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TXT EDITORIAL

Front cover credits: Cosplayer: Jesuke Character: Joker (Kuroshitsuji) Photo by: Adrian Song Inside cover credits: Cosplayer: RainerTachibana Character: Lightning (Final Fantasy XIII) Photo by: William Wong aka Rescend

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The Beginning of a Journey With a history of over 20 years, nowadays cosplay came to represent more than a hobby; it is now a veritable industry, and many cosplayers can be regarded not as mere fans that impersonate their favorite anime, manga or game characters, but as true artists.

The development of cosplay as a trend is closely related to the expansion of animation, manga and gaming industry, and mostly to the rising of conventions, this relationship being the main element that brought cosplay into the highlight. In many cases, cosplay contests and cosplayers are the main attraction of the conventions, where they always add an extra drop of color to the enjoyment of all fans. Any such gathering has its own galaxy of more or less known characters, even of original costumes inspired from those characters, shining under the countless flashlights of the cameras. And, speaking of cameras, cosplay has long gone beyond the amateurish shots of the fans’ cameras. We are now talking about professional cosplayers posing under the spotlight of professional cameras, managed by professional photographers; in other words, about the rising of professional cosplay and cosplay photography as distinct fields. Nevertheless, cosplay continues to draw hosts of youngsters who dress like their favorite virtual 2D and 3D characters for the sake of pure fun. They make their costumes and accessories by themselves, improvise, but are very careful to all the details, participate in local contests and keep improving themselves. It’s interesting and heart-warming to listen to their stories, to find out what’s behind one cosplayer or another and what drives them to do what they do. Stories about originality, playfulness and the power to create. Cosplay Gen was born from the wish to cover at least a tiny part of the huge world that cosplay has become. We promote diversity, in terms of both characters and costumes, and worldwide countries. At the same time, in its pages there’s a place for both very popular cosplayers, whose costumes, accessories and general appearance are astoundingly similar to the original model, and less known cosplayers, who still succeed in making an amazing job although their means are limited. Cosplay Gen is a magazine that refers not only to a certain generation of cosplayers, but also to a certain stage of cosplay. We’ll try to follow the route and to discover how cosplay evolved from a mere hobby into a veritable work of art. Through the means of interviews and profiles, extended features, tutorials, beginner’s corner, recommendations, fashion-related articles, photography-related articles and other topics, Cosplay Gen’s mission is to address to all categories of public that love this extended phenomenon and, at the same time, to encourage the beginner cosplayers to evolve. To us it’s a journey that has just begun and that, hopefully, will be to you, our readers, as enjoyable as it is to us. // Ruxandra Târcă

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

REVIEW Comiket 77

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PROFILES Jo Chris Gary Blacklash

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INTERVIEW Alice in Steampunkland

DO IT YOURSELF High Ponytail Wig Tutorial

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ARTICLE Portraying Dir en grey’s Toshiya

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FASHION & STREETFUL OF STORIES A Short History of Ura-Hara Fashion 50 What It Takes to Be a Lolita 54 16 PROFILES AmenoKitarou RainerTachibana Lionel Lum Walter Bratelli

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INTERVIEW Cosplay Society

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BEGINNER’S CORNER Sewing Tutorial

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ARTICLE Lighting in Cosplay Photography

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PROFILES Yaya Han Green Makakas Astarohime INTERVIEW Jesuke: The Passion for Cosplay

54 EDITORIAL TEAM Publisher: Otaku Entertainment Editor-in-chief: Ruxandra Târcă Coordinating Editor: Cristian Botea Art Director: Mihai Marcu Editors: Irina Georgescu, Măriuca Mihalache, Camelia Antal-Burlacu Photographers: Alexandru Dan, Tomaso Mainardi DTP: Afaceri Prospere Print&Pre-press: IDEA Design + Print Contact: team@cosplaygen.com Web: cosplaygen.com

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REVIEW Adrian Song, aka Songster69, started learning about photography way back in his school days, when he was shooting in black and white, using his storeroom for processing, only to come to a hiatus when he graduated. But it all started again after being invited by a friend of his to a cosplay event, followed by several other events, making many acquaintances along the way. For someone who’s into photography just as a hobby, he’s certainly a talent among cosplay photographers, and he also draws his inspiration and advice from his father, who’s a freelance photographer. He went from Singapore to Tokyo, to Comiket 77, the largest handmade comic book fair in the world, and he recalled for us some of his impressions about the event, from both a photographer’s point of view, as well as a foreigner’s point of view.

