Welcome back to another edition of Throwback Thursday here at Mikey Does Cosplay. This week we're jumping pretty far back to one of my earliest costumes that you'd really consider cosplay, but it's one that started a long chain of costumes that stretches even into the future. What am I talking about? I'm talking about my first Fire Emblem cosplay, plucky little thief who grew up: Sothe.
Sothe here was the beginning of an epic saga of cosplay, which if you stick around long enough you may get to hear about in full. This saga now includes 8 finished costumes spanning 4 of the games, with one in progress and another planned for next year. I think I have a problem. But at least it's a good problem.
But before we get into Sothe, let's talk about Fire Emblem. I love this series so freaking much. I started with "Blazing Sword" (which for those of you who don't know much about the older games it's the one with Eliwood, Hector & Lyn as the trio of Lords) back when Game Boy Advance was still a thing and was very excited to actually get to play a game from the series that Marth and Roy came from (I played a lot of smash brothers in my adolescence). This strategy JRPG did not disappoint. There were fun and quirky characters, a great story, some interesting mythical background, a great deal of heartbreak, plenty of wierd strategy choices to make (or not make and just give all the exp. to 4 characters and let them stampede over the enemy), and an all-around fun game. I loved that there were permanent consequences to being a bad strategist, in that characters could permanently die if you weren't careful... I spent a lot of time swearing loudly and punching pillows the RNG decided to screw me (REALLY YOU HAD A 99% HIT CHANCE, GUY, HOW DID YOU MISS AND GET COUNTERATTACKED WITH A CRIT, HE'S WIELDING AN EFFING AXE FFFFFFFMMMMMMMMLLLLLLLL). I also spent a lot of time exp. farming at the Port of Badon... and subsequently restarting the mission 12 times when important people died in the arena. So many feels. So much wasting of time. But I loved it.
Then along came Sacred Stones... which I'm pretty sure is the second game I played, or at least that would make sense... and we get this world map thing and it totally threw me off. On the one hand, I could level up my characters a bunch in side-questy things and create the ultimate warrior way earlier in the story missions than I should have, and way earlier than necessary. But on the other hand I really liked that exp was a limiting factor in Blazing Sword. You had a finite amount available in the game so it made choosing your army's units a lot more meaningful. Of course you still farm the crap out of experience whenever you have the opportunity, again, Port of Badon, but it was still more risky to do so and took more strategery. Anywho, the game was alright, there were branching class trees which was kinda cool, and the characters were fairly compelling, but I was less impressed with the story.
And then there was Path of Radiance, and it was good. I'm sorry, that sounded a lot more exciting in my head, I meant it was HELLA FREAKING AWESOME. There was none of this world map bullshit, we have a linear storyline with a finite amount of experience again, Mikey is pleased. There were no branching class trees, Mikey is still pleased. Supports were meaningful and gave you feels, pleased. The Lord is a bamf who is easily abusable, quite pleased. The characters are wonderfully multifaceted and actually experience change through the happenings in the story. Also, there are Laguz, which despite my rarely using them in battle, were also fantastic. This is where Sothe comes in, but the costume of his I'm actually wearing is his incarnation from Radiant Dawn... which I suppose we should address.
Radiant Dawn... this game gave me migranes. They killed the support system, you have to juggle 3 armies at once, one of whom is the Greil Mercs and they have no money, like, ever. Micaiah is the central lord character and I just don't like her. They have third tier classes which I'm torn about because on the one hand that really seems unnecessary but on the other hand Titania becomes useful not that she's not just a Jagen character (early pre-promoted unit who bulldozes everything at the beginning and later becomes obsolete). The story was kinda interesting. Meh.
So this leads to the question of why I chose to do the outfit from the game I didn't like as much. Well, in Path of Radinace he's really still just a kid. I'm sure I could pull him off just fine but I'd be taller than anyone else cosplaying with me so it'd be a little out of place. And then there's Sothe from Radiant Dawn:
Yeah, someone hit the puberty jackpot and it was this kid right here. Ok sure, I choose my fire emblem characters by their attractiveness (hell, it's not hard to tell based on the rest of my FE cosplay collection). I'm sure you do it too so let's just move on.
The other thing about Radiant Dawn is that it was a lovely bonding game between one of my best friends and I. I introduced her to Fire Emblem (and she, in turn, introduced me to Ace Attorney... I think we owe a great deal to Katie Teidrich for some of our favorite gaming experiences)
This costume started out as a Halloween costume while I was in college... cause anyone else on campus other than my one friend who shares my love of Fire Emblem was actually going to recognize me.. right. But who cares, I was a devilishly handsome thief and that's all anyone needed to know. Unfortunately my hair situation didn't turn out so well but we can overlook that as it was remedied by the next time I wore him.
For an early cosplay, this actually turned out really well. One of my favorite things about Fire Emblem characters is that their designs always include a lot of little details. As a beginner this was really enticing but also really frustrating to get everything in there effectively. What was probably my proudest thing was finding the tiny little gold doll buckles to use on the small knife sheaths. They're so cute and little but they're an awesome detail.
There were definitely some issues with the costume, besides just my lack of wig. The large main knife turned out pretty well but the two little ones were pretty much plastic knives I found at the thrift store whose blades I tore off and tried to duct-tape to the ends of popsicle sticks. Tried, being the operative word as they pretty much just fell apart instantly when you touched them. It also took a long time to get the belt-strap...things on the boots to actually stay where they belonged. And of course there's also the hair.
But fortunately it would be several years before I'd wear Sothe again because by that point I'd been bitten so hard by the cosplay that I had Tibarn finished by the time my first convention came around and I didn't have the ability to take more than one costume with me (Also, it was Ohayocon and wearing a sleeveless, midriff-bearing costume in January seems like a bad idea, too bad I forgot about that and took Volug a few years later). And I made new costumes for all of my subsequent conventions without stopping to take a breath. It was much later (at a Tekkoshocon), that Sothe made a reappearance, and I fixed the majority of his issues. I made new small knives out of wood and got an actually wig, which I cut and styled myself. This was the first real success I had preparing my own wig!
I was very excited to have found other Fire Emblem cosplayers (there was also a Soren whose photo I can no longer find), and am actually now friends with this Ranulf, though it wasn't until the following year that I started stalking him on Tumblr and we actually made friends. It was after that when we realized we'd met the year prior dressed as these two.
After Tekko, it was a while before Sothe went out again, but fortunately my wonderful fiance (though he was still just boyfriend-class at the time) did a photoshoot with me out in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. It was great fun wandering around in the woods dressed as a video game character and stopping every so often to pose for a photo. I first did this with my Ranulf cosplay, which you'll get to see the results from eventually, and would later do a longer hike with fewer pictures with Tibarn, both in different parts of the park.
The results of the shoot came out beautifully, and as you can see a bit in that last photo, the mosquitoes loved my extra bare skin in this outfit. Sothe will definitely remain in my repertoire for a long time yet cause he's comfortable and fun, which is not always the case with Fire Emblem characters.
Well folks, that about all for today. Hope you enjoyed seeing my Fire Emblem roots and I'll see you back next time!