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Real-Life Anime Girl, Extreme Cosplay

Update Date: Oct 03, 2012 09:26 AM EDT

In the United States, comic conventions have become big, I mean HUGE business! What used to be a safe haven for geeks and nerds to congregate, trade comics and action figures and, if they were lucky, sit in on a Q & A with an actor who portrayed a famous character. Then something happened. Everything in nerdom became cool. Movies and television shows were now based on these characters. Video games became big business and began to spawn movies and books.

Now, attending Comicons is the go-to destination to debut games, books, movies anything and everything entertainment based. Dressing in character is becoming huge business in itself. Stormtrooper uniforms, X-Men outfits & Gears of War and Bleach characters attend by the hundreds.

But, an invasion from the Land of the Rising Sun has taken character love to the extreme. Manga and Anime are printed books, comics etc. and animation, respectively. This industry has grown and has been exported all over the world. Most people under the age of 25 can name at least 5 different characters based on either manga or anime.

All of this has spawned a new trend called Cosplay. Cosplay is role play taken to a new level. People pretend to be certain characters from anime or manga online and in their real lives. They may dress as their favorite characters, style and color their hair as their character of choice and in extreme cosplay, change their total appearance to mimic anime or manga characters, including pretending to be a different gender.

Meet Anastasiya Shpagina, 19, left, and Valeria Lukyanova, 21.

They have transformed themselves into human dolls through the use of cosmetic surgery and/or hours of makeup application. Both women are well known in the cosplay community and have devoted their lives to their characters.

At a little over 5 feet tall and just a tiny 8 pounds, Ms. Shpagina has the tiny waist and body, shiny hair and glassy doe-eyed expression that have become Japanese anime signatures. She's also changed her name to Fukkacumi.

Both she and her friend, known as the "real-life Barbie", have thousands of followers on the internet. The pair appear in photographs together on Facebook.

There is something to be said for this type of dedication to a look so far out of the mainstream, but is it more extreme than facial tattoos and piercings?

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