Destiny 2’s Valentine’s Day event, Crimson Days, detailed by Bungie

Crimson Days, Destiny’s bloody Valentines Day celebration, returns next week to Destiny 2. Players will be able to compete with their in-game partners and earn new rewards from Lord Shaxx.

The main mode for Crimson Days is Crimson Doubles. Players will form up — or matchmake — into a squad of two and venture into the Crucible in a round-based version of Clash. However, to make the event more doubles focused, players will gain increased ability generation when standing near their partner. Players who find themselves too far away from their partner will be revealed on the map and become easy prey for enemy squads.

While PvP is the focus for Lord Shaxx, he will offer players PvE bounties as well — including a weekly bounty that involves completing the Nightfall with your Crimson Doubles partner. These bounties and completed Crimson Doubles matches will reward players with the Crimson Days currency: Confectionery Hearts. Daily bounties give 15 hearts, and the weekly gives 75.

The rewards themselves are the same as last year, with two more added bonuses. Shaxx will offer players The Vow bow, which comes at 650 power for Forsaken players. This is actually first bow available for those who don’t own Forsaken.

Bungie’s detailed all the rewards and prices:

  • Tirastrella Legendary Ghost Shell – 25
  • Undeterred Exotic Sparrow – 50
  • The Vow Legendary Bow – 100
  • Wardcliff Coil Ornament – 125
  • Flaunting Dance Legendary Emote – 150
  • Warmhearted Gift Package – 15

For players who want to keep playing after they’ve earned all the rewards, Shaxx will sell a Warmhearted Gift Package. These boxes can come with weapons, armor, resources, mods, and enhancement cores.

Like all holidays in a post-Forsaken world, players will be able to complete triumphs as well. Bungie isn’t revealing them yet, but players who complete all of them will earn the Sugary Ghost Shell as their reward.

Over the holiday, players will earn double engrams for every level up, including a Crimson Engram. All of these offerings are the same, so players will be able to complete their collection if they missed Crimson Days last year.

There will also be two new Eververse items to celebrate the event, including an ornament for The Vow bow.

Crimson Days will start on Feb. 12 and conclude the following week on Feb. 19.


New Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice Trailer Introduces The Protagonist’s Origin

From Software has released a new trailer for its upcoming Souls-like game, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. The trailer delivers our first official look at the game’s story, specifically the origin of its protagonist, The Wolf. You can watch it above.

The developer behind Dark Souls and Bloodborne is changing quite a few aspects of its tried-and-true formula to deliver a new kind of experience with Sekiro. For one, Sekiro’s protagonist actually speaks. The story in Sekiro plays out more as a Japanese drama, with players embodying a specific character with his own established backstory, feelings, and sense of morality. Some of the narrative will play out as flashback sequences as well, which is another first for From Software when it comes to its Soulsborne titles.

Sekiro’s boss battles will also play out differently than what’s been seen in Bloodborne and Dark Souls. “The traversal options allow much more dynamic movement within the boss arena, both for yourself and the boss character themselves,” From Software director Hidetaka Miyazaki said. “Previously, you would have just had to run around a huge boss’ feet and hack away at his ankles, but now you have all these movement options; you can both fully use the extent of that arena.” You’ll actually be able to pause the game too, even in the midst of a hectic fight, as there isn’t any multiplayer in Sekiro.

Miyazaki has confirmed that Sekiro is “probably even more challenging than previous From games,” and after playing some of it, we agree. Sekiro’s addition of parkour and stealth mechanics certainly allows you to move faster and occasionally kill more efficiently in comparison to previous Soulsborne titles, but the game’s new combat system of wearing down an enemy’s guard before executing them definitely has a learning curve.

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is scheduled to release on March 22 for Xbox One, PS4, and PC.


New Devil May Cry 5 Demo Now Available On PS4, Xbox One

In case you missed out on the last Devil May Cry 5 demo on Xbox One, a new one is now available for both Xbox One and PS4. As noted on the game’s official Twitter, this demo introduces a new Devil Breaker called the Punch Line, as well as the ability to power up by calling Nico.

The last demo was available on Xbox One in December but was subsequently pulled in January. That one was Xbox One exclusive, and it remained playable for those who had downloaded it previously. This second demo is the first time PS4 players get a taste of the stylish action game.