Comiket 77 After hearing a lot about Comiket, I finally visited the Tokyo Big Sight for Comiket 77 in 2009, while holidaying in Japan with my Otaku friends. Getting off from the train, we were greeted by the epically huge crowd that can be seen from the station about five minutes away. Upon joining the queue, we were organized into groups and ushered into the halls. The first thing I learnt about visiting Comiket was that you should get an event guide, so that you’ll know where to go to get your stuff unless you’re okay with wandering the four huge halls like I did. Secondly, you have to be patient; a lot of time is spent queuing and waiting. However, crowd control is much organised and your experience will be a blast as long you follow the usher’s instructions. As a first timer, I decided to get lost in the doujin halls before going to the cosplay area for some fresh winter air. The venue is a short walk away from the halls and hard to miss; follow any cosplayer and you’ll reach it. From the awesome experience, here are some tips, pointers and observations about the Comiket cosplay event: Cosplaying within boundaries Barriers were set up to demarcate the cosplay venue, and also to help visitors find the place. Photography and cosplay must be contained within, but if one forgets, there are always the friendly event staff and security personnel to politely remind you to keep within the designated areas. Ask and you shall receive Want awesome photos? Then ask. The trick is to ask politely to take pictures of them. Usually the cosplayers will oblige, unless they are in the process of adjusting their costumes; if that’s the case, they will request that you wait. When joining a massive group or the infamous “wall of photographers”, try to get their attention by saying “excuse me” in Japanese

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REVIEW and they will glance and pose in your direction. And always remember to thank the cosplayers after that. Name cards Print some name-cards or “meishi”, as they are called in Japanese, if you want to send cosplayers their pictures. More often than not, they will give you theirs to stay in touch. Pity I didn’t print any this time round. Well, always next time! Taking turns Japanese culture is based on order and structure, so don’t be surprised if you need to queue up to take photos of cosplayers. I found this system really good, as it allows you to communicate one-to-one with the cosplayers while they try to pose their best. In such situations, also exercise some discretion, as the guys queuing behind you may not say anything, but may be freezing in the queue. Rotation policy Given the large turnout of cosplayers and photographers alike, expect to see event staff appearing next to a wall of photographers and politely breaking up the wall after twenty minutes or so after it’s been formed. This is both a form of crowd control, and of enabling cosplayers to move to a rest area while another cosplayer steps into the limelight. So that’s my Comiket cosplay experience, damn I so want to go back! *Starts planning for next trip* // Review and photos by Adrian Song songster69.deviantart.com

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PROFILE

Joanne / Jo Cosplay: Souji Okita (Hakuoki Shinsengumi Kitan) Years of Cosplay: 1 Westminster, USA soysaucecosplaycrew.com Cosplay Gen: Why did you start cosplaying? Joanne: I started cosplaying because I love being able to create things with my own hands and actually wear them. Once the entire costume is complete, from the beginning down to the very detail of the character one portrays, it truly is one of the best feelings of accomplishment one can have. Furthermore, being able to attend conventions and meet new people, see new things, and be surrounded by other creative individuals. Those are some of the main reasons why I started cosplaying. CG: You’re a cosplayer, but also a photographer; how does it feel to be both in a costume, photographed by the others, and behind the lenses, yourself photographing cosplayers? Joanne: When I attended my first convention at Anime Expo 2008, I didn’t cosplay back then, so I was taking pictures of everyone else as I wanted. Once I started cosplaying, it’s quite hard to carry a camera, and prop/weapon(s) at the same time. Therefore I stop carrying my camera around. Just recently, I decided to pick up the camera, and shoot for my crew members that I’m with, as well as other cosplayers. It’s a bit difficult to be doing both at the same time during conventions, so during slow time at conventions I would sneak off some place with either my crew members or cosplayers I’ve met and talked to ahead of time, and we will be shooting then. It’s a great feeling to be able to enjoy cosplay, and, at the same time, capture great cosplay.

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CG: Which do you like being the most, cosplayer or photographer, and why? Joanne: Personally, I love both. On the other hand, if I have to choose, I would choose to be a cosplayer. I love being able to make things, learn new skills as I pick out new challenging costumes, and challenge myself! Each time I select a new project (costume), I spend countless of time to do research after research, try and learn as much as I can about the characters, the details in his/her looks, about his/ her personality, poses, and finally how to put together the costume and its props (if there is any). Each of my projects takes a lot of time and dedication, that’s why it goes back to how much I enjoy attending conventions and being able to portray my hard work and to meet and hang out with others who most likely had the same passion in cosplay as I do; it’s a great experience!

Photo credits: 1, 2. Eric Ng (bigwhitebazooka.com) 3. Raul Sandoval (sandlvlan.deviantart.com)

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PROFILE

Chris Gary / 4ng31 Cosplay: Izanagi (Persona 4) Years of Cosplay: 3 1/2 Wheeling, WV, USA 4ng31.com Cosplay Gen: How long did it take you to make this costume? Chris: This costume was a collaboration with LimeBarb (www.limebarb.com), so she handled most of the fabric work while I did the “hard” pieces (mask, prop, skates). All in all, it took about 3 months to complete. CG: What was the hardest part in the making of this costume? Chris: The “skates” were easily the hardest part. While not exactly hard to build, but planning and coming up with a way to make them safe and mobile was the tricky part. This was solved with thick-MDF wood, epoxy and some really big screws. CG: What made you choose this character to cosplay? Chris: I had played Persona 4 over the Christmas holiday last year and really enjoyed it (my favorite in the Persona series). Shortly after, a friend and I started browsing around for ideas of what we could do from the game. We found that there are a lot of human character costumes out there, but very little actual Persona costumes. So I figured why not (plus that first cut-scene where you see Izanagi for the first time was one of the best in the game)!

