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EDITORIAL

THE POWER TO HEAL Cosplay often leaves the impression of having a separate world of its own, like in a parallel dimension that still exists within our everyday reality. The beauty of this world is that it is always providing a little touch of surreal to an existence along with which it keeps going on symbiotically, and even helps those involved in it to define and understand themselves better. Regardless how farfetched this statement may seem, the stories I’ve stumbled upon in the recent years prove the truth of it. As many cosplay aficionados know already, this hobby doesn’t involve solely wearing a pretty costume and a wig, along with some props. It means also truly discovering the character one cosplayer or another is impersonating, and trying to understand that particular character, while finding both similarities and discrepancies with the cosplayer. And, while getting to understand that chosen character, be it from a manga, game or anime, the cosplayer also gets to find out more about himself/herself, even discovering some particular features he/ she hadn’t even dreamed of having until then. Cosplay also means courage, because it is essentially hobby that involves getting rid of some complexes and inhibitions that the cosplayer might have. And thus it becomes a mean to overcome shyness or other related issues that often raise all kinds of problems for many young people who prefer to isolate themselves because they often are misunderstood as social freaks. Cosplay gives them the power to come forth and assert themselves and their talent; and it’s pretty amazing to see how such a youngster can transform entirely in a very short period of time, getting out from a shadowed corner, and coming right into the spotlight. Through cosplaying, they find a world of their own, a universe of fantasy where they can be whatever they want to be and be acknowledged, and also prepare to be stronger in real life. Cosplay can also be a remedy for many obstacles and pains one can get through one moment or another. Working on a costume can make one dedicate himself/herself to a wonderfully fantastic project and forget about petty pain and suffering, while wearing that costume can help one become a fairytale character at least for one day, and, why not, discovering a brand new personality. Last, but not least, perhaps one of the most wonderful presents cosplay can bring is the ever-increasing set of friends. In cosplay there are no such things as language or geographic barriers, and it is simply wonderful to see how cosplayers encourage one another and exchange experience and pieces of advice, regardless the country they’re from; because, in the end, it’s a matter of friendship and trust, under the larger sky of a wonderful hobby. // Ruxandra Târcă

TABLE OF CONTENTS

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Profile Nikita

Article J-Rock article

DIY Props Tutorial (Blacklash)

Article Portrait Photography

Profile Adelhaid

Interview Hybridre

Review Hyper Japan

Cover Story MiYo

Article Blame!

DYI Madame Red

Costume Showcase NealBomBad

Article Vocaloid

Fan Section Community’s Choice

Review EuroCosplay

Profile Yami No Cosmos

DYI Make-up Tutorial

Article Beyond the Staple

Profile Elffi

Fan Section Worldwide Fans

Contest Cosplay Mania

FRONT COVER: MiYo (Seoul, Korea) // Photo by Chori FEATURED COSPLAYERS: Laura Salviani / Nikita (Paris, France), Maria / Adelhaid (Moscow, Russia), Franseca / Hybridre (Beijing, China), MiYo (Seoul, Korea), Neal Bockhaut / NealBomBad (Denver, CO, USA), Aicosu (USA), Yami Berglund / Yami No Cosmos (Stockholm, Sweden), Janne Rusanen / Elffi (Jyväskylä, Finland) EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Ruxandra Târcă // CONTENT COORDINATOR: Cristian Botea // ART DIRECTOR: Cyril Rictus ILLUSTRATIONS: Cristian Dîrstar, Ioana Balcan // PHOTOGRAPHER: Bela Benedek PROOFREADERS: Petru Munteanu CONTRIBUTORS: Paula Vicol, Jo / Blacklash, Shiro Ang, Marta Camillo, Sophie Carroll, Krystal Messier / Kudrel, Shinju, Mihai Marcu, Stefan Tiron DISTRIBUTION & PARTNERSHIP: team@cosplaygen.com // 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 team@cosplaygen.com so that we can make corrections in subsequent printings.

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PROFILE Cosplay Gen: What sort of positive changes did cosplay as a hobby bring into your life? Nikita: I met so many of my best friends thanks to cosplay! That is the most beautiful gift I could hope for! The other main positive change is that I began trusting myself. I was so shy before I started to cosplay. Of course, cosplay also brought me lots of new adventures like World Cosplay Summit in 2008 and 2010, Shanghai World Expo 2010, and many other travels. I am very lucky: cosplay brings me new challenges, adventures, friends and travels! C.G: What sort of criteria do you have when you choose the next character to cosplay? Nikita: I’ve got a lot of different criteria to choose my next cosplay: technical challenge, love for the costume, childhood dream, favorite character, perfect for a special skit… and, of course, my friends always trying to get me into their “crazy groups” like Princess Starla, Pokemon, My Little Pony etc… So I can choose a cosplay only to be with my friends in a group. C.G: Last year you cosplayed as Evangelion’s Asuka in her full body suit version; could you tell us how did you make that costume? Nikita: The first step was to buy a figure so I could see the costume in 3D. Then I tried to find a good fabric to get the skin-tight and brilliant effect at the same time. I started with a half suit I adjusted to my body. My brother helped me drawing the different design elements on me, while I was wearing it; he helped me a lot to get the right proportions. Once every single detail was drawn, I cut the different parts and sewed the final body suit. The toughest parts to make were all the black lines! I had to use stickers to draw them perfectly and I think I made the legs 3 times before getting a correct result (I’m still not totally satisfied with it…) C.G: In 2008, you represented France with your partner Sikay at World Cosplay Summit 2008, dressed as Oluha from Clamp’s Clover series. Why did you choose to portray that particular character and how was the experience there for you? Nikita: I am a great fan of Clamp, and Clover is their most poetic and aesthetic manga. I always dreamed to be a diva singer and Oluha was a kind of cyberpunk “angel of music”. This character is very charismatic and I wanted to sing on stage. Oluha was the perfect character for that. Also, we found the perfect music to fit our performance. The WCS experience was amazing. Sikay and I were just starting cosplay, and WCS was a magic experience with lots of meetings, great cosplayers and a great show! Coming to Japan was a dream and it came true with Cosplay! Cosplay in Japan with lots of wonderful cosplayers: all our dreams came true. C.G: What are your cosplay plans for the upcoming months? Nikita: Sikay and I are planning to enter WCS preliminaries in France with Shiva sisters from Final Fantasy XIII. It’s a huge challenge, so I probably won’t have other plans until Japan Expo. After that, of course, I have lots of cosplay dreams like making all the Little Mermaid costumes (Disney), a sexy Poison Ivy costume and a Steampunk creation… And many other surprises!

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Photo credits: 1. Asuka Langley Soryu (Neon Genesis Evangelion) by Omaru (facebook.com/omaru.photo.video) 2. Asuka Langley Soryu (Neon Genesis Evangelion) by Florian Fromentin (facebook.com/florian.fromentin) 3. Oluha (Clover, CLAMP) by Andy Julia (andy-julia-photography.com) 4. Ironette (Iron Man, spin-off version) by CoolADN (cooladn.com) 5. Talim (Soul Calibur) by Andy Julia (andy-julia-photography.com) 6. Rapunzel (Tangled) by Florian Fromentin (facebook.com/florian.fromentin) 7. T  amara (Princess Gwenevere and the Jewel Riders) by Florian Fromentin (facebook.com/florian.fromentin) 8. Cure Blossom (Heartcatch Precure) by Florian Fromentin (facebook.com/florian.fromentin) 9. Asuka Langley Soryu (Neon Genesis Evangelion) by Florian Fromentin (facebook.com/florian.fromentin) 10. Rouleau Japonais (Sakizo’s ‘Girl meets Sweets’ artbook) by Nakana (nakana-focus.fr) 11. Elizabeth Middleford (Kuroshitsuji) by Jonathan Roux (facebook.com/pages/jonathan-roux-photos/147551045334402) 12. Serah Farron (Final Fantasy XIII) by Omaru (facebook.com/omaru.photo.video) 13. Snow White (inspired by Disney’s Snow White) by Florian Fromentin (facebook.com/florian.fromentin)

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ARTICLE

The Multiple Patterns of J-Rock: Insights on Crossdressing and Crossplay By Paula Vicol shizukaren.deviantart.com

Do you believe in magic? In fairytales, in stories of worlds where everything is possible, where beauty is all over and bad things don’t have even the slightest chance to ruin happiness? Such a world exists and I’m inviting you to travel there with me. But in order to get there, you’ll have to perform a small ritual: mix striking make-up with unusual hair styles, add elaborate costumes (often – though not always – combined with androgynous looks), and a music genre that stands out from mostly everything that’s out there. Embrace it, let it get to your heart and there you have it, you’ve instantly entered the world of Visual Kei. Looks are as important in Visual Kei as music itself, so let’s try and find out more inside information about what it’s like to be part of this world, by asking both musicians who left their mark upon the scene, and cosplayers who do a great job in becoming as great as their idols are. Crossdressing in Visual Kei is particularly fascinating; it couldn’t be considered anything else since it makes the “female” and “male” genders become faded, leaving more room for the universal, genderless beauty. Crossdressers are either females who dress as males, or males that dress as females. Crossdressing in Visual Kei is mostly the same as regular crossdressing in cosplay, the only difference being that Visual Kei artists do it as part of their job. In the Western part of the world, crossdressing is seen as something ranging from unusual to wrong, and most of the time crossdressing as a form of art falls victim to people’s ignorance. For many of those who interacted for the first time with Visual Kei it came as a shock to find out that “that cute girl” was actually a boy, but a connoisseur highly appreciates these people because it does take a lot of effort to be able to pull off the look flawlessly. Having to name some really convincing crossdressers from the Japanese Visual Kei history, then those would probably have to be Emiru (Lareine, Anubis), Kaya, Mana (Malice Mizer, Moi Dix Mois) and the list goes on, but in a quest to find out what they think of each other, I’ve asked one of the best, Versailles’s guitarist,

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Hizaki. He only had words of praise for them, complimenting them and confessing how much he admires all of these people.So, on stage we are used to see them wearing dresses or other feminine outfits, we know it’s part of the role they play, and we know that in everyday life they can either be so normal you could pass by without recognizing them, or you could find out that even off-stage they keep having a unique fashion style. That’s the case with Seremedy’s guitarist, Yohio, so I’ve decided to ask him if his style, both on-stage and off-stage ever caused him problems. He admitted it sometimes led to “problems”, but that he never encountered significant ones. “Some people try to start fights with you, but it’s easy to just walk away and ignore them. (laughs) That’s what I usually do in that kind of situation. I like to look like I do, and I won’t change my style to please other people around me. If they don’t like it, that’s their problem. I think everyone should be able to look however they want to.” I have to give Yohio credit here; yes, everyone should be able to look how they want, but it takes a lot of courage to dare defy the rather conservative world and to bravely face all the stares and pointing fingers one gets, and sadly even the harsh words. I guess in the male crossdresser’s case it takes a real man to wear a dress and have the right attitude for it, but how is life in a costume for cosplayers? In order to find that out, I’ve asked Hungarian cosplayer Yue Haruyama how a day of her life looks like when she is crossplaying, but also if people ever actually thought she was the real thing. She stated that the most important thing about such a day is that it’s fun, but she also mentioned the preparation she has to undergo on such a day, like waking up really early in the morning, put on make-up before leaving her home and managing with all sorts of problems that might appear during the day, like weather changes, lack of a locker room in some cases and so on. But before I know it the day is over and I’m really tired but happy, so I almost can’t wait for the next event. But she also told me about the rather funny yet sometimes awkward situations that she went through, like when people actually came up and asked for her autograph or when people followed her around during the event thinking she really was the person she was cosplaying as.

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ARTICLE It happened more when I cosplayed as Teru. But it was funny and in the end it’s the biggest proof that I made my cosplay well, I think. Then I’m very happy because they say my whole look is good, because I always want to be as similar as I can be, so that both I and the others around me can enjoy it. Yue mentioned the importance of similarity between the cosplayer and the one that is being cosplayed, but how do you end up realizing if there actually is a similarity between you and someone famous? To get an answer to this question I’ve asked a Miyavi cosplayer from the Philippines, Riiyah. She opened her heart to me and confessed how hard it was for her to grow up being called “hideous” and being ridiculed for being overweight. She never realized she resembled her idol, Miyavi, till 2010 when an online friend who saw her for the first time pointed out to her the similarity he saw. For a while she rejected the possibility that her friend was right but she started to ask people around, driven by curiosity, to hear their opinions on the matter. One positive feedback after another made her decide to put on make-up and try to take pictures of herself posing as Miyavi. It was only then that she started believing in it herself. I kept trying to mimic his style and appearance encouraged by my friends, and at some point even my siblings and parents started having a hard time distinguishing my pictures from his. I owe MIYAVI a lot. Without knowing him, I wouldn’t have discovered the beauty inside me, I wouldn’t have gained self esteem, I wouldn’t be pursuing what I truly love (music). Riiyah considers Miyavi a big brother whom she looks up to and wants to follow in his footsteps. He inspires her in everything she does and she is grateful to him for having changed her life into what it is today. So she might be similar to Miyavi but he went through so many different looks… I wondered how hard it was for this girl to keep up with it. Apparently it comes rather easy for her to do it, only the hairstyles being challenging sometimes. Posing as him comes natural for Riiyah because she feels she has the Miyavi spirit in her no matter how he changes the way he looks. I was so surprised to find a lot of things in common with him (not only the physical aspect). I even did a cosplay of his new “grown up” look to stir up some laughter among my friends. But similarities between people can be found even among musicians. I didn’t choose Yohio and Hizaki by accident; a lot of Visual Kei fans see a certain resemblance between the two, and actually the first time I’ve seen Yohio come out on stage I must admit that for a second I thought I saw Hizaki coming out. I asked Hizaki how he reacted the first time he met Yohio; he smiled at me and said that he saw himself, a young version of himself. But when I asked Yohio what he thought of this resemblance, I must admit I was surprised by his response. I expected the classic “he is my inspiration” but instead he said this: The only reasons I remind people nowadays of Hizaki is that we both wear dresses and play fast guitar solos (laughs). We both do what we like the most! Hmm, kudos to Yohio for this answer because he proved he doesn’t just want to be a copy of Hizaki, but he’s set on building his way towards success in his own style. (Still, he then filled in with: Actually, last time I saw Hizaki he called me his “little sister” and I guess that’s true in a way. (laughs) Aha, got’cha!) But let’s go on and find out more about their costumes. I’ve asked them how their costumes are created, and, in the case of the cosplayers, how did they end up deciding to cosplay as those people. Yohio told me that the dress design is made by him and Seike (Seremedy’s vocal) and then sewn in Stockholm by their private

seamstress. It’s made around the theme of the “White Rose Princess which is my title and character. That’s why the main colour is white. The golden details are there to give it a royal feeling. I think it turned out pretty graceful!; while Hizaki was more brief in describing the process of how his costumes are made, only explaining that he is the one making the design, which he later gives to someone he is sure to have the right skills to make it. Hungarian cosplayer Yue didn’t give us too many details on how she makes her costumes either, but she did tell us how she makes her cosplay choices, by pointing out that it isn’t out of the question for her to cosplay from outside the J-Rock/VK scene, but that in order for her to start working on a cosplay she must first feel a bond coming from her heart towards her choice, and that until this moment in her life, she didn’t feel it for any anime or manga character. Also, she likes to challenge herself and, to her, cosplaying as a real person is more difficult than cosplaying as an animation. Wanting to find out details about making such outfits I’ve also asked Arthael Walkingshadow from Thailand. She and her group made one of the most stunning Versailles group cosplays out there. Here are some details of how they did it: We decided to make this project once the picture for their album Holy Grail was released. And since we usually participate in the J-Festa event every year as it’s one of the few events that allow J-Rock cosplays here, we set that date as a deadline. We roughly had three months for the project, with one picture to look at as reference. Two of us went to see their live at C.C. Lemon Hall (now Shibuya Koukaidou) in July. We hunted for some materials in Tokyo, but we bought most of them in our hometown. We worked as a team, as that’s what Versailles cosplay projects taught us: team work. Anyway, the most difficult part was the gold embroidery which they used a lot more than in their previous costumes, and the size of them was huge and the pattern looked so complicated that we almost gave up at first. But one day, Kitsune (the Masashi cosplayer) spotted that the embroidery they used in all costumes (except on Hizaki’s) is actually two patterns being cut and placed differently, just like a jigsaw. And we began drafting and sewing as quickly as we could. The costumes were done in time, with a lot of friends involved in helping us sewing, and with minor flaws here and there mostly due to the time constraint, but we were very satisfied with the result. The embroidery was machine made, and as for the rose printed fabric on Kamijo’s coat, we only found one type of fabric with that kind of red roses on, which is chiffon, so we improvised by putting the chiffon on another piece of fabric to make it more sturdy, and to let the print show. Now that we found out these interesting facts from their lives and work, why don’t we find out what the people cosplayers choose as role models think about them? Cosplaying as Hizaki has become quite popular recently. I’ve asked the artist what he thinks of people cosplaying as him and if he knows anything about them. He smiled so widely that his dimples showed, and said that he appreciated it a lot, that sometimes he sees fans cosplaying during their live shows, that he sees them and he likes it. They stand out in the crowd. Since I haven’t seen any cosplay after Yohio, I’ve asked him if he’s ever seen someone do it. I was curious what his reaction would be if he did, but since he told me he had never seen anyone cosplay as him, I suggested he launched a challenge to you guys. Here is what he said: Dear readers, please cosplay as me! I would be very happy to see it!

