Cosplay GEN #04
Cosplay GEN is a collectible magazine (due to its book-like appearance). It is entirely non-profit, self-financed and contains no advertising, therefore its purchasing for print version contributes directly to the next issue.
EDITORIAL FOR THE LOVE OF COSPLAY Time has passed almost with the speed of light, and here we are, reaching the fourth issue of Cosplay Gen. If, just one year ago, this magazine was only a baby barely looking up to the world, now it is a toddler that has already begun to take its first steps and be acknowledged, a fact that brings us the greatest joy and gives us the drive to go on and grow together with this project. And, as our permanent quest is the search for novelty and innovation, this issue has its share of changes too. We brought back the column dedicated to J-Rock cosplay, an extensive area to which we believe we should do justice; and also the reviews of various cosplay conventions and events, as we want to bring them closer to our readers who couldn’t be there for one reason or another. At the same time, we tried to remain true to our view towards the relationship with the vast fandom of cosplay, and launched a brand new column, entirely managed by the fans, who could vote their favorite cosplayer to be published within it. And, as in every issue until now, our attempt was to bring forth stories of various cosplayers and photographers who, in one way or another, could be a strong inspiration source for anyone who wants to take up this hobby. I admit that all these wonderful people and their stories sometimes brought tears to my eyes and gave me power and hope. In these two years since the pilot Cosplay Gen issue, we succeeded in making lots of friends who stayed with us along the way and we certainly hope that they will remain with us in the future too: cosplayers, photographers, cosplay aficionados, and also various cosplay-related events. We are now proud to be partners and guests of several important conventions and organizations and we’d like to thank you all, our friends and readers, for your support up to now. Of course, Cosplay Gen still has a very long road ahead, but we are hopeful that we’ll continue to make new friends along the way. It’s no secret that you, our dear readers, are the engine who keeps this project alive, through your dedication and support. An independent magazine is by no means an easy undertaking, as it depends only on its readers to financially support itself and, ergo, to exist, but, as long as we have you all beside us, we’ll go on, as we’re working on it for a sole purpose and with a sole motivation: for the love of cosplay. // Ruxandra Târcă TABLE OF CONTENTS 08 16 22 32 36 46 04 36 08 46 Article: Nostalgia for a Time Travel: The Mechanical Beauty of Steampunk Cosplay 50 Do It Yourself: Shirt and Tie Tutorial: Blood-C’s Kisaragi Saya Review: Supanova Sydney 2011 Profile: Bellatrix Aiden 12 Do It Yourself: Wig Styling Tutorial: xXxHoLic’s Ichihara Yuuko Cover Story: KANAME Article: 2 Simple “Do”-s and “Don’t”-s in Cosplay Conventions Community’s Choice 68 74 80 16 52 22 54 Profile: Shuichi Shindou Do It Yourself: Painting Lace and Vinyl Application: Alichino’s Myoubi Dress 28 58 88 64 94 Profile: Meagan Marie Interview: Kira Winter Interview: COMCOM!! Winners: Danny Cosplay & Jorge Padilla / Eliot 32 J-Rock Cosplay: Versailles: The J-Rockoco Period in the History of Cosplay Event: A-Kon® 22 Interview: Yuegene Fay Costume Showcase: Aura Rinoa’s Blood Elf Priestess (World of Warcraft) World Wide Fans 84 Profile: Hagaren Do It Yourself: Make-Up Tutorial: Naruto’s Uchiha Itachi 96 Review: UppCon 2011 2 54 58 FRONT COVER: Cosplay by KANAME 64 68 84 88 (Chiba, Japan) // Photo by nana EDITORIAL: Ruxandra Târcă // Photo by Nicoleta Piloiu aka Ayashige (ayashige.deviantart.com) FEATURED COSPLAYERS: Bellatrix Aiden (Kiev, Ukraine), Meagan Marie (Redwood City, CA, USA), Danny Cosplay (Tijuana, Mexico), Jorge Padilla / Eliot (Tijuana, Mexico), KANAME (Chiba, Japan), Yuu Shomura / jaRoukaSama (Caloocan City, Philippines), Shuichi Shindou (Moscow, Russia), Yuegene Fay (Thailand), Aura / AuraRinoa (Palermo, Italy), Hagaren (Shanghai, China) EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Ruxandra Târcă // CONTENT COORDINATOR: Cristian Botea // ART DIRECTOR: Cyril Rictus ILLUSTRATIONS: Cristian Dîrstar // PHOTOGRAPHER: Bela Benedek // PROOFREADERS: Petru Munteanu, Alexandru Maniu TRANSLATORS: Oana Cristina Butta (Japanese), Tsubatsu (Russian) CONTRIBUTORS: Rachel Lewis, Alexandra Culbertson, Callesto, Mara Buda, William Wong, Shinju, Witchiko, RainerTachibana, Hampus Andersson, Mihai Marcu, Stefan Tiron DISTRIBUTION & PARTNERSHIP: firstname.lastname@example.org // PRINT&PRE-PRESS: idea Design + Print PUBLISHER: Otaku Entertainment Copyrights of all the materials (photos, text, illustrations) used in this magazine are the property of their respective owners. Any errors or omissions are inadvertent. Please contact us at email@example.com so that we can make corrections in subsequent printings. 3 Supanova Sydney 2011 By Rachel Lewis // fiathriel.deviantart.com & Alexandra Culbertson // rainejoybringer.deviantart.com 1 Australia isn’t much different from the rest of the world in terms of its fan subcultures; it has its fair share of conventions, but not many come close to what Supanova aims to celebrate – pop culture itself – from card games to cult TV shows, anime, comics, wrestling and everything in between. It’s quite literally a celebration of all things geek, and nobody is nonetheless ashamed to admit to be geek. 4 The Supanova Pop Culture Expo holds four conventions a year in the cities of Sydney, Perth, Brisbane, and Melbourne. From there they are split into two groups with two sets of special guests for each group. It’s a little complicated, but assuredly it makes sense when dealing with such a large country. June 17-19 was Sydney’s turn for a slice of the action; at the Olympic Park Dome, where the event was held, 21 000 enthusiasts powered through the doors. Supanova has been running since 2002, and it’s planning to branch out to the Gold Coast and to Adelaide. This year, the list of special guests was very extensive, with such well-known names as Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy), the main stars of the I Dream of Jeannie TV series, and James Marsters (Spike from Buffy), all drawing large crowds. VA-s (voice actors) were also present: Dan Green (Yu-Gi-Oh!), alongside Yuko Miyamura and Tiffany Grant - the Japanese, and respectively English VA of Asuka from Evangelion. Comic books and literature were also counted for, with Aussie writer Jennifer Fallon offering a special Master Class on aspects of writing for all budding authors out there. 5 4 Whilst many were attracted by the celebrities, there were also many others that were attracted by the competitions. Art, trivia and karaoke were all popular, with the Kamehameha Blast-Off 2 proving to be the loudest. Cosplay was the main event though, with hopefuls entering into the Madman National Cosplay Competition that would reward the winner/s with boasting rights and a trip to Japan. Not surprisingly, cosplay is a huge part of Supanova. With so many different subcultures being brought together in one place, it’s common to see things like Stormtroopers dancing with Final Fantasy characters or Doctor Who eating lunch with Batman. So, from comics to anime, from video games to wrestling, it’s all just part of the unique atmosphere of Supanova, as everyone shares their adoration of pop culture in all its crazy forms. The Madman Nationals, sponsored by Madman Entertainment, debuted in 2009. The winning trip includes the entry to the Tokyo Anime Fair, accommodation and Rail Passes for 7 days. It is currently the only competition in Australia to live stream all of its rounds. There are five rounds and a final during the year. The winner/s from each round find themselves with not only an invitation to compete in the finals, but also with return airfares from their nearest capital city, accommodation for two nights, and $200AUD in Madman vouchers. If the quality of an entrant stands out, but they do not win their round, the judges may choose to offer them a ‘wildcard’ entry. They go to the finals, but they must pay for their way there. In 2009, SorceressMooNBlaDeR won with her Alice costume from Pandora Hearts, and wildcard entry AmenoKitarou took out the championship in 2010 with his Siegfried costume from Soul Calibur IV. This round saw some amazing costumes and performances, with 2nd place going to Mahou Mecha (D. Gray-man), and 1st place going to Wakaleo - earning his spot 3 into the finals with his fantastic cosplay of Sun Jian from Dynasty Warriors. A portfolio must be submitted beforehand. The skit has a time limit of 3 minutes; pre-recorded voice, music and video are allowed; and there is a panel made of three judges. The entrant is assessed for the costume (craftsmanship/accuracy), the performance (creativity/entertainment value/production quality of the audio/visual aspect) and faithfulness (resemblance to the original work); lastly, the portfolio can be also taken into consideration in the judging process. Now, some info about the 1st and 2nd place winners! Wakaleo, cosplayer for 10 years and returning competitor to the Nationals, has gained invaluable insight into how scrupulous the judges are, and what they are looking for. This year he participated alone, but he still finds working with a partner more enjoyable, as he much prefers the interaction of two cosplayers on stage. The Dynasty Warriors story is about politics and war; this presented a challenge when deciding on an engaging skit. Combine that with being the sole cosplayer on stage and you don’t have the optimal arsenal to work with. However, what prevailed was gut instinct and he went with it. New techniques needed to be learnt, including appliqué, complex patterning and gradient dyeing. The tiger appliqué on the cape took a week to cut out, and the brocade frayed a lot! However, his knowledge of leather crafting, and his beard growing skills, which he is very proud of, allowed him to at least breeze through some aspects. As always, there were things that went wrong; during a serious part of the skit, the judges proceeded to laugh; continuing without being distracted proved challenging, and he 5 REVIEW later discovered they were simply laughing at his French accent! For the Finals in November he is planning his dream cosplay; Judge Gabranth from FFXII. He is still deciding on how he is going to make all the pieces and no doubt we’ll all be following and cheering for him! Now, the 2nd place. The antics of the colourful Millennium Earl (Mechakal), the serious monochrome Allen Walker (Mahou Koneko) and the interesting stage props contributed to a very unique performance, keeping the crowd and judges entertained. I interviewed Mechakal to learn more. This is the first time the two have teamed up, and sharing the excitement, ideas and workload has proved valuable. However, the teamwork involved a lot of trust. She had to learn to pull back, allow her teammate to contribute and accept when she produced superior work (that can’t be easy!). She believes the advantages far outweigh the challenges and they plan to collaborate again in future. 6 For the two costumes and all the props, a variety of components were used, including latex, foam core, resin, hot glue, duct tape, fabric and clay. Creativity was very important, as the skit involved items such as boogie board, yoga mat, pumpkin head basket, kids alphabet play set, wardrobe rack, three feet long balloon, can of deodorant, pink umbrella, some chopsticks, some dirt (yes, dirt), gardening equipment, vinyl sheeting and pasta sauce jar lids. It sounds interesting, doesn’t it? Months of preparation and waking-up at 5.30 AM (during an increasingly cold weather) were necessary to mould the 3 kg of clay and to apply the countless layers of latex slush casting involved in making the most difficult component, the Earl’s mask. Winter saw to it that the latex dried as SLOWLY as possible and resin regrettably crystallised, resulting in the two cosplayers making a vow not to work with such materials in winter again. 7 The two of them plan to continue to challenge themselves, and have no interest in remaining inside their comfort zone of acquired skills and techniques. Australia looks forward to what they will unveil to us in the future. 9 Photo credits: 1-9. Charmaine Morgan (fluffyltd.deviantart.com) 10-13. Rachel Lewis (fiathriel.deviantart.com) 6 11 8 10 12 13 7 Bellatrix Aiden Years of Cosplay: 4 Kiev, Ukraine cosplay.com/member/59222 bellaid.deviantart.com Ukraine already has a 5 year-long tradition in cosplay. It is fast growing; it likes cosplay competitions, masquerades, etudes and performances. Numerous conventions already have brought recognition to a global costume spree extravaganza that is reaching far and deep. A happy cosplayer is a happy creator, one that partakes in the lives and excitements of a fabled cartoon that is brought to life in the real world. Bellatrix Aiden tells us about the true rewards and inner lifetime of a living and kicking character. PROFILE 2 3 4 Cosplay Gen: What can you tell us about how cosplay is regarded in Ukraine, in comparison with other European countries? Bellatrix Aiden: Cosplay in Ukraine is a new wave, it has just started. This winter we had an anniversary meeting dedicated to the 5 years of cosplay in our country, and the lineup of the event was represented by the best cosplayers and photographers. The number of conventions has increased a lot in the last few years. The most popular kinds of cosplay competitions are masquerades, and cosplay etudes or performances, where cosplayers try their best to show and act the way their character would do. I am really glad that the level of cosplay has been really soaring, and I am happy to see great costumes at our conventions. The Japanese who visited us were really surprised that our anime fans are not only interested in cosplay, but also sing Japanese songs, dance and try to learn their language. They said that we are a wide-opened nation. CG: To you, what was the most challenging character to cosplay? Can you detail a little the costume-making process? BA: The most difficult costume I have ever done is the costume I am working on right now. I have started this costume nearly half a year ago and Iâ€™ve spent all my spare time to improve it and make it more elaborate. I had to buy an embroidery machine, many meters of fabric, beads and other materials. I even had to use the method of printing pictures on T-shirts. I have to think about every little detail, sometimes I have no idea how to do this or that, I fall into despair, and in the end the answer just comes to me. Itâ€™s like magic. 9 PROFILE CG: Do you have your mind set on a particular character you’d like to cosplay in the future? If yes, which one and why? BA: When I was a child, and had no idea about cosplay, I used to play the well known game Final Fantasy VIII. When I first saw Edea, I fell in love with her personality and her costume. I simply adore this character, and it’s a pity I’m not able to play as her throughout the whole game. She is beautiful and her costume is just magnificent. Time passed, and later I met a few people who told me about cosplay and that my dream can become reality, but I was scared to cosplay her, as I was not a professional props maker. Now I have friends who cheer for me and can help me if I get stuck somewhere while making her helmet. I hope you will like my cosplay of her when I finish it. CG: What is your opinion about the challenge of cosplaying a various range of characters? BA: I think that all the characters I have ever portrayed are different in the way they express their emotions, opinions and themselves; they also look different. I try to give life to the cartoon, and I am really glad when people say that I look and act just like my character. It is the most important reward for a cosplayer. Every cosplayer is a little creator, and we have to do it wholeheartedly. I think it is really exciting and I challenge myself as well. Sometimes, it is very difficult to act like those characters. So it is a challenge for my inner actress. CG: What has been the most rewarding thing you have gotten out of cosplay since you’ve started? BA: I am very grateful to cosplay. I have met a lot of different people; visited places; became friends with people I didn’t know before, from various cities. I became more sociable and self-confident. And I have accomplished a part of my dream. When I was a little girl my dream was to become an actress and a model, and cosplay helped me to combine them both. 5 Photo credits: 1, 2, 3. The Flower (Cardcaptor Sakura) by Pugoffka-sama (pugoffka.kiev.ua, pugoffka-sama.deviantart.com) 4. Benten (Zone-00) by Pugoffka-sama (pugoffka.kiev.ua, pugoffka-sama.deviantart.com) 5. Mother of Blanche (Ludwig Revolution) by Pugoffka-sama (pugoffka.kiev.ua, pugoffka-sama.deviantart.com) 6. S oah (Bride Of The Water God) by Pugoffka-sama (pugoffka.kiev.ua, pugoffka-sama.deviantart.com) 7. Konoe (Lamento -Beyond the Void-) by Pugoffka-sama (pugoffka.kiev.ua, pugoffka-sama.deviantart.com) 8. Sheryl Nome (Macross Frontier) by Yuliya Libkina (yuliyaphoto.com) 9. Another Blood (Deus Machina Demonbane) by C.Rabbit (crazyrabbit.deviantart.com) 10 7 6 8 9 11 DO IT YOURSELF Wig Styling Tutorial: xXxHoLic’s Ichihara Yuuko Tutorial and tutorial photos by Callesto callesto.deviantart.com 1 2 First you have to cut the craft foam in the desired shape. It’s best to make a paper pattern first, to test for size on your wig before cutting into your foam. Leave extra room at the bottom for the hair comb. Shape the foam by applying heat, fold into shape and hold until it’s cool. (Skip this step if you’re working with a 2D shape for your base, for example a circle. This tutorial will show you a fan shape that has space between the two sides) The foam is the base you’ll work on, and will help you keep the extensions in the desired shape. The foam should be the same colour as your extensions in case it peaks through the hair. For larger shapes that require a lot of hair to fully cover the foam, floral wire may be needed to help support the foam. 12 Craft foam, same colour as your extensions Hair extensions (Pre-wefts are easier to work with) Hair comb What You Need Hot glue 3 Working in layers, start to glue your extensions to the base of your foam. Continue adding layers of extensions until there is enough hair to cover the foam, front and back. 13 DO IT YOURSELF 4 5 Drape and fold the extensions over to the back. Working at the top front, spread out the hairs to cover the foam while keeping the hair smooth. You will need to apply glue at the sides and corners to keep the hair from sliding off the foam â€“ only a thin layer of glue is necessary. When the hair is glued down at the sides and top, front and back, glue the ends at the bottom back, working in layers again and keeping the hair smooth over the foam. Trim left over extension length. 