Cosplay Complex (こすぷれCOMPLEX) is a 2002 OVA series, focusing on the hijinks of the East Oizumi Academy's cosplay club. The main character is Chako Hasegawa, a somewhat ditzy girl who absolutely adores cosplaying, despite the fact that she isn't very good at it.
The rest of the club is a weird bunch, even as total cosplay otakus go: there's Reika Aoshima, a silver haired control freak; Maria Imai, a Meganekko Miko, her adorable younger sister Athena Imai, and Jenny Matel, a blonde girl who lusts after Athena. The only guy in the club is Gorō Yorozuyo, who is prone to extreme bouts of method acting that would give Jack Nicholson a run for his money. Luckily for the club, he is actually pretty darn good at what he does.
The weirdest "members" though are Delmo, a pixie-like bunnygirl, and her friend Ikebukuro, an owl who can't speak but still somehow gets his messages across. Delmo has the magical ability of being able to change into all kinds of clothing, which saves Chako on more than one occasion, even though Delmo always has to be bribed with food.
This series provides examples of:
- Balloon Belly: Big-eater Delmo is shown with a distended belly in the opening.
- Big Eater: Delmo often asks for food in exchange for getting Chako out of cosplay related mishaps.
- Cliffhanger: The final episode has a mysterious blue-haired woman leaving flowers at Sachiko's husband's grave. Sachiko is later shocked to see her in the audience of a cosplay contest but it is never explained who she is. The last shot of the episode shows the blue haired woman chauffeuring the rival cosplay club's members.
- Cliffhanger Copout: The final episode teases a blue-haired woman who seems to have a connection to Sachiko: the mystery woman leaves flowers for Sachiko's dead husband and Sachiko herself is shocked to see her in the cosplay battle's audience. The mystery woman also seems to work with or for the Shin-Takarazuka Academy's cosplay club. However, a sequel was never made, leaving all of these threads to dangle.
- Clothing Damage: Chako has an unfortunate habit of tearing the costumes she tries to put on.
- Double Standard: Rape, Female on Female:
- Jenny tries to sneak into the bed of Token Mini-Moe Athena so she can sleep with her. However she ends up in the bed of Chako's mom, Sachiko, who says that she's a lonely widow who is glad to have some company in bed. She then rapes the reluctant teenager. All of this is Played for Laughs.
- Ranko, the head of a rival cosplay club, corners Reika in a storage room and begins to molest her while Goro gives a dramatic narration of the proceeding.
- Fireball Eyeballs: After getting a Rousing Speech from the club's leader, a fire is shown in Chako's eyes.
- Hot Springs Episode: The first half of the second episode shows the cosplay club member's going to a hot spring, ostensibly for training.
- Meaningful Name: Ikebukuro is named after a commercial district in Tokyo, known for "Otome Road", an otaku shopping area aimed at women—which also has an owl statue behind its station.
- Non-Human Sidekick: Ikebukuro is a large pink owl who is as much a member of the cosplay club as the humans are.
- Opaque Nerd Glasses: Goro wears glasses with large circular-frames, the lens of which are always colored a solid off-white.
- Phenotype Stereotype: Jenny is supposedly Italian, but looks and acts stereotypically American.
- Red Herring: The woman at the end of episode one is implied to be the club's sponsor. The characters break the fourth wall when it turns out their sponsor is someone entirely different.
- Shout-Out: The creators use the premise of a cosplay club to make a ton of references. The ADV release included a feature where they showed stills from across all three episodes of the various outfits worn, a gold star listing the character the outfit belonged to. This lasts for five minutes, and its entirely possible there are some deep cuts they missed. Needless to say, a list of all of these references would get quite long. Some of the more notable shout outs include:
- Jenny cosplays as Kiki for the magical girl prompt during the first competition.
- Later on, she dons a martial arts outfit akin to Yuri Sakazaki's.
- Goro dresses as Black Jack while visiting the club's sponsor in the hospital.
- While preparing for the next competition, Chako wears a lookalike to Utena Tenjou's battle outfit with Delmo in a Chu-Chu onesie. Tsukasa even says that Chako's "dressed like a revolutionary girl".
- One of the eyecatches in Episode 3 shows Sachiko and Ikebukuro dressed as Maetel and Tetsuro respectively.
- Another eyecatch in that same episode shows Chako as Sakura Kinomoto and Delmo as Kero-chan.
- For the sudden death round of the last cosplay competition, both Chako and Tsukasa dress as Princess Serenity and Queen Serenity respectively.
- Visual Pun: As part of the nurse outfit portion of the competition, Jenny wears a giant eggplant costume with the character 茄 in big bold print. In Japanese, the word for eggplant is 茄 nasu which is also the phonetic way to say "nurse".