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ARTICLE Then I asked one question to all these wonderful cosplayers who helped me: “Why crossplay/crossdress?” Yue: It isn’t a straight decision in my case, to make crossplay only; I would say that it just happened this way. But if there would be a girl character I would love and I would also love her outfit, I would do it for sure. *laughs* Because J-Rock bands usually have male members, it came naturally to me to crossplay and I didn’t really think that it could be considered strange. A lot of people crossplay, and I don’t consider myself a feminine kind of woman anyway. If I’d cosplay a girl character, I’m sure that I couldn’t successfully cosplay as a “cute” one. Riiyah: I was deemed androgynous since I was young. Crossplaying gives it a good purpose. (Though the only crossplay I could do is Miyavi... I actually tried other J-Rockers like Kanon, but I definitely failed since most people said I still kept the Miyavi spirit. Arthael: Hizaki is a man dressed as a woman, so that makes me a woman cosplaying a man who crossdresses as a woman, *laughs*. Crossdressing, there you have it. Some of us do it, it’s fun, we like it and will continue to do it as long as we feel comfortable doing it. Crossdressing, just like normal cosplaying, implies a lot of passion and effort in making every detail perfect, everything with the sole purpose of creating the “absolute youshikibi (beauty of form)”. Stay fresh, stay young and, as Hizaki said, Do your best and make great costumes! Be beautiful! Thank you to Hizaki and Yohio for taking time for the interviews. Thank you also to the cosplayers: Arthael, D.M, Kitsune, Riiyah, Yue, ZephyrusSly and Zukito.

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Special thanks to Mayumi Kojima (Delacroix Co. Ltd.) for making the interview with Hizaki possible and special thanks to Paul for translating.

Photo credits: 1. Yohio (beta.universal-music.co.jp/yohio, facebook.com/seremedy) 2. ZephyrusSly as Yuki, D.M. as Kamijo, Kitsune as Masashi, Arthael as Hizaki, Zukito as Teru, all from Versailles. Photo by Try (facebook.com/profile.php?id=1058779108) 3. Hizaki (Versailles) 4. D.M. as Kamijo (Versailles), Arthael as Hizaki (Versailles). Photo by Try (facebook.com/profile.php?id=1058779108) 5. Yue Haruyama (topichan.deviantart.com) as Teru (Versailles). Photo by Alida 6. Kitsune as Masashi (Versailles), Zukito as Teru (Versailles). Photo by Try (facebook.com/profile.php?id=1058779108) 7. ZephyrusSly as Yuki (Versailles). Photo by Try (facebook.com/profile.php?id=1058779108) 8. Yue Haruyama (topichan.deviantart.com) as Reita (the GazettE). Photo by Alid

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Introduction Prop-making is an extremely useful skill in Cosplay and there are many tutorials out there that teach you the intricacies of doing one by yourself. Unfortunately, there are a number of tutorials which feature workshop machinery like lathes, bench drills and belt sanders; hardware of which Cosplayers of our country are hard pressed to find and/or afford, much less having a workshop in their own home. This limitation, however, does not mean we cannot make decent looking props with normal tools. This tutorial will concentrate on how you can make Sice’s Scythe (from Final Fantasy Type Zero) with tools you can probably find in your own home, from start to end, while maintaining durability and portability.

Scythe Tutorial: Final Fantasy Type-0’s Sice Tutorial by Jo / Blacklash blacklash90.deviantart.com Photos by William Wong aka Rescend facebook.com/Rescend

1. Blueprinting The most important aspect to every prop is blueprinting. There are many methods of doing so but today we’ll concentrate on a method I use to call Scaling. For the sake of simplicity, I will round down all future figures to the nearest whole number. Most of us know that many characters in both anime and games can carry larger than life weapons and they can be incredibly huge at times. The scythe that Sice carries is no exception. However, we are (most of the time) not as tall or as big as the characters we intend to portray. Therefore, scaling allows me to adjust the measurements to my height and proportions while maintaining that “larger than life” look. 1 What I did was to use my computer screen to measure how tall the character was in the picture on my screen and in this case, it is 110mm. My height is 166cm, and that means that all measurements I make from the screen has to be multiplied by a factor of 15. (1660mm / 110mm = 15). Once you have the factor, you can get the measurements of how the prop should be scaled to your proportion. For example, on-

DO IT YOURSELF

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screen, the thickness of the pole is about 3mm so to have it scaled to my size, you will get 45mm. The spear-tip measures 3cm from the base to the tip, so multiplying it by 15 (30mm x 15) will yield 450mm. Before I continue, it is important to note that such measurements might yield results that require you to get weird/impractical figures. For example, there aren’t any metal poles which are exactly 45mm in thickness in my area, so I scaled it down slightly to 40mm (which was available). Feel free to adjust the measurements as you see fit, and try to scale to whole numbers for simplicity’s sake.

2. Choosing materials Choosing materials is an important step as it will affect the final outcome of your prop and at the same time, you have to factor in the weight, how easy it is to shape it and how durable you want it to be. The whole prop was divided into 5 parts: The Main blade, the secondary blade, Spear Tip, the sharp cone bottom and the pole itself. 2 I chose to make the Main Blade, Secondary Blade and Spear Tip out of blue foam (technically known as Extruded

Polystyrene) as it is both easy to cut and shape. You can use wood as well but the tapered edges might require you to do extensive filing/sanding, especially with the huge main blade. If you are using wood, a dremel or belt sander will come in handy. I bought the metal pole at a metal workshop and got them to split it 70:30 (more on why later). I found this cone shape at my local art store cheaply and decided to modify it for my purpose. The wooden dowel you see is to be used later to join the top and bottom parts, making the scythe detachable for easy storage

3. The Fun Begins! This is where it gets more interesting. Before we continue, it is important to note that blue foam is made out of plastics, which when heated can produce toxic fumes. Please wear the appropriate safety masks and ensure you are in a well ventilated area before continuing! Remember: Safety First! 3 Using the above mentioned technique in the first step, I drew out the outline of the main blade, secondary blade and spear-tip in accordance to the measurements.

4 After that, it’s a simple matter of using a hot-wire cutter or a hand saw to cut the edges out. (Remember to use long, decisive strokes instead of fast, short bursts when sawing to prevent the foam from heating up!) 5 Remember not to saw too close to the line to allow some leeway for error. You can always file away the excess. Remember, you can take off excess, but you can’t recover what is already lost. I used a coping saw for more precise cuts. 6 Next, file the sides till they fit nicely with the lines that you have drawn. 7 While I was drawing out the blade, I also ensured that the parts which needed to be tapered down were drawn out as well (such as the sharp edges of the Main/ secondary blade). By inclining the file, I was able to achieve the tapered edge. I filed down to about half the thickness of the foam on both sides to achieve the sharp edges. 8 After sanding all three pieces of blue foam, I primed the surface with a mixture of PVA Glue and water to harden the surface (it’s soft and furry otherwise)

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and then finally applied 3 coats of normal white primer to the surfaces. After the primer has dried thoroughly, I sanded it down even further to give it a smooth edge.

closely as possible to the in-game render. I then glue them onto the spear-tip: The spear-tip is now ready for assembly as well.

spear tip into the pole and sealed off with epoxy putty as well.

9–10 Since the sharp bladed edges of all three components were in black, I sprayed them black first. Afterwards, the main surfaces were sprayed silver. To prevent too much of the silver paint from spilling into the black edges, I used a piece of newspaper to shield that area.

18 Finally, I prepared the details which were actually ON the joint between the two blades with craft foam. I cut them out, and then primed and sprayed it silver gray.

11–13 Now that the blades are ready to have the flowery details painted on them, I used a white marker to outline the details and, finally, using a black marker, I shaped out the actual details. I then sprayed a very thin layer of silver paint over the drawing to make it look less “drawn on” The two main blades are now ready for assembly. 14 Now let’s move on to the details on the spear-tip. First, I drafted out the details and cut them out on a thin sheet of styrene. 15–17 Afterwards, I shaped the ‘wings’ of the detail with air-dried clay and I primed/sprayed the detail, following as

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4. Assembly: The Final Push! One of the best types of glue for gluing foam to surfaces is Spray Adhesives. They set quickly and maintain a strong bond, being foam friendly. You can use a wide range of adhesives, but the key thing to remember is to ensure that it does not eat into your foam, by testing it on some waste foam. 19–20 I used the spray adhesives to do the initial joining of the two blades to the pole. 21 Once that is done, I closed up and formed the joint between the blade and the pole with epoxy putty to strengthen the bonds. 22 Next, I shaped to fit the bottom of the

23–24 Finally, I attached the bottom cone to the longer pole for the bottom of the scythe. This is a good time for you to glue all the remaining details to the joints as well. 25 I will now join the bottom and top pole by using a wooden dowel wrapped in black tape to make sure it’s tight. 26 Now for the grand finale, tape up the areas you do not want spray paint to get onto, and spray the pole and the epoxy-ed areas with a layer of black, then finally with a thin layer of silver (ensuring the silver doesn’t cover the black completely). Sice’s Scythe is now ready for action!

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Final words

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As you can see, the whole tutorial was done with simple tools, materials and adhesives. The weapon is detachable for easy storage yet lightweight and durable. The reason why I cut the metal pole 70/30 was because of balance; the weight will be more evenly distributed and the wooden dowel inside will not get overstressed by all the weight being at the bladed end. It’s also easier to work with a shorter pole than if I cut the metal pole 50/50. There are a lot of other details that went into this (that couldn’t make it into this article) which I am more than willing to share, my contact details are right at the beginning of this article. Remember, when making any prop, you will run into many frustrations and obstacles, you’ll even have times when you just feel like breaking a prop in two and give up. Stay strong, stay focused and remember to take regular breaks while keeping your mind and body sound. Cosplay is a hobby, something which you should be having fun doing and not something that adds to your stress levels!! PS: I will be debuting this costume with a full team in July, and my costume is still a work in progress, and this is why I can’t wear Sice’s costume and wig right now. Please look forward to our team and thank you so much for the support!

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ARTICLE

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Portrait Photography By Shiro Ang shiroang.deviantart.com I was told that I have a very classic portrait photography style; how true is that? I will leave it to the viewers to decide, as I believe art is very subjective and sometime down the road you will further develop your style or a change of style altogether. As long as you like it, it’s good enough. Photography is supposed to be fun and a means to express yourself. My portrait style core focus is on the subject’s expressions and emotions; on the eyes, lips, facial contours, hands, legs, and body language. On the ability to bring it out with real feelings and emotions, to portray out what the character is feeling and what they would do in a particular script or version (cosplaywise). Pose and portray like you really mean to, as photographers can usually feel if one is doing it half-heartedly or is doing his/her best. It does make a big difference in the outcome of the photo. Of course, both the art direction from the photographer and the relationship with the subject are equally important for the end result of the photo. Therefore, the ability to communicate well with the subject is definitely a plus. For example, during the pre-

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shoot, discussing about what both sides want to achieve or attempt in the shoot, or learning and understanding more about the series and character the cosplayer is going to portray, along with the pros and cons for both photographer and cosplayer. It’s like a learning process, building a relationship, gaining mutual trust, and, sometimes, making compromises, because no one is perfect. Light – This is one of the most important aspects in portrait photography; the ability to read the light, the power of the light, and the warmth of the light. How strong or how dim do you want the light to be? Fully balanced on the model? Half? Partially? There’s no right or wrong answer, it all depends on how you envision your image. Just experiment and try to achieve the image you had in mind. Generally, my favorite kind of light is the early morning soft light, and the evening golden light – or, in short, what they call the “Golden Hour”. Other traits of my portrait photography style consist of fitting into a harmonious background for the overall photo mood, and, to a certain extent, of looking to achieve a vacuum/spiraling effect and patterns that will “suck” the viewer into the photo. Currently I’m attempting to do more of a “movie poster” kind of shot, dynamic, of impact, and “WHAM!” in your face shots. I find it very interesting and fun to try it out!

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2 Main Lighting Styles

NATURAL LIGHTING

ARTIFICIAL LIGHTING

This is usually the case for most of my outdoor shoots, as I prefer working with natural light, especially on a day with good weather, and nice soft light with blue sky.

Though I don’t really use lights in my shoots, I do have some experience working with them, from using cheap supermarket LED torchlights, to professional video LED lights, and even candles in one of my shoots.

It will be easier and with less manpower options to shoot, since we are primarily working with the sunlight and the surroundings. Which is a good thing, as you can spare yourself the extra weight and equipment you need to bring, and, of course, the costs of your overall equipment. But I almost always work with a reflector if I’m shooting in this scenario, to fill in for the subject’s face when I’m shooting with side or back lighting, to eliminate ugly shadows or to manipulate the amount of light I want. (The reflector also doubles up as a huge fan + umbrella, too; trust me, the models love it!).

Artificial lighting is almost a must if you want to do a night shoot, or a specific kind of shoot in other situations. But the ability to shoot at night or in dark places is a huge plus, as it is possible to get the similar feel to a certain series or to a character which is depicted in a night or dark scene. And it is also possible to incorporate vibrant colors, from cityscapes, streets, moonlight, to ambience light from the surroundings, which makes it an interesting factor to the image. With all the good things and flexibility to play with, good lights don’t come cheap or light-weight (with all the accessories and setup) in any form (speedlights, strobes, or LED lights), and one also needs light stands or tripods to mount them onto. The extra weight to transport all of them is also another big factor to consider, especially if you are using decent strobes and LED lights.

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Tips

1) EQUIPMENT I will present some camera equipment, specifically for portrait usage. For beginners and those on a budget, the following lens choices are a good and affordable add to your arsenal (assuming you already have a kit-lens) for most of your portrait range usage. I will be discussing mainly on prime lens, which I consider to have a great value, good image quality, light weight, and big aperture. The pro quality f/2.8 zoom lenses (14-24/16-35, 24-70, 70-200), which come at a much higher price range than those I’m going to recommend, are heavier, and still lose a stop or more of aperture compared to the prime counterparts. As for portrait photo-shoots, you have the time to change the lenses and the space to move in order to “zoom”; well, in most situations you can. (Recommendation made for Nikon and Canon users, but I believe most manufacturers do have this range of lenses, or at least with similar focal length) 50mm f/1.8 – All beginners have this lens, one of the cheapest (and good!) prime lens ever! Image quality and big aperture at that price range, nothing to complain at all. I highly recommend all beginners to buy it and try it out, even if you dislike it after using it; it’s not much of a loss even you decide to sell it afterwards. 35mm f/2 – Standard focal length for both full frame and crop users. 35mm f/1.8 – For Nikon APS-C crop users only, cheaper and

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better than the f/2 version if you are not going to use full frame anytime soon. 85mm f/1.8 – Ideal classic portrait range on full frame and crop. For those looking for more compression, bokeh, and image quality over the 50mm f/1.8. Below, there are some recommendations for those who prefer ultra wide angle lens, or want something wider than their kit lens. But this is where most lenses in this range start to get pricey, so I will recommend some mid-range priced ultra wide lens (that still produce good results nonetheless) in this category. Canon 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 – Widest Canon zoom lens for APSC crop users Nikon 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 – Widest Nikon zoom lens for APSC crop users Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 – For those who absolutely want the widest possible lens, for full frame users Sigma 8-16mm f/ 4.5-5.6 – Same as above, but for the APS-C crop users Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8 – For full frame users that need the constant f/2.8 aperture Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 – Same as above, but for the APS-C crop users But for those who know exactly what they want or/and can afford, go ahead and get the pro grade lens; it’s a one off buy and most likely they will not let you down. Of course I’m speaking of those f/2.8 zoom lenses, and f/1.2, f/1.4, f/2 prime lenses.

Photos by Shiro Ang (shiroang.deviantart.com)

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2) TECHNIQUES Shutter speed – Standard guides will tell you to follow the 1/ focal length rule (crop users: do remember to factor in your crop factor multiplier). But of course it’s just a guideline, so do try out and see what is the slowest shutter speed you can handhold before the motion blur caused when handshake kicks in. With lenses that come with Image Stabilizer (IS) or Vibration Reduction (VR) (or other naming conventions for different manufacturers), you should be able to handhold better by a couple or more stops of shutter speed compared to those lenses without that function. Auto-focusing – If possible, always use the focus points nearest to where you want to focus on, so that you will have lesser rate of off-focus due to user error. If none of the focus points is near where you want to focus, do remember the movement, as the recomposing of the image will be either up or down, left or right. Never tilt the camera, as the plane of focus will be off from your initial focus. Many beginners might make this mistake, me included when I first started shooting. Especially when you are shooting at a low number aperture like f/1.2-f/2, the depth of field will be paper thin, and more likely than not, this will make your photo to be out of focus. Firing the shot – Hold your breathing when you are going to take the shot, as you will be able to take a better handheld shot. But do practice and regulate your breathing, as you don’t want to be gasping for air halfway through a shoot! For those who went through military training, this would already be second nature.

1. W  eon Haur as Osiris (Ragnarok Online) and Kazuko (silentcircus90.deviantart.com) as Isis (Ragnarok Online) 2. Skye (astellecia.deviantart.com) as Banshee (Ragnarok Online) 3. Kirisaki (k-iricos.deviantart.com) as GUMI (Vocaloid, Poker Face version) 4. Jo aka Blacklash (blacklash90.deviantart.com) as Sweet Pea (Sucker Punch) 5. Kazeki (champagne-meat.deviantart.com) as Nelliel Tu Odelschwanck (Bleach) 6. Huko (hukoyee.deviantart.com) as Kagamine Rin (Vocaloid, Glare version) 7. Ami (lolitamyangel.deviantart.com) as Panty Anarchy (Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt)

Bump up the ISO! – To get a faster shutter speed, in order to prevent the motion blur due to the user’s handshake at a slower shutter speed. In my opinion, a noisy but sharp photo is always better than a clean but blurred photo. All the recent camera models, even the entry level ones, have good high-ISO noise control, so using ISO 1600-3200 is not a problem at all. Nothing a noise reduction program can’t solve (to make the image cleaner); and there are many noise reduction programs (e.g. Neat Image) available to use during post-processing. I’m currently using the built-in from Adobe Lightroom, which is good enough for me. Clear the objects – I usually choose a “cleaner” background (unless the shot needs a specific scenario), so it will be less distracting for the viewer. If you really need to use an area, but it’s not stark enough, clear some of the objects in the foreground or background, be it trash, or leaves, and, most importantly, move away the luggage and bags so they won’t get into the shot. Remember, these are only guidelines; just follow your heart and do what you feel is right. Get your basics and fundamentals down, go out to shoot and experiment more, and develop your own style. Lastly, have fun shooting!