6 7 Glue the hair comb to the bottom of the foam, trying to keep it on the inside of the shape. If youâ€™re working with a 2D shape, glue it on top of the wefts. To attach to your wig, work with either a stub or a bun to place the comb into. Hand-sewing the comb to the wefts of your wig is also an option if the shape can be supported without it falling backwards; top heavy shapes may not work for example. The weft extensions on your shape should be against the wig to help hide them. 14 Photo by Kevin Chang Meagan Marie Years of Cosplay: 5 Redwood City, CA, USA www.meagan-marie.com Meagan Marie went from commercial modeling during college to discovering a fulfilling and diverse community of like-minded photographers and make-up wizards. Gaming can be a serious educative milieu. Once you start playing hard inside it, it can lead and expand into a passionate career, getting a former gamer out and into the gameworld and back again. Comic books also (a)dress us up and orient our fashioning(s). Cosplaying can also push you farther than the farthest reaches of the fashion industry. Hands-on experience about Prince of Persia feminity, Witchblade gauntlets and Two-Faced glamorous villainy. 16 2 PROFILE Cosplay Gen: When did you first start cosplaying? Did you find any difficulty in blending in with other cosplayers at the conventions you participated in? Meagan Marie: I’ve always loved the fantastical worlds and characters found in video games, comics, and anime. I tried my hand at some commercial modeling during college, but didn’t find it fulfilling. Instead, I started scouting like-minded photographers and makeup artists and took on the role of art director for increasingly thematic shoots. Eventually, I began to fabricate costumes and tried to re-create my favorite comic book covers. After attending a few conventions I realized that there was an entire “cosplay” culture, and I was hooked. I started meeting new friends and joining costume groups. CG: Your cosplays involve a lot of games and comics characters. How have games and comics influenced you over the years? MM: I’ve been a video game fan for as long as I can remember. My dad is a software engineer, and as such he has always been interested in the newest tech on the market – games included. I guess I was spoiled in that I always had fresh gaming systems around. My brothers and I grew up with NES and Sega Genesis, but everything changed for me when I was presented with a PlayStation and the first Tomb Raider title. Lady Lara Croft was the first video game character I could identify myself with, and I genuinely looked up to her charisma and strength. From there my affinity for games turned into a passion, and eventually a career. I worked at Game Informer magazine as an editor right out of college, and recently moved to California to take up the Community Manager position at Crystal Dynamics, working on nothing other than the next installment of Tomb Raider. 3 Tomb Raider was also my catalyst into the comic world. When I laid eyes on my first Michael Turner cover featuring Lara Croft and Sara Pezzini from Witchblade, I was in love. I’ve been a fan of comic books ever since, and my tastes have greatly diversified over the years. My passion for comics and video games eventually led me to conventions, and ultimately cosplay. CG: You have cosplayed a female version of the Prince from Prince of Persia game as well as a female version of Two Face from the DC Universe. How did you come up with these ideas? Can you share with us a few details of the creation process? MM: Costuming is an artistic expression in my eyes, and I not only enjoy the craftsmanship, but the conceptualization process as well. When I first saw Ubisoft’s 2008 take on Prince of Persia, I fell for the stunning art direction. I thought it would be fun to collaborate with a group of other girls on some cross-play at San Diego Comic Con 2010. Redesigning the Prince to be feminine wasn’t difficult. I decided to leave the shirt open per the original design and wear a bra underneath for modesty. I also made the pants significantly tighter and opted for long hair spilling out from underneath the head wrap. Instead of making the long duster from scratch, I sifted through eBay listings for months before finding a perfect leather duster with crochet accents. I removed the sleeves and dyed the jacket, ensuring not to stir the bath so that it had an uneven, worn look to it. I took in the waist to make it fit better, and added trim around the arms and length for an ornate touch. The shirt was another found item, which was cut up and taken in appropriately. I couldn’t find orange leggings, so I purchased 18 5 white cotton ones and dyed them instead – again not stirring the dye bath, in order to give it a textured look. I reused the sleeves of the jacket for boot covers, attaching snaps to the leggings to make sure they stayed in place. I fabricated the belt from scratch; the same with the head scarf, fraying the ends as needed. I had previous experience with gauntlets thanks to my Witchblade costume, so the prince’s glove wasn’t entirely terrifying to make. I started with a leather gardening glove, elongated it with Wonderflex, and used paper to pattern out the pieces for the claw. I made a point to cut and position the pieces so that the fingers would still articulate. From there I heated the pieces and molded them to my hand, and used puff paint to add the patterning. The last steps were distressing the gauntlet with paint, and adding accent pieces and leather to polish off the look. I had such a great time cosplaying as the Princess of Persia that I opted to debut another crossplay the very next year. Two-Face has always been one of my favorite villains. Instead of replicating the more realistic version of Two-Face from the movies, I wanted to play with the styling from Batman: The Animated Series by contrasting electric blue makeup with the crisp black and white suit. I also thought it would be interesting to try something simultaneously grotesque and glamourous. 4 In reality, the costume wasn’t that difficult to pull together. It took a few weeks to find similar cut suits on eBay, but the corsets and shoes were easy enough to secure. Non-prescription contacts were slightly hard to come by, and slightly hard to wear considering I had never used them before. Even with the costume done I was nervous that the look wouldn’t come together. As such, I didn’t tell anyone about Lady Two-Face until I stepped out the hotel door at San Diego Comic Con 2011. I had nothing to worry about though, because Hydred Makabali the makeup artist I hire for SDCC every year - knocked the look out of the park. It took six hours of applying blue latex, sculpting wax, acrylic nails, and white hair spray to finish, but I’m very, very happy with the result. Lady Two-Face is one of my favorite costumes to date. CG: You recently cosplayed as Anya Stroud from Gears of War; what was the most difficult part of this costume and how did you pull it off? MM: I love Gears of War. Not only do I love the games, but I’ve read all the novels and comics so to stay caught up on cannon. My fandom landed me a spot on the Game Informer/Gears of War 3 cover story team back when I worked at the magazine, and that particular trip is when it was first hinted at that the women of the Gears universe would be taking up COG armor. Our suspicions were confirmed when the final cover art arrived at the office, showcasing Anya in full combat regalia. From the moment I saw Anya suited up, I knew I wanted to cosplay as her. Sewing the pants and corset was more time consuming rather than difficult. The armor took months to complete, and choosing the best technique was the result of much trial and error. I ended up using a hybrid of motocross armor, Wonderflex, and craft foam. I actually have no idea what the large circle pieces on the chest are, but I think they’re somehow associated with toilets, as I found them in the plumbing department of my local hardware store. 6 After finishing the armor, I used a soldering iron to burn in battle damage and make it look worn and weathered. Afterwards I 19 PROFILE coated each item with black and silver paint. When the paint was fully dry, I sanded it down with a block to make it appear dull and worn. I also stippled a warm brown on top of each piece to make it look dirty. Red and yellow were used in various locations for accent, which I again sanded down. I polished off the look with little flecks of a rust color near any damaged pieces. Everything was then coated with a clear (satin) coat, and again sanded down so that only a few areas looked reminiscent of once-polished armor. The whole process took a week to finish when taking into account drying time. The team at Epic Games lent me a Lancer replica for the show, and then gifted it to me after seeing the finished costume. It is now the pride and joy of my prop collection. CG: Not only do you cosplay, but you also have a passion for modeling. What have the two taught you? MM: Modeling has taught me to appreciate the collaboration with talented individuals – photographers, makeup artists, hair stylists, and so on. I try to bring the same level of quality to a cosplay photoshoot as I would for a traditional modeling gig, if not more because of the time and money invested on my end. In other ways, modeling has taught me to be aware of myself and my body, my posture, the way I hold my head or smile and so on. Cosplay is much more rewarding than fashion work, though, and helps bring me out of my shell and have fun embodying different characters. CG: Let’s face it, cosplay can become quite the expensive hobby, with some spending a lot of money on their costumes, and you’re probably no exception to this rule. Do you ever regret spending so much on something that you only wear for a day or two, or do you think it is money well spent? MM: If I kept a ledger of every dollar I’ve spent, I may have some hesitations, but in the end the final costume is always worth the time and money invested. Hanging out with friends at a convention, taking photos with the fans of a particular franchise, and setting up photoshoots to capture the costume professionally is a huge creative outlet and a ton of fun. Even if I do wear a costume only once or twice before retiring it, the experience is well worth it. 7 Photo credits: 1, 2. Anya Stroud (Gears of War) by Leonard Lee (flickr.com/photos/ljinto/) 3. Lady Two-Face (Batman: The Animated Series, original concept) by Leonard Lee (flickr.com/photos/ljinto/) 4. Mad Moxxi (Borderlands) by Leonard Lee (flickr.com/photos/ljinto/) 5. Sara Pezzini (Witchblade) by Scott Miron (facebook.com/pages/Scott-Miron-Photography/163048590375335) 6. Poison Ivy (Batman Universe) by David Nusbaum (davidnusbaum.com) 7. Catwoman (Batman) by Scott Miron (facebook.com/pages/Scott-Miron-Photography/163048590375335) 8. Velocity (Cyberforce) by Chanh Tang (chanh.tumblr.com) 9, 10. Princess of Persia (Prince of Persia, original concept) by Leonard Lee (flickr.com/photos/ljinto/) 20 9 8 10 21 INTERVIEW Kira Winter Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine Chongqing, China kirawinter.deviantart.com Cosplay Gen: In your opinion, what does it take to be a cosplay photographer? Kira Winter: First and foremost, you need to love cosplay. Because, although you are an awesome portrait photographer, in the end you might find out that your photos are not as good as you wanted. Each time you must have the will to bring characters to life. Place, time, weather – anything could help (and you can be the one to plan it). Also, I think that it would be much better if you watched the anime or read the manga and really knew the character. Cosplayers’ job is to impersonate the character with their look, but the photographer must create an entire world! If the place isn’t suitable, if you know nothing about the character’s personality, people will perceive it through your photography. And if you want to take photos just to make some money or for the chance to meet cute girls – you won’t be able to put your heart in. Who would like a work that doesn’t have any love in it? CG: What sort of gear do you use? Do you think that gear is an important element in delivering quality shots? KW: I use a Canon EOS 450D, a tripod and a few simple lights. I think creativity is much more important than any gear. Last year I took a lot of night shoots, using only two small hand torches. Of course, it was really complicated to take photos, but now I can create a lot of lighting with very cheap things. I always say that I hate flash light and never use it, but people don’t believe me. So I don’t even dare to tell that I am using only torch lights… Of course, now, when I use bigger lights, it looks too easy for me. By the way, one time I took a night shoot only with the light from my friend’s mobile phone; and another one only with lights from the cars passing by in the street. If you think hard, you can do much better than any guy with super expensive equipment. CG: Before you were a cosplay photographer, you were a cosplayer. What can you tell us about your time as a cosplayer and what made you want to become a cosplay photographer? KW: I stopped doing regular cosplay 2 years ago, and it was really difficult to quit, unreal even. My friends and I were doing cosplay for so many years together; it was already a lifestyle, not a hobby. But I asked myself: is this something good? Am I really doing something nice and love cosplay as art, or I simply want attention and want to hear and read how people praise me? You know, people don’t talk about this stuff, but it’s a very serious question, I think (at least for me). I started thinking: is it something that I am trying to convey through it, or everything is just about wearing cool clothes and looking all nice and pretty? And I’ve realized that to me cosplay was an art indeed, but I had lost that fun between competitions. It all became a sport where you must be pretty, thin, cool... And it wasn’t fun at all anymore. It was just a strong tension, and the feeling that you can’t do this or that, because all the time you need to hear someone’s opinion on how you look. It sucked. I wasn’t a model. I didn’t want to make a big-sport 22 To counterbalance the overwhelming drive to impersonate your favorite character, you need a photographer. Not only that; you need someone like Kira Winter. This comes with a certain degree of stoicism combined with an understanding of your character or of any character you might have to become. Big cameras & expensive gear are not the main thing; just consider such unlikely â€˜normalâ€™ light sources as a mobile phone, glowing stick, a torch or the passing cars. Ever wondered if you should move away from the beauty-contest limelight into building up aesthetic cosplaying environments? 24 INTERVIEW of it. It was about fun... but it had become an illness. I know it was not only about me. People have changed, and cosplay has become some kind of beauty contest. It seems wrong to me. So I’ve decided to stop and try to show that cosplay is an art, not a beauty competition. I thought that cosplay was my favorite thing in the world and I could still do it as an art, just from the other side of lens. It was a chance to show that good cosplay consisted not only of expensive costumes; we also have to try and show the character’s feelings, and its story... I was lucky enough that my friends believed in me and helped me. They let me take photos when I had no experience, and when I saw what we can do together, it was like a small miracle. It was something that I always felt it was lacking. So, what is the end of this story? Well, sometimes I want to cosplay, but I don’t really want to be an active cosplayer anymore. I am already not so young to cosplay school students, and I am not a fan of sewing-machines. I’m not saying that I will never cosplay again, but I like being a cosplay photographer. I know from the inside what cosplay is, I know the cosplayers very well, because I was one of them for many years... I think some photographers are very good with photography, but don’t understand cosplayers at all. You need to know some things from the inside if you want to be better... And the main point always remains that I was very happy back there, I will never regret it and it was the best time of my life. CG: Do you consider that the experience as a cosplayer represents an added value for a cosplay photographer? And if yes, in what way? KW: Of course, every cosplay photographer must deal with many professional questions (and for me almost each new photoshoot is a new lesson), but cosplay is not only about photography. As a former cosplayer, now I know that when you are wearing a complex dress, wig and make-up, it’s almost impossible to control the situation. So when I see that the cosplayer is lost or confused, I always help by telling him/ her what to do. CG: You have the advantage of knowing first-hand two very different cultures. Cosplay-wise, what do you think is the most striking difference between European and Asian cosplayers? How does it feel to be a European cosplay photographer in an Asian country? KW: I think Chinese cosplayers tend to form much bigger collectives… When I saw the Chinese cosplay groups for the first time, I was shocked: 20-40 people in one group?! And it is a common thing here. They don’t have any time limit on stage, and if 60 groups want to take part, they will take part for sure. Also, everyone is hardworking, patient and nice. I took photos in winter, in the rain, in extremely hot weather, and the cosplayers were doing their best each time, never complaining. The Chinese cosplay community is at a very high level. There are a few very famous professional cosplayers, such as Huang Shan, Xiao Meng, Xiao Bai, who take part in conventions and sell photo-books. I think selling photos is a nice idea, but, somehow, inside the European community people think that it’s ridiculous. The most difficult thing for me was to make the Chinese cosplayers regard me as a photographer, not as a foreigner. My appearance is too different, and they got used to me only after a few months… The only irritating factor was when we took photos outside, and random Chinese people stopped and took photos of me, because I am Euro- 25 INTERVIEW pean. Sometimes it made me really angry, but