Devil May Cry 5 is a direct sequel to DMC4, ignoring the series reboot that received a mixed reception. As a result it brings back Dante and Nero in recognizable fashion, along with a new playable character named V. He appears to have an axe to grind against the other heroes, and his move set is more about controlling a variety of summoned beasts. Devil May Cry 5 is among our most anticipated games of 2019., and we just spent several hours kicking its tires.

“When DmC: Definitive Edition and DMC4: Special Edition both launched in 2015, it lay a crossroads of where the series could go,” wrote editor Matt Espineli. “After playing both, I realized that the series can honestly be one or the other and still be phenomenal. Before going to this event, I anticipated Capcom would make DMCV a hybrid of both, but in the end it seemingly chose one: classic DMC.”

Devil May Cry 5 is coming to PC, PS4, and Xbox One on March 8.


Club Penguin Speedrunner Sets New Record In Fan Remake

In May 2016 a player who goes by supermanover00 decided to speedrun the children’s online browser game Club Penguin by seeing how fast they could complete all 11 missions in the game, which they did at 45:43. Club Penguin is no more, but nearly three years later, supermanover00 has returned and beat their previous record inside a fan recreation of the original game called Club Penguin Rewritten.

On Monday, supermanover00 took first place in the same category in Club Penguin Rewritten with a time of 22:14, 19 seconds better than the runner-up. It was the runner’s first successful stab at this category since Club Penguin ended on March 29, 2017, and they beat the seven other people who have been running it over the years.

It’s unusual that people are even still playing this long-dead game, let alone speedrunning it. Many players who grew up playing Club Penguin, which Disney released in 2005, remain fond of it. Long before Fortnite or even Nintendo’s Miiverse, Club Penguin offered a social space that was part AIM, part MMO. “It’s a magical experience and a lot of people remember those times as the best times of their childhoods as it truly has a special place during those times,” the chief admin of Rewritten, who in the community goes only by Stu, told Kotaku in an email. Speedrunning the game is one of the ways the game’s fans have found to keep that magic alive, even though the original is no more.

The All Missions speedrun supermanover00 pioneered consists of completing each of the game’s 11 Penguin Secret Agency (P.S.A.) missions in order. These missions basically play out like a traditional adventure game with players clicking on different stuff on the screen to have conversations with characters, discover clues, and solve puzzles. They can be quite involved, with the last mission including over 70 individual steps.


Unlike a lot of other games, there aren’t any glitches or tricks to exploit. For the most part, speedrunning Club Penguin is simply a matter of clicking through the entire adventure in the most efficient way possible. There’s also a fair bit of luck involved because some of the adventure’s randomized sections, like a series of tunnels in mission eight, are quicker to guess through than solve by finding the corresponding clues.

Supermanover00 told Kotaku in an email that their latest record wasn’t a result of grinding but just the natural evolution of someone who loves the game returning to it every so often and retracing well worn paths. “All games are good speedrun games in their own way, some just take more time to optimize,” they said. “I don’t care how many other players there are that do it. It’s just fun.”


Free Xbox One Games For Gold Members This Week Include Halo: The Master Chief Collection

Sometimes, the staggering number of games out there can feel overwhelming, especially if you plan to be part of the discourse surrounding the immeasurable amount of games. Thankfully, Microsoft’s making the decision of what to play a little easier with its newest offering of free games for the platform’s Free Play Days event.

The news comes via the official Twitter account of Microsoft’s Larry Hryb, aka Major Nelson. From now until Sunday, February 10, at 11:59 PM PT (2:59 AM ET / 7:59 AM ET on Monday), Xbox Live Gold subscribers can play Fishing Sim World, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, and The Sims 4 all for free.

In addition to playing these three vastly different games for free during the weekend, each game will receive a discount of up to 25-80%. Fishing Sim World sees a 25% discount, priced at $15 in the US instead of $20. The Master Chief Collection also gets a 25% discount, dropping from $30 to $22.49. The Sims 4 sees the largest discount of the three titles at 80% off the base game, going from $40 to $8. Additionally, select The Sims 4 expansions–like Cats & Dogs, Seasons, and others–will receive a 50 percent discount.