Photo credits: Kevin Chan aka SolarTempest photography.solartempest.net

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PROFILE

Jo / Blacklash Cosplay: Jo (Bakuretsu Tenshi) Years of Cosplay: 1 Singapore blacklash90.deviantart.com 12

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PROFILE Cosplay Gen: Why did you choose this character to cosplay? Jo: Burst Angel was the second anime that I watched. And the moment my eyes laid on Jo when she made her appearance, I fell in love with her. An absolute assassin, who was born for that role, tagged with a lean body illuminated with the “purple wings of death” (the tattoo) that appear when she wields Jango; she is truly appealing to my tastes. Her costume and weapons are something that I want to clad in, they are just made for her. I truly applaud the artist for creating such a masterpiece. CG: Tell us more about the tattoo on the back; how long did it take to make, who helped you make it? Jo: The beautiful hand-drawn artwork you mean? It runs not only across the back, but also all the way down the entire side of her left arm, which disappears just afore her glove. As my cosplay follows the animation details, I took references from a few screenshots, as well as from the Alter Jo figurine for the back design. The tattoo is made of purple face paint, which we blended in body moisturizer to prevent it from cracking too soon. It is painted with a brush by the very talented Jesuke. She’s amazing. I took out the printed references and held it out in front of her as she set to work. It took about an hour to do the outlines, fill them in and contour the edges. And all the while as she worked I held my breath a couple of times, in an attempt to hold my body very still. Even after it was completed, as we made our way to the photoshoot site, I kept my movement minimal along the joints and tried hard not to flex my back, to prolong the fluidity of the tattoo.

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But thanks to her, the results are astounding. Thank you Jes! CG: How do you choose which character you’re going to cosplay next? Jo: It’s definitely the personality and the style of the character that appeal to me the most. The little antics and habitual behavior that brand that character as himself. I also take suitability very seriously. And, most importantly, the affinity that bonds the character to me in one way or another. That something special. Which sometimes relates to me in real life.

Photo credits: 1. William Wong aka Rescend (rescend.deviantart.com) 2. Swiftwing (swift-wing.deviantart.com) 3, 4. Kaze (kazex.deviantart.com) Note: All three photographers are part of Omake-Studios (omakestudios.deviantart.com)

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INTERVIEW

Ying / Bandit Ying Cosplay: Alice Years of Cosplay: 6 Singapore banditying.deviantart.com Dan the Farmer Cosplay: Card Spade Years of Cosplay: 5 Singapore ja.curecos.com/profile/?ch=129281 Yan / Cvy Cosplay: White Rabbit Years of Cosplay: 7+ Singapore cvy.deviantart.com

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INTERVIEW Lewis Caroll’s Alice in Wonderland, a story about a girl named Alice who winds up in a fantasy world full of creatures when falling into a rabbit hole, has influenced many works along the way since its debut in 1865 and its impact can be seen even in comics or manga and anime. Cosplayers Bandit Ying, Dan The Farmer and Cvy, inspired by both steampunk culture and Alice in Wonderland’s fantasy world, have made their own original version, with the best of each, a steampunk Alice in Wonderland crossover. It was a challenge for them and their imagination, but the result was definitely a creative and original one. We asked them a few questions about the costumes and accessories, and also about how it felt to make their own original costumes instead of cosplaying as such.

Cosplay Gen: There are many works based on Lewis Caroll’s Alice in Wonderland out there, how did you come up with the idea of making a steampunk version of this? Steampunk inspired us, so it’s actually the other way round. We have been looking into steampunk works because of their beautiful intricacy. And Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland is well-loved by many, including us, so we thought it would be interesting having the best of both into one, since we saw there was room for creativity and imagination. CG: Who made the costumes? Did you each make them individually or was there one mastermind behind them all? We made them individually.

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CG: What was the idea behind every costume, how and why did you modify it from the original characters from the Alice in Wonderland series? Ying: My interpretation of Alice is a dark Alice. Not a totally dark Alice, but an Alice who’s got a little bit of spice. Greed and envy are added in to Alice’s innocence and naïve personality. Hence, black is quite a big part of the costume’s color scheme. I tried to take note of the Victorian era and Alice’s original costume and mix and match the elements in it. Dan: I’d be the one person here who hasn’t done a thorough research on a Card Soldier! After browsing through possible images of how people of the steam power era dressed, I got to the conclusion that I wanted my image of a Card Soldier to be someone who dresses smartly, like a gentleman you’d see walking on the street. But when he draws out his weapon at the Queen’s order, this gentleman’s look is shown to be just a façade. A man of few words, but with a determination to fulfill the Queen’s order, which is proven through his actions as he hunts down the offender. I would imagine a Card Soldier to have large white rectangular pieces attached to the front and back of the body, but that’s the fairytale everyone has read. When I was introduced to the era where steam powered engines ruled, my imagination ran amok! Though I fear I have yet to carry out the feel of an Upper Class Soldier, I will do my best for the next time around! Cvy: I love new ideas and creations. Steampunk itself is a very fascinating subculture, and for it to be infused into a character that is already well-known, that adds to the challenge of creating a new personification with steampunk elements, while retaining the original attributes of the White Rabbit. CG: What was the most difficult part in every costume?