they intend no harm, so I am learning to control my temper. CG: Can you describe a usual cosplay photoshoot with Kira Winter? KW: If decided, the photoshoot takes place regardless of the circumstances (weather, time of day, mood, etc). It is always a challenge, but I like challenges. And the picture would be incomplete without my brave assistants, who always come and help me. I like to use some strange things like flour, branches, glowing sticks, Christmas lights – experiments can be fun! Of course, I like the celebration afterwards, when the photographer, cosplayers and assistants gather in some quiet place to eat and chat. CG: You seem much attached to Pili cosplays and your photoshoots make one immediately think of a Pili show in its own right. Where does this passion come from and what’s behind a Pili cosplay photoshoot? KW: When I saw Chinese cosplay for the first time, it was Pili. I didn’t know what it was, and I thought that it portrayed some clothes designed by cosplayers. I was charmed by their beauty. It sounds strange, but by watching anime one starts to get used to Japanese clothes; but Pili was absolutely exotic, unreal and unearthly. So I was searching for more information, more photos… And now I can finally take photos of Pili cosplayers. I can’t say that a Pili photoshoot is too different from a usual one. Well, except getting more nervous. I am greatly honored that I – without being Asian – am trusted to take photos of Pili cosplay, even if my cultural background is absolutely unsuitable, but it also triggers a lot of stress. Still, I want to do my best. CG: Your photos are highly aesthetical, highlighting cosplay’s quality as art. For the less experienced, what piece of advice would you give in order to achieve this? KW: Thank you. Of course, I don’t think that there is such a thing as a universal formula for good photos. And everyone who wants to be a good cosplayer or cosplay photographer must be ready to work hard and learn everyday. But I can give a small piece of advice - if you are a model, then trust your photographer; and if you are a photographer, then check everything, from light to posing. And you’ll make it. Good luck! CG: Where does your inspiration come from? KW: I was influenced mostly by Asian cosplay. Many years ago, when I was a cosplayer, I fell in love with it. I searched for more and more photos online, and I tried to borrow some ideas from them. I started to learn Chinese, and ended up in China. Now I’m a photographer and do my own work, trying as best as I can to connect European and Asian cosplay traditions. CG: You’ve been shooting for two years now; where do you think you lack the most in cosplay photography and want to improve? KW: The main thing I’m lacking now is time. I’m spending a very big amount of my personal time photographing, but it is never enough. Sometimes I do not sleep at all, because it’s the only way to make everything that I want on time. Of course, I believe that in the future my technique will improve, and everything will be ok. Photos by Kira Winter (kirawinter.deviantart.com) 26 27 INTERVIEW Danny Cosplay Years of Cosplay: 2 Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico dannycosplay.deviantart.com Cosplay Gen: What can you tell us about your experience as a cosplayer until now, and about your goals in cosplay? Jorge Padilla: Despite having little time to be a cosplayer, I can say I’ve had very nice experiences. I’ve learned many things through trial-and-error, and I’ve developed skills to work with a various range of materials to make things I consider fantastic. I’ve exploited my creativity in ways I never thought I could, and it is something that has got me very motivated to stay in the world of cosplay. Also, cosplay has allowed me to meet a lot of people, great cosplayers, and make great friends; it gave me the opportunity to travel to other cities and keep meeting new people from different places, and always learn new things from the others. It has helped me develop myself personally. Cosplay is something I’ve grown very fond of, and I do it with great delight and commitment. COMCOM!! (comcomtj.com) is an event held in the city of Tijuana, Mexico, which unites fans of comics, anime, videogames, cosplay and other J-pop culture trends. This project was first launched in 2010 and was designed as a convention dedicated to the fans of the contemporary Japanese culture. This year’s COMCOM!! took place on March 19, gathering loads of attendees and also important guests from the world of comics, manga, and videogames. Of course, the cosplay masquerade was among the highlights of the convention, having as winners Danny (1st place), and Eliot (2nd place), who cosplayed as Ichihara Yuuko (xXxHoLic), and Ciel (Kuroshitsuji) respectively; and we thought of presenting you a bit of their story in the following interview. 28 I actually feel very satisfied, since up until now I’ve achieved all the goals and challenges I’ve set for myself in the world of cosplay; and sincerely one of them was being able to share my work as a cosplayer with CosplayGen and with the world. Danny Cosplay: My most important experiences have been getting to know a lot of people I have become friends with, to learn from them and from myself, the memories and experiences of each finished costume, getting nervous right before the contest, the emotions, and also to feel the courage of getting on-stage. These are all experiences I would never change for anything, and I will never forget them since my beginnings as a cosplayer. I don’t really have fixed goals, they all started coming out in time... but I can say that I have achieved all those goals and I Jorge Padilla / Eliot Years of Cosplay: 2 Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico eliotcosplay.deviantart.com feel very proud of what I’ve accomplished in such a short time as a cosplayer. CG: How do you regard the cosplay community in Mexico? In your opinion, what is it that should be changed, and why? JP: I consider that Mexico has a great cosplay level! Little by little, people are being more dedicated when creating their cosplays. However, I still think there’s still a slight lack of will and commitment, since making a cosplay, even if it’s a very simple costume, needs some time and dedication in order for it to come out as best as possible. DC: Mexico’s cosplay community actually does have great potential, but I believe it is not sufficiently exploited. I think that in Mexico we are sometimes limited, and we’re unable to give it our all in the matter of contesting. Regarding cosplay itself, there really is some very good work, otherwise I don’t think we would be here. CG: Do you have such a thing as a favourite cosplayer, whom to regard as a role model? If yes, who and why? JP: Definitely Yaya Han. I highly admire the dedicated and detailed way in which she works; actually, some of her original designs amaze me more than most of her actual cosplays! She’s still ‘fresh’ and has a lot of time for doing cosplay. She is always in contact with the cosplay community, assists to many events, throws conferences, and brings her own contributions... she is very committed to what she does and that’s something I really like about her; I believe all this has situated her in the position she’s in as a very well known cosplay figure and role model in the cosplay world. DC: I don’t have a role model; I believe every cosplayer is a role model to follow. However, I do have a couple of cosplayers I admire, such as Yaya Han and Pikminlink. I admire Yaya for all of her work; it’s marvellous, and she’s a girl who remained very well known in the world of cosplay. I also like Pikminlink because she’s actually a crossplayer, and her work reflects her dedication to reach perfection, such as her well-known Link cosplay. CG: What can you tell us about the costume-making process? How long did it take to tailor the costumes for the competition, and what was the most difficult part? JP: My Ciel cosplay was done in 3 months. Generally, I always begin making my cosplays with plenty of time ahead, because I like making them little by little. However, they actually don’t really take much time. Since this cosplay is not an official costume in the series, but rather a line-art, it was very complicated to find the exact material, seeing that the design I was inspired from was a darker shade of red; I used a different fabric and apparently it worked out well. The other difficult part was to bind the crinoline to my waist and achieve the picture’s effect, but after lots of thinking I was able to pull off something similar and it looks like that worked out as well... In the end, the most difficult part of this cosplay was finding a place where I could sit down! DC: The whole process started with selecting the character. For this cosplay, I chose Yuuko from xXxHoLic. It took me about 3 months before the contest to make the costume. The making process seemed endless to me, since I was eager to see it finished, and it was also kind of tedious since there was much to sew and a lot of cloth to put together, especially for the sleeves. The most difficult part was painting the circles and the butterflies, especially the butterflies, since the pink colour would not stay on the 29 INTERVIEW cloth and I had to give it several strokes. Making the mold for the hair was my favourite part in making the costume. CG: What is your opinion about costume tailoring in cosplay? Do you consider it mandatory for a cosplayer to make everything by himself/herself, or do you think it’s ok to get the help of a professional tailor? Which category do you belong to? JP: Not at all. Wanting to be an anime, manga, etc. character for a moment does not imply having to elaborate the costume yourself. Many people simply like to dress up for just a moment to know what it feels like being your favourite character and enjoying it without having the intention of learning how to sew or make any piece of their cosplay themselves, and that’s ok, since there are no actual rules for this activity, and we’re not going to put up obstacles or rules for ourselves when it’s just for dressing up and having a good time, since that’s what it’s actually all about: having a good time. Personally, I like to become the character in the most realistic way possible, from his costume to his personality... I’m quite perfectionist in that aspect, it’s something about my personality and the odd way in which I enjoy myself. Like most people, I started out without knowing anything about sewing and I used to get others’ help to make my cosplays. Now, I do my entire cosplay myself, starting from sewing, armour-making, details, wig styling, to make-up itself. I’ve learned little by little based on tutorials, help and advice from others, observation, trial-and-error, and experience itself. There’s always room for improvement. DC: I myself don’t think there’s anything bad about receiving professional help since there are always things you can’t do yourself, and there are a lot of people who are into cosplay, but do not have any sewing experience and require help. It’s all ok as long as you contribute with something to the making of the costume. For example, I receive help when I’m faced with dangerous stuff, like cutting wood with machines. CG: What do you think about conventions and competitions? What do they represent to you? JP: Obviously, I love going to events and contests of this kind, since it is a great opportunity to get to know the work of others, share your own work, share ideas, interact, and especially have a good time. I really like taking part in the cosplay contests just for the fact of getting on the stage, representing the character, and performing; I consider myself a very artistic person and always willing to pull off something magnificent that people would like, and being on stage along with other people that share similar ideas and tastes is something I get a lot of satisfaction from, which apparently I am able to reflect since other people enjoy what I do as well... I would love to become the inspiration of others, and to encourage them into entering the world of cosplay. DC: Well, to me the conventions represent a place where I can show my work as a cosplayer, meet up with my friends, get to know new people, and sometimes talk to people to help them and encourage them into contesting or cosplaying. I can show my work much better in contests, express what I felt through the music, what I thought when creating my performance, and convey the character’s presence, which I really like to do during the minutes I’m on-stage, as well as having everyone look at what I can accomplish. Contests make me very excited while on the stage. Photos by Lorenzo Gómez 30 31 Versailles: The J-Rockoco Period in the History of Cosplay By Mara Buda J-ROCK COSPLAY For the connoisseurs of the Visual-Kei scene, Versailles has become an icon. They are well known for their symphonic power metal sound, as well as their rococo-esque costumes that catch the eye immediately with their beauty and complexity. The late 18th century fashion influence over this band gave them a certain amount of uniqueness even in their genre, making them extremely popular, their fan-base increasing in numbers each day. As their fame grows, so does the number of people that choose to cosplay as them. All around the world, fans take pride in the fact that they resemble their idols in one way or another and look like one of them. There are many reasons to mimic them: their music, their look, their personality. I asked ShizukaRen from Romania to tell me why she chose to cosplay as Kamijo, and her reply was: ‘Because Kamijo is my idol. A man I respect and admire, but at the same time compete with. In my eyes he is perfect and I want to be just like that, to do my best in everything and be successful. But I don’t plan on stopping here, I’ll work hard and one day I’ll be even better than him. Something I always tell my friends is that Kamijo is a peacock, while I’m still a baby peacock. But one day I’ll be all grown up, and on that day his spotlight will be mine’ While cosplayer stories of how they stumbled upon Versailles vary from serious to funny, the reasons for choosing them are definite and strong. Compared to manga and anime cosplays, cosplaying as real people is a bit harder and you need to find the exact pattern and texture of the fabric you’re trying to copy, as Russian cosplayer Astarohime said. 2 The process of making a J-Rock cosplay is almost identical to making a normal one. The greatest difference between the two is that it’s sometimes harder to find the necessary fabrics for them; for some cosplayers, it can take weeks and sometimes months to find the materials they need, while others are lucky and find them pretty quickly. The actual process of sewing the costumes or making the accessories depends on their individual skills. Having many years of experience isn’t relevant, as long as they’re able to create at least part of the costume or accessories themselves. Depending on the level of difficulty, the time they need to make the costumes varies from a week up to three weeks, as multilayered ruffles, beads embroidery and lacing with crystals is often involved. Most of these have to be applied manually, a process which could take up to a few months. If the final product turns out well, there is no greater satisfaction for the cosplayer. From what Christoph told me, only months after Versailles was formed, they had a dedicated group of cosplayers making appearances on stage, in parades and performances with tremendous sets. It seems interesting that a lot of Russian cosplayers choose Versailles to be on their resume. Kuroru and her friend General were asked to describe the Russian cosplay scene. “I’m from Russia, Moscow and I can say that J-Rock music and cosplay are very popular among Russian fans. We even have two annual festivals for J-Rock lovers only: ‘J-Rock Convent’ is held in Moscow in the summer and the other one in St.Petersburg is named ‘J-Rock Day in spring’. There you can see representatives not only from the capital, but from different cities and regions in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. We also have special awards for JRock at different anime festivals, so people can have a chance 3 33 J-ROCK COSPLAY to perform on stage not only in manga or game cosplay: There are many J-Rock cosplayers all over the country. Versailles is the most popular among them. So are Malice Mizer, Dir En Grey, XJapan, D and Kaya.” Russia is not the only country where you can find very good Versailles cosplays. Lara Tang, whose Hizaki cosplay is among the best I’ve seen, is part of the American J-Rock and cosplay scene. The reason she decided on Hizaki was: “Serenade had just been released. While watching that video, I thought “Oh my god! That girl is hot!” Right after, during the panel, I learned about the whole cross-dressing thing in Visual Kei and was like “Well, correction… that guy is epic!” After that day I became a huge Versailles fan, and I still am. Hizaki is my favorite member, and a very big inspiration to me, therefore I decided to cosplay as him.” The most popular Versailles cosplays are after Kamijo, Hizaki and the regretted member Jasmine You, who seem to be easier to cosplay due to their more feminine look, but also seem to be favorites when it comes to costumes. 