For the uninitiated, The Sims 4, developed by The Sims Studio and published by EA, is the fourth major entry in the long-running The Sims franchise. Similar to previous iterations and spin-offs, The Sims 4 is a life simulation where you control avatars as they go about their lives, interacting with them in a variety of ways and exploring their oftentimes eclectic personalities. Halo: The Master Chief Collection, developed by 343 Industries and published by Microsoft Game Studios (which has just been rebranded), is a compilation of the platform’s most iconic first-person shooter. It bundles Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary (a 2011 enhanced remake of 2001’s seminal shooter, Halo: Combat Evolved), Halo 2: Anniversary, Halo 3, and Halo 4 in one package, streamlining Master Chief’s journey. Developed and published by Dovetail Games, Fishing Sim World is just what the name sounds like: a fishing simulator where you… catch fish in what’s pitched as “the most authentic fishing simulator ever made.”

All three games are available to download and play for free now. Just head over to the official Free Play Days part of the Microsoft Store, or search for them on the Xbox One’s marketplace. If you’re willing to part with some cash, there are some nice Xbox One game deals on Xbox Live this week, or you could also download the just-released free-to-play battle royale shooter from Respawn, Apex Legends.


The Lego Movie 2 is an animated odyssey about Chris Pratt’s action-movie career

Before we get to The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, let’s talk about Trolls. Yes, Trolls as in the vehicle for “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” by Justin Timberlake, Trolls as in the movie about the high-haired Troll dolls created by Thomas Dam that lost most of their cultural currency going into the 21st century, Trolls as in props to our pals The McElroy Brothers who actually managed to get cast in Trolls 2.

The reason I bring it up is because the movie is — improbably — pretty good, and the most notable recent work of director Mike Mitchell, who is also responsible for The Lego Movie 2.

The Lego Movie was lightning in a bottle. Despite being a film based on a toy, it was visually inventive and quirky enough that didn’t feel like an ad (though it certainly worked in that respect). The bar for The Lego Movie 2 was set high, and while the sophomore jaunt into the world of living Legos (counting The Lego Batman Movie and The Lego Ninjago Movie as side quests) doesn’t quite clear it, it doesn’t have to. Both Trolls and The Lego Movie 2 are working with stories that are, frankly, a little boring, but the paths they take are idiosyncratic enough to forgive that particular shortcoming.

With original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller returning to co-write the script, The Lego Movie 2 still piles on the self-referential and conceptual humor, picking up a few years after The Lego Movie left off. Finn (Jadon Sand), whose daydreams the building blocks had been acting out, has grown up a little, and Emmet Brickowski’s (Chris Pratt) idyllic home has accordingly transformed into a gritty, post-apocalyptic wasteland. The Lego citizens have grown tough in order to survive a constant barrage of attacks from Duplo block invaders sent by Finn’s little sister Bianca (Brooklynn Prince), who range from cute stars and hearts to more intimidating space invaders.

the lego movie 2: the next part Warner Bros. Pictures

There’s one other key change to the world we knew: the end of the first film crossed a few streams, revealing that the unfolding events were the product of Finn’s imagination while also granting the Lego figures a little of their own agency, using sheer force of will to move around Toy Story-style while unattended by humans. The second film reckons with the logic as storylines weave in and out of each other, and it’s not always successful.

The most immediately compelling part of the film is the relationship between Finn and Bianca, as all of Emmet’s posse — including Batman (Will Arnett) and tough girl Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) — are abducted by the gruff General Mayhem (Stephanie Beatriz). Duplo Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi (Tiffany Haddish) plans on tying the knot with the Bat, and though she says it’s to bring peace to the warring nations, Emmet and company aren’t so sure, mirroring the tension between the two siblings.

If that dynamic, simple as it is (i.e. “be nice to your little sister”), is the Duplo element of the film, then the Lego counterbalance kicks in with an idea-heavy subplot that pairs Emmet with a roguish new character named Rex Dangervest — also voiced by Chris Pratt. Rex’s past triumphs (raptor trainer, galaxy defender) mirror a certain someone’s recent career arc (Jurassic World, Guardians of the Galaxy), and he even boasts “chiseled features previously hidden under baby fat.” Basically, he’s an endless supply of Pratt jokes that fit neatly into the meta-heavy world of the series. He’s also part and parcel of the film’s take on modern media.