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Ying: The costume is made up of my own clothes that I already had in my wardrobe. I mixed and matched the clothes, and made a belt and the wing on my back as part of the costume design. As it was a ready-made, I didn’t find much challenge in the costume part. Dan: I’d say the pre-planning. Ideas are often drafted out which then require a lot more brainstorming and creativity to ensure the accuracy of a planned design. “Does this work?” or “Will that be good enough?” and perhaps “Maybe I can do something here?” – there are clearly lots of questions. Cvy: The initial stage of designing the White Rabbit in human form. In cosplay, you have the character as a reference to follow, whereas for this project, we had nothing to start with but a concept. CG: Tell us more about the accessories/props. Was it also hard to find the right materials? Did you make them by hand and/or with the help of others? White Rabbit’s clock looked especially hard to make. Ying: I chose lightweight materials, as I had to wear the props and carry them for at least a few hours. The gears and axles were made by myself, and I tried to make the design look slightly different. I spent a lot of time trying to find the correct accessories which would match the steampunk look. Craft foam boards are the base for most of my hand armors. As for the Red Queen’s heart, Cvy and I came up with the idea to have the heart kept in a cage. Dan: My wristband was inspired by an image I saw online. I had gotten some small and pretty accessory bits that could fit the bill, so voilà! I completed the wristband before moving on to the rifle. I was grateful to receive a proto-rifle from Cvy to begin my prop-making. The idea of decorating and making it into my lead prop made the whole decoration process as tough as costumeplanning. Mine is the simplest out of us all, but believe me, drafting and cutting the gear parts was a killer. I was most amused at how my teammates could craft out so many gears without feeling gear-giddy! I had spare golden sheets from previous times, so I used those to decorate the front and back part of my rifle. I measured out the areas I wanted to cover with the golden sheet and traced out a design, combining spades and gears. In the images I saw, most gentlemen completed their looks with a tall hat, so I created a mini version to attach to the side of my head, with an Ace of Spade and Ace of Heart cards to top it off. That seemed in the end to have been a bad idea – I was sometimes mistaken for the Mad Hatter himself! Cvy: I designed and made the entire costume and props. The greatest help I had was from cosplaying for many years, learning and experimenting on my own. I applied a lot of my past cosplay experiences into this project, so it wasn’t too brain-frying to put all my research together and create this from scratch, although there were times when I got frustrated. For the clock needles to work like an actual clock wasn’t difficult, because I already had a little battery-operated gadget. My main concern was to build a battery outlet and have some parts able to be easily dismantled, in order to make adjustments to the gears. Also, most importantly, to have it sturdy and light-weight for transportation. There are still many more improvements to be made, and if I had the time I might modify it. CG: The photoshoot location was very fitting for your steampunk theme, where did you have the photos shot? Was it hard to find the place? We were fortunate to find pictures of this abandoned location,

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INTERVIEW taken by a couple of adventurous local photographers, on Flickr. And one of our photographers, Zerartul, had been at the same place for some of his other cosplay photoshoots, so he brought us over. Singapore is tiny, so it’s quite easy to go from one place to another. CG: You’re all cosplayers, how did it feel to have your own original version of a series instead of cosplaying the original characters? Ying: I felt more inspired and carefree while making the costume and props. And it led me to experiment more, play around with it. Dan: Marvelous; anything could become something when you put it to good use – that’s what I learned from this experience. To merge steampunk with “Alice in Wonderland” really put me into a thinking frenzy, as I’m not a creative person. I have both my teammates to thank for all the inspiration and encouragement they have given me so far! Cvy: Unlike cosplay, which is kind of like an imitation of an already existing image, but in the flesh, this was something I could proudly claim as my own, from head to toe. CG: Do you have any cosplayers as well as original costume designers that currently inspire you? Ying: Erm. Nope, not right now. Dan: I’m not majoring in Design/Fashion so I actually know very little about costume designers. But I do have a couple of cosplayers whom I really admire for their high level of costume-making, prop-making, and the atmosphere they create through their photos. Their achievements are what motivates me all along! Cvy: I watch Project Runway, a reality TV show that focuses on fashion design and its incredible out-of-the-world tasks. For example, sewing clothes only using materials from a car or from a supermarket. It makes you think, and it makes you see things in a different light, which is especially helpful in cosplay when you have a tight budget and can only use the simplest materials. I also drew a lot of inspiration from this talented team: http:// www.outlandarmour.com