4 Photo credits: 1, 2. ShizukaRen (shizukaren.deviantart.com) as Kamijo (Versailles) by Nicoleta Piloiu aka Ayashige (ayashige.deviantart.com) 3. A starohime (astarohime.deviantart.com) as Jasmine You (Versailles) by JustMoolti (vkontakte.ru/justmooltigroup, justmoolti.deviantart.com) 4. A starohime (astarohime.deviantart.com) as Jasmine You (Versailles) by Nana Hikari (nanahikari.deviantart.com) 5. M ana Hime (mana-himei.deviantart.com, flickr.com/photos/mana-hime/) as Kamijo (Versailles) by Alisa Eliseeva 6. M ana Hime (mana-himei.deviantart.com, flickr.com/photos/mana-hime/) as Hizaki (Versailles) by Alisa Eliseeva 7. K uroru (general-kuroru.deviantart.com, www.cosplay.com/member/84645/) as Hizaki (Versailles) by Zakharova (zakharova.deviantart.com) 8. C hristoph D.L. (christophdl.deviantart.com) as Yuki (Versailles) by Alisa Shamshutdinova 9. L ara Tang (www.facebook.com/11.42PM) as Hizaki (Versailles) by Laurel Joly (gangurolove.deviantart.com) 34 7 5 6 8 9 35 KANAME Years of Cosplay: 3 1/2 Chiba, Japan en.curecos.com/profile/?ch=72203 knm0q0.blog96.fc2.com cosp.jp/prof.aspx?id=8491 facebook.com/Kaname.cos KANAME can certainly teach us many things about the quirky relation that links diet, outer appearance and a heroworshiping. Prop-making has become a consumate art for many, but KANAME certainly brought it to a new height. Ever wondered how you can balance a 2kg model around; or how you can reduce not just your weight, but the whole prop’s – and still look fabulous? Another major insight is that you should be ready to translate 2D objects into 3D and 360° accessory visions, adorning in the end more life-like action figures. Yes, and also ask yourselves that elusive but important question about copyrighting, fan originality and intellectual propriety and the eternal - how to turn your hobby into a 365 day paying job? COVER STORY Cosplay Gen: How did you begin cosplaying? What exactly did drive you into this hobby? KANAME : I used to think cosplay was a lot like a new diet I started when I was about to hit 30, and that’s how I used to answer this question, too. But the more I think about it, the more I realize that what really got me thinking about cosplay was seeing just how many props and items were available on Yahoo! Auctions every day. One day, about four years ago, my girlfriend told me that I was putting on weight. I started a very strict diet and did my best to stick to it for about half a year, but then we broke up and all that enthusiasm had nowhere to go. Then I said to myself that I shouldn’t hide anymore who I was. I was an otaku, loud and proud! Around that time, a friend of mine who likes photo effects told me that I could find many replica props and other funny and interesting things. Among other things, I found a costume from HERO SHOW. It was expensive, but I knew I wanted to wear something like that at least once before I turned 30, and I figured there was no harm in cosplaying just once and maybe I could even learn a thing or two about life. I didn’t have any cosplayer friends and I had no idea what kind of world I was stepping into, but as long as I could become one of the heroes I’d been worshipping since I was a boy, I didn’t care. I was already pretty good with photo effects and I looked pretty good after the diet I’d been on, so little by little my selfconfidence grew until I realized that this was the perfect way to use all that enthusiasm. 2 CG: You are pretty famous for your cosplay of Cloud from Final Fantasy; what can you tell us about the tailoring process of that costume as a whole, and about the meaning this character holds for you? KANAME : I’ve always liked Final Fantasy VII; then the Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children movie came out and I was hopelessly fascinated by how cool they made Cloud look and act. That’s why I picked his Advent Children outfit for my cosplay, and, thanks to the diet I’d been on, I could also pull it off. Since I started cosplaying as Cloud, I changed the full costume design once and made another sword from scratch. I didn’t have anyone to teach me, so I improvised a lot. I also used what I’d learned in interior design when I was 25-27 to help me. I bought the clothes from a nearby shop and modified them afterwards. That’s how I got the earring, too. The Wig After I talked to one of my friends, who works as a hairstylist, I bought two wigs and sewed them together, then cut and styled the hair. Truth be told, I actually cut it too short because I couldn’t tell what the right length was when I was working on it. I’ve been using that wig for three years now and I really want to make a new and better one someday soon... The Weapon I studied the movie scenes, then searched for professionallymade props on the Internet to get an idea of what I was going for, and finally I gathered or made the parts I needed (there were hundreds!) and put them all together. What I kept in mind was: would this be too heavy for a grown man to carry 38 4 3 5 39 COVER STORY around? Could this withstand a little wind without toppling over? Would I need special packaging to transport it or is it sturdy enough? Can I get this or that material? How will it look once it’s finished? Prop-making is one of the things I like the most about cosplay, by the way. The first model I made was too heavy and the balance was awkward, but once I put more thought into the thickness of the material and how many sheets of paper I needed to use, I managed to reduce the weight to around 2kg (which is about as heavy as 2 - 2.5 pet bottles*). I still want to improve the weight and balance someday. What’s really important in prop-making is to have an accessory that is as true to the original as possible, in both shape and color. You need to be able to visualize it in 3D and 360°, and then translate that vision into reality with as much accuracy as you can. If you’ve managed to make something that looks better than an action figure, you’ve done it right. *Translator note: Vending machines in Japan commonly sell drinks in 1l ( 1kg) pet bottles CG: Among the characters you cosplayed as, is there one that holds a special place in your mind? If yes, why? KANAME : On the contrary, all the characters I’ve cosplayed as have a kind of special meaning to me. For this question, however, I’d like to talk about my one and only original character. His name is Ry zaki, and he is the elder of two siblings. 6 Before I go on, I have to say that between constant criticism and copyright enforcement, having even one original character that isn’t the intellectual property of anyone else in Japan can make your cosplaying experience easier and more diverse, not to mention a lot more fun. Anyway, even though Ry zaki started off as a game between me and my friend, I’ve noticed that people are starting to associate him more and more with KANAME the cosplayer, and I’ve also seen drawings and mascots of him. I hope I can create more original characters that the fans would like as much. To me, Ry zaki means more than just a character I cosplay as. He represents my playful, laid-back side, and he can do anything if he puts his mind to it. And, last but not least, he’s bringing happiness wherever he goes. He’s that kind of character. CG: What can you tell us about the designing process of an original character? KANAME : I don’t start off with a list of materials or anything formal like that; it all begins as a game between me and my friends. First I choose a wig, then I try to imagine the setting, and finally I decide on a costume - nothing too fancy, just clothes that anyone could wear, like a student uniform - and before I know it, I’m starting to love that new character! By the way, I can’t draw at all. 8 CG: In your opinion, what is the most difficult part in cosplay costume-making? KANAME : While I have no problem making complicated props out of all sorts of materials, I’m not really into cutting complicated patterns out of paper to use when I work with fabrics. Also, I’m still not good at working with polyurethane (for armor, etc.) Back when I was still a beginner, one of my friends saw an outfit 40 I made without using any commercial patterns and he told me “Wow, that came out really good!” He was very surprised. Since I’ve discovered charcoal paper and measuring tape only recently, it still takes me about three times more than for an average person to make anything out of fabric. CG: You are well known not only in Japan, but also in other countries, and you were also invited to conduct cosplay panels. What can you tell us about the cosplay communities outside Japan? KANAME : I’ve been to cosplay events in South Korea, America and Singapore every year for the past three years now. Two years ago, I finally registered an account on Facebook. Even though my English wasn’t that good at the time, I couldn’t help but be impressed at how many people from all over the world met, talked and became friends over their shared passion for Japanese culture. That’s when I realized that, even though the otaku in Japan are a very closed-off bunch, that was no reason for me not to enjoy my hobby more openly! I owe this realization to cosplay fans everywhere, and I want to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart. Cosplay is an element of Japanese pop culture, but it’s also something that crosses borders and unites fans all over the world. I’m very glad to be able to take part in such an important area of our cultural exchange. From now on, I want to focus more on my English and, hopefully, to become able to speak other languages as well. 7 CG: How do you manage to keep up with your job, cosplay, and anime, manga and games? KANAME : My day has 36 hours - I’m joking, of course, but truth be told, I can’t always keep up with everything. This is a little personal, but when I first started cosplaying I was recovering from a very bad case of chronic back pain. Because of that, I’m still living with my family now. As for how I split my time, my job gets around 20 , and the rest is split between my other hobbies, like games and anime (another 20 ) and, of course, cosplay (the remaining 60 .) I do get some occasional cosplay-related jobs, but I don’t make much money on the side other than that. On the other hand, when I start something new I go all in -- if I could get paid for doing what I like 365 days a year, my life would be perfect. Lately, though, I’ve been investing more and more in my activities and I’ve turned about half of my hobbies into something like a job, so the way I split my time now is more like 60 work, and 40 other things. Right now, I’d say that the line between work and hobbies is so blurred I could do this almost 24/7 and I’d love it! That wouldn’t be very fair to the world, would it? Since I organize my own schedule, deciding what my priorities are and planning them can get really difficult sometimes. Sometimes I get eye strain when I work, so I plan my breaks around that. With all the foreign conventions lately, though, I do end up spending my whole day in front of the computer, either working or watching anime (even when I should be sleeping.) Aside from Shounen Jump, which I subscribe to, I can’t really afford other manga and games, even though I’d like to do a lot more cosplay based on those. It’s a shame, really. 9 CG: Do you fear that, along the years, cosplay will turn into something commercial and people will stop viewing it as a hobby? 41 COVER STORY KANAME : This is a very complex question. First off, cosplay has a different status in Japan and abroad, not to mention that the regulations are very different, so we already have two different aspects of the same problem. There’s no denying that the business aspect of cosplay has been growing lately. I’ve heard people talk about it more and more, and I’ve been giving it some serious thought myself. I did reach some conclusions, but since I’ve only been cosplaying for three years and a half now and haven’t had the chance to speak with too many other cosplayers, I’ll keep those to myself... because I’d rather give my full attention to the project at hand than think and think until my mind starts going in circles. Every now and then, people have been asking me if I’m a ‘pro’. The truth is, even though I do travel abroad a lot with my cosplay, I make no profit from it and I have absolutely no plans of turning it into a job. Of course, if someone asked me to become a full-time “real-life character impersonator” and that job would pay me well enough to put food on the table, I’d be more than happy to do it. In the meantime, I’ll keep enjoying myself and doing my best for the people who love and support me. On the other hand, I realize that the cosplay scene is constantly changing and there may come a time when, even though I do my absolute best to become a character I love, I might not be able to do it on my own because I can’t afford it, or I don’t have the skills or the knowledge... In that case, if I have to resort to a massproduced item, then I’ll have no choice but to do it. But my goal as a cosplayer isn’t the costume and props themselves, but to truly become the character I’m cosplaying as. CG: What can you tell us about the KANAME outside cosplay and how has cosplay changed him and brought him to what he is today? KANAME : There’s no easy way to answer this, but cosplay has had a tremendous influence on my life. If I were to put it in one phrase, it would be, “Cosplay is what keeps me alive.” I wanted to cosplay ever since I was in junior high, but I was too much of a loner to try. Then, throughout my early twenties, I had to deal with constant back pain that got gradually worse and went through a lot of frustration as a result. I was starting to get desperate because I couldn’t do the things I wanted to do. Then, in my late twenties, I finally found cosplay and this is what made me feel like life was worth living again. 10 I was on the road to recovery when I started cosplaying, and on some level that served as a way to get used to socializing again. Then, at some point, I realized that everything in my life so far even the things I’d thought to be pointless when they happened - had actually led to this, and I thought “I see... it was all for this... and I finally found it!” I was so happy I couldn’t stop crying. I think that was the first time in my life I cried so much. I used to think of myself as someone who’d failed at everything, someone who was too caught up in what he wanted and didn’t even like himself, but once I started cosplaying abroad and I saw the enthusiasm of so many fans with my own eyes, and I realized that all that joy and enthusiasm were because of me... well, I was so happy that I even started crying during panels and interviews. I’d given up on everything else I’d tried up until that point, but cosplay was something that brought happiness not only to me, but to others as well. Not to mention it made me challenge myself and grow in so many ways. Cosplay aside, I think I’m a little strange (given my hobby of choice, that is) and a bit of a hikikomori. I’m the eldest of four 42 12 11 13 COVER STORY brothers, by the way, and for better or for worse I’m an easygoing, “my pace” kind of guy. I don’t have that much self-confidence and I don’t think I’m anything special, so I keep my feelings to myself. All in all, I’m no different than I look in my non-cosplay photos. Finally, I’m not very good with girls. CG: Where do you think you would’ve been today if you hadn’t found this hobby called cosplay? KANAME : Let me ask you a question: if there hadn’t been a thing called air, where would you be today? 14 To put it simply, I don’t know how to do anything else. Also, I became a cosplayer out of unbridled passion and it felt natural to me ever since the first time I did it, so I couldn’t possibly imagine myself doing anything else now. CG: For how long do you think you will continue to cosplay? Will we still be able to see impressive costumes from you in 10 years from now or do you plan on following a different line of work or hobby in the future? KANAME : I don’t know how much longer I’ll be able to do it, but if I could, I’d become a wizard and carry on for another couple of hundred years. Aside from my job, I can’t imagine taking on another hobby. If I can, I want to keep on cosplaying for the rest of my life. 15 // Interview by Cristian Botea and Ruxandra Târcă // Translator: Oana Cristina Butta Photo credits: 16 1. Benten (Zone-00) by Hiro (kimokamehirosyu.blog93.fc2.com) 2. Cloud Strife (Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children) by Shin (qshin.exblog.jp) 3. KAITO (Vocaloid) by Rogy (rogyrogy.blog2.fc2.com) 4. Grimmjow Jaegerjaques (Bleach) by Katsumaru 5. Asato (Lamento -Beyond the Void-) by Yuki 6. KAITO (Vocaloid) by Yossan (jet296.blog77.fc2.com) 7. Lavi (D.Gray-man) 8. Ryuzaki (original character) by nana (blog.goo.ne.jp/nanaphoto) 9. Phoenix Ikki (Saint Seiya) 10, 11. KAITO (Vocaloid, Black Rock Shooter version) by Yossan (jet296.blog77.fc2.com) 12. KAITO (Vocaloid, Black Rock Shooter version) by nana (blog.goo.ne.jp/nanaphoto) 13. Kurosaki Ichigo (Bleach) by Sano 14. Gauche Suede (Letter Bee) by Yossan (jet296.blog77.fc2.com) 15. Bernardo Ortolani (Lucky Dog 1) by Will 16. Souji Okita (Hakuouki: Shinsengumi Kitan) 45 2 Simple “Do”-s and “Don’t”-s in Cosplay Conventions by William Wong aka Rescend rescend.deviantart.com ARTICLE Whether it is your first time attending a cosplay convention, or if you’ve been going to such events for years, no matter if you are a photographer or a cosplayer, there are some basic “Do”-s and “Don’t”-s that remain true and very real, although they are mainly unspoken rules. Nothing can spoil a day more than having someone step on your long dress or having a part of your camera chipped off because of irresponsible people. Worst still, people leaving their trash around or turning public toilets into a complete mess will only tarnish the reputation of fellow cosplayers. Hence, as a public service message to cosplayers and cosplay photographers alike, here are some simple “Do”-s and “Don’t”-s to follow. Not only they will allow you to have a better time at such conventions, but you will also gain the respect of others and make more friends. 2 (Disclaimer: While I have spoken to many cosplayers/photographers from different regions regarding these points, the fact remains that most conventions vary from country to country. However, while they do differ, these “Do”-s and “Don’t”-s still apply if you want to be acknowledged for the right reasons). The Top 2 “Do”-s 1. Be friendly and polite to the general public. You can be surprised at how incredibly rude some cosplayers/ cosplay photographers can be at cosplay conventions. I have seen cosplayers who not only reject/ignore a request for a photo, but they are also rude while doing so. When you wear a costume, you bear the responsibility of representing the cosplay community; how you behave and act reflects as such on the public perception of the community as a whole. Cosplayers, however, are not the only culprits in this sense. Photographers jostle and push, intentionally stepping into the paths of other photographers or just refusing to budge from their spot, depriving the general public of a chance to shoot. 3 Cosplayers: If someone asks you for a photo, try to say yes. People found the courage to walk up to you to ask, so the least you could do is say yes gracefully, and let them take a photo with you (especially children!). It might not mean much to you, but it could mean a whole lot to them. If you are in the middle of touching up or trying to repair your prop, tell them to come back later, but remember to honour that request! When you feel tired of posing, give a bow and say thank you instead of just walking off. Always remember this: you are the image of what the public perceives as your cosplay community; I’m pretty sure you do not want to be associated to a bunch of douche bags; don’t turn the community into that! Cosplay photographers: Most photographers should know by now: there are usually those few “spots” that can offer you a decent photo. These spots are also limited, and when a “wall of photographers” forms up, things can get pretty hectic. Take your shot and move away, and be gracious enough to let others use that spot as well. More often than not, members of the public are unable to even get a decent shot without having a gazillion of photographers in their photos. Besides, even if you didn’t manage to take the shot, most cosplayers are actually willing to pose for you again after they take a break (of course, if you ask them politely). 