That Finn’s Legos have all become road warriors and that a “hero” like Rex would so heavily specialize in destruction isn’t incidental so much as it is an indicator of the kind of pop culture he’s been consuming (and partially a comment on the gendered nature of a lot of toy marketing). He reflexively dismisses the joyful, glittery world that his sister has created, as well as the freewheeling (and thereby Lego-approved) ethos of Watevra (if Wa’Nabi’s name still eludes you, just sound the whole thing out). And it’s because of this that Bianca’s characters start to take on less friendly shapes, too.

The specifics get a little muddy as the film reaches its conclusion simply by virtue of how many (literal) pieces are in play — including a hysterical, self-loathing banana voiced by Ben Schwartz — though it’s hard to complain. Like an ouroboros, the movie’s stream of consciousness screenplay ends up starting to consume itself as Wyldstyle’s sidelining in the first film is addressed head-on, and the industry scrimmaging surrounding each character (Batman and the other superheroes in particular) remains a well-used weapon in the movie’s arsenal.

However, the fact that the film’s best song isn’t the “Everything is Awesome” replacement “Catchy Song” but the end credits song should say all there is to be said about the movie when it comes to the sliding scale from good to bad. It’s fine, with a few moments of brilliance (and a couple of truly unbelievable cameos). There’s no thrill in retreading The Lego Movie’s ground; rather, The Lego Movie 2 excels when it feels like it’s juggling too many ideas at once — or building with too many bricks.


Why Nostalgia For Video Games Is Uniquely Powerful

Photo: Sion Touhig (Getty Images)

This year, Netflix will premiere the third season of its hit documentary series The Toys That Made Us. This series of 45-minute deep dives into the toys we’re most nostalgic for has covered He-Man, Barbie, Hello Kitty, and more. But video games have been noticeably absent from any of the show’s episodes thus far. That’s a peculiar omission, since research has demonstrated that video game nostalgia is the most powerful nostalgia of all.

It’s true that we’re all predisposed to feel sentimentally attached to the toys, movies, and music (even horrible jingles!) associated with products from our childhood. According to psychologists, icons of our past act as symbols of a simpler, more carefree time, and, in some cases, a time when people were beginning to develop their own values and understanding of themselves. And luckily, we’re hard-wired to hold onto good memories longer than bad ones, which in turn implants those memories even more firmly in our minds since the act of remembering them feels so nice.

Games trigger nostalgia even more strongly than toys because we invest more emotions in playing them—heightened feelings of competitiveness, frustration, joy, and pride. Games produce feedback loops that reward players for playing them. This is just as true of the games of kickball you played during recess as it is true for Sorry! or Trouble or Mega Man X, butthe greater immersiveness of Mega Man X makes it have an even more profound effect on the brain. Video game narratives offer players a significant—and highly memorable—chance to feel heroic and experience a sense of mastery, which can be rare in our non-gaming lives.

And while you can’t go back to recess with your fourth-grade buddies, you can pop in an old game cartridge and return to a virtual place from your past. This permanence, too, is key to explaining what’s so special about video game nostalgia.


Photo: Fred Greaves (AP)

The etymology of “nostalgia” clues us in to the importance of place. The word comes from the Greek nostos, meaning “returning,” and algos, meaning “suffering.” The term was invented by Swiss doctors in the 17th century to describe a condition afflicting Swiss mercenaries who longed for their home while they fought in wars abroad.

In other words, nostalgia is essentially a kind of homesickness for a specific place, or, in the words of scholar Sean Fenty, a “yearning to return to a place—to a state of being.” In an article called “Why Old School Is ‘Cool’: A Brief Analysis of Classic Video Game Nostalgia,” Fenty argues that “video games are places—they are states of being; and because they are stored, unchanging data, they tease with the hope for a possibility of return, if only we can gain access to them.” Though we grow up and change, video games stay constant; an ever-present time capsule that we can re-enter at will.