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CG: Is it your goal to become professional cosplayers or are you doing this just for fun? Do you seek a career in cosplay such as others? Ying: To me, cosplay is a hobby. It’s difficult to see cosplay as a career for me. I like the characters I cosplay. If I don’t like the character, it’s very difficult for me to be making a costume and props, and do the character. I like to feel and know how I should react as the character when I am in costume. Dan: I believe for many of us the word is “passion”. To make it into a profession is something I don’t think will come true, because my true desired profession lies elsewhere! Cvy: I do it for fun, and to show how much I love a series by crafting it, plus the treasured moments I have with friends who share the same interest. // Interview by Cristian Botea

Photo credits: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 9. Adrian Song (songster69.deviantart.com) 6, 8. Zerartul (zerartul.deviantart.com)

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ARTICLE Thomas Kuan, aka Hexlord, first started photography back in 2004, when he brought a digital camera to a cosplay event; in 2005 he advanced to a prosumer camera, and finally, in 2008, to a DSLR camera. He’s currently doing it as a hobby, and he’s motivated to continue due to his cosplaying friends and their amazing costumes. He uses as his source of inspiration his personal life, as well as music, friends and the people he loves. He’s definitely one of the many talents in Singapore in the field of cosplay photography, and he wrote for us an article about lighting in cosplay photography, with tips, pros, and cons.

Lighting in Cosplay Photography Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of the cosplay hobby is the process of having a photoshoot with the cosplayers themselves. However, having a successful photoshoot requires more than just the great portrayal of the characters and having good, accurate costumes. The photographer will also need to grapple with the many technical aspects of photography, from having the correct exposure and colour balance, to getting the focus just right. This article will mainly fo-

cus on lighting, one of the key components of photography, and will also discuss some of the other things that make up a successful photoshoot. Do note that the article is not by all means comprehensive or technical, but it actually serves as an introduction to the subject matter. Basically, there are two types of lighting: Natural and Artificial. Let’s have a look at both and compare the advantages and disadvantages.

Natural Lighting

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The Sun is probably the greatest source of light on Earth. Used properly, it can convey to photographs a mood and feel that cannot be described. Many memorable images were taken at the rise of dawn and at the onset of sunset, a period of time known simply as the Golden Hour.

PROS: - It’s free! - Great natural colours. Not bad considering that without the Sun most life forms on Earth would not be able to survive. - Needs very minimal things to set up. Maybe you need to bring along an umbrella though, just in case.

CONS:

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- It can be inconvenient to wait for the right moment at the right place. It will require a great deal of patience, as foul weather can dramatically change your well-laid plans. - Certain effects beyond the ordinary cannot be created using natural lights. There is Photoshop, of course, but that’s the scope for a future article, if enough interests are gathered.

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ARTICLE There are also a few more things that you can do prior to the photoshoot, as a form of preparation. 1. Recce. Try to visit the location of the photoshoot at least once before the proper shoot. Find out which parts of the area are suitable in terms of lighting and composition. That way, you can cut down on time wastage during the photoshoot (and gain more time to have fun instead). 2. Research. Do some research on the area to see if

there are any restrictions on photography. Nothing kills the spontaneity of a shoot more than the sight of a security officer gently but firmly telling everyone to leave the area.

3. Get to know your camera well. DSLRs are probably

among the most common types of cameras around, but even though they have gotten easier to use within the last 2-3 years, there is still a learning curve to master. A good advice would be to do read up the manual, which will then lead to the next point.

Natural Light

4. Practicing your photography skills before the shoot. Understand the behaviour of your camera’s metering mode (which is controlled separately from the PASM mode), and compensate for the shot accordingly. Do remember that under the default metering mode, shots will be overexposed if the main portion of a photo is dark, as the camera attempts to expose for the shadows. Vice versa for photos that have the main portion as light in colour and tone. PS. PASM stands for Program, Aperture, Shutter, and Manual. All known DSLRs will have these modes, with Program being the most automatic mode of the four, and Manual giving the most control to the user. Aperture and Shutter are meant to control the respective settings on the camera. 5. Recruiting friends as helpers. Helpers are invaluable, as they will be able to provide assistance in taking care of everyone’s personal belongings and giving an extra hand in the moving of equipments, props and so forth. Without them, it would be hard to manage the shoot as it is, and they also can double up as makeup artists or stylists on some occasions. 6. Stick to the game plan (aka storyboard). Storyboards help in photoshoots if the cosplayers want something more than generic stuff. They can also be reenactments of scenes from the series, or scenarios inspired by fanarts and music available online. Being familiar with the series will help a lot when it comes to drafting out the storyboard. 7. Rest! It is very important for everyone to get a good rest before the shoot. With that, we come to the end of this article. I hope that it is helpful to both photographers, and cosplayers, in getting a better idea on how to go about with their own photoshoots and to make them a success. All the best!

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// Article and photos by Thomas Kuan aka Hexlord hexlord.deviantart.com, hexlord.daportfolio.com

Artificial Lighting

PROS: - A controlled environment as and when you need it. Bad weather? Not to worry, you can always shoot indoors thanks to these artificial lightings.

CONS:

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Flashlights, strobes and anything else man-made comprise what we define as artificial lighting. Frustrated with the vagrancies of nature, we ended up inventing many types of equipments that produce light in different manners, colour output and size.