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PROFILE Cosplay Gen: You seem to have a tendency towards Victorian-like gowns. Is this one of the criteria when you choose what character to portray? Which characters do you find the easiest to relate to? Adelhaid: When I was a child, there was one time I had no costume for the New Year’s party at school. My mom gives this as a reason to why I sew so many dresses today. Of course, it is a joke. I like gowns based on some historical period, as I take classes of historical dance. At the same time I am fond of costumes that have some ethnic details. But it is not the only criterion when I choose a new character. It is very important for me to have some resembling personal qualities with the character, or to feel attracted to the character for some reasons. I’ve never made a costume of someone who I dislike. Also the appearance of the character is important. I think the most suitable characters for me are romantic fair-haired girls and women wearing dresses with frills, or young men. But the easiest is not always the most favorite. C.G: So far, which cosplay has managed to put all your skills to the test and why? Adelhaid: I think that the Lilith Sahl (Trinity Blood novels, illustrated by Shibamoto Thores) costume was the most complicated one, as I had not only been sewing and embroidering, but also made six wings and a lot of extra stuff. Besides, Lilith has bronze tan. And there are beautiful blue paintings on her face, arms and body. Even on her ears. I’ve chosen this character as her quiet confidence, ability to empathize and gentle beauty attracted me. I decided to make this cosplay for one of the festivals in Moscow, to accompany my friends who were making Abel and Cain from Trinity Blood. This dress was the most detailed and beautiful from Lilith’s costumes that had coloured illustrations.

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I was inspired by Indian national clothes (sari) and Thai dancers costumes while I was sewing a white part of the gown. But I didn’t copy their patterns because they didn’t match this suit. First I wanted to make it a one piece dress, but I had to change my plan as I understood that it would be faster to make two separate pieces. I made something like a body shirt with the deep cut that could bare the navel and the skirt. When I wear the corset on top of them, everybody thinks it is a dress. The corset and the collar are made from silver imitation of leather. I’ve used plastic boning and a metal plate with a figured cut for the corset. Both are embroidered with jingles and beads and painted with acryl. The real problem was the collar’s pattern. Usually I have no need to remake details of the costume, but the first version of the collar was very uncomfortable. It troubled me, and I had to wear the gown for several hours at the festival. Luckily I tried on the collar and casually turned its top feet. It was much better that way. I remade some parts and got a nice result. The bracelets and earrings were rather easy to make. I used foam and hot glue. When I finished them, the parcel with the rest of the jingles arrived and I could attach plenty of them to my costume. After that, it became a very musical one. When I hear jingle bells now, I always think about Lilith. It should be mentioned that I bought a lot of materials for my costume from abroad. Sadly, it is hard to find some of them in Russia, or they are extremely expensive here. One parcel with feathers was lost and I had no time to wait as the deadline was near. I had visited all shops in Moscow before I found the swan feathers of the needed colour. And I bought all that they had. I needed lots of feathers for six wings. There are four kinds of feathers there. Swan feathers for the main part, turkey and goose for the end of the wing and cock feathers. The wings are fixed by the special metal plate and cor-

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set. They are very effectively connected so I can make everything while wearing them. While I was sewing and crafting, it crossed my mind to tan at the solarium. I tried it for the first time in my life. It was very pleasant to get there when it was cold and snowy outside. But it was kind of useless, as I still remained too pale. The make-up for this character takes a lot of time. First I make the skin bronze, and only after that my friend can draw patterns on me. Usually she draws on the body and I can draw on my face rather well. The wig for the character is made from two long burgundy red wigs. I made a ponytail and additional hairpieces from one of them. Lilith has a very lovely hair dress with the adornment that we call horns. It is made from plastic and flowers. There is a comb in it to fix it under the tail. The hair dress turned to be heavy, but I like it greatly.

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C.G: Your photo-shoots always seem to do the characters justice. How does the planning process for a shoot usually go for you? How hard do you find it to get into a character’s skin? Adelhaid: For me, planning the photo-shoots is one of the best parts of this hobby. I can search for the suitable place for months. The websites about abandoned places, the LJ-groups dedicated to historical places, architecture, photos, they might all be useful. Usually I find some photos on the Internet; then read about the place. If I think there can be some troubles with the place, I go there without costume with some of my friends or alone. Sometimes I had to come up with the idea of the shoot after that, as the security of the place is rough or the place is not as nice as I thought. Sometimes I am looking for the place for one photoshoot and find the perfect one for another. And photographers can also suggest great places. The easiest way is to take photos in the studio. But the best interiors are often used so many times, that it isn’t interesting to make photos there. So I prefer looking for some new places if it is possible. I am not camera-shy and I like live action role-playing games so I have no big problems with photo-shoots. Cosplay is a great hobby not only because of the costume making, but also because you can play as your selected character for a bit. Sometimes you need to learn some new skills for it. For example, I learned how to snap a whip for Leon Belmont cosplay. And my dancing skills are very useful as I not only dance myself but I also can think up the dance scheme of the performance of my cosplay group. C.G: You’re also part of the ‘Hide-out’ cosplay group. What can you tell us about your group? Adelhaid: Hide-out cosplay group is my second family, I think. It started years ago from three people. They are still my best friends and our group has about ten members today. Also there are people from other teams who take part in our performances during festivals. I don’t know how it is abroad, but in Russia most cosplayers are part of some team.

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I can’t say that our group needs a leader as we are friends, first of all, but for such occasions as festivals we usually decide that I should take this role. Anna (Faeryx) helps everybody with fabric design and machine embroidery if needed. Oleg (Desler) is our best armor-maker and the first driver. His all-terrain car is a real bless in the countryside. And our second driver Elena (Leetah) was the organizer of a festival in Moscow for some years, so she helps me a lot. It is important that the most part of the group’s members can sew for themselves. We also have the photographer

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PROFILE (JustMoolti). While not part of the group, he takes the most part of our photos. I am proud to say that we are one of the best organized and united teams I know in Moscow. I think it is so because we distribute the duties well. The small performances that we usually make are a bit humorous and at the same time have an unobtrusive moral. We often insert dancing and fencing in the sketches. So we need many rehearsals, and funny things happen during them sometimes. Once Oleg was fencing in a costume of Kamael from Lineage II and after the lunge he got a small stroke in the back of his head. His partner could not make it even for the mistake. And there were no people behind Oleg. He made another lunge and got the stroke again. After some time he figured out that it was his own Kamael’s wing that was striking him. C.G: What has been the most rewarding experience in cosplay for you? Adelhaid: As I make my costumes by myself I’ve got a lot of sewing skills and sometimes I sew for everyday life now. Also, I take commissions not only for cosplay, but also for ball gowns and LARP costumes. I was happy to find out that one of my dresses was used by theater school students.

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Photo credits: 1, 2. Elizabeth Bathory (Horror Collector) by JustMoolti (justmoolti.deviantart.com) 3. Esther Blanchett (Trinity Blood) by JustMoolti (justmoolti.deviantart.com) 4. Heloise de Villefort (Gankutsuou) by JustMoolti (justmoolti.deviantart.com) 5. Haydee Tebelin (Gankutsuou) by JustMoolti (justmoolti.deviantart.com) 6, 7. Lilith Sahl (Trinity Blood) by Askar Ibragimov (middeneaht.deviantart.com/gallery/; tsukasa.zenfolio.com/f24256003 8. Myoubi (Alichino) by JustMoolti (justmoolti.deviantart.com) 9. Succubus (Castlevania: Lament of Innocence) by JustMoolti (justmoolti.deviantart.com) 10. Maria Renard (Castlevania: Symphony of the Night) by JustMoolti (justmoolti.deviantart.com) 11. Kevin Regnard (Pandora Hearts) by JustMoolti (justmoolti.deviantart.com)

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INTERVIEW

Franseca / Hybridre Years of Cosplay: 5 Beijing, China hybridre.deviantart.com Cosplay Gen: How far back can you trace your love for cosplay and photography? How did it all start? Hybridre: I was a pure amateur in cosplay back in high school, when the Gundam Seed series swept the whole ACG world, and almost every cosplayer I knew would do it. Perhaps that’s when my love for cosplay has begun. When I got to the college, I found a group of students who shared the same passion for cosplay, and a photographer is needed to capture the amazing moment, so I became part of the group even without a proper camera. At that time I was shy, lacking confidence, staying behind the lens because it was safer for me. Soon I came to love my job; as a photographer you’re not just someone who records, but also creates, like a director. C.G: How would you describe your photography style? Also, what sort of tips would you give to people who are still in search of their own style? Hybridre: It’s a little weird, but I don’t want to have any style; every photo-shoot should have a different feel to it, according to its original character. What I can say is that I pay a lot of attention to composition, and I have a strong preference for movement or action shots. The most useful tip would be to get out of your comfort zone as much as you can; if you stick to one or two skills, you may be great on it, but you’ll never know what is best for you. C.G: You’ve been both behind and in front of the camera. How does Hybridre the photographer complement Hybridre the cosplayer, and which one do you prefer? Hybridre: I love that you say complement. Playing two roles definitely helps me to improve in both of them. It’s like thinking in another’s shoes, so it’s never difficult for me to know what the cosplayers care about and what they want exactly, and vice versa. I enjoy both roles, although they are different. C.G: Gear is important, but so is talent and imagination. What do you think is the balance between talent, imagination and gear when taking a photoshoot? Also, what sort of gear do you use currently? Hybridre: Imagination may be limited, but gear is not always so. Talent is more like a feeling or inspiration than something that you’re originally born with; people can accumulate the experience and observation to enhance that talent. I absorb interesting elements from many resources, and transpose them into cool ideas; then I check if I got the right equipment to put them into practice. I use a Canon 5D Mark-II with two external flashlights now; what more can I ask for? C.G: Who is the main architect of your photo-shoots? How much is yourself, and how much the cosplayer you’re taking the photo-shoot with? Hybridre: It all depends; generally speaking, I picture a scene in my mind and explain it to the cosplayers. You can’t just count on them to set everything ready, especially in the beginning, when most people are kind of stiff. However, my

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INTERVIEW visions are very flexible, when they have a better pose or expression I quickly adjust to it. Listening to the cosplayers’ idea is helpful, but they hardly know what it looks like from behind the camera, so adjustment and advice from the photographer is essential. When the shoot begins, my ideas flow one after another, and I just keep talking; that’s the way I work, I need fluency and communication. C.G: What are the most common challenges you face when you’re shooting? Which would you say was the most challenging photo-shoot you took until now? Hybridre: I take many shoots every year, and how to make them look different from one another is a huge challenge for me. Innovation is about not repeating yourself, and I would be anxious if my inspiration dried up. I usually try to avoid repeating the same composition or pose; if it is not possible, I consider changing the lighting. It’s a way to push me to advance somehow. The most challenging one was the APH shoot in heavy snow. I was shivering with cold and my fingers almost got frozen, like I was ill or something. Fortunately, the cosplayers were professional and had much more resistance to cold than me.

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C.G: Improvisation is a really important aspect in cosplay; as a photographer, can you share with us some tricks that you’ve used to “cheat” a photo? Hybridre: Sometimes, my photos can be compared to movie screenshots, owing that to several customs perhaps. For example, I usually ask the cosplayers not to look straight into the camera. Instead of staring at me and smile, I prefer them to ignore my existence as much as possible. Sometimes I even hide behind something to get a view similar to someone who is secretly peeping. Also, the interactions between two cosplayers, such as talking, hugging or similar gestures are working very well too. Besides, the movement of costumes and wigs add to the feeling as well. C.G: You have some cosplayers you always seem to collaborate with. But how does it feel when you have to take a photo-shoot with someone with whom you’ve never worked before? Hybridre: Working with familiar people is easier in order to get decent photos, but sometimes I get invitations from new friends as well. Of course, I’m nervous because of the pressure of expectations. Communication is necessary, and the more detailed, the better. When shooting with new partners, the first thing to do is to help them relax, increase their trust by encouragements or jokes, and then everything will go just fine.

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C.G: You seem to work a lot with cosplayer Kotani. How is it like to shoot with her? Do you have any cosplayers, whether from your country or abroad, that you’d want to absolutely shoot with? Hybridre: I always have fun shooting with Kotani. She has interesting opinions, great expressions and poses, everything a photographer desires. Most importantly, we’ve been close friends for a long time; she is the one who allows me to fail, so I’m not afraid to try immature ideas with her. Looking back to our gallery, I can’t help laughing at the immature shoots we’ve had, feeling warm and cozy at the same time. It’s great when you find someone to grow up with you through many ups and downs.

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INTERVIEW Sara from Taiwan is a cosplayer I respect and share common opinions with. I hope to work with her someday! C.G: Is there a certain photo-shoot (in terms of both series, and script) that you’ve been dreaming of taking, but you consider it too difficult to accomplish? Hybridre: Oh I have so many dream shoots! The tops are Cowboy Bebop and Monster, which are quite difficult for Asians to do. Plus Daomubiji (The Graver Robbers’ Chronicles) – is all Asian, but it’s hard to depict the scenes.

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C.G: Throughout all your endeavors in this hobby, be it as a photographer or a cosplayer, what are the most important things that you’ve learned? Hybridre: I learned some pragmatic skills like make-up, but one thing is more important: being responsible. It’s a hobby or a game, but it’s not an excuse for wasting other people’s time. I’m grateful for the efforts from both cosplayers and photographers, and I just can’t let them be in vain. // Interview by Cristian Botea and Ruxandra Târcă Photo credits:

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1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17. Photos by Franseca aka Hybridre (hybridre.deviantart.com) Cosplay by Franseca aka Hybridre (hybridre.deviantart.com): 2. Dominic Sorel (Eureka Seven) by Larry (douban.com/people/likong/) 4. GUMI (Vocaloid, Holography version) by 35ryo (35ryo.deviantart.com) 6. A  thrun Zala (Mobile Suit Gundam SEED) by 35ryo (35ryo.deviantart.com) 18. Edda (Pop’n Music) by juice (juiceaoi.deviantart.com)

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REVIEW

By Sophie Carroll sophiesjapanblog.wordpress.com Hyper Japan; a showcase of the best of the best of Japan. From the Sushi Awards to the Lolita stalls, attendees are always spoilt for choice at this event that takes place in February. It is undoubtedly one of the UK’s greatest tributes to Japanese culture and is held once or twice a year in the capital city of London. For many people, it is also a familiar gathering spot for cosplayers and this year’s Hyper Japan was especially important for them. The venue played host to not one but two international cosplay competitions. Along with the regular CosParade, a popular event that allows cosplayers of all ages and all talents to showcase their cosplay works, Hyper Japan hosted the UK preliminaries for two international cosplay competitions. For these entrants, cosplay is much more than a hobby. It is also a challenge and a project that can take months, even years, to complete. The pressure heated up even more when the judging panel were introduced; a collection of famous and award-winning international cosplayers and the Japanese film director Satoshi Miki! The first event, the World Cosplay Summit, is an annual event held in the famous Oasis 21 complex in Nagoya, Japan. Cosplay duos from all over the world gather to represent their country, taking part in an open air parade and performance competition, and the event is broadcasted by TV Aichi. This is by no means a small-scale cosplay event. It truly showcases the ‘best of the best’ of cosplayers, all of whom have dedicated months to and no doubt spent a considerable amount of money on their cosplays. Since 2003, the World Cosplay Summit has attracted exceptional talent and thousands of international viewers. Finally, in 2012, the UK will be joining the party too. It only makes sense that the standard of the WCS UK preliminaries were exceptionally high. From the Soul Calibur V group’s incredible weaponry to the Sengoku Basara duo’s intricate costume and weaponry detail, to say that the entrants had put in an exceptional amount of time and effort would be a gross understatement. Choosing one winning team was going to be tough, as proven by the fact that the judges took over an hour to decide, leaving all of the entrants incredibly restless and the audience very stiff in their seats. Eventually, a decision was made and received with a roar of applause. Not only were the costumes incredible and the performance well-choreographed but the special effects really

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made the winners stand out from the crowd. The Vampire Hunter D duo, Alexandra Rutter (Lex - http://www.cosplex.co.uk/blog/) and Laura Sindall (Sands - http://www.laurasindall.com/), gave an impressive performance involving a special lighting screen and shadow play. The two girls are well known in the UK cosplay scene; Lex is a petroleum engineer based in Norway with her own cosplay blog, and Sands has built a career as an SFX artist, taking commissions from the film and video game industries. As amazing as all of the WCS entries were, it is clear why these two were selected as the UK representatives. They live and breathe cosplay and their victory is well-deserved. The second cosplay event held at Hyper Japan was the European Cosplay Gathering (ECG) UK preliminaries. Held at Europe’s largest anime and Japanese culture event, Japan Expo in Paris, both groups and individuals from ten European countries compete in front of a 15,000 strong crowd. There were two prizes up for grabs; an all-expenses paid trip to Japan Expo for both a UK group and another for the individual entry. The preliminaries for the group took place on Saturday alongside the WCS event and were judged not only on the quality of the cosplay but also the performance. The audience were further spoiled for choice with the performances and, after much deliberation from the judge, Erin and Ria’s Final Fantasy XIII sketch was chosen to represent the UK in the European Cosplay Gathering group finals. Still, it wasn’t over yet. Fast forward to Sunday for the European Cosplay Gathering individual preliminaries, where Naomi aka ‘Nomes’ was selected for her incredible Gohan (Dragonball Z) cosplay. There were many compliments for the prosthetic muscle construction! Simply put, the standard of cosplay at Hyper Japan was superb. There were plenty of people there that weekend who had never even heard of cosplay but even they were impressed by the detail that was put into all of the costumes. The UK representatives truly deserve a round of applause and I wish them luck in their finals this summer. There’s no doubt they will be up against some stiff competition but they’ve already got this far . . . and they can go the whole way! Personally, I can’t wait to see what the rest of the cosplay world has in store for us.