Re-entering these virtual playgrounds may even ease some of our anxiety about aging. As gamers grow older and technology changes, their fondness for whatever feels “old school” to them will likely only increase into an even stronger form of nostalgia. Communication theory philosopher Marshall McLuhan argued that with the arrival of a new technology, those born into it will accept it and not even realize it’s new, while those who are rooted in older technologies will feel actual pain, and prefer to go back to the way things were before the new technology. Anyone who lies in the middle of these two states will experience what Fenty calls “the pain of transition.”

Nostalgia provides a way to deal with this pain, and it explains why we can feel nostalgic for even the crappiest games. What’s important is not the game’s quality, but the feeling you get playing it. The right word might be “comfort”—the comfort of the familiar, and the delight in re-experiencing surprises in a safe environment you know.

Of course, it’s fascinating to watch how this nostalgia impacts gaming discourse and game design. When today’s aging gamers (like me) complain that they’ve never played a game they like as much as Super Mario Bros., or that today’s games don’t stack up to the ones from the “good old days,” they’re saying more about themselves than they are about the games.


Although many of today’s indie games are designed out of this nostalgia for “old-school” platformers, nostalgia also played a huge role in the development of the originals they pay homage to. Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros. series, may not seem to have much in common with his Italian-American plumber Mario on the surface, but Miyamoto’s games reflect so much of his own childhood nostalgia that he’s been called “the closest thing there is to an autobiographical game creator.”

Photo: Paul Sakuma (AP)

Growing up in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Miyamoto didn’t have a TV and video games didn’t exist. Instead, he created his own fun, inventing games and making model airplanes (which he sometimes destroyed with fireworks), flip-books, and other toys. In middle school, Miyamoto loved drawing comics so much that he would even fantasize about being struck with an illness that allowed him to stay in a hospital all day making up heroes. Even though his father discouraged Miyamoto from pursuing art, Miyamoto’s mother fostered his artistic impulses, and he grew up making puppets and putting on puppet shows for his family members.


But more than anything, Miyamoto loved exploring the outdoors. He rode his bike around the bamboo forests, mountains, lakes, waterfalls, and ancient castle ruins of his small town—environments that would later appear in Super Mario Bros. Other elements of his games were influenced by less happy memories. The Chain Chomp bad guy in Super Mario Bros. 3, for example, was inspired by a scary incident Miyamoto had with a neighbor’s chained-up dog.

One famous and oft-repeated anecdote is that Miyamoto discovered a cave inside of Komugi Mountain near his house and dove inside to explore. This cave, which inspired the underground levels of the Super Mario Bros. series, is now so famous to Miyamoto’s and Mario’s mythologies that tourists have begun flocking to the limestone caves near Sonobe, the village where Miyamoto grow up—so many that the caves now feature stairs and lights. But Miyamoto told The New Yorker’s Nick Paumgarten that the caves he explored in his youth were smaller, and have been covered up by new houses and roads, their entrances barred off. (For die-hard fans, the best directions to Miyamoto’s old cave might be these, which he provided, through his translator, to Paumgarten in 2010).


In the end, the very fact that the exact location of Miyamoto’s cave remains a mystery is exactly the point. Permeating all of Miyamoto’s games is a pervasive sense of wonder at the world and all of its secrets. In David Sheff’s Nintendo history Game Over, Miyamoto described the world he imagined while creating Mario games in particular:

“What if you walk along and everything that you see is more than what you see—the person in the T-shirt and slacks is a warrior, the space that appears empty is a secret door to an alternate world? What if, on a crowded street, you look up and see something appear that should not, given what we know be there? You either shake your head and dismiss it or you accept that there is much more to the world than we think. Perhaps it really is a doorway to another place. If you choose to go inside, you might find many unexpected things.”

Perhaps a game inspired by nostalgia has the power to make the player even more nostalgic herself. I found this to be true for myself when it came to Super Mario Bros. 3. It was the first game I ever played, and throughout my childhood I spent hours playing with my father and brother. My nostalgia for the game as an adult was so potent that I ended up writing a book about its development and impact. And while I found the historical research and game analysis fascinating, the most fun part of writing it was simply re-playing each level from start to finish. I felt like a little girl again, cliché and corny though that sounds. But nostalgia is a corny emotion—that’s the whole point of it. And through the power of gaming nostalgia, we’re gifted with a space where we’re free to be corny kids again—to hide away from our grown-up world and commitments and re-enter the magical cave.