- Hassle to set up, due to the amount of equipments. It can be pricey too, depending on your needs. - With this basic overview of the two types of lighting available, how does one ensure that the lighting chosen will contribute to the success of a photoshoot? Well, discussing with the cosplayers and some research into the cosplay series will enable you to decide on which lightings to work with. There is no definite right or wrong in this, as it is just a matter of preference on how best to convey the feel of the series to the viewers.

Photos: Helper. Nakuru, Shana, Shakugan no Shana Natural Light. Mikyo, Yuna, Final Fantasy X Location. L. Haruki, Yuuki Cross, Vampire Knigh 1. Nakuru, Shana, Shakugan no Shana 2. Inuran, Hatsune Miku, Sandplay Singing of the Dragon 3. Bunny-chan, Rabi en Rose, Di Gi Charat 4. Firnheledien, Nyotolia Igiko, Hetalia: Axis Powers 5. LennethXVII, Saya Otonashi, Blood+ 6. JZ, Kaito, Sandplay Singing of the Dragon Artificial Light. Noriko as Wanijima Akito (left), Acedemond as Wanijima Agito (right), Air Gear Artificial Light

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PROFILE

Yaya Han Years of Cosplay: 11 Atlanta, GA, USA www.yayahan.com Cosplay Gen: You’ve been cosplaying for over 10 years now; can you tell us in a few words how did it evolve for you? Yaya: First of all, my skill set and level of quality evolved over the past 10 years. I learned how to sew when I got into cosplay, and I am completely self-taught, so, depending on the costume I wanted to make, I had to learn new skills and evolve in my sewing and crafting techniques. These days I feel fairly confident that I could tackle almost any costume that catches my interest, but I also want to continue to challenge myself and hone my skills. The biggest difference between now and when I first started cosplaying is that I am now working full time in the cosplay and convention scene. I have my own business of cosplay products and travel to over 25 conventions per year to offer them to the public, as well as to conduct panels and workshops, judge and host contests and sometimes perform. I cosplay almost every weekend now! I feel very blessed and lucky that I am able to do what I love for a living. CG: Where do you see yourself another 10 years from now? Yaya: I don’t have any plans to stop cosplaying, but I’m sure my choices in characters to portray will be different in another 10 years. Mainly I want to still be creative and make things, and expand my business into a more well-rounded store. And stay healthy and happy of course.

Cosplay & Photo Credits : 1. Carmilla (Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust) by Judy Stephens (thedreamerworld.com) 2. Yuuko (xxxHoLic) by Paul Tien 3. Steampunk Madam (original design) by Brian Boling

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PROFILE

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PROFILE Green-Makakas is a little cosplay group from Germany whose members love Code Geass so much they’ve reached the level of worshipping it. Soma, Kate, Graham and Alice pretty much loved it before even starting to cosplay, and, as you can see, they put quite some time and effort in order to portray the characters to the smallest detail.

Soma Cosplay: Lelouch Lamperouge (Code Geass) Years of Cosplay: 1,5 Cologne, Germany green-makakas.deviantart.com

Graham Cosplay: C.C. (Code Geass) Years of Cosplay: 1,3 Wuppertal, Germany green-makakas.deviantart.com

Kate Cosplay: Suzaku Kururugi (Code Geass) Years of Cosplay: 2 Cologne, Germany green-makakas.deviantart.com

Alice Cosplay: Nunnally Lamperouge (Code Geass) Years of Cosplay: 3 WĂźrzburg, Germany green-makakas.deviantart.com

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PROFILE CG: What made you choose Code Geass to cosplay? Soma: It became my favorite anime before I was even thinking about cosplaying anything, and then, as we started, it seemed only natural to pick the anime we liked most. It’s a really great feeling to be able to express some thoughts and ideas of the characters and the show through photography. I’m also very happy to cosplay Lelouch, because I just love the guy. Kate: Karen is one of my favorite characters and I wanted to cosplay her badly. After that, I decided to cosplay Suzaku, too. Graham: I loved Code Geass before I started cosplaying. The most important rule to me is to cosplay what I love, and for this reason, me and my best friend started with cosplaying Code Geass. I can’t describe in words how much I love this anime. It is such a good feeling to be able to express some thought and ideas through the cosplay. Code Geass is my inspiration. I love almost all the characters to bits, but one of my most beloved favorites is C.C. (together with Cornelia), and I’m utterly happy to be able to cosplay this two. Alice: Euphemia inspired me a lot; she was my first CG cosplay. She’s an airy girl, but she can get serious too, and she has a strong desire to make justice. After her, I really wanted to do more CG characters I liked. CG: How long did it take to make the costumes? Soma: I didn’t have much time for Lelouch’s Emperor costume due to some circumstances, so I’ve sewn it in a nineday-run. And then I swore to never ever do it this suicidal way again. Honestly, I should have really taken more time for a costume like this… but since I’m satisfied with the result, guess it was worth it nevertheless. Kate: It took me about one month to make Karen (which was an Asford uniform), Suzaku took me three month. Graham: I needed four weeks to sew the costume - and I spent two of them sewing the beads on. I never worked on a cosplay like this before and it was a great challenge - but being in love with this show kinda gave me strength, ha-ha! Alice: Before I start sewing something, I think a lot about the character and talk about him with my friends. After that, I look at every single detail on the costume and start working. I normally need a month to sew a costume properly.

