veers into the realms of creepy, and the fan-service gets to the point that it feels forced.

Beneath the layers of kiddie rape jokes, poor writing, and the overt cheesecake, there is a plot. Sort of. Something about the Cosplay World Series, and Delmo finding her way home. None of this is ever really resolved, though, and the series just sort of ends after the final episode. They never actually go to the Cosplay World series, many of the dangling plot lines are dropped, and the entire experience feels pointless.

And you want me to watch this WHY?

Cosplay Complex is a rare show that can continue to inspire hope that things will get better, even though they don’t. Despite the show’s generally tasteless and poor sense of humor, Cosplay Complex will sometimes serve up a legitimately funny gag that will pull viewers back in. These flashes of brilliance are scattered just far enough apart that viewers will have some hope that they’ll grow into a more consistent feel, even though they never to be more than the exception to the rule for the show.

At the same time, the show does provide a lot of cameos through the various costumes and props used by the cast. A more inventive host would be able to turn a viewing of the show into a drinking game, a round of Cosplay Bingo, or some other diversion.

When and how long should I screen this for?

Cosplay Complex is a series that can be slotted comfortably almost anywhere in a Bad Anime Night line-up. It’s a title that needs little build-up, and works best as a precursor to something like Superior Defender or Protectors of Universe. Like with most programs, one episode per night will allow for the guests to get their snark on, while preventing the experience from getting too old.