Photos by Marta Camillo (www.cosplayerzine.net)

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Cosplay Gen: There’s always a beginning to a story; how did your cosplay story start? MiYo: As a girl, I always used to draw something when I had some spare time. I was very interested in games and manga, and one day I found out that there was an event called ‘Comic World’ in Korea, like Japan’s Comike and other countries’ conventions. I went there, and met lots of people, and afterwards I communicated with them via Internet. We became very close friends, and one of them once suggested: ‘Why don’t we do costume play together?’ And that was how I made my first cosplay. It was Tenka from Fujisaki Ryu’s Hoshin Engi. At that time, when we planned it, it was just a one-time event; I didn’t even imagine that I would become so addicted to cosplay.

C.G: You choose to cosplay as both male and female characters, with both simple and flamboyant costumes. To you, what are the most important criteria when choosing a character? MiYo: The most important thing is ‘Do I like the story and the character?’. I usually make the costumes myself, and I don’t have enough time to make all of them. So I don’t want to spend my time making costumes I don’t like. And there is also the money problem. The next step is to check the costume. I like costumes that look like something from an anime or game, which means I don’t prefer school uniforms or daily clothes. I do that when I really, really like the character, but not that often. The character’s personality and appearance are also important.

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COVER STORY Of course, I like to cosplay when the character’s personality goes well with mine. My personality is more like a man’s and I prefer the leader role when I need to do something together with others; so I definitely prefer charismatic male characters, especially the flirty ones, such as Jinguji Ren from Uta no Prince-sama. The sad part is that I’m not that tall, but rather small and slim, so it’s hard to find someone who can cosplay as my partner girl character. I would rather say Koizumi George from Paradise Kiss also represents me pretty well C.G: You’ve done 132 cosplay outfits in 2011; how did you manage so many costumes and photo-shoots in just one year and how do you find a balance between cosplay and your everyday life? MiYo: I guess this would be the question most people would want to know the answer.

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I did 132 photo-shoots in 2011, which means that I cosplayed every three days. Well, actually I usually cosplay during weekends and cover two or three characters a day; that’s how I did 130 photo-shoots. I made and prepared around 80 costumes by myself, and for the other 50 costumes I got other people’s help. I have friends who are professional costume makers, and they often ask me to take pictures for their catalogue. The costume quality is so nice, and they usually ask which characters I prefer (male, charismatic), so it’s fun working with them. Regarding the balance between cosplay and my everyday life, this is the question my friends often ask me, making fun of me that I’m an addict. Even I got amazed of how I manage this schedule!

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But cosplay is so fun, so I try hard to keep the pace with all the schedules and also keep healthy. Cosplay is just a hobby for me. I’ve heard that there are professional cosplayers in other countries, but in Korea there’s no market and demands for cosplayers. And if there are, it’s only rarely and for an occasional event. Anyway, I have a proper job, and also cover my cosplay schedule almost the same as a pro, so it’s easy to guess how my life goes on. Pretty tough! I don’t want to say what my job is because it’s private, but I can say that I work nine to five, five days a week for my regular job and work 8 more hours for my part time job. I can’t reduce my working hours, so I usually cut off my break time to prepare cosplays. Most of my friends have the same interest and we enjoy cosplaying together, so for me cosplay is about hanging out and relaxing.

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I usually make costumes during weekdays, and have photoshoots every weekend, both Saturday and Sunday. Two days are not enough to cover my schedule, so I sometimes cosplay two or even three characters a day. It became a common thing for me. And if I don’t have time on weekends, I take pictures during weekdays, in the evenings, at the photo studio. I want to say thank you to photographer Chori, who always works with me and follows this tough and busy schedule without complaining. Without him, I wouldn’t make it. You are my hero! As you can see, it’s a really tough schedule, so lots of people around me are concerned about my health, especially my parents.

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I know I need to cut down the numbers, but there are tons of attractive characters, so I can’t help myself. C.G: Out of all the costumes you’ve done so far, which one was the biggest challenge for you and how did you do it? MiYo: I would say it’s Alexstrasza, from World of Warcraft. WoW is the game I’ve enjoyed from the open beta test. I really enjoyed Warcraft 3, so I was very attracted to the ‘Wrath of the Lich King’ expansion. I was a rather casual user before, but I played really hard the WOTLK expansion pack, in order to defeat Arthas. The first time I saw Alexstrasza’s modeling, I told myself it was so beautiful. And after I played the game, getting to know the story related to the five dragons and the fan fictions, I was more and more drawn to Alexstrasza, so I finally decided to cosplay as her. Her costume is full armor, so I had a hard time choosing the way to make it. I don’t have a working space, I can’t handle professional tools, and, most importantly, I don’t have enough strength to handle hard materials. So I came up with the idea to make the material which is familiar to me and easy to handle look like metal with some processing. Even though it took a pretty long time, I managed to make the armor at a quality that would satisfy me. The costume takes pretty much space, but I still have it in my room. 12

C.G: You have done a lot of Vocaloid outfits, and Kaito is quite frequently found amongst your cosplays. Do you identify yourself with this character? What do you find as most difficult in cosplaying a Vocaloid character? MiYo: I really like to listen to music, same as many other people, so I often listen to Vocaloids’ songs. When the song is my cup of tea, I check the costume and if I like it I make a new cosplay plan. Well, I don’t identify myself with Kaito, but I prefer mature male characters; that’s why Kaito became my most frequent character. Since Vocaloid has tons of costume variations for the songs, I have many Vocaloid costumes on my cosplay list. The attractive part of Vocaloid cosplay is that you can act as the character in various ways, depending on the song’s atmosphere. For example, I did Kaito many times, but not always having the same style. Sometimes cheerful and cute, sometimes gloomy and dark. In addition, it has its own voice and music. That’s very charming. I haven’t found any particular difficulties on Vocaloid cosplay yet. Sometimes I have trouble identifying the costume design when it’s covered or not shown in the PV. That being the case, I usually customize or design it myself. It could be the difficult part, but it’s also fun.

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C.G: With so many cosplays under your belt, you’ve also certainly done a whole lot of photo-shoots for them as well. What was your most interesting photoshoot session until now? What sort of advice would you give to cosplayers and photographers alike for the photo-shoots? MiYo: You know, it’s really hard to pick only one since I’ve done so many photo-shoots and they are all precious memories. But if I must pick, I’d like to pick four of them.

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First one is for Alexstrasza, in January 2010. It was the first photo-shoot with Chori. At that time we didn’t know each other at all, I had only asked him to take pictures of me because I really liked his photo style when I saw his page on the cosplay site. That was the beginning of our long journey and partnership. At the same time, the Alexstrasza costume is one of my biggest projects. The second would be the photo-shoot for Sumeragi Subaru from Tokyo Babylon, in April 2011. Actually I took Subaru photos several times during 2011 spring’s sakura season. That’s because Sumeragi Subaru is my lifelong favorite character and it had been my dream to cosplay as Subaru with sakura since I started cosplay. I was really happy. The third is for Sakata Gintoki, Shiroyasha, from Gintama, in July 2011. Gintama is my favorite series, and Gintoki is my favorite character in it. I especially like his past, when he was called Shiroyasha, so we went to a water valley to get a good background for the photos. Miyuko, whom I really like, cosplayed as Shinsuke. We both knew that we wouldn’t have time to cosplay together after she joined a cosplay team because of that team’s tough schedule, so it was a precious moment to cosplay with her. And the fourth would be the photo-shoot for Matheus from Beast Master and Prince, from January 2012. I usually cosplay in couple, but I really wanted to see all the characters of this series, so I set a team project. I chose all the seven cosplay members, three photographers, found the place, and then set the schedule and transport to the place. I hadn’t done such a big project before, so it was difficult to put everything together, but it brought truly satisfying results.

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Tips for cosplayers Daily make-up won’t appear in photos. It’s preferable to practice make-up for photo-shoots. Facial expression is very important. What do you see first when you see cosplay photos? Of course, the answer is the player’s face. The pose is secondary. Even if the pose is perfect, the photographer wouldn’t choose that picture if your facial expression isn’t good. Focus on your face first. And then, check your pose. Even a small thing that you wouldn’t think it will show will appear in the pictures. So always check everything as much as you can. Do not rely too much on Photoshop. If the original copy sucks, there’s no way to make it look nice. If you think there’s something wrong, stop shooting immediately and check your make-up, clothes, and wig. Do not think it’s a waste of time. If you don’t stop and check, all your photos would go straight to trash can. You don’t know when the best shot would be created. So always do your best when you take pictures. The most important thing: BE CONFIDENT! Think that you’re the best in the world when you pose for your photographer. It’s really important!

Tips for photographers I’m not a photographer, only a cosplayer. But these are the things that I’d want from my photographer, so they can also be considered some kind of tip.

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COVER STORY Try to make a bond of sympathy with the cosplayer as much as you can. It wouldn’t take more than five minutes to get general information about the title and character. And those five minutes will bring satisfying results both for you and the cosplayer. It’s pretty difficult for the cosplayer to check the clothes and wig when they take photos outside. So help them. Check their appearance, especially the wig, from time to time. And also, don’t over-trust Photoshop and retouching. Try to make your original copies look as nice as you can without Photoshop. Thus you can save time and get good results. C.G: Cosplay can have a lot of ups and downs. In your experience so far, what has your most favorite aspect of cosplay been, and oppositely, what has your least favorite aspect been? MiYo: For me, the most favorite part is that I can get lots of photos of me. I really enjoy seeing my cosplay photos. I know it sounds a bit narcissistic, but it’s really fun and I think lots of cosplayers will agree with me. It feels like finding out a new self. The aspect that I don’t like is that it makes me complain about my appearance. I like charismatic male characters, but I’m kind of short and slim. Actually average height, but it’s pretty difficult for me to find a partner to play female characters with me. My body rather fits to cosplay small and cute girl characters, so I’m always struggling and complaining about my body. I guess I would be satisfied with it if I didn’t enjoy cosplay C.G: What is your opinion about cosplay competitions? Do you ever take part in such contests? MiYo: I’ve heard of them, but I haven’t taken part in any. In Korea, cosplay is just a hobby. There have been a few attempts to make business out of cosplay, but I can say there’s no successful result yet. So there’s no such an event as a competition; there are only some occasional events to attract people’s attention. There is no event that would totally involve cosplayers, such as WCS. I’ve heard that in China and Singapore there are professional cosplayers who do cosplay as a job, like an actor or a movie star. I’m not sure if it’s true or not, but if it were, competition would be very active. But so far, for me, cosplay is just a hobby that brings me a lot of fun, so I don’t want it to be competitive. Even though there’s no competition, Korean cosplayers try hard to improve themselves to make better costumes and cosplay photos. And we really enjoy cosplay. I think that’s enough. C.G: Through the Internet you have the ability to check out cosplayers from all around to world; do you have any cosplayers you look up to? Do you wish to go visit conventions outside South Korea?

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COVER STORY MiYo: It’s hard to mention all the cosplayers I like. But if I have to pick one, I would pick Hagaren. I found her photos on deviantART, and they caught my attention from the first glance. All of her photos are just amazing and breathtaking. I hope I can meet her in person someday. And I also really like OKITASAKU from Japan (CureNo.5280); her Gintama cosplays are just gorgeous. Lastly, Miyuko from Korea (Cure No, 244247). I know her personally, and she’s not only a superb cosplayer, but also a girl with a great personality. There are tons of other cosplayers I’d like to mention, but if I’d start, I think I couldn’t stop until I covered all the pages, so I only mention my favorite cosplayers. And, of course, I’d love to visit other countries’ conventions, especially in China. I usually see cosplay photos on Cure and deviantART, and whenever I think the photos are gorgeous, there is a high possibility that the cosplayer is Chinese. It’s relatively easy to find information about the Japanese conventions, but I have no idea where I can get info about Chinese conventions. That’s why I’m curious about Chinese conventions. I’d also like to visit Singapore and Australia, as their cosplay is nice, too! C.G: You’ve been cosplaying for over 10 years. What is the most important thing you have learnt from cosplay? MiYo: This last question is pretty difficult. I feel like I must say something nice and inspirational, but I can’t come up with any idea (laughs). Well, I can say I learnt this: if you are confident and love yourself, people around you would do the same. And I learnt how to get along well with people who have various characteristics.

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By doing cosplay, I could be more confident, could love myself more and also could meet priceless friends. Cosplay is one of the ways to communicate with the world, represent and motivate myself. But most of all, Cosplay is a great hobby that brings me a lot of fun! What I want to say is that even if I hadn’t learnt anything from cosplay, so what? Fun is fun! If I enjoyed it, that’s enough! // Interview by Cristian Botea and Ruxandra Târcă

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Photo credits: 1. Photo by DU KKEO BI (blog.naver.com/cjc1004) 2-12, 18, 21, 22, 25. Photos by Chori (blog.naver.com/finklday) 13. Photo by Garam & Dall (photofessional.com) 14. Photo by Sonicboom (sonicboom.wo.tc) 15. Photo by Mugoon (photofessional.com) 16. Photo by Sonicboom (sonicboom.wo.tc) 17. Photo by Mugoon (photofessional.com) 19, 20. Photo by Sonicboom (sonicboom.wo.tc) 23. Photo by Shooting (shootings.x-y.net) 24. Photo by Tylor (ggin.net) All photos on pages 46-47 are taken by Chori (blog.naver.com/finklday)

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The Art of Obscurity: Creating ‘BLAME!’ Cosplays

by Krystal Messier aka Kudrel steampixie.com; hexreedfly.deviantart.com

In a world full of Vocaloids, Ponies, Princesses, and other explosively popular fandom, it’s the costume creations they inspire us to produce that grab the majority of affection and attention of the cosplay community. This leaves little spotlight for more obscure titles, and therefore, more obscure cosplays. Have you ever created a cosplay based on something you loved that was rarely seen and that not many people knew of? On the other hand, have you ever encountered another cosplayer who was dressed as a character you’d never expect to see? It is these truly rare and under-appreciated costumes that lurk around conventions and on the Internet that are worthy of being an art-form all of its own. A cosplay that is seldom done, with hardly a spark of reference to go by in creating it, sprouts the potential for a true cosplay masterpiece. At the same time, because of their obscurity, they tend to resonate a sense of awe, sentimentality and sometimes nostalgia.

This leads us to what this article is really about! There is one series in particular that does this for me, a 10 volumes cyberpunk-style manga by Tsutomu Nihei called ‘BLAME!’ In this manga, Nihei, known for his dark, grungy drawing style and knowledge of architecture, fills it with beautifully conceived and massive complex structures, with characters and weapons to match. Details upon details take over the pages, and almost all of them proving difficult to decipher, but still a pleasure to look at. The style also often changes throughout the books, making the reference for cosplayers and propmakers an extremely evident challenge. I’ve had the pleasure (and the headache) of tackling these challenges myself. So without further ado, allow me to take you on the journey through the creative process of building my ‘BLAME!’ Cosplay, along with some input from other cosplayers who have tackled the same battle with their own techniques and resources.

The Planning Process: “I originally put a good week of planning into the project. I started off by drawing out all the parts of the costume that I could see based on different references from the manga, but as things advanced, it became much harder to do because the art was very unclear and constantly different and a lot of it turned out to be improvisation.” – Lunnie on deviantART . One step that most of us seemed to have in common was doing sketches. Lots of sketches! By drawing out all of the different pieces of the outfits, we were able to break down the infinite amount of details, but only to an extent. The rest however, required some out of the box thinking and using our imagination. As it usually proves useful for most manga references, there were several angles to go by as you flipped through the pages, but the smaller details were still very inconsistent, mostly because there was so many of them! It would seem not even Nihei himself could keep up, but who can blame him (no pun intended), as doing the same thing too many times can get boring. Some of the hardest pieces to redesign turned out to be similar for many of us. Both Lunnie and Sadakochan87 from deviantART chose the ‘Silicon’ (name for the cyborg creatures in the manga) character Maeve, a slightly psychotic gun-armed sidekick to another Silicon named Ivy, which is the character

ARTICLE I chose to bring to life. They said the hardest part of Maeve’s design was the motor-type contraption on her back. There were several pictures to follow, but they were all different, whereas for me, there were hardly any back-shots of Ivy’s design, so I was left to completely invent it. “It was difficult to collect all the fine details. Ideally, there should still be five times more!” – Sk-W on deviantART. I had this very same problem as well, no matter how much detail I would try to add to my improvised design, it felt like it wasn’t enough to justify what these outfits were really supposed to look like. Most of the characters seemed to have several incalculable robotic features, a repeating and changing mesh of wires, valves, bolts, and ‘what the heck is that?!’ This is where the ‘thinking out of the box’ came in, and going on a scavenger hunt to hardware stores and dollar stores was the only answer. Compiling all the different finds from various ‘BLAME!’ cosplayers, the list is filled with some obvious items, as well as some unexpected ones. From various computer parts, piping valves, nuts and bolts, wires and tubing and LED-s, to weird finds like zip-ties, paint trays, tiles and pan scrapers. Yes, pan scrapers. Now that we had all these fun pieces to ‘makeshift’ our scary cyborg costumes out of, it was time to look at the bigger picture, and start building the foundation for these found objects.

The Construction Process: I once again compiled the assorted supplies used by different cosplayers for the series of steps taken in constructing these ela­ borate costumes. The first step was a solid tight-fitting outfit, preferably shiny, which seemed to be the fashion trend in the series. For the base of these bodysuits, the popular choice was PVC, along with leather and vinyl. Elektra86 on DeviantArt even added 3D paint designs to hers, imitating circuit boards as part of her details.

