Cosplay

Death Stranding cosplayer perfects uncanny valley as Fragile

by Theo Salaun

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A Russian, self-proclaimed “rookie” cosplayer, Angelina Zelda, has put together a cosplay of Death Stranding’s Fragile that is so impeccable, it uncomfortably creates a reversed version of the uncanny valley effect.

Without revealing any spoilers, in Hideo Kojima’s Death Stranding, Fragile is a young woman and an executive of Fragile Express. Her character model is based on the popular French actress, Lea Seydoux.

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While the character quickly gained notoriety among fans, who eagerly anticipated Kojima’s latest production, because of a trailer that saw her nibbling on something...strange, Angelina Zelda is now gaining her own fame for seamlessly recreating Fragile’s look.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rP3UngLFou4

At the end of the Death Stranding trailer shown at E3 2018, you see Fragile having a snack. A couple years later, Zelda’s recreation of that scene reverses the uncanny valley in one simple shot. 

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Against an identical, black background, Zelda feels uncomfortably similar to the video game’s rendering — from her hair, to the makeup, to the muted, almost inquisitive expression. And that’s not even considering the identical outfit and prop.

This one photo, a side-by-side of Fragile and Zelda, has quickly made the rounds across the internet and made Zelda a more popular cosplayer than ever. She is acutely aware of that new influx and had a wholesome reaction to this outpouring of support: “In the past few days, a lot of people followed me. And I know it is largely due to this photo. I am eternally grateful for your support and positivity … I will try my best not to disappoint you all.”

That support is well-deserved, as few cosplays are so uncomfortably close to their inspiration that a writer is forced into describing the uncanny valley. But, that’s what she has done. 

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The uncanny valley is, in essence, the concept that a robot or graphically created becomes uncomfortable as it nears closeness in resemblance to a real human. Uncertain of the object’s actual humanity, there is a degree of discomfort as the human viewer sees something that feels close enough to be real, but not quite.

Somehow, Zelda has turned this effect on its head and reversed the bizarre discomfort. In this case, her makeup and muted expression cause the viewer to look back and forth in an effort to discern the real from the computed.

One can only be enthused that this cosplay is getting the attention it deserves and one can only hope that Kojima will continue creating characters deserving of uncomfortably clean mimicry.

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