Alyse Knorr is an assistant professor of English at Regis University. She’s the author of Super Mario Bros. 3 from Boss Fight Books, as well as several collections of poetry.


Free PC Game Now Available From Epic Games Store

The newest free game being given away on the Epic Game Store is Axiom Verge. First releasing in 2015, Axiom Verge proved popular with fans with its gripping science fiction narrative and Metroidvania-inspired mechanics.

Axiom Verge will be free to download on the Epic Game Store until February 21, but it’s yours to keep and play forever once you have. All you need to do is create an Epic account on the company’s store page, sign-in, and then you can download the game. It’s worth keeping your account around if you want more games, because after Axiom Verge, the Epic Games Store will start offering the excellent Thimbleweed Park for free.

In our Axiom Verge review, Peter Brown gave the game an 8/10, writing, “Axiom Verge is a game that’s easy to fall in love with because it hits so many high notes. It takes the Metroidvania model and adds layers of ingenuity that are in a league all of their own, the most notable being the Address Disruptor. Yes it’s occasionally drab looking, and some enemies may not fit in with the rest of the world, but when a game is this good, these blemishes quickly fade into the back of your mind. The chilling sci-fi setting, mysterious plot, and a seemingly endless number of abilities keep your mind busy, and your curiosity at fever pitch. It’s not a stretch to say that Axiom Verge is better than the games that inspired it, because it’s so inventive and thoughtfully crafted. There’s no excuse to hold onto the past when the present is this amazing.”

The Epic Store is one of the more recent additions to the competition challenging Valve’s dominance over the PC gaming market with Steam. Epic has been in the news recently for its habit of securing major exclusives away from Steam, such as Metro Exodus and The Division 2. Valve described Epic’s acquisition of the former as “unfair” for players, and the decision to not launch the game on Steam has stirred quite a bit of controversy. Exodus isn’t the only major title coming out in the next month that won’t launch on Steam, as additional games like Anthem and Crackdown 3 are releasing exclusively on other stores.


The Witcher 3’s Geralt Coming To Monster Hunter World Today

Following his guest appearance in SoulCalibur VI, The Witcher 3’s Geralt of Rivia is venturing into Capcom’s hit action RPG, Monster Hunter World. The White Wolf will arrive as a free update for the PS4 and Xbox One versions today, February 7 (with a PC release to follow later), and he’ll come alongside new Witcher-inspired quests.

The update is scheduled to go live at 4 PM PT / 7 PM ET (12 AM GMT on February 8). Capcom hasn’t shared many details yet on what the new quests will entail, but the publisher says they’ll have “a unique flavor, blending the RPG mechanics of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt with Monster Hunter World’s game systems.”

According to Capcom, the Witcher collaboration event was developed closely with CD Projekt Red, the studio behind the Witcher series and the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077. Geralt’s original voice actor was also brought in to provide new voice over work for the collaboration.

Geralt arrives in the midst of Monster Hunter World’s first anniversary event, the Appreciation Fest. The event will continue to run on all platforms until February 21, and it brings back most of the game’s previous Event Quests alongside some new ones. Players can also craft new anniversary gear sets for their hunters and Palicos.

Monster Hunter World has been a huge critical and commercial success for Capcom since it launched last January. The publisher recently revealed the title has sold more than 11 million copies world. Its positive critical reception also helped Capcom claim the honor of being Metacritic’s top publisher of 2018.

Capcom still has a lot more new content planned for Monster Hunter World. This fall, the publisher will release Iceborne, a major paid expansion that will introduce new monsters to hunt, locales to explore, gear to craft, and other content.


Black Cosplayer Gives All Her Favorite Characters ‘Poofy, Curly Hair’

Photo: Jasemine Denise Photography

Most of the time when you see a cosplayer, they’re wearing a wig. One thing you might not have noticed is how often those carefully styled wigs are straight hair, even on anime characters whose hair grows up and out like kinky or coily hair does. Cosplayer Shellanin is challenging that assumption with her own wig designs for her costumes, which she shares using the hashtag “Curly Cosplay.”