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From here, it was a matter of adding the more mechanicalstyled armor pieces and the weapons. Several different materials were used for this, including plastic, Model Magic, foam of various types: floor mats, insulation foam, yoga mat, as well as a special washable material called Fosshape, which is a pliable, hardening type of felt. I used this material specifically for my mask and collar, which needed to be washable between wears. Methods of using these materials were similar for everyone; molding it into shape and then applying paint and/or fabric on top. Attaching these parts involved different techniques, like harnesses, ‘sockets’ for limbs, and stitching or gluing. For my bulky waist tubes, I carved down a pool noodle and stuck a coat hanger wire through the middle to curve it to my waist, and then attached it to the bodysuit with Velcro. Now that most of the basics were out of the way, it was onto the dreaded and inevitable pursuit to attempt what all the prior preparation was for. Recreating the heavily detailed components of the outfits and hoping to embody the Nihei style in some physically possible fashion. This is where creativity and our copious collections of found goods were melded together. The real trick was placing these objects in an attractive way to the bigger pieces, based on the sketches and with a little research on how electrical, robotic gadgets should look. Some of the puzzle pieces still had to be accounted for, which in my case, I had to hand-sculpt using Sculpey

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and fun-foam. Overall, full construction time of the costumes averaged at around 3 months, including the planning process.

Looking the Part: With the costumes fully constructed, only one challenge remained: making ourselves look like these white-skinned, alien characters. The general formula was primarily some sort of white makeup, SpecialFX contact lenses, and a wig, or in my case, a bald cap. Contacts were applied first, to ensure make-up didn’t smudge or run while putting them in. I used two different lenses for Ivy, to get the effect of having one eye look bigger than the other. One eye was Manson, and the other Machine Head. For the white faced look, most cosplayers used a cream or water based theatrical make-up like Kryolan Aquacolor, Snazaroo and Supracolor, followed by a sealer. Since we knew smudging would be an issue with these types of makeup, Lunnie and I decided to go with something more long-lasting and opaque called PAX which, simply put, is a skin-safe acrylic paint that only comes off with remover. I painted my bald cap to match, and attached hair extensions to the top. I had to dread the hair to keep it from getting tangled in my array of wires and machinery. The final touches to achieving the Silicon look included smoothing out eyebrows with wax, adding harsh shading with eyeliner and eye shadow, and sticking small mechanical bits to the face with spirit gum. 8

So there you have it! The conclusion of this complicated, but enjoyable process: A transformation from manga to real-life that is both bizarre and breathtaking in addition to concrete proof that nothing is impossible in cosplay, no matter how out-of-thisworld it may look! On the rare occasions that I still get to see someone else cosplay from this series, it’s always a pleasing and inspiring sight. Here’s hoping I’ll see a little bit more of it now too. I hope you have enjoyed reading this article and can take something freshly learned from it! Photo credits:

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1. DK as Davine Lu Linvega (Blame!). Photo by Alena Moreva (cxalena.deviantart.com) 2. Elettra Di Curzio aka Elektra86 (elektra86.deviantart.com) as Cibo (Blame!). Photo by Walter Pellegrini (walterpellegrini.net) 3. AsheDelacroixe (ashedelacroixe.deviantart.com) as Silicon General (Blame!), Krystal Messier aka Kudrel (steampixie.com; hexreedfly. deviantart.com) as Ivy (Blame!), Lunnie (lunnie.deviantart.com) as Maeve (Blame!). Photo by Kevin Chan aka SolarTempest (photography.solartempest.net) 4. E  lettra Di Curzio aka Elektra86 (elektra86.deviantart.com) as Cibo (Blame!). Photo by Yuri Donnarumma (yuriphotographer.500px.com) 5. Krystal Messier aka Kudrel (steampixie.com; hexreedfly.deviantart. com) as Ivy (Blame!). Photo by Kevin Chan aka SolarTempest (photography.solartempest.net) 6. L  unnie (lunnie.deviantart.com) as Maeve (Blame!). Photo by Kevin Chan aka SolarTempest (photography.solartempest.net) 7. V  ladislav Gololobov as Killy (Blame!), Sk-W (sk-w.deviantart.com) as Maeve (Blame!). Photo by Akami (akami777.deviantart.com) 8. G  iulia Ghersi aka Sadako (sadakochan87.deviantart.com) as Maeve (Blame!). Photo by $andro (flickr.com/photos/sandrosebastiani) 9. R  anni as an unnamed character from ‘Blame!’. Photo by Akami (akami777.deviantart.com) 10. Vladislav Gololobov as Killy (Blame!). Photo by Akami (akami777.deviantart.com) 11. G  iulia Ghersi aka Sadako (sadakochan87.deviantart.com) as Maeve. Photo by FabioHazard (flickr.com/photos/fabiohazard, fabiohazard.deviantart.com)

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DO IT YOURSELF

Nine Easy Steps to Making Madame Red’s Ruffle Bow Tutorial by Shinju shinjusworkshop.com

What you need: a piece of white fabric, about 50 cm / 19.6” long and 40 cm / 15.7” wide. TIP: Make sure you pick a rather stiff fabric, otherwise you will have some extra work on giving it the right shape.

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Cut the fabric in a shape similar to the one in the photo. Don’t use all your fabric. A 40 cm / 15.7” per 40 cm / 15.7” piece should be enough. Keep the rest of the fabric, because you will use it later. TIP: Make sure you cut your fabric symmetrically (the right side is exactly the same as your left, or your bow will look crooked). Now, using the iron, you can make the folds. Make them 2 - 2.5 cm / 0.8” – 1” wide. TIP: if your fabric is not stiff enough, you can use fabric hardener (it comes in different forms – a dust that you need to boil with water and keep the fabric in for a few minutes, spray, etc.). Sometimes the fabric hardener gives the fabric white shades, but since you are working with a white fabric you can use plenty of it.

If you have a serger, seal the fabric all around like in picture no 2. If you don’t have a serger, use the zig-zag stitch from your sewing machine. TIP: on the rounded parts keep the zig-zag spacing larger, or you might end up with wavy ends on the fabric.

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STEP 3

Tuck the ends of the fabric 1 cm / 0.4� inside and iron it. Ironing it makes your work easier, especially if you have some wavy ends. Do this all around the piece of fabric and then sew it.

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Iron the folds again and then fold your piece in half. By now it should look like this.

A: Cut a small piece of fabric from the one you haven’t used yet. It should be about 9 cm / 3.5” wide and 12 cm / 4.7” long. B: Fold it in half and sew it on three sides, 1 cm / 0.4” away from the edges (on the red line). C: Turn it inside out and tuck in 1 cm / 0.8” of the remaining unsewn part and sew on top of it. By now your piece should be around 2.5 cm / 1” wide and 10 cm / 3.9” long.

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B A: Cut another piece of fabric. It should be around 8 cm / 3.1” wide. Measure your neck all around and add another 5 cm / 2”. This should be the length of your piece. B: Fold it in half and sew it exactly like you did on the small piece. Try it out around your neck. It should not be very tight (since it will have to fit on a collar) and you should have a small piece that overlaps (around 2 cm / 0.8”). Sew some Velcro tape at the ends, exactly like you did with the small piece (on both sides).

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Open the Velcro on the small piece and add it inside the long piece you just finished. Make sure it is on the back of the bow, not the front. By now, the back of your bow should look like this.

STEP 6

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Sew some Velcro tape to both ends of the small piece. Make sure they are not on the same side!

Using the Velcro tape, wrap the small piece around the bow like in the picture. Sew together the ends that are highlighted with a red line, to avoid creating a space between the two parts of the bow.

And this is how it looks when you wear it. You can make smaller versions for more elegant wear. If you have any questions, please contact Shinju at: shinjusworkshop@yahoo.com.

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COSTUME SHOWCASE Cosplay Gen: Why did you start cosplaying and how has this hobby been for you along the way? NealBomBad: For several years I had attended various themed cons without participation in the costuming aspect. It looked like a ton of fun so I decided to give it a shot and haven’t looked back! It has been a challenging and rewarding experience. C.G: Why did you choose Final Fantasy IV’s Cecil Harvey? Does this character have a certain meaning to you or was it more for the challenge? NBB: I played Final Fantasy II (IV in Japan) on Nintendo. It’s easily one of my favorite FF games. I was trying to decide on my first project to tackle on the 3D printer and once I saw the cinematics for the Nintendo DS remake I knew that was it! Well it was actually a tossup between Cecil or Kain, but Cecil’s Dark Knight was so awesome I couldn’t resist. C.G: Can you describe the creation process from sketch to finished product? Which were the most challenging aspects of this costume and how did you handle them? NBB: I first began with a human form that closely resembled my dimensions. Using the best reference images I could find, I modeled each piece of armor in 3DS Max, starting with low poly proxies and adding more details. Next I printed the armor with my 3D printer. The material is ABS plastic. The software divides the imported model into layers .010 of an inch thick and prints the part one layer at a time. This costume was 64 prints and about 500 hours in print time. The raw prints are somewhat rough and you can see the layers of plastic. I coated the parts with black abs glue, available at any hardware store. This filled the gaps and made the parts stronger. The glue was sanded down to give each part a smooth finish. Then I primed, fixed spots, primed, sanded, painted and then finally clear coat. The Eye on the sword, detailed accents and stripes were created in Photoshop and printed out on water decal paper and then applied. The outer tan strapping was two pieces of ultra suede fused together (to add thickness and get the nap even on both sides), cut into strips and then braided together. The buckles they are attached to were also modeled and printed. The eyes were silver sun glasses lenses with white see-through fabric over them. The body suit was crafted by my mother and she also helped me with the interior strapping that holds the armor together. The most challenging aspect was that the parts were too large to be printed as one print. Figuring out how to divide

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COSTUME SHOWCASE them in 3DS Max first and then gluing them back together eliminating the seams took extra time.

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C.G: A lot of cosplayers usually go for a more ‘manual’ approach when creating an amour or similar stuff. What have you learned through 3D printing? Do you plan to use this method for other cosplays in the future? NBB: I love 3D printing. I can spend hours and hours refining the model and trying different variations first without having to use or waste any actual resources. I would definitely recommend this process to anyone who can afford it. But people should understand that there needs to be a knowledge (or know someone) of 3D software to create the parts to be printed. And there is a lot of cleanup work after the initial print. Fortunately the cost of 3D printing has dropped significantly over the years and will continue to do so. Currently I’m working on Parn from Record of Lodoss War and have a huge list of costumes I want to make with 3D printing! I’m a sucker for the old school anime/manga but I think my age has a lot to with that. It’s also fun to keep my projects a secret. Not being a well known cosplayer creates a bigger impact when I show up in something not expected. C.G: What sort of reactions did you get when you donned this costume for the first time at a convention? NBB: Everything from screaming to being speechless. A lot of people were very interested in the process. The best part was walking around the con hearing people talk about it, not knowing I was the man inside. Apparently I’m a professional costume designer with unlimited funds and the costume cost upwards of 30.000 dollars. Or so I’ve heard.

Photo credits:

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1, 2, 4. Photos by Judith Stephens (thedreamerworld.com) 3, 5. Photos by Cliff Nordman (cliffnordman.com)

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By Ruxandra Târcă

ARTICLE Vocaloid has already become a turning point not only in music as such, but also in cosplay. In a very short time, it succeeded in attracting the attention of so many cosplayers, that presently there is almost none without at least a version of a Vocaloid costume. Maybe the most interesting of its features is its limitless versatility and its power of perpetual transformation. Always elusive, just when one thinks it’s getting too boring to see the same Vocaloid outfits, suddenly a new version appears, emphasizing yet another facet of a character everyone considered done with. It’s not only a costume, but a whole universe that must be understood before completing each outfit, and such a universe is created for each of the already countless versions of Hatsune Miku, Gakupo, Luka or Kagamine Len. Each Vocaloid can be regarded as a huge dollhouse, in which all the outfits are very well kept, and then taken out and worn one by one, in a never ending stream of stories. The concept itself has its own story, and Mr. Hiroyuki Itoh, CEO of Crypton Future Media, mother-company of Hatsune Miku and other Vocaloids, was kind enough to recount it for us. In his own words, Vocaloid was the name of artificial-voice technology and had no meaning of “singing character”. We put “personal appearance” on the package of Meiko, our first Vocaloid, for the first time in 2004 when we developed it and had a sales success for it. After that, we have been using “personal appearance” for Vocaloids we produce. However, YouTube had not been born yet when we released Meiko and Kaito. We started developing Hatsune Miku in early 2007 and had decided to use the voice of an Anime voice actress for the model of Miku because there are a lot of Anime fans in Japan and we thought the software with an actress’s voice would be accepted by them. Paradoxically, in a world in which almost all media has become the target of a veritable copyright infringement paranoia, the element that contributed a lot to the development of Vocaloid and Vocaloid cosplay was the license policy adopted by Crypton, who understood the role of the fans in the spreading of this phenomenon. The Vocaloid fanbase is increasing worldwide, and for many it has become an outlet of creativity, whether by creating their own songs, illustrations or cosplay. In most cases, these elements are actually inter-related. Users of Vocaloid software synchronize the music they produce with illustrations and create videos, then upload them on video

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ARTICLE sharing sites such as Nico Nico Douga or YouTube. As Mr. Itoh recounts, in December 2007 a further step has been taken. We thought the illustrations of our characters would be necessary for music creators who make videos, so we launched a website called Piapro (piapro.jp) a platform for the music creators and illustrators to meet. Also, we made the copyrights for our characters open to illustrators, in order to allow them to use our characters, such as Hatsune Miku, for their creations. I think the number of Vocaloid cosplayers has increased because such creations on video sharing sites have spread around the world. Perhaps what makes Vocaloid so special in comparison with other elements of Japanese contemporary culture is its perpetual changing in both characters, and universe alike. A Vocaloid is not a static character, with a given story and a fixed set of attributes, as in the case of many classic characters, such as those in manga or anime. A Vocaloid is in fact a process, and, as with any real artist, the virtual one also has a career, songs, stage performances, and personal life with ups and downs and its share of dramas and happy moments. And the most amazing fact is that nothing of these is scheduled beforehand, but all of them develop and unfold unpredictably, and the fans have a huge role in this development; no one knows what future holds for Miku – although virtual, she has a life of her own, and the fans and cosplayers alike will eagerly follow her along the way. There are tons of Vocaloid versions and interpretations already released, and there will surely be other tons in the future too. Complexity is another incontestable trait of the entire Vocaloid universe, and the wide variety of choices is a blessing for any cosplayer: Sandplay Singing of the Dragon, Venomania, Magnet, Love is War, 1925 or Imitation Black – to name just a few.

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Of course, different cosplayers like different Vocaloids for different reasons, a fact that once again underlines the complexity of the Vocaloid world. In order to make a more specific approach regarding various aspects of Vocaloid cosplay, I interviewed five different cosplayers, to have some “inside” opinions: Aki, Hisui, and Rina from Hong Kong, Kanasai from Singapore, and Lina Lau from London. Aki prefers the official version of Kaito, and she made quite an interesting statement: she was not drawn to Vocaloid due to the songs or the beautiful artwork usually associated with the virtual characters, but due to the feeling of their belonging to one big happy family – It gave me a feeling of warmth when they interacted with each other, and I thought it was very cute! As for her particular preference for Kaito, she explains it within the same pattern: he seems to be the most kind and caring out of all of them, like he can become my friend. Although Kaito is the “big brother”, his personality is very adorable and he seems a little slow... and just like me, he has a strong preference and love for ice cream! I love him best because I feel there is a certain link between us. Hisui prefers Luka in Magnet for her voice, and for her personality in that song, while Kanasai is attracted by far to Gakupo, not only because she is a fan of Gackt, but also because he has this maturity that translates into sexiness in some songs, and then silliness in other songs. I do find myself fitting into Vocaloid cosplay groups as the ‘resident’ Gakupo - namely because he is my favourite and my height and appearance helps a little; otherwise when going solo or in pair, I usually show interest in a variety of songs for many kinds of reasons. Gakupo is also the favourite Vocaloid of Lina Lau, but her reasons are slightly different: I think I have a slight propensity for long

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haired and slightly camp yet dorky characters too, and Gakupo fits the bill perfectly. I also tend to cosplay him since his look is one that suits my face and my feel more than some of the other Vocaloids. Gakupo is a fun Vocaloid because people don’t really take him very seriously most of the time. The very first PV I watched featuring him was Dancing Samurai, and that really cemented my love for him over the others. I am also especially drawn to historical and cultural settings in general, and since Gakupo’s image is loosely based on samurai themes, it immediately drew my attention. He appears to get a lot of historical makeovers as well, for example in Venomania where he gets Western treatment, so his character designs are always interesting. On the other hand, Rina prefers the cute Miku, although she rarely cosplays as her. She is also attracted to the Cantarella version, be it Miku or Kaito (although she cosplayed only as Kaito), due to both the lovely costumes and the mood of the song. Choosing the right Vocaloid version to cosplay is also a pretty complex process, as there are several elements to be taken into account, depending on each cosplayer. For instance, Aki is more attracted to those versions where the hair looks quite different and special, such as the question mark shape on Miki’s head, or Miku’s giant curls in Secret Police, which she always finds funny to style. Also, another important factor is the song, along with the PV and the story behind.

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In Lina’s opinion, the art of a successful Vocaloid cosplay lies in capturing the nuances between one version and another. Although the core character is basically the same, the difference in interpretation and personality is huge, from Miku in Secret Police to Miku in Cantarella; or from Gakupo in Venomania to Gakupo in Dancing Samurai. Given this wide range of options, research is an essential element for a good Vocaloid cosplay, and Lina also pays attention to it. First, she goes through the lyrics of the song and screencaps the PV, in order to feel what the original creators wanted to express; nevertheless, she doesn’t intent do recreate the PV or certain scenes, preferring a personal interpretation, which she always considers more interesting. Still, beyond the visually attractive costumes and characters, music remains one of the main factors when choosing the right version to cosplay, and this is the case with Hisui, and Rina. Kanasai makes no exception, admitting that she tends to be more creative in a photoshoot when choosing songs she can relate to Is Vocaloid cosplay more special than other cosplays derived from manga, anime and games? Some would say it is, while some would argue that. In Aki’s words, Vocaloid has a wider influence and can encompass a greater range than normal anime, manga or games. Although Vocaloids originally are only a product associated with music, what is actually derived out of it is a lot more than just that; it includes manga, games, concerts and even stage productions. Hisui shares the same opinion, considering that Vocaloid has a very complete design, which includes also distinct personalities, and at the same time generates a lot of fan-work, be it art or fiction.