4 47 ARTICLE 5 2. Give credit where credit is due! If you create a work of art and someone steals it for themselves, you surely wouldn’t like it. Giving credit where credit is due is one of the most often ignored/underrated facts in cosplay. Examples can range from cosplayers who do not thank photographers for taking their photos, up to photographers who do not bother to thank cosplayers for posing for them. This isn’t just about mentioning the cosplayer’s name when you post up your photo of them; a little “Thank You” goes a long way and makes people feel good about the effort they put in, cosplayers and photographers alike. Cosplayers: You’ve gone though a lot of effort to get your costume going, but that doesn’t mean there is no effort on the part of the photographer to carry his/her gear down to take photos for you. If you do eventually use a photo taken by a photographer, do credit him/her. Do try to find out who was the photographer who took that nice portrait of you and if you like his work, ask him along for a future shoot! Most photographers just want recognition for their work; nothing brings a bigger smile on a photographer’s face than a pat on the back and a simple “Thanks”. Cosplay photographers: I know this is a touchy topic among various parties, but my belief is that the photo belongs to the joined efforts of the cosplayer and the photographer. As much as you want recognition from the cosplayers, they’d want some recognition as well. Always credit the models. Being shy is not an excuse to not walk up to the cosplayer and simply ask who to credit this photo to. It takes two hands to clap; if you like what you see, walk up, introduce yourself and compliment the cosplayer for a well done job. They’ll appreciate it. Not only do you get to show your appreciation, but you also get to make more friends in the process. 48 6 The Top 2 “Don’t”-s 1. DON’T take “unglamorous” photos or outright “ugly” photos of cosplayers This particular “Don’t” applies mostly to photographers. Almost EVERY cosplayer I spoke to mentioned this: nothing pisses them off more than finding a photo of them yawning, or a photo of themselves adjusting their wigs, posted on a public forum for everyone to see. This is neither a matter of personal pride, nor of having to look good all the time; it’s more about respecting another person’s privacy. Cosplayers: In more cases than not, the photographers are the ones who must behave responsibly with their cameras. There are times, however, when cosplayers actually (inadvertently or not) open themselves up to trouble. The solution? Prevention is always better than cure. There are a few things one can do to avoid it. If there is a need, for example, to adjust a wig, you could go to a restroom or get your friends to block you while you adjust it. There are dozens of other methods that can prevent nosy photographers from getting a shot during those moments; too many to list in here. But the message is the same: If you can, prevent it. Cosplay Photographers: As mentioned previously, whether the cosplayer is opened to such situations or not, the photographers are those responsible NOT to take such photos. The most common excuse for taking such photos is under the guise of “Omake” or “Fun” shots. Yes, some would say that I take a lot of such shots, to the point where I’ve been nicknamed “Omake- 7 A 7 7 B 8 sama”. Yet, there are two key differences in my photos. The first is that I actually let the cosplayers SEE them, and ask for their permission to post them. The second is the fact that the punchline of the photos is in their actions, and not the fact that they look ugly doing it. As an example, look at Photos A and B. Photo A is a picture of me PRETENDING to dig my nose in, while Photo B is a photo of me actually trying to dig my nose in. A is funny, B MIGHT be funny to you, but it surely won’t be funny to the subject. Have some consideration when you post up such photos and always remember to ask permission. If you don’t know the person, this should NOT be an excuse for you to post up such photos without permission. 2. DON’T leave rubbish all over Most would think this is common sense. But yet, this is another common complaint. Cosplayers and photographers alike are leaving trash all over the place in the aftermath of a convention. Trash, however, is not limited to typical domestic rubbish like plastic bags or empty cans. I heard stories of toilets that had cut wig hair strewn all over the place, clogging up sinks; or pieces of destroyed props thrown all over the main convention area. And the list goes on. Cosplayers & photographers: While there will be cleaners at the end of a convention to help clean up the place after the event, we, as responsible people, should NOT add to their job. Throw your rubbish in the right places. The best thing to do is to REDUCE the waste in the first place. After packing up and getting ready to leave the convention area, the very least you can do is check your area for any rubbish that might have been left behind; keep the place clean for others to use! Final Words Granted, these are just a couple of the MANY other “Do”-s and “Don’t”-s, such as: be careful of where you walk, behave responsibly while in public, be aware of other countries’ customs and practices. The list can go on and on. These four tips, however, are the first few steps you can take to make your overall experience more enjoyable. Nevertheless, the best tip is to remember to always have fun at conventions and remember to make more friends! Photos by William Wong aka Rescend 1. Dan the Farmer as Endou Mamoru, Piyo2himi (piyo2himi.deviantart.com) as Gouenji Shuuya, Daikon (d-a-i-k-o-n.deviantart.com) as Kidou Yuuto, Kiellne (kiellne.deviantart.com) as Kazemaru Ichirouta, Xiaobai (xiaobai. deviantart.com) as Fubuki Shirou, Shuui (shuui.deviantart.com) as Fudou Akio, Lonehorizon (lonehorizon.deviantart.com) as Tsunami Jousuke, Karakuri-nin (karakuri-nin.deviantart.com) as Utsunomiya Toramaru, Jiruu as Tachimukai Yuuki. Series: Inazuma Eleven 2. Viospace (viospace.deviantart.com) as Ittoki Otoya (Uta no Prince-Sama) 3. Vic (thebakasaru.deviantart.com) as Sheryl Nome (Macross Frontier) 4. B lacklash (blacklash90.deviantart.com) as Oerba Yun Fang (Final Fantasy XIII) 5. Orbakat (orbakat.deviantart.com) as Bayonetta (Bayonetta) 6. Rieyn (rieyn.deviantart.com) as Stella Nox Fleuret (Final Fantasy Versus XIII) 7. Sakurazaki (sakurazaki.deviantart.com) as Megurine Luka, Ayatenshi (ayatenshi.deviantart.com) as Gumi, Noshuu (noshuu.deviantart.com) as Meiko, Sakana (sakana.deviantart.com) as Hatsune Miku, Hoshi (hoshinoarashi.deviantart.com) as Kagamine Rin, Ruby (baby-ruby.deviantart.com) as SF-A2 Miki. From: Vocaloid, Eager Love Revenge version 8. Blacklash (blacklash90.deviantart.com) as Meiko, Reiyu-verse (reiyu-verse.deviantart.com) as Hatsune Miku, Cvy (cvy.deviantart.com) as Kagamine Rin, LennethXVII (lennethxvii.deviantart.com) as Megurine Luka. From: Vocaloid, Sandplay Singing of The Dragon version 49 COMMUNITY’S CHOICE Cosplay Gen: When did you first start cosplaying and how do you think you have evolved since then? jaRoukaSama: I first started cosplaying in April 2009, together with my sister. She cosplayed as Chii, and I was Freya from Chobits. When we started out, we knew no one in the community, and didn’t have any friends there yet. We were shy, quiet and mostly introvert. We didn’t know much about wigs or make-up or posing and being in character, so you could say our first cosplay was a fail. The preparation stage involved a lot of hard work, but it was a lot of fun, too. We fell in love with cosplay and wanted more. So we vowed that we will improve and make better cosplays. Now, I am so happy to say that we have got great and wonderful friends due to cosplay. Now I am able to style wigs, do my own make-up, make props and I am slowly improving also in sewing. But the best part is that, because of all the different characters I have portrayed, I am able to get a better appreciation of myself and of others; it has made me a better person. Yuu Shomura / jaRoukaSama Years of Cosplay: 2 Caloocan City, Philippines jaroukasama.deviantart.com jaroukaparade.blogspot.com Photos by z3ll (z3llll.deviantart.com) CG: Why did you choose this particular character to cosplay? jaRoukaSama: Originally, Dead Master was not included in my plans; I got tagged by a friend to be their Dead Master for a Black Rock Shooter photo-shoot. I was familiar with the character and I thought it was a great one, and I considered it was an awesome opportunity to be part of such an awesome line-up. So I agreed. Dead Master’s eyes, character and look were so sweet, I couldn’t resist. But, I guess, things don’t always turn out the way they are supposed to; I got sick right before the shoot. After a few weeks, I decided to still go ahead with my Dead Master cosplay; since I already had the outfit and the wig, it would have been a shame to let them go to waste. CG: How did you make the costume and what was the most difficult part? jaRoukaSama: Since I was tagged only, and it was sort of rushed, I had a trusted tailor make my dress. I have to admit the props (the horns, claws, wings, scythe) were a veritable headache. Dead Master was something completely new to me, it was a first in many ways (first character who was an antagonist, first character with so many props, first character for which I made all the props myself), so there was a lot of trial and error. It was a learning experience. I used rubber sheet mainly because of its price and its light weight. The most difficult part was planning rather than execution. I had to go through a lot of reference pictures, and choose those that looked best. I don’t know why, but I even looked at pictures of spines and bones. Since this was my first “complicated” character, I had a lot of figuring out to do. I am extremely competitive; looking back, I know now that it would have been easier if I had asked my friends for help. Although it took quite a while, I was able to figure things out and learned a lot. The claws and the scythe were the biggest pain of all. CG: What can you tell us about the photoshoot session for this character? How did it go? jaRoukaSama: Our shoot was really rewarding; we didn’t expect to get a lot of shots we liked from a spontaneous shoot with only the two of us. Me and z3LL wanted to shoot this awesome character, but we were both busy with a lot of things. So when there came a day when both of us were free, we jumped right at it! We talked about shooting in Quezon Memorial Circle, without knowing what was in there. It was a public park in the vicinity of our homes. As we were scouting for a good place, we found this checkered floor; we were extremely lucky, because it was perfect for Dead Master! The shoot was a lot of fun, I got a lot of curious stares, and I even heard a couple of people wondering if it was Halloween already. CG: Is there anyone special you’d like to thank for their support towards your wonderful hobby? jaRoukaSama: Yes, I’d especially like to thank my wonderful mother, Mommy Joyce, for being ever so supportive of me and my sister’s endeavors and in our cosplays. My dear mother has always thought of me and my sister as the most beautiful girls ever, I guess that’s what people call a mother’s love. Even though we are far apart from each other, my mom has always been there for us. I would have never thought that cosplay was something she would approve of. Happy Belated Birthday, my dear Inay. This is for you! I love you takusan takusan! Photos by Greg Scott Photography gregscottphotography.com A-Kon速 22 A-Kon速 is the oldest continually running, anime-based convention in North America. It hosts anime fans and guests, and offers other activities of interest ranging from gaming to independent film, all in the quest to provide the best experience for fans and to bring the most engaging and educational entertainment to the anime community. For 22 years, participants from all over the world have come to the heart of Dallas, Texas in the United States to join hands with thousands of like-minded people celebrating Japanese pop culture and fandom, and freely expressing their enthusiasm for that which they love most. The fans of A-Kon are like one big family, and we welcome all who would join us with open arms! a-kon.com EVENT 53 Shuichi Shindou Years of Cosplay: 4 Moscow, Russia shushunya.deviantart.com Shuichi Shindou relates his adventures as a forger of contemporary fairytales and Russian high-end cosplaying. While sewing, fixing and armor-making are on, rehearsing is the next big challenge, and getting into the character is very serious business. Both Shuichi Shindou and Constantin Sergeyevich Stanislavski have Muscovite roots, and that is why we shouldnâ€™t oversee the current trend of character method acting. A flamboyant cosplayer has to command a vast range of emotions â€“ from rampant cruelty to shedding tears of joy. 54 Cosplay Gen: The Russian cosplay scene is pretty well developed, but how coagulated do you think it is? Shuichi: Yes, you’re right, cosplay in Russia is spinning up every year and keeps getting better. It has increased both in number and in quality; the members put more effort into it and pay closer attention to details. Everybody has to start with something, and I started with a rather simple Death Note cosplay. Nowadays however, the quality level of cosplay is higher every year due to the increasing number of anime festivals. I enjoy attending cosplay events, especially after creating a new costume. Now I belong to a cosband called “Los Angelos”, and we’re creating a fairytale with our own bare hands. CG: What was the most difficult costume you’ve created up until now? Can you describe the creative process in a few words? Shuichi: The most difficult costume was the imperial uniform of Lelouch, which took about one year to make. But it was an effective experience – I really improved my sewing skills, fixing and developing an outfit pattern. Every little detail was drawn many times over, from different angles. Also, we collected a lot of pictures and screenshots to better understand the character. Of course, I didn’t work on that costume alone. In the end, I discovered that it was difficult not only to sew the costume, but to impersonate the character as well. It took some effort to master the facial expressions, the gestures and so on. In the end, I believe it was worth all the effort. 2 CG: What about props and accessories? Do you make them yourself? And what is in your opinion the most compliant fabric? Shuichi: Yes, we make our own props and accessories. I, for one, prefer creating armor to sewing. It usually doesn’t take a lot of time - if you’re not distracted every minute, you know. For instance, I’m currently working on a “World of Warcraft” costume and the armor is almost ready, but I was delayed due to lack of time. My favorite materials are silicone adhesive and 55 PROFILE linoleum. They are very handy, soft and easy to blot and sew. My favorite fabric depends on what costume I’m working on, but I’d rather work with cotton sateen and corset satin. CG: Make-up is an important part of cosplay; how do you handle it? Shuichi: Up until know I didn’t have characters that required complex make-up or grease-paint. I don’t like opulent make-up and usually go for a light one. I always do the make-up myself because I’m quite skilled at that. As always, the basics of make-up are skin tone smoothing and drawing eyes, eyebrows or - rarely - lips. Sometimes I have to do body art, but it’s not that difficult, considering I’m an artist and I’m good with cosmetics. CG: How do you practice becoming a certain character? Shuichi: Rehearsals, rehearsals and more rehearsals, in front of the mirror, for a long-long time. It is not enough to know its background; you have to believe you ARE the character and to make the others believe that too. At first I picked out some cute characters, but I soon understood that it’s easier and more entertaining for me to play more flashy and hard-edged ones. For instance, Kadaj (FFVII: AC). He is a very flamboyant person with a vast range of emotions - from rampant cruelty to joyful tears. CG: There are plenty of impressive ball jointed dolls out there; why did you choose to cosplay Ducan? Do you plan on cosplaying other dolls as well? Shuichi: I decided to cosplay Ducan a long time ago - even before I actually started cosplaying. I accidentally saw the doll while browsing the Internet and immediately fell in love with it. I wanted the same costume. After three years of cosplay, I finally managed to fulfill my plan. Now my dreams have shifted from the costume to the doll itself. Yes, I do, and I’m not alone on this one. Our first attempt at BJD cosplay was very successful, after all. CG: What is the most important thing for you in cosplay? Shuichi: To me, the most important thing in cosplay is the process itself. You create something with your own hands, always striving for the best, and you endow your costume with all that creative power. Afterwards, you make your appearance on the stage, in the spotlight, knowing that hundreds of eyes are watching you, and you feel the thrill. Cosplay not only encourages self development, but brings together different people. You meet new people, make new friends. Life shines with new colors! It is like escaping into a fairytale from the usually drab existence. 