Shell’s favorite cosplay she’s done is Vegeta, she told Kotaku over email.

Shell as Bulma gives me life.
Photo: Shellanin

“Being Vegeta feels INSANELY powerful,” she said. “I get to be a Princess in a set of armor, I mean how cool is that!!! Plus reimagining his hair into an afro puff with a little bantu knot curl in the front for his widow’s peak was really fun.”

Shell’s “curly cosplay” designs aren’t one-to-one representations of the characters that she chooses. Instead, she reimagines these characters as if they had curly, coily or kinky hair, like a lot of black people do. For many of the characters she cosplays, like Vegeta from Dragon Ball Z, Isabelle from Animal Crossing, or Junko Enoshima from Danganranpa, her choice of hairstyle makes sense. These are characters who have hair—or in Isabelle’s case, fur—that is huge and voluminous. In real life, these styles are easier to recreate if your hair already has a lot of volume, like curly hair does. For Shell, the choice to use these hairstyles in her cosplays is the culmination of a lifelong fantasy.

“So while watching anime and cartoons as a kid, I always pretended to be the characters on the show I was watching,” she said. “When I pictured myself as them, they always had poofy/curly hair! So once I started cosplaying, I figured, why not make my childhood dreams come true?”


Black cosplayers have historically had a difficult time finding footing in the cosplay scene. Some black players told Kotaku in 2016 that they struggle with self-doubt at conventions, to the point of being nervous about even putting on their costumes, let alone walking out onto the convention floor while wearing them. Racist comments are sadly expected if you’re going to be cosplaying a character that has pale skin when your skin is dark. Some black cosplayers have tried to combat this, like Chaka Cumberbatch, who created the hashtag “28 Days of Black Cosplay” to promote other black cosplayers during black history month. While the black cosplay community is strong and thriving, even something like interpreting a character’s hair slightly differently than other fans can lead to racist abuse.

Shell as the main character from Dandara, cosplaying with her natural hair two years after her big chop.
Photo: Joel Adrian

“I get comments like, ‘This cosplay would have looked better with straight hair’ and get asked why I even chose to cosplay a character that doesn’t look like me in the first place. People call me the N word version of characters and say very racist things to me,” Shell told Kotaku. She says she’s undeterred by those kinds of comments. “I don’t let those comments hold me back. I decided to use #CurlyCosplay as a form of representation within cosplay, and negativity won’t hold me back from that goal!”


Shell said that she does get a lot of positive reactions as well, which is easy to see when she posts her costumes to her social media. One big reason why her interpretations of these characters are so significant is because black hair is a sensitive topic for many black women. When you’re surrounded by images of beauty that exclusively have sleek, straight hair, it’s easy to feel like the hair that grows out of your head is not beautiful. When I was growing up, I wanted straight hair so badly that I had a relaxer, which is a chemical treatment that straightens your hair. Eventually I got sick of the long and sometimes painful treatments and the upkeep of relaxed hair, so I did what’s called “the big chop,” which is when black women cut off all of their chemically processed hair and start over with growing out their natural texture. Nowadays many celebrities and models wear their hair natural, but it’s still all too common to see young black people taunted or abused for their hair, like the black high school wrestler who was forced to cut off his dreadlocks before competing.

Shell as Junko Enoshima
Photo: Shellanin

Shell also had a relaxer in high school, and also went through the big chop later in life. She was bullied for her thick, “poofy” hair in middle school, but she said that in high school, she started to see more women online rocking their natural hair texture. In college, she decided to go natural as well.


“When I look back and think about it I get SO mad,” she said. “I always wish I listened to my mother and never relaxed my hair. Then I big chopped in college and have been growing my hair back ever since (I’m 3 years post big chop now!) I struggled a lot with accepting my hair texture as a teen, but now I’m absolutely in love with it.”

Cosplay is all about fantasy, about bringing fictional characters to life and embodying them. One shouldn’t be so limited in their imagination that they can’t see an anime or cartoon character with hair that isn’t straight.

“With #CurlyCosplay I get to be anyone I want to be while being myself at the same time,” Shell said, “and I love it.”


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