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On the other hand, while not considering Vocaloid cosplay rather special in comparison with other cosplays, Kanasai acknowledges its amazing power, given mainly by its direct connection to music. If everyone gives Vocaloid works a chance, they will find a song that they can relate to, sing along with, or get addicted to, regardless the reason.

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ARTICLE Same thing goes for Lina, who approaches Vocaloid cosplay the same way she does for her other cosplays. Nonetheless, she still considers that Vocaloid cosplay provides a little more artistic freedom in the sense that you have less background information to work with, be it in terms of the story of a particular PV or the costumes themselves. I particularly like this since I like building up back stories and atmosphere, and the lack of specific boundaries gives me more license to play around with it. I enjoy putting in some personal interpretation when I plan my cosplays and photoshoots, and the Vocaloids are a perfect medium for that. Vocaloid universe continues to be a veritable stream of creativity and originality, in a very direct and special relation with an everincreasing fandom. And in this expanding universe, cosplay continues to be an essential element, promoting not only a beautiful character with an amazing costume chosen among other tens of similar characters with equally amazing costumes, but also the love and fascination for music itself.

Photo credits:

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1. AKI (album.blog.yam.com/k19900502) as Hatsune Miku (Vocaloid, Secret Police version). Photo by Heero (album.blog.yam.com/heeroleung) 2. AKI (album.blog.yam.com/k19900502) as Hatsune Miku (Vocaloid, Secret Police version). Photo by Jackal Yeung (wix.com/jackal81/jackal) 3. AKI (album.blog.yam.com/k19900502) as SF-A2 miki (Vocaloid). Photo by Jackal Yeung (wix.com/jackal81/jackal) 4. AKI (album.blog.yam.com/k19900502) as Kagamine Rin (Vocaloid, Pretty Panties Aku-Marin version). Photo by Biscuit (album.blog.yam.com/bingkwong) 5. A  KI (album.blog.yam.com/k19900502) as KAITO (Vocaloid). Photo by Jackal Yeung (wix.com/jackal81/jackal) 6. AKI (album.blog.yam.com/k19900502) as Meiko (Vocaloid). Photo by Jackal Yeung (wix.com/jackal81/jackal) 7. A  KI (album.blog.yam.com/k19900502) as Meiko (Vocaloid, Sandplay Singing of the Dragon version). Photo by Sidon (album.blog.yam.com/love77525) 8. H  isui (album.blog.yam.com/hisuihisui) as Megurine Luka (Vocaloid, Magnet version). Photo by C.K. 9. R  ina (album.blog.yam.com/pinktoro) as Hatsune Miku (Vocaloid, Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA 2nd, Cute Miku version). Photo by Leo (blog.yam.com/leo168) 10. L  ina Lau (lina-lau.deviantart.com, album.blog.yam.com/linalau) as Kamui Gakupo (Vocaloid, Venomania version). Photo by Shiroin (shiroin.deviantart.com) 11. H  isui (album.blog.yam.com/hisuihisui) as Hatsune Miku (Vocaloid, Snow Miku 2012 version). Photo by Biscuit (album.blog.yam.com/bingkwong) 12. Rina (album.blog.yam.com/pinktoro) as KAITO (Vocaloid, Venomania version). Photo by Henry 13. PandaRosi (pandarosi.deviantart.com) as Hatsune Miku (Vocaloid), Lina Lau (lina-lau.deviantart.com, album.blog.yam.com/linalau) as Kamui Gakupo (Vocaloid), Yunu (album.blog.yam.com/stefanic) as Megurine Luka (Vocaloid), Julia Laurant (facebook.com/julia.laurant) as Meiko (Vocaloid), Nosferatu (en.curecos.com/profile/?ch=118509) as GUMI (Vocaloid), all are from the Venomania version. Photo by Shiroin (shiroin.deviantart.com) 14. Kanasai (kanasaiii.deviantart.com) as Hatsune Miku (Vocaloid, World’s End Dancehall version). Photo by Kaze (kazex.deviantart.com) 15. Hisui (album.blog.yam.com/hisuihisui) as Hatsune Miku (Vocaloid, Sakura Miku version). Photo by ZMC 16. Hisui (album.blog.yam.com/hisuihisui) as Megurine Luka (Vocaloid, Love Ward version). Photo by C.K. 17. Kanasai (kanasaiii.deviantart.com) as Kamui Gakupo (Vocaloid, Stray Girl In Her Lenses version). Photo by Adrian Song (songster69.deviantart.com

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Aicosu Years of Cosplay: 5 USA aicosu.deviantart.com This edition of Community’s Choice contest had as theme Vocaloid, and was organized together with our friends from Mikubook.com. We received lots of wonderful Vocaloid cosplay submissions, but the cosplay community who voted in this contest decided in the end that the winner should be Aicosu from the USA, with a very interesting Hatsune Miku cosplay. You can find more about our winner in the interview below: Cosplay Gen: What can you tell us about your activity as a cosplayer until now? How did you begin cosplaying? Aicosu: I have been cosplaying for about four years now. I started by attending conventions and being inspired by seeing so many people representing the characters they love. It was like an anime Disneyland! Originally I created a few costumes on my own for fun, but afterwards I started making a lot more costumes in a passionate amount, because of my partnership with my boyfriend Sylar. We met in 2009 and began dating and cosplaying together and are today known as ‘Aicosu.’ We are a couple cosplaying team and I make both his and my costumes; so despite having cosplayed for only four years, I have made over 50 costumes not including commissions. Cosplaying has become a kind of bond between the two of us. It’s a big part of our relationship and our relationship helps fuel the happiness we get from it by dressing up together. C.G: Why did you choose that version of Hatsune Miku to cosplay? What was that drew your attention to it? Aicosu: I chose Hatsune Miku Append because I was awed by the design. I had loved Miku and Vocaloid for some time before Append was released, but once I saw it and the figure by Max Factory, I knew I had to cosplay it. It was so cool! And Miku looked so mature and kind of ethereal in the outfit. It became a big dream cosplay and an exciting goal. C.G: How do you see Vocaloid cosplay? Does it hold any special significance to you? Aicosu: I think Vocaloid is one of the best fuels for cosplay. Everything about the Vocaloid world is fan driven. From the notes in the music to the drawn outfits, it makes sense that cosplay comes into great play in that community. There is a lot of freedom in the costumes and a never ending supply of inspiration for new designs. So long as people keep using the Vocaloid software, there will always be new PV’s and art, and therefore always new cosplays. And knowing that makes me happy that I will never run out of new things to cosplay for Miku. I’m also very interested to see how it will influence the generations of cosplayers that will come after me. Wouldn’t it be amazing to see people cosplaying new versions of Hatsune Miku when I’m well out of the cosplay world? It’s exciting to think about!

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C.G: Was it difficult to make the costume? Did you make it entirely by yourself? Aicosu: The costume was entirely made by me, aside from the leotard which was bought whole and then altered into the cut slit piece. I thought this costume was going to be a lot more difficult than it actually turned out to be! But once I broke everything down, it was simple. A bit daunting to wear, but easier to make than other

COMMUNITY’S CHOICE

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cosplays I have done. The leotard, as mentioned, was bought and cut with a craft foam tie that has wire in it to make it stand up. The ‘anti-gravity belt’ was made from the base of a simple utility belt with foam core shapes adorned with craft foam, Styrofoam, and plastic rings. It was all assembled, sealed and painted a plastic black. I also added tons of glow in the dark stickers to the right place. The costume features four LED lights. One on each hip, and one on each pigtail decoration (which was also made from plastic.) The leggings are made from stretch lycra and the gloves are made from satin, and finally the transparent petals are cut and painted from office folders. Though my favorite part is my Crypton anklet. C.G: What are your future cosplay plans? Aicosu: Currently I’m working on some Nightingale Armor from Skyrim and a Princess of the Crystal costume (as well as a matching Sanetoshi costume for the boyfriend) from Mawaru Penguindrum. After that I plan on making some Mass Effect 3 armour for female Sheperd and a Jack costume from the same video game. I have tons of other small plans in between (lots more Hatsune Miku!) and, of course, I will be making many others for commissions and for Sylar, but those are the big plans to debut this year. Credits: 1. Aicosu (aicosu.deviantart.com) as Hatsune Miku (Vocaloid, Append version). Photo by AVincent Tam (flickr.com/people/linriel) 2. Aicosu (aicosu.deviantart.com) as Hatsune Miku (Vocaloid, Append version). Photo by William Warren 3. Hanna Werner / Nia (porcelainheart.blog138.fc2.com) as GUMI (Vocaloid). Photo by Maoh (mari-sama.deviantart.com) 4. PuchysLOVE (puchys.deviantart.com) as Hatsune Miku (Vocaloid, Camellia version). Photo by Mario Vargas aka Mr. Vo (mrvo.deviantart.com; kosupure.com.mx)

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REVIEW

MCM Expo 2011: The EuroCosplay experience By Ruxandra Târcă London MCM Expo surely remains one of the most outstanding conventions in Europe, gathering tens of thousands of participants each year. Held between October 28 and 30 within the impressive premises of Excel London, the autumn edition of 2011 offered all sorts of attractions for all the range of preferences, from plushes, toys and other otaku-related merchandise, to game contests, presentations, a cosplay photo-shoot corner and also a Steampunk corner. Cosplay-wise, the event was very well represented, with quite a few masquerades, not to mention the huge crowd of cosplayers who didn’t take part in any contest and just filled the whole convention space, both outside, and inside the building. Nonetheless, the main attraction for many cosplayers who attended the event was EuroCosplay, the European cosplay competition that brought onstage 35 participants from 23 countries, under an exquisite jury made of Sushi Monster (SUA), Pandy (Brazil) and Goldy (Japan). Behind the EuroCosplay story stands a team with a history of seven years in organizing cosplay events, running eight cosplay competitions a year at various MCM events, besides the London MCM Expo. As EuroCosplay organizer James Funnell recounts, the idea for this competition first appeared five years ago from the MCM Expo organizers, who suggested a cosplay competition extended at a European level. In his own words, they wanted EuroCosplay to be accessible and an inspiration to all cosplayers, so the competition focuses on the costume – every cosplayer at every event has a costume and can take part, you just have to invest the time and effort to make a good costume and get involved. The main goal of EuroCosplay was not only to encourage people to improve themselves, but also to contribute to the development of cosplay communities in different countries. According to James, if you look around the world at the different styles and techniques used when making costumes you realise that cosplay is a very progressive hobby, but people only push themselves to try new things when they have a goal, something to strive for, and EuroCosplay provides this. In England alone we have seen an amazing jump in costume quality over the last two years as people make really inspirational costumes and pass that knowledge around the community. 1

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EuroCosplay is planned as an “event for everybody”, which shows that people are cosplaying everywhere, also providing a forum to build bonds between the communities involved. Comparing to

other international events, which are very difficult to be part of and feature just a few well known countries, EuroCosplay - which this year will have 25 participating countries – features some of the best cosplayers coming from countries such as Poland or Hungary, who used to have very little exposure to the wider cosplay scene. The EuroCosplay team is made of people who love cosplay and dedicate themselves wholeheartedly to this hobby. They too have to face awkward moments, with startled looks from the staff at work, where sometimes the costumes are delivered; or the panicked expression on the faces of airport security when one costume or another go through the security scanner. But, in the end, it’s always worth it. The jury’s task was by no means an easy one, taking into account the high quality of the costumes displayed by the participants. The process took several hours, first backstage, and afterwards during the show itself. The colourful costumes, elaborated props and very well worked skits were received enthusiastically by the audience, who cheered for all the contestants, even for the most unfortunate ones whose props got broken onstage, but held on until the end. Although difficult to make, the final decision of the jury was fully justified. The grand prize went to Neil Lockwood from England, whose cosplay as Skeksil from the Dark Crystal left all the audience breathless. His costume, who took around 6-7 months of work and around £1000 to complete, represents a materialization of his passion for Dark Crystal (and almost everything else “Henson”), which he had since childhood. His choice of character only seemed natural: A few years ago while I was looking for a film to put on while I was working on a project I absent-mindedly pulled Dark Crystal off the shelf and proceeded to not do much work. It hit me then that I’d never really seen that many home made D.C. costumes, and what better way to show my love for the film than to make one of its most iconic characters. The research part proved to be the most difficult one in the costume-making process; as the original film is rather fuzzy, the details were almost impossible to study, leaving Neil no other choice than to search all over the Internet for old books and magazines about the movie. As everyone would expect, the process itself was very time consuming and needed several techniques, such as sculpting, moulding and casting, up to delicate stitch-work and pattern making. In terms of mobility, Neil described his costume using only four words: Very heavy, very blind. His vision was highly reduced, limited only to what the inbuilt camera allowed him to see on some video goggles, and to a small gap under the neck ruff. Because of its complexity, this costume cannot be worn complete for more than three minutes – the head alone weighs 3.5 kilos and, moreover, it must be held on an outstretched arm. On Neil’s list for future cosplays there are no less difficult and engaging characters – Flammie from Secret of Mana, or Valkenhayn from BlazBlue are just two of them. So let’s keep an eye on him and his amazing projects. Second place in EuroCosplay contest went to Ronald Boom from The Netherlands, for an impressive cosplay as Brother Petros from Trinity Blood, a costume that took roughly one year and a half and a whole artillery of materials to make: many buckets of paint, lots of wood-glue, loads of Wonderflex, insulation foam, seven different fabrics, craft foam & 3d paste, leather cords and straps, a homemade corset, lots of wood, pieces from desk lamps, screws and bolts, cardboard, snake chains, decorative beads,

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REVIEW red plastic for the visor, thick cords, 50+ buttons, zips and many others. For Ronald, participating in the real thing was awesome! And overwhelming and energizing and weird all at the same time! It’s over before you know it, and afterwards it just feels totally unreal. He had attended MCM Expo twice before, once as a visitor, and the second time to support a friend of his, who represented The Netherlands at the first EuroCosplay championships, so the contest wasn’t completely new to him. Nevertheless, being there as a participant was an entirely different experience that in the end proved to have been worth it. The first Trinity Blood costume he made was of Brother Matthaios, which brought him the ticket to the European finals. Brother Petros, the character he chose for the EuroCosplay competition, offered a couple of additional challenges. The first one was the helmet, and for Ronald to make it look like it was a part of the costume, and not like a total joke sitting on top of my head was one of the hardest things. The design is just plain weird if you look at it; it has a big modern visor with a red cross which would cover my eyes and a tall cylindrical ‘cone’ shape on top to stand out from my costume like a chimney. Total craziness! Another challenge were the mechanical arms and the jetpack, in which functionality was an important issue, as he wanted to keep the movement in the arms and also look good onstage when expanding them. As for the shading work, the goal was to make it look roughened up and manly! These inquisitors are not of the nicest kind, and like to fight. In addition, I am not a rough looking guy, or very broad shouldered, so I needed to subtly add some roughness into the costume to compensate for those shortcomings.

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Like many cosplayers out there, Ronald has also been through the usual hardships involved by creating an outfit for an event: little sleep, long nights, a fulltime job, rushed food and 20 minutes of rest per evening during the last months, surviving with energy drinks and coffee. But in the end he managed to deliver a wonderful result, appreciated by both the public, and the jury. In the future he wants to participate together with his boyfriend in the World Cosplay Summit preliminaries of 2013. In the meantime, although deciding to take a break from big projects and competitions and dedicate more time to himself, he will try to focus on less difficult costumes, while still refining his abilities. Estella Espinosa Freijo from Spain received the third place for her cosplay as Pocco from Sweet Dreams. Both her skit and the costume were stunning, combining craft and artistry. Because it was not an easy task at all to move graciously on the stage while wearing on her back a pair of wings that weighed ten kilos, remotely controlled from the audience. Her costume was a perfect mixture of femininity, technology and creativity, definitely deserving the award and the applauses of the public. MCM Expo is not only a huge platform where all the branches of otaku culture meet, but also a place for making friends and participating to pretty awesome events, of which EuroCosplay is undoubtedly one of the most important. Its story has just begun to unfold and it will surely have many interesting episodes in the future. Photos by: 1. Jonathan Cullinane aka Nert (manylemons.co.uk) 2-8. Marta Camillo (cosplayerzine.net)

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COSTUME SHOWCASE

Yami Berglund / Yami No Cosmos Years of Cosplay: 15 Stockholm, Sweden www.yami.se This new Swedish witch doctor lore tries to combine the knowledge of the northern evergreens with African rainforest magic. Resident Evil is already a sort of Encyclopedia in matters of plagues, zombie hierarchies and devilish characters, so it is no wonder that Yami had a wild time bringing Giant Majini to life! All it takes to go from Sailor Moon cosplaying to RE is great ambition, natural colors, a lot of craft foam, a spiked club with bloody human skulls and a supporting family encouraging you during the process. At the same time, the recognition and confirmation can follow other routes than participating in a cosplay contest.

Already with 15 years worth of cosplay experience, Yami came in contact with this hobby thanks to the anime Sailor Moon. The series stirred her curiosity, so she started searching for images on the Web. That was how she found out that in the USA there were girls who were actually dressing up as the sailor warriors, going to small gatherings together. This seemed like a lot of fun to her, and she started to fancy the idea of becoming Sailor Moon for one day. She also found a Sailor Moon mailing list, whose members had actually planned to go together at a small gathering. She asked her grandmother to help her get started, and in just 3 days her first cosplay was ready.