3 4 7 Every cosplayer helps cultivate this small miracle, not only in Russia, but all over the world. // Translator: Tsubatsu Photo credits: 1. K adaj (Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, original version) by Pugoffka-sama (pugoffka.kiev.ua, pugoffka-sama.deviantart.com) 2. Lelouch Lamperouge (Code Geass) by your Pain (your-pain.deviantart.com) 3. Ducan (Dream of Doll) by Alesania (alesania.gallery.ru) 4. Kadaj (Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children) by Pugoffka-sama (pugoffka.kiev.ua, pugoffka-sama.deviantart.com) 5. Ducan (Dream of Doll) by your Pain (your-pain.deviantart.com) 6. Lelouch Lamperouge (Code Geass) by your Pain (your-pain.deviantart.com) 7, 8. Habaek (Bride of the Water God) by Alesania (alesania.gallery.ru) 9. Habaek (Bride of the Water God) by Marina Look (marina-look.com) 10. Original Steampunk Design by Pugoffka-sama (pugoffka.kiev.ua, pugoffka-sama.deviantart.com) 56 8 5 6 9 10 57 Yuegene Fay Years of Cosplay: 10-11 Thailand yuegene.deviantart.com en.curecos.com/profile/?ch=44261 facebook.com/YuegeneOffcial You would never guess that Yuegene Fay from Thailand was a former bookworm. Visual kei bands have changed her looks and not only; she put her perfectionism into play and joined another dimension where the popularity of comic book characters joins the local and unique version to approach and tailor them. Not only the visual graphic world of games and manga, but also the musical world has become overtly visual in expression and image. It is yet another golden proof that Vocaloid project has a huge influence over the current cosplaying imagery. We should remember that Asia does not equal Japan, and that Japanese pop has been skilfully transformed and expanded into regional styles and fan communities. INTERVIEW 2 Cosplay Gen: When did you first start cosplaying and what was your first costume? Yuegene Fay: I started cosplaying in 2000, and my first appearance was as Toshiya from Dir en Grey, a Japanese visual kei rock band. A Japanese friend of mine, who, the same as me, shared a particular fondness towards visual kei bands, sent me a cosplay photo and invited me to join this activity assuring me that it was enjoyable. The first moment I saw the picture, I had no idea how cosplaying could be entertaining. I also thought that these people were kind of out of their mind; it was like another unknown world to me, since I normally spent most of my time studying. However, I could feel that there was something attractive about cosplaying; thus I began gathering all the information I needed, and wandering around cosplay events in Thailand. Finally, I’ve decided to try it. I still remember that I didn’t know anything, didn’t know how to make-up, as I was old-fashioned and a bookworm. I believe no one could ever imagine how I used to look back then. CG: We noticed you have a particular preference for visual kei cosplay. Why is it so special to you? Is there a story behind your choice to depict visual kei musicians? YF: I love listening to almost all genres of music, especially the Visual Kei music. Not only the songs are virtually powerful, but also the artists. I’ve first listened to X-Japan’s songs, and my favorite artist was Hide. I am in love with his distinctiveness, as well as with his songs. At that moment, I wasn’t interested in cosplay yet. Later, I began listening to Dir en Grey, since I heard that Yoshiki from X-Japan was a co-producer. After I started, I couldn’t stop anymore. I have always been a big fan of this band, and what impressed me even more was their live performance. I can fully say that it is super-awesome; I love them, and from that time on, Toshiya became my hero. 3 CG: You have features that enable you to cosplay a wide variety of characters. What sort of characters do you like cosplaying, and what sort of characters you do not find fit for you to cosplay? YF: At the beginning, I always cosplayed as Toshiya. The decision in choosing his costume wasn’t based on the difficulty of the costume-making process, but rather on the song I was inspired from, as well as on my physical condition. If I’m too fat, or my hair is too short for the character, I wouldn’t cosplay that role. “I am a perfectionist” - this is what my friends usually tell me. Later, I became acquainted with more people, I made more cosplay friends and we started to discuss about other trends, such as comic books, video games or fiction. Hence, I began cosplaying other characters besides musicians of visual kei bands. Still, all characters I’ve chosen to impersonate are naturally based on my preference. Regarding characters that others see me suitable for, if I dislike the attitude of that character, I am not interested to portray it at all. Well, let’s say I don’t think too much which character suits me or not; I just select one I like. For instance, when I’ve decided to cosplay as Krauser from DMC, people were shocked when they saw the picture. Some also said that “That’s not our Yuegene Fay!” but I didn’t care. Regardless what those characters are or look like, I am always happy to portray the roles I like. CG: One of your most spectacular costumes is certainly that of Amaru Ryudo from Sohryuden: Legend of the Dragon Kings. Can you detail a bit the costume-making process? YF: It was my first time making a cuirass, and it took me two weeks to finish. I started to make the pattern based on only two 59 INTERVIEW pictures, on which the details weren’t clear enough, so this stage took a lot of time. Difficulties occurred throughout the entire making-process of this costume; I didn’t know what material to use for it, so it took me a few days to find the right one. The most enjoyable, but also difficult part was the dragon crown, which I made from paper, foam rubber, and wire, and afterwards I covered it with luna clay. I coated all of them again with colour spray and clear spray. CG: As a best-practice example, what was the most difficult situation you found yourself in as a cosplayer, and how did you manage to solve it? YF: It took me so long to reply to this question…I am always delighted to cosplay, especially when I do this activity with my friends. I normally have some of my time allocated specifically for cosplaying, and therefore this hobby doesn’t cause me any trouble. If I am extremely busy, I stop cosplaying for a while. However, while cosplay brings me happiness, once… I was truly disappointed. One day, in 2007, I was crying in front of many people at the airport, among my friends and fans who were there to encourage me on the occasion of an upcoming competition. Obviously, it weren’t them who made me sad, but actually my partner. We both won a competition in Thailand and were selected as Thai representatives for the contest abroad. At first I wasn’t determined to participate, but when I made up my mind to contend, I gave it my all, as always. As national representative, I could feel the pressure; anyway, that wasn’t the reason of my concern actually. During the preparations stage we were confronted with various kinds of problems, partially due to our inexperience, but that was not as significant as the poor collaboration from my partner. On the departure day, some words my partner told me on the phone made me stand still, and then tears were flowing out unconsciously. I couldn’t stop myself from crying, everyone was shocked since no one ever saw me crying before. Friends tried to stand around covering my teary face from the others. I was able to stop after a while, when I realized that there was no use feeling bad about the situation; it wasn’t even the first time. Then I began to realize that some things ought to be done. From that moment on, no matter what happens, I keep repeating to myself that I’ll put up with it and do my best. It can’t be that bad, and I’ll eventually get through; although not as well as I hoped, but I’ll eventually get through… that’s what I really think. CG: You’ve taken part into various cosplay events in several Asian countries. How did these experiences influence you in this hobby? YF: Thanks to the experiences gained through attending cosplay events in various countries, I’ve found out that there’s uniqueness and diversity in cosplay in each country. Although the most important influence in cosplay is originating mainly from Japan, I’ve noticed that cosplayed characters are not exactly the same as the original ones, but blend with the proper values of each country; popularity of different comic books, costume-making styles, performances, etc. These matters altogether create a unique, yet attractive kind of cosplay in each country, and thus it motivates me even more to travel to different places in order to exchange and share ideas with other cosplayers. However, to me, the most significant and impressive thing is that wherever I go, I am capable of making a lot of friends. Even though in various situations we cannot fully communicate with each other because of the language barrier, surprisingly, due to the same preferences we share, we can understand each other at once. 60 4 7 5 6 8 9 61 INTERVIEW 10 12 62 13 CG: What is the most challenging thing for you in cosplay? YF: A challenging part in cosplay is choosing the character, and one of the most challenging characters for me was Krauser from DMC. It was a tough decision to make whether to cosplay as Krauser or not, or what I should do to impersonate Krauser with the most vitality and accuracy. Costume making and make-up of this character were not my main concerns. What I actually required was the realistic face as seen in the comic books. During the day of the cosplay, I had my forehead hair shaved about half an inch higher than my usual hairline, since this character has a high forehead, while mine is pretty narrow and short, and doesn’t have enough space for some letters to be written on. After the dress-up and make-up, I was quite satisfied with the final appearance, although I had to cover my forehead with hair for months. CG: Is there another hobby that influences you in this activity? Are you inspired in cosplaying by other things you like, as well? If yes, in what way? YF: Another hobby of mine is listening to music and playing guitar. Therefore, many characters I’ve cosplayed as are related to music bands such as Visual Kei or Vocaloid. Personally, I think music has a great influence, which usually inspires my imagination toward cosplaying. CG: What sort of advice can you give to those who are unsure whether they should pick up this hobby or not? YF: Just do it! And you will meet another new world! New friends! And freedom! 11 CG: Cosplay has been a big part of your life; where do you see yourself as a cosplayer in another few years? YF: I will keep cosplaying, since it’s my favorite hobby. I always take cosplaying seriously, and from now on I will try even harder; also, I would like to do something different, such as arranging an entertaining performance with my friends. // Interview by Cristian Botea and Ruxandra Târcă Photos by Jameskiller (jameskillermaster.deviantart.com) 1. Ducan (Dream of Doll) 2. Amaru Ryudo (Sohryuden: Legend of the Dragon Kings) 3. Toshiya (DIR EN GREY) 4. Kagamine Len (Vocaloid, Knife version) 5. Kamui Gakupo (Vocaloid, Gackpoid mascot version) 6. Hajime Saito (Hakuouki: Shinsengumi Kitan) 7. Rai (Lamento -Beyond the Void-) 8. Johannes Krauser II (Detroit Metal City) 9. Kamui Gakupo (Vocaloid, Paranoid Doll version) 10. Sin (Guilty Gear 2: Overture) 11. Megurine Luki (Vocaloid) 12. Hatsune Mikuo (Vocaloid) 13. KAITO (Vocaloid, Sandplay Singing of The Dragon) 14. Boris Airay (Heart no Kuni no Alice) 14 63 COSTUME SHOWCASE Aura Rinoa’s Blood Elf Priestess has established Southern Italy and Sicily firmly in the sky of costume cosmic play. World of Warcraft is (thankfully!) not only about over-sized sweaty saturated fat-laden and overly depressed dorks. The World of Warcraft can be a four-year love story influencing and enhancing your sartorial imagination beyond mere props and gaming preferences. Once again, international conventions are invaluable in their recognition of the craft & skill invested into hand-painted individuality and hand-stitched perfection. Aura / AuraRinoa Cosplay: Blood Elf Priestess (WoW) Years of Cosplay: 8 Palermo, Sicily, Italy aurarinoa.it The cosplayer With an experience of over 8 years in the world of cosplay, Aura Rinoa has already achieved an extensive portfolio comprised of a various set of characters. To her, cosplay is a way to break out from the everyday life, and to show others what she can do. During her activity as cosplayer, which debuted in 2003 at Lucca Comics and Games – one of the most important international conventions – she also contributed to the establishment of the first cosplay community in Sicily and of the first Sicilian convention, Cospladya Comics & Games (www.cospladya.it), which she considers her greatest achievement until now. Her passion for cosplay never ceased, but grew stronger and stronger with every new costume and convention; the same can be said about her will to convey as many emotions as possible through her skits and to bring her favorite characters to life. The costume Blood Elf Priestess from World of Warcraft remains one of her best costumes. She chose to cosplay a character from this game mainly because World of Warcraft, which she played for four years with her friends, has greatly influenced her, but also because she sometimes prefers videogames to manga, as they provide more complex costumes and a wider range of characters. Her Blood Elf cosplay also brought her many satisfactions and permitted her to win a contest as a testimonial for an Italian convention. The production process for this costume wasn’t an easy task at all. Each piece was made of velvet decorated with glitter and hand-painted individually. The top was created by modifying a bra, to which she added a pair of transparent breeches, and by covering it up with velvet. On the upper part of the cups she added some forex scales separated by a layer of faux leather sewn directly onto the velvet. 65 COSTUME SHOWCASE Some parts, like the gloves and the belt, have a piece of canvas inside, in order to maintain the shape, while on the outer section of both of them she sewed a golden ribbon. On top of this, she sewed a layer of sequins: meters and meters of them, entirely hand-stitched. Other pieces were enriched by adding some Swarovski crystals later on. The armbands were made of forex and craft foam - a tutorial is available on Aura’s website. The belt was made using the same technique and it was closed with a golden chain. The skirt was made of different layers of fabric, held together with press-studs and decorated with over four meters of trimming on the rear. On the fabric part of the belt she punctured some small holes, in order to pass a few small golden chains through them, so that she could re-create the original weaving from the front of the skirt. She bought the boots on eBay, and afterwards she modified them according to the costume, also adding some gems. The staff was a present from a friend of hers. Awards and prizes The Blood Elf Priestess cosplay brought Aura not only the personal satisfaction of a wonderfully made costume, but also three awards: two for the most difficult costume, and one for the best group. Also, if being selected as the testimonial for a convention counts as an award, then we can safely say that the Blood Elf Priestess was awarded not three, but four prizes. Winning at Lucca Comics was a huge satisfaction to her; they were quite a large group among hundreds of participants. And it’s not easy at all to win a prize at one of the most important conventions in Europe and in the world. Let’s just wish her a lot of luck and many awards from now on too! Photo credits: 1, 3. Marco Nardi aka OperationOne (flickr.com/photos/operationone) 2. G ionata Bottari (evilken26.deviantart.com, flickr.com/photos/dekadenzestudio) 66 2 3 Nostalgia for a Time Travel: The Mechanical Beauty of Steampunk Cosplay by Ruxandra Tarca From the 21st to the late 19th… Of all branches of cosplay, only few are as impregnated with such unlimited creativity as Steampunk; although out there one can find intricate and elaborate armours and props, there’s nothing like seeing a costume that brings forth the nostalgia for the Victorian world of Industrial Revolution through wheels, watches, leather, buckles, and shades of chrome, all of them combined following no other criteria than imagination without boundaries, shaping a different kind of aestheticism, focused on the beauty of the mechanics. Throughout a very long tradition that lays way beyond the beginnings of cosplay as such, in which man becomes a mechanical machine himself, and the mechanical machines get humanized in turn, all one has to do to embark in such a time travel to the misty world of steam engines and cogwheels is to dress up, put on a pair of worn-out goggles and simply take off… Steampunk leather items or another kind of sculpture And there are loads of nowadays artisans who chose to embark into their own personal time travel, each of them cultivating one aspect of Steampunk or another. One of such artisans is Ian Finch-Field (also known as SkinzNhydez), a Canadian artist specialized in leather craft, who is lucky enough to make a living out of his passion, working twelve hours a day to create various Steampunk accessories, props and costumes. His works are not only complicated, but also diverse, not only functional, 68 but also highly artistic. Throughout the years, his creativity has been influenced not by a single source of inspiration, but by various factors, such as comic books, and his fascination with mechanics and medieval technology and culture. In his words: “combine all that and you have my version of Steampunk!” To him, as a Steampunk artist, leather is what plaster represents for a sculptor: a material that lets itself manipulated into the desired shape, impregnated with meaning and a functionality of its own. Many times there are neither concept sketches, nor planning; Ian simply starts working on a piece, and its story begins to unfold throughout its entire makingprocess, which can last from one our (for simpler pieces, such as masks), up to 5060 hours (for more difficult items, such as a full arm or leg). And his determination is the engine that drives him on: “It’s a passion; not just Steampunk, but to create!” Diamonds in a cogwheel Steampunk also has its share of jewelry, which may appear as kind of strange to the unacquainted eye, but actually emphasizes the uniqueness of this genre. The usual tools of trade are replaced with less ordinary items; cogwheels, old watches, keys and the like - all lose their everyday contextual functionality and juxtapose in various shapes, resulting in objects as refined as any other exquisite jewelry piece. Maxine Foxwell (better known as Bitter Island) from the UK has been creating Steampunk custom jewelry for quite a while. An artist since childhood, when she first began painting and drawing, she discovered Steampunk only two years ago, although she had been customizing old items since her teens. She prefers jewelry because, in her opinion, “there aren’t as many limitations as there are with clothing; you can use just about any material, and do so much more with it - if it can be manipulated in any way at all, then you can turn it into a piece of jewelry”. Like in any other Steampunk “branch”, imagination is the main influence, and this was the case with Maxine