Crossplay: An Introduction
Bishonen is a Japanese word that means "beautiful boy" and it's frequently used to describe a very specific type of character in manga and anime. These characters are young and gorgeous in an androgynous rock star sort of way-- think of David Bowie in the '70s or Suede's Brett Anderson and Placebo's Brian Molko in the '90s-- and they're really popular with female manga readers and anime watchers. Bishonen characters, and their corresponding voice actors, are often the ones who draw the most screams at convention panels. The characters are frequently placed into slash pairings.
In addition to the popularity of the characters, if you're a young women, it may not be terribly difficult to transform yourself into a beautiful boy.
"It's a natural sidestep to go for a more female looking male then it is to go full-on into the female [characters'] world with the huge boobs," says Romy.
Hetalia and Black Butler are two commonly crossplayed series at conventions. The core characters are male and the manga/anime series have massive female followings in the U.S. (in the case of Hetalia, the fanbase appears to be almost exclusively female). However, you're also likely to see women dressed as male characters from Naruto, One Piece, Durarara!! and other shows at conventions.
For men, Touhou Project, a long running video game series, attracts a lot of crossplayers.
"Touhou tends to be a really popular one because it's really popular with guys, especially in Japan," says Bryce.
Despite the popularity of Touhou Project, and despite the fact that there are fewer guys who crossplay, we've noticed a little more diversity in this regard. You're as likely to see sweet, now-retro characters like Nurse Joy from Pokemon and the Sailor Moon girls as you are to see sexy dullahan Celty from Durarara!! or scantily clad badass Yoko Littner from Gurren Lagann. There may be a lot of reasons for this, but, certainly, one of them is a person who was known in the Southern California anime community of the '00s as Man-Faye.