The character She has always been a huge Resident Evil fan, and ever since she played RE2 on PlayStation 1 it has been her top favorite game. The horror factor was something she had never experienced before; she played at a friend’s house, and she can still remember how all the 4 players were screaming when that ‘Licker’ jumped through the glass in the police station. The game was special for her because it was the first RE game that was being released on PlayStation 3. She started playing it together with her husband just after the ‘midnight release’ and as soon as she saw the Giant Majini standing tall in the golden sunlight, she kind of fell in love – she has been pretty obsessed with Witch doctors and Tribe looking items and costumes since she was a child, mainly because of the mysterious air surrounding them. Upon seeing her reaction, her husband turned to her and told her: “That cosplay will be hell to make; if you can pull that off, WOW!”. And, of course, as for any true cosplayer, the harder the challenge on a costume, the harder she struggled to accomplish it.

The costume The Giant Majini costume took 4 weeks to finish. Yami usually starts to think and sketch the construction of a cosplay months before actually starting to craft it, and she considers this one of her strongest abilities; instead of trying out new techniques and then being forced to re-make them, she usually follows the ideas that pop into her mind. That way she knows

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COSTUME SHOWCASE what can go wrong and what would look great, saves a LOT of money for materials and also time. She brings her sketchbook everywhere she goes. When she decides to make a specific cosplay, she always takes inspiration from IRL items/materials and such. For her Majini she did some major research of colours and tribes in Africa and the rainforest. Yami decided not to use pre-coloured fabric, preferring to dye the cotton fabric by hand and with natural colors. It took a lot of extra time, but the result gave a more authentic feel. The spiked club handle is actually a real tree that her dad helped her cut down from the woods. The downside is that it is very heavy and difficult to carry around, especially with just one hand. But, as she herself cheerfully admits, the positive effect is that it stretches her muscles and in the photos it looks like it’s really heavy.

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The most difficult part in the costume-making process was the mask. As Yami recounts, she had never bended and cut so much craft foam as she did with that. It was also pretty difficult to solve the problems related to eye vision, as she didn’t want to walk around bumping into people. So she decided to try and make some kind of eye cover, so that while people could not see her eyes, she could still see clearly enough from a specific angle. It worked and she gained 100% vision on the side. If she needed to see straightforwardly, she only had to turn her head a bit. When asked whether she intended to remake or improve the costume, Yami’s answer was very resolute: I would simply not improve it because to me it looks perfect. It’s really my version of the Giant Majini maybe adding more gore and blood.

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Awards and prizes Although she has such a great costume, she hasn’t entered any contest with it, and she is pretty sure she won’t in the future either. The reason is simple: because I love it too much. It’s my pride and joy and for me my best cosplay so far. I simply wear it for the fun of it. Nonetheless, she would love to gather a lot of people in order to make a huge Resident Evil 5 group and also have a big photoshoot, with zombies and S.T.A.R.S. members. That would surely be a lot of fun for her.

Photos by: 1, 3, 4. Photos by Carl Oscar Aaro aka Kalaspuff (carloscar.se) 2, 5. Photos by Mattias Persson aka Artano (artano.se)

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DO IT YOURSELF

SeeU Make-up Tutorial By Paula Vicol shizukaren.deviantart.com This make-up tutorial is a rather simple one, suited for those who aren’t yet really sure on how to create a really elaborate make-up or don’t have the courage to try one out yet. I go through these steps almost every time I put on make-up, so it can be used as both a cosplay make-up and a regular every day make-up tutorial, while paying attention to the choice of colours and other things such as glitter. Remember, I did this make-up on my face, and what works for me might not work for everyone, so the most important thing is to learn about your facial features, know your best angles, and experiment to discover the colours you like best on you, and the type of make-up that makes you feel comfortable.

Start with a clean, moisturized face. I recommend priming your face before applying foundation because it helps keep the make-up in place longer.

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Apply high coverage foundation and start rubbing it onto your skin with circular moves. Be careful to even it out and go a bit down your neck in order to avoid the mask effect.

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Consider your face to be an artist’s canvas; now it’s ready to get coloured. With a white eye pencil colour your eyes lower waterline. This will make your eyes look bigger.

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Then, with a black kohl pencil colour the outer corners of your eyes, both up and down, and try to draw a longer line exactly in the corner of your eye to make them look longer. Don’t worry too much if the lines aren’t perfectly even. Take orange eye shadow and colour your whole upper eyelid. I prefer using matte colours because if shine is needed I can always add it later.

With white eye shadow colour the entire section from right under your brow up to your eyelid. Also add a touch of white on the inside corners of your eyes. It will brighten them up and it also creates a bit of distance between them, if needed.

Next step, lashes. You can either use fake, fluffy lashes or you can use mascara. It depends on how your natural lashes look. I used fake lash effect mascara, but feel free to use whichever you like the most. Mascara really makes a difference, and at the same time it helps correct small flaws like if your eyeliner line wasn’t really the straightest.

Put on mascara or lashes on the lower lashes too, but only on the outer corners. Leave the inner part clean. If you are using lashes, here I recommend individual lashes, as they tend to look more natural.

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Things should start looking like this. With a small, clean brush or sponge try to blend the colours together where the lines are too obvious. Take black eyeliner and contour your eyes, avoiding the part where you used the white eye pencil. I drew the line once, then waited a few seconds for it to dry; afterwards, I added a second layer to make the line a bit thicker and darker. I tried to draw the line a bit arched in the middle to give my eyes more of a dolly effect. Your eyes should now look a bit like cat eyes.

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Your eyes should look similar to this.

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DO IT YOURSELF

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Now let’s take care of the eyebrows. Take a brown brow pencil and create an arched shape in your brows. I have naturally narrow brows so it was easier for me to get to this step. Tweezers might be needed if your brows are naturally thicker. When colouring them try not to colour them too hard, but instead just softly draw a line next to the other, like you’d draw hair where you consider it necessary.

In my case, I thought it was necessary to add a touch of darker eye shadow in the crease of my outer eyelid, in order to give my eyes a bit of depth. You can either try to do the same, or skip this step. If you do choose to use it, I’d recommend a touch of colour ranging from a matte brown to a darker orange or even a bit of dark red.

Blend in with the orange and the white so everything looks neat. Depending on the shape of your nose you can add a touch of matte brown shadow starting from the inner corner of your brows and going straight down on the sides of your nose. This creates the effect of a narrower nose. I chose to add some silver glitter to the white eye shadow, just to give it a bit of sparkle. Again, it’s optional, but recommended; it gives the whole look a bit of extra charm. Eye make-up is done. Don’t be afraid to add something else if you feel like it; add some more sparkle, stick-on small stars, be creative and have fun. But first let us finish the rest of the face.

Depending on the shape of your face, add some bronzing blush to make your facial features sharper, and then add some pink blush on the top of your cheeks. When applying blush, I’m smiling really wide and touch with the brush only the highest points of my cheeks. Add a layer of illuminating face powder on top of everything. It makes your skin sparkle and it gives a healthy, even look to your face. Plus, it looks really good in photos.

Take a lip pencil in a colour as close as possible to your natural lip color and contour without making it too obvious. You don’t want your lips to look like they have a frame around them. It looks plastic and cheap. If you feel the contour is too strong, use your finger to smudge it a bit.

Take a natural coloured lipstick that moisturizes your lips too and colour them. You want to have some colour but still keep the focus on your eyes.

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Photos by Rafael Gabor and Anda Lazar Post-processing by Nicoleta Piloiu aka Ayashige (ayashige.deviantart.com)

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Your make-up is done. Now go and enjoy your cosplay!

ARTICLE

Beyond the Staple: Hidden Treasures of Cosplay Possibilities By Ruxandra Târcă

In almost all things, at some point, a certain dynamics is established, a pattern very thoroughly followed afterwards. In cosplay, this dynamics is pretty simple: a new series is launched -> some choose to cosplay as the main characters of that series -> both the series, and the cosplay become extremely popular -> a staple cosplay is born. This is why there are certain anime/manga/games that are present as a must in the “portfolio” of almost each cosplayer. Just open – randomly – the personal web page of any cosplayer and you will surely find a Sheryl Nome from Macross Frontier, a Sebastian, Ciel or Grell from Kuroshitsuji, a Panty or/and Stocking from Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt – to mention just a few. Of course, they are all interesting characters with nice costumes, but they slightly risk losing their power through repetition and overexploit. Cosplay world is like an RPG game map in which only the center was discovered and that has untouched grounds yet awaiting to be revealed. Although some classics have already been noticed, unfortunately these are usually limited to Sailor Moon and other few series alike. What of those series that hold very promising potential for cosplaying, but nobody – or almost nobody – seem to know about? Let’s take a look at four possible inspiration sources, very little exploited in cosplay – if at all.

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Once Upon a Time… in Heian Those who take cosplay seriously surely know that it is a hobby involving not only a fancy or difficult costume, but also complex characters. The more difficult, the more challenging; and the more challenging, the better. A series in which this balance between complexity of character and difficulty of costume-making is very well preserved is Production IG’s masterpiece, Otogizoushi; its first half, the Heian Chapter, can represent a veritable treasure trove for those who would like to make use of the refinement of the Heian costume while impersonating a fascinating character. The story itself is pretty intricate; while requiring at least some basic knowledge of the period, it also makes the viewer want to know more and start a personal research about what Heian meant in the Japanese culture. Hikaru, daughter of Minamoto no Mitsunaga, goes – substituting her bedridden brother, Raikou, whose identity she takes – in a quest to find four magatamas, in order to save the plagued capital. Her destiny proves to be tightly interwoven with that of Mansairaku, the most famous court dancer in Heian-Kyo. Cosplay-wise, Otogizoushi offers multiple choices, but let’s focus on these two, who

can doubtless be considered the most interesting ones: Minamoto no Hikaru, and Mansairaku. Hikaru can be depicted as both herself, and as Raikou, the identity that she takes during her journeys. As Hikaru, the cosplayer can render the beauty of the Heian multi-layered kimono, depicting at the same time the refinement of movement, make-up and hair styling. Cosplaying as Otogizoushi’s Minamoto no Hikaru doesn’t mean just wearing a few layers of kimono and a red hakama; the cosplayer must also research the Heian women’s way of walking, sitting and posing, in order for the cosplay and cosplay photoshoot to be a success; not to mention how careful the cosplayer must be with the selection of fabric - for such a garment one would definitely need high quality fabric. Maybe one of the most beautiful script choices for a cosplay photoshoot is in the fourth episode, the moment when Hikaru and Mansairaku first meet up on the Rashou Gate in Heian Kyo, when Hikaru plays the flute and Mansairaku dances with the fan following

the ethereal rhythm of her sound. While the costumes themselves aren’t too complicated, consisting only of the Heian period outfit for men and women, the scene itself holds a high degree of sensuality that can be a challenge to depict for both the cosplayer, and photographer. As for Hikaru as Raikou, the costume is pretty different, but nonetheless challenging: the Heian traveler-warrior, an outfit completed with a bow and a quiver of arrows. Although spectacular in itself, this costume is best highlighted if the cosplayer is accompanied by the other members of the group: Tsuna (Raikou’s protector), Sadamitsu (the warrior womanizer), Urabe (the mysterious woman working under Abe no Seimei) and Kintarou (the kid with overwhelming power). All of them are very well shaped characters, each with its own individuality. The adventures of the protagonists and the complicated nature of the anime itself leave space for creating personal interpretations and stories, which is a very fertile ground in cosplay, because a good cosplay doesn’t usually mean imitating, but also interpreting. And Otogizoushi has a fair share of interpretation possibilities that can be brilliantly depicted in a photoshoot.

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ARTICLE

Funky Edo – The Mark of the Five Leaves From Heian, let’s take a fast-forward trip and make a short stop in Japan’s Edo. Of course, when saying “Edo”, most of us think of those bloody samurai battles from a period of political decline and instability; or, in cosplay, of series such as Hakuoki Shinsengumi Kitan or the masterpiece Rurouni Kenshin. True, they are both important inspiration sources; but what about an Edo where blood, war and fighting don’t come in the foreground? A city where the focus is on personal stories and on everyday life, and not on action? House of Five Leaves is such a series, and can make an awesome choice for cosplay. The series is centered on two main characters, Yaichi (also known under the names of Ichi, or Sei) and Masa. Yaichi is the leader of the gang The Five Leaves, whose purpose is to kidnap the sons of various wealthy families or shogun direct retainers, and return them in exchange for a ransom. Masa is a ronin samurai hired by Yaichi to work for them. The stories of the group members (Ume, Matsu,

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Masa, the Elder, and the woman Otake) are revealed slowly and briefly, each being centred on the moment they individually met Yaichi, thus representing the small pieces that intermingle to form the larger picture. Cosplay-wise, the greatest challenge of this series is, paradoxically, its simplicity. The cosplayer doesn’t have to deal with complicated war costumes, armours or impressive details on kimonos. While the costumes themselves are casual yukata (Yaichi), or a simple samurai costume consisting only of hakama and kimono, and straw flip-flops, the characters are remarkable due to their elegance in movement, sensuality of gestures or the expressiveness of the face, which can be pretty difficult to depict. It’s not only a matter of what you wear, but, mostly in Yaichi’s and also Otake’s case, of how you wear. There are countless scenes in the anime where we see the way Yaichi holds the pipe while smoking, or how his leg is visible only partly out of the yukata, or how he leans his

head on one hand, while holding the sake cup with the other; and in all these cases the clothes, while very simple, seem to be perfectly fit, folding flawlessly on his body. All these postures can be a great challenge for a photoshoot of a cosplay as this character. Regardless of the chosen Five Leaves character, there is one common trait, and that is the style in which the eyes and mouth are drawn. The graphic uniqueness of the series makes the make-up a crucial element in cosplaying as such characters, as this is the main method to capture their facial expressiveness. Contact lenses with pupils as big, and as round as possible, and a light foundation and lipstick surely are of big help to achieve that kind of look. All that, combined with a gracious and sensual posture, and, if lucky, with a historical Asian-style setting (such as a traditional Asian premises or garden with at least a bridge) and the result can be really enchanting, drawing the viewer into a completely different time and place.

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ARTICLE

Conveying Sensuality: Kaikan Phrase Now, let’s move from history to contemporary Tokyo, bustling with sound and light. It’s quite common for some to cosplay as the artists of their favorite J-Rock bands, such as Dir en grey or Versailles – flamboyant costumes and characters with a mysterious aura are always attractive. But what about some fictional J-Rock stars, whose story is at the same time touching and inspiring, and whose personality one really comes to fully understand after watching the series? Perhaps the perfect choice for such fictional J-Rock characters are the artists of Lucifer (sometimes spelled /\ucifer) from the anime Kaikan Phrase.

ings. And, apart from watching the anime, maybe the best way to convey this is listening to their songs, all of them related to certain episodes of their life as a band, and expressing certain feelings; Dakishimeru Hoka Ni – the loneliness of Sakuya; Datenshi Blue – Lucifer’s manifesto; Plasmagic – the struggle for inspiration; Tokyo Illusion – gratitude, nostalgia and the will to go on – to name just a few. It’s impossible to watch the anime, to listen to Lucifer’s songs and to not come up with great cosplay photoshoot ideas.

The 44 episodes of the series (adapted – but importantly different – from Shinjou Mayu’s very popular manga) lead the viewer throughout the sinuous path to success of Lucifer, starting from the point where the band gets to be formed, and up to the moment of ultimate success, the three days concert at Tokyo Dome. It’s a story that makes you love music, J-Rock and all the five members of Lucifer, who are presented not as unreachable rock stars, but mainly as human beings, each with his own feelings and views. In this case, the best costume choice is definitely one from the second half of the series, after the band gets to be signed under the very famous company Jupiter Records. All the costumes, mainly stage outfits, involve pretty sexy fabrics and combinations of accessories (leather or suede, latex, buckles, or loops). What’s more interesting is that the clothes themselves mirror the inner personality of each character: eroticism in vocal Sakuya, strong self-discipline in guitarist Yuki, an almost feminine sensitivity in bassist Towa, cheerfulness in guitarist Atsuro, stubbornness in drummer Santa. They all fit very well, and if the cosplayer and photographer watch the series carefully, they will surely come up with very interesting photoshoot ideas, inspired from both certain episodes from the anime, and from various personality traits of the character that the cosplayer wishes to bring to life. This is an anime that would be best fitted for a group cosplay, for this is actually the essence of Kaikan Phrase: team work, solidarity and friendship beyond all hardships, for the sake of music and of the band. A Kaikan Phrase cosplay is not only a matter of sexy clothes. A cosplayer doesn’t depict just a J-Rock star bishie, but also feel-

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Actually, the series itself triggered a strange cosplay case. In order for the anime to be promoted, a band was formed, whose members had to be the exact real life version of the Kaikan Phrase characters. Not only they named the band Lucifer, but the members also took the names of the characters (except Makoto, the vocal). While created just for promotional purposes, the band proved to be hugely popular and continued until 2003. And hey, isn’t this also another story waiting to be told in the composition of an image?

