Be who you want to be!

August 1st, 2017
by Michael Smith

With the rise in popularity of many more comic, sci-fi, and anime conventions, cosplay has become more and more mainstream and well-known. Back in the 1980's and 1990's, it was pretty much unheard of to dress up as your favorite character except during Halloween. Nowadays, conventions occur all throughout the year, giving cosplay artists and models the chance to bring their characters to life.

But, what about the anime of yesterday? Those of you who were around in the 80's and 90's didn't get the chance to see many of your favorite anime characters from those decades come to life through the miracle of cosplay. There were many great and noticeable characters from anime during that time. Anime was starting to rise in popularity, and it was starting to receive air-time on the SyFy Channel and Cartoon Network, as well as in syndication on other channels and networks.

What would it be like if people cosplayed as characters from the 1980's or 1990's today? Would anyone recognize them? Would they be noticed?

Sailor Moon originated in the 1990's. So did Dragonball Z. How about Pokémon? Well, the ones mentioned here are STILL very popular today, so we won't be covering those. We will be covering the not-so-popular anime cosplays from series' from the 1980's and 1990's that you have probably never even heard of, or maybe have heard of but never got around to watching. If you weren't even born yet in the 1980's or 1990's, ask your parents about these characters. Maybe they watched them and they remember them!

Don't you ever wish you could see some cosplays of your favorite characters from that era? Well, look no further!! Below we're covering some of our favorites, in no particular order.... but, we DID save our favorite for last. ^^

Queen Millennia
from Queen Millennia (1981)


Queen Millennia was a manga series which began in 1980, and was adapted into an anime TV series in 1981.

The series wasn't very popular, but it does have a cult following.

Yvyne is a cosplayer from Vienna, Austria who beautifully portrays this classic anime character. This cosplay was created in 2016.

Reference image of Queen Millennia

Photo credit: Kagehana Photography

Photo credit: Kagehana Photography

Kei and Yuri
from Dirty Pair (1985)

God Save the Queen and Jia*Jem

Dirty Pair is an anime that debuted on Jananese TV in 1985, and also spanned three OVAs between 1985 and 1990. A spin-off series, called Dirty Pair Flash, debuted in 1994 as an OVA series that lasted 16 episodes.

God Save the Queen Fashions and Jia*Jem debuted these outfits at Ohayocon 2011.

Reference image of Kei and Yuri from Dirty Pair

Photo credit: LJinto

Photo credit: LJinto

AnnaPuma and UniPuma
from Dominion Tank Police (1988)

Hezachan and Jia*Jem

The manga of Dominion Tank Police debuted in 1986, and the OVA anime was released in 1988. 

Hezachan and Jia*Jem debuted their outfits at Anime Central 2009. According the Hezachan's website, she was so happy Jia*Jem asked her to do this cosplay with her. She went on to say that her favorite part of the outfit was the sparkly and spikey shoulder armor. These ladies brought these villainous cat-girls to life in all their glory!

Reference image of how the Puma Twins appeared in the manga series.
Photo credit: Shiroin

Photo credit: Kyle Johnsen

from Ranma ½ (1989)

Yoko Mizuhara

Ranma½ debuted as a manga series in 1987, then later on Japanese TV in 1989, and even later went on to spawn several OVAs and films.

Yoko Mizuhara is a cosplayer from Atlanta who has been cosplaying since 2004, and has experience with running and judging cosplay contests throughout the southeastern United States. She has also been a cosplay guest at various conventions since 2013.

You can see more of Yoko at her website, http://www.yokosplay.com/.

A reference image of Shampoo as she's seen in the anime.

Photo credit: MV Photography

Photo credit: Emerald Coast Cosplay

from Record of Lodoss War (1990)

Starlite Cosplay

Record of Lodoss War is a fantasy anime which debuted in 1990, but originally began as a novel series in 1988. It went on to spawn several video and computer games between 1991 all the way up until 2016 with an MMORPG for the PC.

Starlite Cosplay is a cosplayer from Mobile, AL who had this outfit ready in time for Anime Weekend Atlanta in 2016.

Deedlit as she's seen in Record of Lodoss War

Photo credit: Emerald Coast Cosplay

Photo credit: Emerald Coast Cosplay

Yohko Mano
from Devil Hunter Yohko (1990)

Giorgia Cosplay

Giorgia Cosplay is a cosplayer from Italy who wore this outfit in 2005, which is the character of Yohko Mano from the Devil Hunter Yohko OVA series.