Photo credits: 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. T-san (kaijo.deviantart.com) 2. Kaijo (green-makakas.deviantart.com)

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PROFILE

Astarohime Cosplay: Esther Blanchett (Trinity Blood) Years of Cosplay: 3 Moscow, Russia astarohime.deviantart.com Cosplay Gen: The costume looks really complex; how long did it take you to make it? Also, what kind of materials did you use for it? Astarohime: We (my friend Noelle helped me with the pearls and gems) made it in 2 months. I used a lot of different fabrics and accessories. I used satin as main fabric; I bought over 50 meters and started to make the pattern. CG: What character would you like to cosplay next and why? A: I already made Seth from Trinity Blood and another Esther dress. Now I’m planning to cosplay the goddess from Saint Seiya. I just love difficult costumes. CG: How is the cosplay community in your country? A: Great! In Moscow there are over 500 cosplayers and cosplay-groups, I think. Maybe even more. We got a lot of festivals, where I usually take part!

Photo credits: Oksana aka MadCrecha madcrecha.deviantart.com

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INTERVIEW

Jesuke: The Passion for Cosplay

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Jesuke Years of Cosplay: 4 Singapore jesuke.deviantart.com diary.blog.yam.com/jesuke

Singapore really stands out as far as the cosplay community goes, and for such a small state it’s really packed with talented cosplayers. Jesuke is one of these talents, remarkable in the way in which she succeeds in getting into the skin of the characters she’s portraying. She’s been in the field for about 4 years now and she has cosplayed quite a few characters, and very different ones, taking each one of them very seriously. Her characters of choice range from bishounen such as Lockon Stratoss from Gundam 00 or Squall Leonhart from Dissidia: Final Fantasy, to female characters such as Ranka Lee from Macross Frontier or Litchi from BlazBlue. We asked her a few questions about where she started from, the process of costume making, and also her future plans in the world of cosplay.

Cosplay Gen: Since when have you been cosplaying and what was the first costume you’ve ever made? Jesuke: I have been cosplaying since 2006, and the first costume I’ve ever made was Dark Mousy from DNAngel. It was all thanks to my friends who helped me; if it wasn’t for them, I really don’t know how could I have started sewing. CG: You portrayed many different characters. Of all these, is there one of them that holds a special significance to you? If yes, why is that? J: Hmmm... well, I guess it should be Sasuke from Naruto, because it was my first cosplay character, and my nickname also came from there, as it merged with my real name; the “uke” from Sasuke, together with the “jes” from my real name form my nick, Jesuke. And Sasuke’s personality was quite similar to mine.

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CG: How do you choose the characters you cosplay? J: Well, basically I do some research on the characters and on what personality does the character have, and I usually find those kinds of characters who suit my own. Most of the times it’s cool, emo for boys, and a more mature lady for girls. CG: What can you tell us about the process of costume-making? Do you always make your costumes and accessories by yourself? And how long does it usually take to make such a costume? J: The first thing to do is, of course, research. It’s better to have the front view, back view and the side view for all the characters that you’re planning to cosplay. If you want to buy fabric, make sure you bring the pictures with you, in order to choose the right color; if not, you will buy the wrong colors instead. After you finished shopping the desired fabric and stuff, draw drafts of the costume and separate them piece by piece, so you have a clear view where and when to start. I usually make costumes and accessories; well I’m still a beginner in sewing, but sewing really helps me to improve, so I have the motivation to sew more complicated costumes. One costume usually takes about 3 days to complete, but that depends on what kind of costume you want to sew.

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INTERVIEW CG: What was your most difficult costume? Is there a special story behind it? J: The most difficult costume was Cao Pi from Dynasty Warriors 6, because, as you know, most of historical characters involve lots of armor making, weapons, chain-mails, painting and stuff like that... And that character had a whole armor scale on the body, so I had to thread bit by bit for the armor scale, which was made of aluminium sheets. While it was a very tough thing to do, at least I learnt something new! CG: You already have a lot of fans out there; do you regard cosplay as a pure hobby, or has it already become a way of life? J: I can say I view cosplay as my hobby. I am also connected to the whole cosplay scene community, I make new friends from around the world, with which I share the same experiences... It also had changed my life too. CG: What can you tell us about the connection between Jesuke the cosplayer and Jesuke the real person? How the two of them match? J: Hmm connections... At cosplay events I usually tend to be quiet and more serious, because I want to portray the character exactly as that character acts and stuff, and in real life the first impression to other people is fierce; well, people usually think I am too fierce, so they are quite afraid to talk to me‌ but as myself I like to joke around and make fun of my friends.