as well. Although, as starting point, she draws her inspiration from history, fantasy, fairy tales, books and films, what counts the most is her imagination and there are usually times when the initial idea gets lost on the way, transforming into something completely different. Old jewelry; clocks and watches that she dismantles; reclaimed and vintage materials – she combines all these using solely her power to create, giving them a brand new identity into the form of hairpins, necklaces, tiaras, brooches, rings, bracelets or pendants. The poetry of a disused clock Abscynthe, French artist of Steampunk jewelry, has developed a very personal philosophy related to this genre, strongly rooted in the concept of beauty promoted in the 19th century by authors such as Baudelaire, Lautréamont and Rimbaud. His works illustrate in fact his search for a “‘poetry of nothing’, for the insignificant found in the disused clocks or a forgotten 1 ARTICLE 3 2 watch, trying to extract some unforeseen splendor from dust. Extraire le Beau de la laideur – Extracting beauty out of ugliness. It is a kind of poetic alchemy asleep in bins and attics”. While preserving its basic aesthetics, his view on Steampunk doesn’t focus on aspects and common themes used in the specific literature (such as uchronia and the Industrial Revolution), exploring instead the creativity and aesthetics of a new genre, based on the idea 9 70 6 of transgression of time and substance. Therefore, he relates it more to the Italian movement of Arte Povera through its usage of recycled materials; the refusal of a cultural industry; and a consumerist way of life countered by creation. The cogwheel holds a very important place in his jewelry pieces, mainly because, in his view, “the cogwheel is an allegorical object rich in meaning, and for which I bear a certain affection, of course aesthetic, but also symbolically significant. It’s the representation of movement, a constant movement, such as in clock mechanisms, which, freed from these, always seem to figure that movement. A spontaneous allegory. It is also a symbol of an unfinished union, meaning that, as an integral part of a whole, the cogwheel cannot function individually, requiring as quasi-essential another element that can give some meaning to the mechanism. The cogwheel does not make sense by itself, and one of the aims involved in the creative process is to attempt to find a meaning for it, by mixing it with other parts, sometimes very disparate”. In creating his Steampunk jewels, Abscynthe’s work closely approximates the painter’s work, the colourist’s, and the musician‘s; the same way in which they wonder how to arrange the lines, forms and colours, the notes and rhythms, he tries to arrange and juxtapose materials and colours into a subjective harmony. The artist’s only guideline is, in Mozart’s words, to “put altogether the notes that love each other.” Nevertheless, creation is to him “an unending pathway, and in that sense there is no creation that is truly accomplished, complete”. The materials used in the design of his jewelry come exclusively from recycled supplies, “which years ago were parts of a clock, a watch or an alarm clock that witnessed a time, a full life, and that we have now forgotten, either by lassitude, or by excessive modernity”. In the end, the core element beyond Abscynthe’s work is essentially his desire to re-create, to recycle; an idea of distilling, the distilling of poetry out of dust. In his own words, “if I do not pretend to create something that approaches an ideal of ‘beauty’ - that is not my purpose - it is this process of research and creation, this new life offered to the insignificant, and this ‘po- 4 5 7 8 etry of nothing’ that I find fundamentally and absolutely beautiful”. A magic touch on cardboard Inventiveness in Steampunk can sometimes lead to solutions that prove to be pretty unexpected and out of the ordinary. Those who think Steampunk accessories can be crafted exclusively from leather, brass, cogwheels or other metallic parts, are terribly wrong; and the Spanish artist Diarment (Rafa Maya) demonstrates this through some amazing Steampunk items made mainly from…cardboard. As a multidisciplinary artist, he likes expressing himself in various ways, having studied music, painting, drawing, modeling, and sculpture for many years. Nevertheless, he has always been fascinated with strange and useless mechanics, thus coming closer to Steampunk. Although, for some of his works, he was inspired by novels such as Jules Verne’s “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” or by old movies, he usually lets his imagination fly, and ends up producing parts that simulate strange retro-futuristic mechanisms, whether functional or not. While many artists prefer working with the usual Steampunk materials, Diarment chose cardboard. As he himself admitted, he made that choice because “cardboard is a material with which I am very at ease; I can model and paint it beautifully”. The most difficult item to make was a work he named “Mechanic Angel”, for which he had to do a lot of sketches and tests before beginning the final work. The initial female figure was sculpted in Fimo, and everything else was built from cardboard. Next came the painting phase, which sought the maximum metal oxide color contrast with the tone of the smooth skin of the figure. In the end, he was quite satisfied with the result. by Joe Benitez (www.joebenitez.com) and published through Aspen Comics. Lizbit’s story has a fascinating Steampunk fragrance of its own. She grew up in a small town, playing characters with her sister in the forest around their home, supported by parents who have always encouraged them to pursue their interests and become strong women. Her father is a collector and a tinkerer who especially likes old radios, vehicles and clocks, while her mother is an art and history lover; and it’s due to The story of a mechanical lady Some prefer sculpting leather outfits; others would rather craft jewelry or other accessory objects. Yet others portray Steampunk characters as a whole, giving them life and a whole new dimension. Such example is Lizbit, from Canada, who offers an impressive image of how such a Steampunk character should look like, choosing to impersonate Lady Mechanika, the heroine of a story created 10 ARTICLE 11 12 13 16 17 18 21 22 72 14 19 20 such an environment that she became so drawn to Steampunk. For her, “Steampunk embodies a place and time that we accidentally skipped through, or maybe where we will end up... It’s about taking the old, and creating functional pieces that are as beautiful to look at, as they are useful. Steampunk is about being socially and technologically advanced. Blending Old World ideas of morality and courtesy, while allowing women to be just as, if not more staunch than their male counterparts. Adding to its allure, there is magic and mystery with space aged gizmos”. With the help of the professional photographer Ken Nash, Lizbit impersonated the story of Joe Benitez’s Lady Mechanika, who was found by the local authorities in England, surrounded by corpses and body parts. Her limbs had been amputated, and replaced with mechanical ones. She has no memory of her former life; that is why she has built herself a new one, now working as a private detective, using her unique limbs and abilities to solve cases that the police can’t or wouldn’t. As stated on Joe Benitez Official Website, “Lady Mechanika is about a young woman’s search for her own identity, as she solves other mysteries involving science 15 and the supernatural” – and Lizbit has done a great job cosplaying as her. Although she is currently working on an original Steampunk project together with the same photographer Ken Nash, already having two other outfits ready for wear, Lady Mechanika cosplay remains very special to her, as she loves Joe’s character, and wanted to do her justice. The brown outfit was her first attempt at sewing, since a Sailor Pluto costume she’d done when she was 12. Of course, making such a costume was by no means an easy process - as she herself admitted, she almost lost an eye and her mind sewing the leather underbust. Ken had the goggles, and her partner provided the gun; thus the overall look was completed. In Lizbit’s opinion, Steampunk is a very fun theme in cosplay, because it provides countless options. “You get to mix soft and luxurious fabric with very structured articles, which create the posture and feel of the Victorian era. The more layers, the better, and this allows the cosplayer to have full creative freedom over how much or little they show; and it is a really cool base to start an original character from. What other genre could get away with mixing top hats, corsets, bustle skirts and brass?” Photo credits: 1, 15. Lizbit (iamlizbit.deviantart.com) as Lady Mechanika (Lady Mechanika) by Ken Nash (imagedesigner.deviantart.com, facebook.com/pages/Ken-Nash-ImageDesign/136519633036481) 2. Emperor’s Armor of Empowerment by Ian Finch-Field aka SkinzNhydez (skinz-n-hydez.deviantart.com, etsy.com/shop/skinznhydez). Photo by Jen Steele (jensteele.com) 3, 6, 9. Ian Finch-Field aka SkinzNhydez (skinz-n-hydez.deviantart.com, etsy.com/shop/skinznhydez) 4, 5, 7, 8, 10. Diarment (diarment.deviantart.com) 11, 12, 13, 14, 19, 20. Abscynthe (abscynthe.deviantart.com) 16, 17, 18, 21, 22. Maxine Foxwell aka Bitter Island (bitterisland.deviantart.com, folksy.com/shops/BitterIsland) 73 DO IT YOURSELF Shirt and Tie Tutorial: Blood-C’s Kisaragi Saya Tutorial and tutorial photos by Shinju shinjusworkshop.com What you need: 1 Fabric (which usually comes as 58”-60”/145-150cm wide), as follows: Maximum 250cm/100” of red fabric. You will use it mainly for the skirt (a tutorial for the skirt tailoring, from the same author, is available on www.cosplaygen.com); the remaining parts will be used for the shirt and the tie • Maximum 250cm/100”of black fabric for the skirt, and 100cm/ 40” of black fabric for the shirt. • 10 to 15m/ 40” to 60” of black ribbon. It can be 3cm/1.2” to 5cm/2” wide. 2 20cm/8” of chain. 3 A small red skirt zipper 4 A long shirt black zipper 5 A red button STANDARD SIZE IN CENTIMETRE US size 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 UK size 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 EU size 32 34 36 38 40 42 44 46 48 BUST 84 86 89 91 94 98 102 105 109 WAIST 61 64 66 69 71 75 79 HIPS 91 94 97 99 102 105 109 113 117 83 Choosing the right pattern for you. First of all measure yourself around the bust, the waistline 1 and the hips. Compare your measurements to the ones in the table underneath and choose the size that fits you. Then cut the pattern corresponding to the colour of your size from the pattern sheet. Make sure you cut all the needed parts. 86 Place the pattern parts on the fabric. Make sure the length of the shirt (from neck to waistline) goes on the length of the fabric. Don’t place them on the width of the fabric, although you may use less fabric by doing it! Placing it right helps you when it comes to sewing and makes the shirt fit you better when you wear it. Fasten the pattern to the fabric with pins and cut the fabric 1cm/0.4” away from the edge of the pattern. If you are not sure about cutting this distance without measuring, you can draw on the fabric around the pattern and cut on that line. 2 74 Make sure you cut all the parts from the needed fabric (either red or black). Most of the main shirt pattern parts have to be cut twice, so you should just fold the fabric in two and pin the patterns on it. Be careful with part F. The dotted line means that the fabric should be folded on that line. Do NOT cut 1cm/0.4” around that line! 3 Pin together the fabric parts (right sides facing each other all the time) so you can sew them 1 cm/0.4” from the edge. A to B, C to D and then D to D – the vertical line in the middle of your back. Sew them and then use the zigzag stitch on the edge to avoid loose threads. Do this whenever you sew together 2 pieces of fabric that might leave loose threads behind. After sewing the parts together, iron them flat and attach the E parts to A and B, and the F part to the C and D. Sew them and iron them. By now, the back of your shirt should look like in this image. 4 F G I H I I Then take parts G, H and I (which should be all red) and iron them like in the image. Then place the bottom of the sleeves inside the I parts and sew them. 5 I Sew the shoulder lines (each of the E parts to each side of the F part). Make sure the right sides of the fabric are facing each other when you are sewing. Then place the G part on the right shoulder line and the H part (the longer one) on the left shoulder line. Pin them down and sew them on both edges up to 1.5cm/0.6” away from where the shoulder meets the sleeve. Then sew the sleeves to the shirt (remember to always place the longer part towards the back) and pin down the rest of the red fabric to the sleeves. Make sure that the G and H parts go on a 90 degrees angle with the I part (the red at the edge of the sleeve). 6 75 DO IT YOURSELF On the left sleeve, leave the H part longer (3 to 4 cm / 1.2” to 1.6 “) and bend it in underneath the sleeve (image A). Sew on the edges. Cut from the black fabric a 12cm/4.7” wide and 40cm/15.7” long. Take it and bend it in two on the length (right side of the fabric on the inside). Sew it at the edge and turn it inside out. Place it parallel to the left sleeve and leave its length as the width of the sleeve (image C). Then place the H part on top of it and you can either stitch it a bit where you will have to place the red button or just pin it down. Use a thicker thread or thicker fishing line or anything similar to keep the left sleeve and the black ribbon at the same distance even underarm. I outlined with blue how I sewed a thick fishing line to both the sides somewhere towards the back of the sleeve. 7 A B C Now you are ready to sew the sides of the shirt together. Place the sides one on top of the other (the right sides facing each other) and sew them from the end of the sleeves to the bottom of the shirt (like in image A). Now turn to the sides of the A parts where you need to put the zipper. Bend the fabric on the “zipper line” and iron it (image B). Then place the zipper underneath it and pin it down. Make sure you leave around 1.5 cm / 1.2” extra fabric on the bottom of the shirt (lower than the zipper) so you can bend it and sew it later (image C). Sew the zipper to the shirt on both sides all the way up. If the zipper is longer you can cut from its upper side, but not lower than the edge of the fabric. 8 Now let’s turn to the collar, which is made out of 2 parts: the collar base (X) and the collar leaf (Y). If the fabric that you chose is not stiff enough, you may need to use some fabric stiffener to help you with that. That may come in various forms, be it liquid, spray or other fabric with small silicone drops on it that sticks to the fabric when ironed. The latter was my choice, but its disadvantage is that it makes the fabric a bit thick. If you can find better alternatives, feel free to use them. I ironed the stiffener on the fabric (parts X and Y) and cut the extra stiffener. 9 76 Z 10 Cut the Z part 1cm/0.4” around the pattern and cut it on the blue line. Then bend the edges and iron it. Place the two pieces on one of the Y parts and sew them (like in the image). Place the two Y parts facing each other, pin them together, trace a line on the three outer edges and sew them together. Turn them inside out and iron them flat. 11 Place the X parts on the collar line of the shirt. One should face the right side of the shirt and the other should face the wrong side. Make sure you fit the middle of the X parts exactly on the middle of the back on the shirt. Sew all three of them together, 1 cm/0.4” from the edge (right now you will most probably sew over the zipper). Then sew the sides, right next to the zipper, so that when you turn it inside out it looks like in image B (it forms a continuous line with the zipper). You can leave 2 extra cm/0.8” so you can add a button and thus make sure you keep the collar around your neck. I chose not to, because I wore it during summer time and I didn’t want to completely melt from the heat. 12 B 77 DO IT YOURSELF Iron the lower part of the Y piece 1 cm/0.4â€? on the inside. Introduce the X part into the Y part, pin them together and sew carefully. 13 In order to attach the chain to your collar you need some eyelets/grommets. You can usually find them in a set together with the pliers and they are not difficult to use. 14 Take the two K pieces and sew them together on the blue line like in the image. Then iron them to get the needed shape and sew them on the left chest side of the shirt. 15 78 Most probably the part of the tie that should go around the neck is longer than needed. Tie it 10 cm/4â€? from the knot and tie to it some ribbons or some elastic tape. Sew by hand near the knot the two pieces in the back so they donâ€™t move anymore and stay equal. The tie is ready! Use the ribbons or the elastic to tie it in the back. It wonâ€™t be visible because the collar leaf will cover it. 19 The shirt and the tie are ready to wear! For any specific modification on your pattern or help with anything regarding your cosplay, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org. 16 Cut the four pieces of the M pattern and two of the N. Make a small cut on the blue line like in the image. 17 Iron the N pieces into the needed shape and sew them on two of the M pieces. The skirt tutorial of this costume is available on the Cosplay Gen official website: www.cosplaygen.com Sew together two M parts facing each other (one with the black ribbon and one without). Do the same with the other two. Turn them inside out and iron them flat. Now you have two similar ties. Use a safety pin to attach each other, make the tie knot so that the 2 ends of the tie are equal. If the safety pin is not visible (it should not be), undo it, remove the safety pin and sew the two ties together. Make the knot again, with the two ends equal. 