Devil Hunter Yohko was released in Japan in 1990, and was released in the United States by ADV Films in 1992. ADV Films wanted to license and bring over some of the "darker" anime that other companies never wanted to license due to their graphic content.

The Devil Hunter Yohko OVA series spanned six episodes between 1990 and 1995, and included many scenes of graphic violence, demonic images, and nudity, which viewers in the U.S. were not quite used to, yet.

A short-lived manga series of Devil Hunter Yohko was also released in 1996. Only one volume was printed and released.

Photo credit: Unknown

Reference image of how Yohko appeared in the OVA series.

Nuku Nuku
from All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku (1992)

Ginny McQueen

All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku was a manga series which began in 1990, then became a six-episode OVA series in 1992 and 1993. About five years later, in 1998, the series was rebooted as an anime TV series with 12 episodes and two specials.

Cosplayer, Ginny McQueen, cosplayed as the robotic cat-girl at a convention in Texas in 2008.

Reference image of Nuku Nuku

Photo credit: Kuragiman

Photo credit: Kuragiman

Faye Valentine
from Cowboy Bebop (1998)

Katie Cosplays

Cowboy Bebop originally aired from 1998 to 1999, and only lasted one season of 26 episodes. Even though it only lasted one season, it is still somewhat popular and known today. Many people have at least "heard" of the anime, even though they may not have watched it.

Katie Cosplays is an award-winning cosplayer from the Atlanta, GA area who has been cosplaying since 2004, and has also gone on to be featured on TV shows, including an Emmy-winning PBS documentary Cosplay: Crafting a Secret Identity in 2013 and the SyFy Channel's Heroes of Cosplay in 2014.

You can follow more of Katie's cosplay endeavors at her website, http://www.katiecosplays.com/.

A reference image of how Faye appeared in the Cowboy Bebop series.

Photo credit: Paul Tien

Photo credit: LJinto

Utena Tenjo
from Revolutionary Girl Utena: The Movie (1999)


Revolutionary Girl Utena: The Movie was released in Japan in 1999 under the title, "Adolescence of Utena". Revolutionary Girl Utena began as a manga series in 1996, then aired as an animated series of 39 episodes beginning in 1997.

Melfina began cosplaying in 2004, and debuted this outfit at Anime South 2009 in Destin, FL. She has gone on to win many cosplay awards as well as made guest appearances in many conventions along the Florida panhandle, as well as in the Texas area, where she now resides.

You can view more of Melfina on her website, http://melfinacosplay.com/.

Photo credit: Unknown

A reference image of Utena.

A-ko, B-ko, and C-ko
from Project A-ko (1986)

AmazonMandy, Heidi, and FatWetDog

I've saved my favorite group for last. This series has always held a special place in my heart, as it was the first anime I watched that got me interested in watching anime!

The Project A-ko film has a little bit of something for every anime fan, whether you are looking for sci-fi elements, comic book action, drama and romance, slapstick comedy, or even fan service.

Project A-ko was released in Japan in 1986 as a theatrical animated film featuring a schoolgirl with super powers, a jealous schoolgirl who creates a powersuit to give herself super strength, and a trophy schoolgirl that they both want to be friends with. Also, throw in an alien invasion, and we have Project A-ko.

A-ko and B-ko end up fighting every day in order to win C-ko's friendship and affection. However, in the middle of one of their fights, an alien invasion occurs, and the invading force kidnaps C-ko, who they believe is their long-lost princess, forcing A-ko and B-ko to temporarily work together to rescue her.

AmazonMandy, Heidi, and FatWetDog definitely recreated each character flawlessly! They finished creating these outfits and were able to debut them at Dragon Con in Atlanta, GA in 2008.

The Project A-ko series spawned three more direct-to-video sequels as well as two OVA episodes which follows the adventures of the three main characters in an alternate universe. However, even in an alternate universe, the more things change, the more they stay the same, as A-ko and B-ko must once again work together to rescue C-ko from an alien force.

Photo credit: Digital Dreams Photography

Photo credit: Digital Dreams Photography

Reference image of A-ko, B-ko, and C-ko from the anime film.