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The Miracle of Ethereality Fantasy is such a vast realm that it never ceases to provide amazing inspiration sources for the cosplayers who prefer to depict impressive characters of imaginary worlds. Works such as Kaori Yuki’s manga are already a staple in cosplay, due to their extremely beautiful characters with no less complicated and appealing outfits. However, the same as in other thematic areas, fantasy has also its secret treasures and one of them is Reiko Shimizu’s Miracle Tarot. Neither manga nor anime, the “series” of this Japanese illustrator actually consists of a deck comprising of 78 Tarot cards, most of them depicting characters of ethereal beauty, deeply rooted in the Japanese symbols and drawn in a style that vividly reminds of manga. The characters illustrated on the Tarot cards reveal a highly aesthetic view that can be translated into a beautiful and elegant cosplay. For those who love to wear sheer and diaphanous fabrics, the Queen of Wands, the Knight of Wands, Justice or the Page of Wands can be perfect choices. Or, if one wants a challenge and wishes to cosplay as a beautiful armored character with androgynous appearance, one can always choose the King of Swords, the Knight of Swords and the Lovers. And, for an amazing display of accessories, the deck offers characters such as the Queen of Swords, the King of Cups, or the effeminate King of Pentacles. Out of the 78 cards, the choices are considerably diverse. Maybe the main attraction of Reiko Shimizu’s Tarot characters is the high degree of interpretation possibilities. Each character can be assigned his/her own story, depending only on the cosplayer’s imagination. Some of the most interesting characters are not fully revealed and, while this is usually a very bothersome obstacle in costume-mak-

ing, in this case it can be a plus. Regardless of how weird it may seem, the world of Reiko Shimizu’s Tarot cards is an ethereal one, the “protagonists” of her illustrations are anchored in neither time, nor space. In some cases there are some very insignificant setting indications that can add to the imagined story. What hides behind the longing distant look of the Page of Wands? Where does he want to fly with those folded wings? How about the painfully beautiful King of Pentacles? Is he the almighty ruler of some seas? Or of the sky? What kind of clothes would fit on his lean body? Only the cosplayer’s imagination can answer these questions, turning them into palpable realities. The choices are vast, as vast as the extended world of cosplay possibilities that lies beyond the undiscovered map.

Disclaimer: All the fanart illustrations for the present article are made solely and exclusively for promotional purposes; for a more accurate version, we strongly encourage you to purchase the respective original works. All the series these drawings are inspired from belong to their original authors, as follows: Fanart illustrations by Ioana Balcan 1. Otogizoushi anime series © Production IG (2004) 2, 3. House of Five Leaves anime series © Manglobe (2010) 4. Kaikan Phrase anime series © Studio Hibari (1999) 5, 6. Miracle Tarot © Reiko Shimizu (1993)

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PROFILE

Janne Rusanen / Elffi Years of Cosplay: 6 Jyväskylä, Finland facebook.com/ElffiCosplay Elffi finally introduces us to a world where costume perfection also allows for much easiness and enjoyment from the start till the finish line. This is a precious piece of advice when one is pressured to achieve the best. As a judge involved in international and national contests, Elffi knows how important it is to encourage cosplayers and to be ready to offer respite, tips and tricks to everyone. It is not about out-competing everyone, but about new friendships, meeting strangers, sharing experiences and pushing away the limits of conventional lifestyles. This is a sure way to stop trembling in front of demanding judges! 94

Cosplay Gen: When did you first start cosplaying and what was your first costume? Elffi: It was in the summer of 2006. I had watched a lot of Bleach episodes with my friend that summer, and we thought about going to our first ever convention, Animecon, in Helsinki, Finland. I heard that people were wearing a lot of costumes during those conventions. That was when I first heard of cosplay. So, because I loved Bleach and especially Kurosaki Ichigo, as I felt totally similar to him, I decided to cosplay as him. I didn’t have a wig, just dyed my hair and I also used my normal shoes... I was also a bit scared. I had to walk 3 kilometers through the city dressed like that and I didn’t have any clue what people would think about my costume. Would they laugh? Would they mock me? But oh well... That warmhearted acceptance and joy of cosplay was so tangible among all the visitors. I was totally surprised and very happy. I also made many new good friends! After the con-

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vention I knew in my heart that I would be cosplaying again in the near future. C.G: To you, what is the most challenging aspect of cosplay? Elffi: Most challenging aspect? Well, as I am cosplaying for myself, it is very challenging to please oneself. I have made it clear for myself that I want to gain more experience and improve with every costume I make. To do things a bit better every time. That’s a total challenge. Keeping your eyes and mind open for new ideas and improvements. Developing your methods as you learn about them from other cosplayers. Don’t think that your style and methods are the best of all and that you have no reason to change them. You can always learn new things. When you keep those things in your mind you can improve faster and feel happier. Because the most satisfying thing is when you, yourself enjoy your

own costume. Enjoying the moment when you finish one part of the costume, enjoying the feeling when you take your first steps in it, enjoying the feeling when you go to a convention with your costume on. Don’t be too critical with yourself. That’s the most challenging aspect. C.G: Your impressive Vash the Stampede costume won you the Finland preliminaries for WCS 2011. Why did you choose that particular character and how did you go about making that impressive prop? Elffi: Oh yeah, Vash! That was one big lump of hodgepodge! As my family is full of musicians, including myself, I’m very keen on the music in series. The atmosphere and vibe in Trigun is very good because of the marvelous background music. And the personality of Vash is a bit similar to mine, always trying to be positive and smile. I also like to try some insane things, so I wanted to

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PROFILE add Vash’s Angel Arm in real size to my costume. As I need my artistic flow (it won’t lit before it’s too late) to start a cosplay, I couldn’t start it before it was a bit over a week left for the preliminaries! So, I was sitting on my floor for 9 days in a row, drinking beer and coffee and making my costume. I started the Angel Arm on a Wednesday and finished it Friday morning. It’s made of sewer pipes, 10 pieces of camping mattresses and fake leather. I also added a car’s headlight and battery with an on/off-switch to it. Total length is around 4 meters and as I wanted to make it light in weight, it’s only 3-4 kilos. There is also a linkage so I can bend it in half in a few seconds for easier transportation! Now you know why I call it a big lump of hodgepodge, it was such a big costume and I was so short on time! But I have to say that I loved making it. (laughs) C.G: You have taken part in many contests as both a participant as well as a judge, how does it feel to be on both sides? Elffi: Yes, I have been a judge in the preliminaries of WCS and EC, in some international and national contests held on the Internet and in many Finnish contests. I have won some Finnish cosplay contests, WCS preliminaries and Internet contests also. It is very mind-opening to be on both sides. As a judge you have to know things about sewing and prop making, but you also have to know a lot about series and games and the characters of those. And if you have ever attended a cosplay contest you know that scary feeling when you walk in front of the judges and they are staring at every part of your costume. When you have once been a judge, being a participant in contests is not so scary anymore. You know, judges are not there to criticize costumes, they are there to encourage cosplayers in their hobby and to just decide the top 3 costumes of the contest. When I’m a judge I always try to be kind and encouraging. Sometimes, really young beginner cosplayers pop in the judging room, and you have to be very careful with your words. Judges are the ones who give advices, tips and encourage cosplayers, not the ones who mock or laugh at not so perfect costumes.

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C.G: What sort of advice can you offer to upcoming cosplayers who are just about to get ready to wear their first costume? Elffi: Your costume doesn’t need to be perfect. No one is perfect. Even the top cosplayers have mistakes in their costumes. The most important part in cosplaying is to enjoy it. I feel very relaxed when I’m in a cosplay costume. You can just push away your ordinary life and be someone else for one day. Throw away all of your doubts. Talk to strangers, people are always very kind in conventions. Go and ask for tips from fellow cosplayers! Don’t hesitate to make new friends! After your first costume, there is only one way, and that is UP!

Photos by: 1, 2. Vash the Stampede (Trigun) by Jacob Åberg (23hq.com/jackerin) 3. Kurosaki Ichigo (Bleach, full hollow version) by Myrtha 4. Jecht (Dissidia Final Fantasy) by Yayagami (yayagami.deviantart.com) 5. Kurosaki Ichigo (Bleach, Final Getsuga Tenshou version) by Yayagami (yayagami.deviantart.com) 6. Gilgamesh (Fate/hollow ataraxia) by Yayagami (yayagami.deviantart.com) 7. Kurosaki Ichigo (Bleach) by Chie 8. Ragna the Bloodedge (BlazBlue) by Yayagami (yayagami.deviantart.com)

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Credits: 01. Dead shadow by Alexia-Muller, photo by Eva (Ukraine) 02. Umineko: Seista 00 : At your command by LolaInProgress, photo by Panda Photography (Australia) 03. Sakura Kinomoto from Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle Cosplay by Rarity-This, photo by fiathriel (Australia) 04. Waste Not, Apricot by mikuen-drops, photo by blurscrib (Malaysia) 05. TRDO: heir of the throne? by Magoro, photo by FOVITIS (Germany) 06. Thief King Bakura by DaisyDA, photo by farizasuka (Singapore) 07. SG: Feyris-Nyan Nyan by gelaii-chan, photo by Dhenz07 (Philippines) 08. Haseo Xth Form 04 by Xhunt, photo by CIELO-PLUS (Israel) 09. Ring Blade by TenshinoSekai, photo by Andres H. (Costa Rica) 10. Rune Knight: Cavalry by Mii-chama, photo by KiraHokuten (Philippines) 11. Zelda: Save Me by CrystalPanda, photo by alucardleashed (Israel) 12. 07 Ghost: INCOMPLETE by Gunrt, photo by udon (Vietnam) 13. A GREAT CHARACTER by SidarthuR, photo by Sergio Zavala (Ecuador) 14. M  omohime::::Muramasa: The Demon Blade by *Witchiko, photo by andyamasaki (Brazil) 15. Wooper wants to play with you by UzumakiSabina (Sweden) 16. Twilight hills by Hitomi-Smile, photo by andyamasaki (Brazil) 17. The red butterfly by Titschipoo, photo by Andy-K (Germany) 18. The black bunny. by Ohcandu, photo by saika-possession (Argentina) 19. Kaya-queen by Squalo-Superbia (Russia) 20. Super Sailor Moon by JuTsukino, photo by Remy (Brazil) 21. Star Ocean 4: Reimi Saionji by Konoe-Lifestream, photo by Arwenphoto (Russia) 22. Simon by kurorochan (Philippines) 23. Sheryl Nome Gira Sama Festival Cosplay by Sbabby, photo by Alessandro Zuffi For Le 3 Chimere (Italy) 24. Hatsune Miku Camellia by Lycorisa, photo by kawaiikyoneko (United States) 25. Scorpion by S1k3r1b1 (Sweden) 26. Inu x Boku SS by oOoButa-kuNoOo, photo by Pugoffka-sama (Ukraine) 27. Harley Quinn: Ace up his Sleeve by Lie-chee, photo by Franky-chan (Germany) 28. Kid One Piece by ElElfoAzulDeLaNoche, photo by Taichia-Photo (Spain) 29. Duke of Venomania: Lust by blooddrencher, photo by farizasuka (Singapore)

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Credits: 30. Kuroshitsuji: Lizzy by Kotei-Pengin, photo by sley (Germany) 31. Namine by katz16, photo by jamframephotography (Philippines) 32. Mami Tomoe: Madoka Magica by Sparkle Pipsi, photo by GaMeReVX United States) 33. Reach Your Own Paradise by Raffi-nyaunyau, photo by csepi (Hungary) 34. Longing. by FedericaDN, photo by Alessandro Zuffi (Italy) 35. Kick-ass cosplay by Hitman, photo by Sketch_Turner (Russia) 36. ryomou shimei. by sharkblue, photo by saika possession (Argentina) 37. Aisha - Void Princess V by Myrtle Gail, photo by Kira Hokuten (Philippines) 38. Myth: divine Majesty by Naraku-Sippschaft, photo by Jascha (Germany) 39. Final Fantasy XII : Fran by Shappi, photo by BHMT (Poland) 40. Dream Of A Little Bird by Chi, photo by LMKusanagi (Philippines) 41. Encircled by white by koi-ishly, photo by katsuyaweller (United States) 42. Kula Diamond King Of Fighters by KiraYoshida, photo by Massimiliano (Italy) 43. Ice Queen by kwissykat, photo by Rodney JG Photos (United States) 44. Priscilla: The One-horned Monster by cesuriju, photo by puppyblue07 (Philippines) 45. Megurine Luka - Sandplay of the Dragon by Ann Sandig, photo by taga-gloria (Philippines) 46. The Five Star Stories: Fatima Machi Plastic Style by general-kuroru, Photo by zakharova (Russia) 47. Happy Valentine’s Day by Kiki, photo by CClazer (United States) 48. Corpse Bride by MllAyuko, photo by kn8e (France) 49. Allean cosplay by MiciaGlo, photo by stregatt0 (Italy) 50. Arthas by lyeric, photo by Skylar Urbaniak (Canada) 51. Prepare to fight by Iscariot Elian, photo by tisonit (Russia) 52. I’m Gonna Get You by ryuuzaki69, photo by Ygie Rosell Aniban (Philippines) 53. Dragoon Mist: Final Fantasy IV by Mogu, photo by Kosupure Mx (Mexico) 54. In the Heart of Music by PixieKitty, photo by GanguroLove (United States) 55. Suite Precure: Cure Melody by Ansuchi, photo by echizenryoma (Germany) 56. Dreaming Little Bird-original by Lydia Carlton, photo by Mika-jazz (Ukraine) 57. Katsucon 2012: FFXIII-2 08 by Yuuri-K-sama, photo by GQBravo (United States) 58. LuXun: Sunlight by kitsunesqueak, photo by Tsukasa325 (United States)

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CONTEST

Cosplay Mania Photography Contest Winner Cosplay Gen team was delighted to be the judge for a cosplay photography contest held by our Filipino friends from Cosplay Mania. In the end, out of several excellent shots and cosplayers, the winner was Hexlord, with a photo featuring cosplayer Byou, who depicted Lucy from Elfen Lied. Both Hexlord and Byou told us a little something about this particular photo session. The photo was shot at an abandoned factory, located near the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, the federal city of Malaysia. The factory is a favourite spot for both cosplayers, and photographers, and also one of the few suitable locations for cosplay photography near or within the city area itself. The concept of the photo was based on Lucy, the main protagonist of the series Elfen Lied, a being of great destructive power, but at the same time lonely and conflicted by her dual personality. Due to the dark nature of the series in general, Hexlord opted to light only a limited part of the area, using an off-shoe flash, as well as to present the image in an unconventional manner, in order to emphasize the mental conflict and anguish of the character. The photoshoot itself didn’t bring significant challenges, except from the usual mosquitoes and rumours of the location being haunted. And with Byou’s sister as a helper, everything went smoothly and without incident. Byou chose this character because she fell in love with Lucy immediately after finishing the first few episodes of the anime. She wanted to portray her while expressing the guilt she felt for hurting her most important person, and to express how much she wanted to say sorry to him. It’s the first character she wanted to cosplay that much, because she considered to have some similarities with it. That was also Byou’s first time cosplaying a bandaged version, and that proved to be a little difficult, because the bandages kept falling, and she also had a hard time to see, because she covered one of her eyes. But in the end, it was really worth! Hexlord’s message: I would like to thank Byou for trusting me with this photoshoot, and also the viewers for liking the set of photos taken by me. Photo credits: Cosplay by Byou (byo-u.deviantart.com) Photo by Thomas Kuan aka Hexlord (hexlord.deviantart.com, hexlord.daportfolio.com)

We would like to thank all our readers for their continuous support, and for keeping this independent magazine alive. Special thanks to our following friends: FEATURED COSPLAYERS:

FRIENDS AND PARTNERS:

Laura Salviani / Nikita Maria / Adelhaid Franseca / Hybridre MiYo Neal Bockhaut /NealBomBad Aicosu Yami Berglund / Yami No Cosmos Janne Rusanen / Elffi

Mitsuhiro Takemura Crypton Future Media MIKUBOOK.COM Hiroyuki Itoh Tomoko Otsuka Kanae Muraki Kimitaka Nishio Yuka Fukuura Yuriko Kyoko Tachibana Naoya Haga COSPLAY: The Series EURO COSPLAY HYPER JAPAN COMCOM UppCon Cosplay Mania A-KON AEG live VOCA FUSION Jointo Entertainment Science Fiction Bokhandeln UP1.CO.UK

CONTRIBUTORS: Paula Vicol Jo / Blacklash Shiro Ang Marta Camillo Sophie Carroll Krystal Messier / Kudrel Shinju Mihai Marcu Stefan Tiron

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01. Cosplay by , Photo by 02. Cosplay by Ami, Photo by Kiwira 03. Cosplay by Ichimancu, Photo by Cocodrillo 04. Cosplay by Lunsh, Photo by Kristina Kroete 05. Cosplay by Chai Chen, Photo by Kira Hokuten 06. Cosplay by MinG, Photo by Han Kouga 07. Cosplay by Oliv, Photo by Zahora Studio 08. Cosplay by TaoNeko, Photo by Yang Guang 09. Cosplay by Lydia / Rosette Christopher, Photo by Dima Polotnyuk 10. Cosplay by Gloria Z / Lina, Photo by IvanHuang 11. Cosplay by Edward Amparado/ KaiRaito, Photo by Norman Posecion 12. Cosplay by Megami Shiawase, Photo by YamiRoss 13. Cosplay by HAnnsel, Photo by Yamaki-chan 14. Cosplay by Zhel G., Photo by Dennis “Shoti” Li 15. Cosplay by Edylisation, Photo by Mateusz Zahora 16. Cosplay by cocoa@ALICE-time-, Photo by kyu.@ALICE-time17. Cosplay by Agatha Sonne Hjordis, Photo by Brainsaw Moia 18. Cosplay by Kurisu Hime, Photo by Zero 19. Cosplay by Melizenn, Photo by Talset 20. Cosplay by ValdaAbyss, Photo by ChEsHiRe-K 21. Cosplay by Bellatrix Aiden, Photo by Eva 22. Cosplay by NaNa, Photo by Random 23. Cosplay by Mizuna Mochizuki, Photo by Ayumu 24. Cosplay by Silver Harmony, Photo by Bubby 25. Cosplay by Sneko, Photo by Ron Gejon 26. Cosplay by Devian Grey, Photo by Raisa de Pano 27. Cosplay by Anastasia / MangaFreak150, Photo by darkain multimedia 28. Cosplay by Ju Tsukino, Photo by Pandy 29. Cosplay by Sano Zanza, Photo by Sami Ishii 30. Cosplay by m@gnum44, Photo by Julianne.hide

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