18 79 W RLDWIDE FANS We are always happy to receive your submissions on our deviantART group, and we are expecting you to contribute to this column in the future as well. Thank you for the wonderful photos you always share with us, and keep up with your beautiful work! cosplay-gen.deviantart.com DO IT YOURSELF Painting Lace and Vinyl Application: Alichinoâ€™s Myoubi Dress Tutorial by Witchiko witchiko.deviantart.com I. Painting the lace This is a more economic type of lace, which has 8 parts. Cut with the scissors in order to separate all the embroidery designs, but be careful not to undo the embroidery. After that, burn the edges with the lighter, so that the fabric doesnâ€™t unravel. But be sure to do it quickly, as the edges may burn too much if you keep the lighter too long. After all the lace is separated, begin the painting process. Use the ochre color to paint the lace, mixing a small amount of water with the ochre fabric paint. Use a paint roller to spread the paint on the fabric. Attention: I recommend that you paint the entire area at once. Use a large table so that you can extend and paint the whole lace, because if you paint it little by little, the fabric will be a little blurred where youâ€™ve painted last time. Extend the lace completely; then wait for one day until it dries. Meanwhile, paint the other strip of lace the same way you painted the first one. 84 Once dry, begin the second part of the painting. I used golden fabric paint, mixed with enough water to be very thin, in order to make the ochre shine a little. After drying, use golden paint to paint the edges of the lace. I painted both sides of the lace to be well done. Let it dry on one side first; meanwhile, paint the edges of the other lace. After painting the two sides, the lace is ready to be sewn onto the dress. When dry, the fabric is a little hardened, but for this kind of cosplay, this effect is excellent. 85 DO IT YOURSELF II. Vinyl application First, take the reference of the design and import it into a graphic program. Afterwards, redesign all the details in order to create the form. Measure the size that you want on the dress. The designs must have the real measures that will be used on the dress. Print, cut and paste on cardboard, making sure that this is the size you want on the dress. If it is correct, design the form on vinyl. After designing on vinyl, cut all the designs and paste all the cuttings with fabric glue. Wait until each pasted collage dries, in order to avoid its detaching. Attention: Be careful not to miss the collage, because the glue doesnâ€™t come out from the fabric. 86 hotos by And Yamasaki P (andyamasaki.deviantart.com) Hagaren Years of Cosplay: 6 Shanghai, China facebook.com/00hagare00 twitter.com/0hagaren0 hi.baidu.com/0hagaren0 As expected, China has a blooming scene and lots of places to cosplay. Hagaren has the Chenghuang Miao Temple behind her, and all the important materials to make a show of it. Sometimes all the materials fit into complex whole, and when they fit you are immobilized by the huge and giddy balance of materials, clasps, buttons and finely arranged folds. She also tells us that there is a life after time-consuming and costly cosplaying with a possible career in the comic books & cartoons; the very place where some of those gorgeous costumes came from! PROFILE Cosplay Gen: You’ve done a pretty impressive Souji cosplay from Hakuoki, and you’ve also added an original story to it. Can you detail a bit your own view about this cosplay? Hagaren: When I decided to cosplay as Souji, I didn’t think I was suitable for him, and my opinion about him was as follows: he was a consumptive and weak guy, sometimes spitted blood… Also, his friends always loved him. Actually, I didn’t understand why he was worthy to be loved. The first photo-shoot as Souji was an exploratory stage, I still didn’t have a complete story, I just tried to shape the character; therefore, the first shooting was actually a fail. The second photo-shoot was focused on Kaoru; the first time I saw Kaoru, I just thought I could single out Kaoru and Souji to add a story for them, especially with Kaoru dressed like a drag queen; on the other hand, I thought that Souji was the type suitable to stay with another guy (sorry I am a fangirl). And if there is any possibility to set two guys together, regardless the anime, I always try to make them be together… (of course, based on finding reasonable grounds…) The subject of the third photo-shoot was “back to future”; the cosplayer who worked with me really loved this idea, and she hoped to go back to the game of Hakuoki, and fall in love with Souji. It’s a starting point, actually I think any girl would think about it; the problem is how to express the story - that is to add the story and the details in simple terms, to find things the characters would do. After thinking about all these details, I tried to shoot all of them, and afterwards I went back home to begin the post processing… CG: You seem to choose very carefully the characters you cosplay as. What are the most important things you take into consideration when selecting your cosplays? Do you think there are certain similarities between your characters of choice? Hagaren: I want to say that I choose my characters unexpectedly; when I watch an anime series, if a part of the story suddenly stimulates or shocks me, and I also get some good ideas, I immediately decide whether to make a cosplay or not. A very important element for most of my characters is what is he/she doing in the movie, or what is he/she doing in relation with the others. I feel it’s very interesting, and want to do it again; or if there is something he didn’t do in the movie, but I want to do, and I want to see him/her doing it, then I will cosplay as him/ her, to let him/her take part in the story I imagine, to let the character I cosplay as complete this story… Maybe there are no similarities between me and the characters I select, but when I cosplay as them, I always let the character act according to my nature, think about things and pose according to my nature. I don’t try to figure out the movements and expressions of the original character... This is my habit, very casual and stubborn.... CG: What was the most challenging costume you’ve done so far? Can you tell a few words about how did you complete it? Hagaren: I think it’s the costume of Vash from Trigun. I love this anime very much, even since before I started cosplaying. Since I began cosplaying, in 2005, I’ve been always thinking about Vash, but I thought I lack the ability to cosplay as him. However, in 2010, I was determined to do it! First I bought the fabric and all the belts. Afterwards, I went to the Chenghuang Miao Temple and bought all the buttons, clasps, accessories, etc. The red coat was made by a tailor. Then I cut the belts, fixed the buttons one by one, and remade the gun, all by myself. I used all sorts of materials, paint, and I also included some small parts in the gloves. I revised the hairpiece again and again… Actually, when I dress up with the full set, I can’t move even a step… 2 3 4 5 89 PROFILE 6 9 90 7 8 10 11 91 PROFILE 12 16 92 13 CG: Your photos seem the result of a lot of work; how do you usually plan out your photoshoots? Also, do you think that it’s important for a certain relationship between the cosplayer and the photographer to exist, for such results to come out? Hagaren: Yes, I work a lot for my photo-shoots, and I don’t know if people who see my photos think I am a tough person. When I cosplay as a certain character, first of all I decide the partner for the session. After both of us confirm the photoshooting, I begin preparing the costume. I am usually ready with everything in about two weeks, including the costume and setting. Meanwhile, I also consider the story for the shooting, and let the photographer know what anime is, in order to watch it, tell her what character I’m going to cosplay as, and also my partner’s character, and confirm the time of shooting, the story, and the details. The stories are always based on my feelings, or on an idea I sometimes get from a dream, or from a fragment of my dream… When I think about the story, the most important element is to find excitement in it. Regarding the relationship between cosplayer and photographer, I think friendship would be the best option for both; friends always meet each other even outside cosplay, just like me and my photographer. We always communicate, or quarrel, as we are very close, so the photoshooting is much more natural. CG: China has quite a big number of cosplayers; what is your opinion about the Chinese cosplay scene? Hagaren: I am a very casual person; cosplay is a part of my life, and I love this kind of life. Nowadays, China has a lot of cosplay events every year, and there are various places fit for cosplay, so I can choose to participate in various activities. That is how I met a lot of partners and friends, and also my photographer. Now, in China there are many cosplay styles, such as the traditional Chinese costume, which is very popular. The Chinese want to create their own cosplay style. 14 15 CG: Do you consider cosplay as pure hobby, or as something more? Do you see yourself abandoning this hobby at some later point? Hagaren: To me, cosplay is entertainment, a kind of entertainment that is able to inspire me. I can get a lot of inspiration and a lot of fresh things from cosplay. However, cosplay is also an entertainment that consumes money and energy, so when the time comes, I will stop cosplaying and draw cartoons instead, thus telling my story in drawing. 17 Photo credits: 1. Vash the Stampede (Trigun) by Hermes 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Souji Okita (Hakuouki: Shinsengumi Kitan, Rasetsu version) by Hermes 7, 9. Souji Okita (Hakuouki: Shinsengumi Kitan) by Hermes 8, 10. Fuma Monou (X/1999) by Snake 11. Ashura (Ashura-jo no hitomi) by Hermes 12, 13. Diao Chan (Dynasty Warriors) by Hermes 14. Hatsune Miku (Vocaloid) by Hermes 15. Nohime (Sengoku Basara) by Hermes 16. Tusu Baili (GuJian) by Hermes 17. Tsusuki Asato (Descendants of Darkness) by Hermes 18. Dark (D.N. ANGEL) by Hermes 18 93 DO IT YOURSELF Make-up Tutorial: Naruto’s Uchiha Itachi Tutorial and tutorial photos by Shizuka aka RainerTachibana rainertachibana.deviantart.com While doing my Uchiha Itachi make-up for a shoot some time ago, the first thing on my mind was that the lines on his face had to look believable, and not simply drawn on. Initially, you must prepare your skin by going through your normal skincare regime, before starting to apply the make-up. We’re going to be doing a lot of shading around the eyes later on; therefore it’s important to make sure that any under-eye circles are very well concealed. 1 ine your eyes with your preferred eyeliner. For this tutoL rial, I used dark brown pencil eyeliner, but you can go with whatever eyeliner you have or like to use. Make sure you keep your line dark, but relatively thin. 3 Using a clean finger, blend the lines lengthwise so that they taper out at the ends. With a brown eye-shadow or shader, shade on the inside of the lines, and apply highlighter on the outside. Fill in your brows. Don’t skip this step, even if you’re going to be wearing a forehead protector; brows are important. 4 e as heavy handed as you want when building up the B shadows and the highlights. At this point, you may also want to apply highlighter on the bridge of your nose and cheekbones. Apply dark brown eye-shadow to the outer corners of the eyes for the illusion of deep-set sockets. Apply mascara to your top and bottom lashes to imitate Itachi’s rather feminine eyes. If you choose to use fake lashes, make sure to trim them down; you only want them on the outer corners of your eyes, or you’ll risk looking too feminine. If you’re going to be shooting outdoors, you might want to shade and highlight more heavily, since a lot of your makeup is going to disappear under the sun. I’ve also drawn a very shallow fake double eyelid crease. People who already have double eyelids can skip this step. 2 sing a brown pencil, draw the markings carefully, exU tending them up and beyond the inner corner of the eyes, and making sure that they’re more or less symmetrical. Using a white pencil, draw another line directly under the first. I consider that it’s unrealistic to reference the lines on Itachi’s face literally from the anime/manga/illustrations. It’s better to draw the lines according to the contours of your face, so that it looks more flattering. That said, do make sure that the placement of the lines is generally correct; don’t draw them on your chin or anything. 94 When you’re done, blend so that your colours are smooth and gradating nicely. If you find your shading too thick, you can lift the excess pigments using a powder brush or a fine cotton pad. To finish, dust a layer of translucent powder over your face to set your makeup. 5 would normally stop here, but for those who still prefer I a bolder, more cartoonish look, simply run black liquid eyeliner over the lines. Make sure your black line is tapered as well. Uchiha Itachi (Naruto) cosplay by Shizuka aka RainerTachibana (rainertachibana.deviantart.com) Photo by Ahbu (ahbu.deviantart.com) 1 2 3 4 5 95 REVIEW UppCon 2011 By Hampus Andersson hampusandersson.se A short history Being a cosplayer in Sweden has recently taken a big turn. Cosplay used to mean just local competitions at different conventions around the country, whereas now the movement has its own national championship. For the very first time, Sweden sent its best cosplayers to participate in EuroCosplay in London last year. Truly, it’s a great time to be a fan of cosplay in Sweden. UppCon is Sweden’s largest convention for people that are interested in East-Asian culture, with around 4000 attendees coming to Uppsala, a city located about 40 minutes away from the capital of Sweden. The convention started about nine years ago and has since rapidly grown into a well-known and much anticipated event for many Swedish manga and anime fans. UppCon has gone from being a pretty casual Swedish convention to a big event that’s probably trying to emulate the big conventions in Northern America. While previously focusing on activities and gaming, it has now rapidly moved towards high-quality anime, artists and discussion panels. The most important addition is, however, the focus on cosplay. The number of cosplayers has grown substantially year after year, and a large number of visitors to the convention are now highly involved in cosplay in one way or another. Having this in mind, the organizers decided to start a national championship of cosplay this year. Ten of Sweden’s best cosplayers would compete in a big stage show on the last day of the convention. Everyone who could make it to Uppsala, not to mention the city locals, were invited to the big square to watch the show on that day, so that not only paying visitors were eligible to vote. 96 97 REVIEW Personal experience I’ve always liked UppCon. It was the first convention I ever attended, and it has grown quite a bit since. With Japanese artists and a stunning show for each edition there is no other event that really matches it in Sweden. For most participants, the first day of the convention is dedicated to relaxing and meeting up with friends. Many people stop by in the first two hours and start preparing for a weekend of fun, so there’s not much activity that day. Most cosplayers wear costumes that they’re comfortable in. Versailles performed that evening to the delight of the J-rock fans, and the organizers showed people how to make a proper “kiraboshi” (a gesture from the anime Star Driver) at the opening ceremony. Since not all of the attendees could fit in the hall that hosted the two events, a big LED-screen was placed in the outside square, so everyone could enjoy it live. I myself was busy trying to get a hold of everyone that I was supposed to photograph, and to schedule future meetings. The second day is all about cosplaying. Each year, the cosplay event is held on Saturday. It’s a hectic day and it gets really hard for the photographers to get a hold of people while also trying to find a suitable environment to shoot their cosplay at. Since most of the square and the building is packed with people at all times, it’s often easier to move outside the convention to find the right type of space to shoot in. I got the chance to shoot and experience a live concert with OLIVIA (known from NANA), which proved to be a wonderful show. After that I went to a panel where we discussed about different conventions in Europe, which was really interesting. The last day started with the national cosplay championship. This was the first time the championship was held in Sweden, so expectations were high. Ten finalists; some from conventions held during the past year, some from UppCon’s own event and some voted to the finals through the event’s website were to compete on an outdoor stage in front of the paying attendees, and also the whole city of Uppsala. It seemed however that most of the finalists weren’t prepared for the event, so some of the stage performances were pretty poor. However, the finalists’ outfits were all really good and quite distinct, so it turned out to be a very spectacular show. In the end, Josefin Slorafoss won the competition with her KOS-MOS Mk. III-cosplay, which really stood out from the rest. The convention was mostly focused on a younger audience, so it is highly commendable that the organizers took the time to introduce some panels for the older attendants. I hope that this will remain a permanent trait of these conventions, seeing how it’s sometimes hard to find a quiet spot and talk to some friends. With so much going on everywhere and so many young people about, it can get tiring sometimes. All said, UppCon has definitely improved over the years. I’m really looking forward to next year’s convention, to feast my eyes on the multitude of costumes, shows and activities that await all cosplay lovers! 98 99 CONTEST Otaku House Cosplay Idol This year, Otaku House, the leading and biggest retail chain selling cosplay costumes and other Japanese pop-culture related items in Singapore, started off a pretty interesting initiative: Otaku House Cosplay Idol, a contest in which avid cosplayers around the world could showcase their cosplay photos and “meet” on the same platform. North America This competition was the first of its kind, and the prize was more than attractive: a total of USD$4000 worth of cosplay prizes. The contest was split into three regions: North America, Europe, and Asia, and the cosplayers battled with other contestants from the same region of their current location, for the title of world’s 1st Cosplay Idol. Participation was simple, and involved submitting the contestant photo, together with all the details. All the photos were later published on the organizers’ Facebook page, and everyone could vote their favorite cosplayers. The qualifying round has now closed, and the Top 20 contestants from each category will enter the Finals. And, in the end, the top 3 contestants with the most positive responses on their feature in the Finals in each category will walk away with the prizes. More information on this contest can be found at www.otakuhouse.com/cosplay-idol South America Europe Asia & Australia 100 COSPLAYGEN.COM