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INTERVIEW CG: A necessary part in cosplay is the photoshooting. How important do you think it is the relationship between the cosplayer and the photographer? J: This is a very important part when it comes to photoshooting; the photographer has to know how to shoot and it’s better to do some research before the photoshooting day. The coser and photographer have to be very close, so that you know how to pose, and the photographer knows how to take a photo of you. That’s why I prefer to have only one or two photographers for the photoshoot. CG: To you, what is the most important thing in cosplay? J: The most important things in cosplay are motivation and passion; if you don’t have that, you can’t set your goals to finish your costumes. And don’t let people influence your moral. CG: What is your most ardent wish as a cosplayer for the future? We’re sure you have a set of goals that you want to accomplish. What are these goals? J: I wish that more and more people will appreciate cosplay in a correct way and I would really want to share my experience with other people from other countries. My goals are to improve my cosplay and travel around the world to different events, and share experiences with other people... Well, maybe a cosplay café in Singapore might sound good? // Interview by Ruxandra Târcă and Cristian Botea

Cosplay & Photo Credits: 1. Sakata Gintoki, Gintama, Photo by Shiro Ang (shiroang.deviantart.com) 2. Giulio di Bondone, Lucky Dog, Photo by Staci (sumomo-love.deviantart.com, fotologue.jp/#staci-ng) 3. Giulio di Bondone, Lucky Dog, Photo by Staci (sumomo-love.deviantart.com, fotologue.jp/#staci-ng) 4. L, Death Note, Photo by Staci (sumomo-love.deviantart.com, fotologue.jp/#staci-ng) 5. Ranka Lee, Macross F, Photo by Staci (sumomo-love.deviantart.com, fotologue.jp/#staci-ng) 6. Howl, Howl’s Moving Castle, Photo by Staci (sumomo-love.deviantart.com, fotologue.jp/#staci-ng) 7. Litchi Faye-Ling, BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger, Photo by Staci (sumomo-love.deviantart.com, fotologue.jp/#staci-ng) 8. Lockon Stratoss, Gundam 00, Photo by Staci (sumomo-love.deviantart.com, fotologue.jp/#staci-ng) 9. Cross Marian, D.Gray-man, Photo by Windy (rox-windy.deviantart.com) 10. Cao Pi, Dynasty Warrios, Photo by Windy (rox-windy.deviantart.com) 11. Snow Villiers, Final Fantasy XIII, Photo by Zerartul (zerartul.deviantart.com) 12. Squall Leonhart, Dissidia: Final Fantasy, Photo by Staci (sumomo-love.deviantart.com, fotologue.jp/#staci-ng) 13. Lelouch Lamperouge, Code Geass, Photo by Windy (rox-windy.deviantart.com) 14. Sheryl Nome, Macross F, Photo by Staci (sumomo-love.deviantart.com, fotologue.jp/#staci-ng) 15. Kaito, Vocaloid, Photo by Staci (sumomo-love.deviantart.com, fotologue.jp/#staci-ng)

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DO IT YOURSELF

How to Make a High Ponytail Wig Using 2 Wigs (this tutorial is great for characters like Yoko Littner from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann) Since I do not have much knowledge on how to go about making a proper ponytail using extensions, wefts, and stubbing I used this method that requires none of those things. This was a quick and easy fix to my high ponytail dilemma for Yoko’s hairstyle. At the time I couldn’t find a wig in the right color with clip on ponytails for this costume. Nowadays you can easily find pigtail or ponytail wigs that come with pre-made clip on ponytails in many different colors on eBay -- however, if they aren’t the right color, length, or as full as you like, you can use this tutorial to create your own.

Supplies Wig Cap, Comb, Round Brush, Lots of Bobby Pins, Hairspray (optional), Large Butterfly clip, 1 ponytail elastic (clear or of similar color to the wig), 2 Wigs of the same color (one for the base, and one for the ponytail)

Let’s Get Started! - Making the Ponytail Step 1. Start off by taking the wig you want for your ponytail and open it up to where you can see all the netting. (For my ponytail I am using a Punk XL wig in Red from Cosworx.com) Step 2. Take front top part of your wig and fold about 1/4 of it in towards the wig net. Step 3. Once you have that one fold it in half like a taco shell. Step 4. Get out your big butterfly clip and start to insert one side of the claws into the netting of one of the folded edges. Make sure it’s in the netting or else your clip on ponytail slip off and not work. Step 5. Repeat step 4 for the other side making sure the claws go into the netting of the wig. Step 6. Close your butterfly clip clearing all the hair out of the way and combing the hair around the claw neatly. Comb out the rest of your ponytail. Now you have a neat clip on ponytail that’s ready to be used! Attaching the Ponytail to Your Base Wig Securely Step 7. Put on your wig cap and pin it securely to your head. Try to cover up as many hairs as you can on the sides of your head as well as at the nape of your neck.

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Step 8. Put on your base wig over your wig cap and secure it on your head with plenty of bobby pins. (I like to put a few on the sides of my head above my ears, at the nape of my neck, and on the top near the bangs). Once secured, brush the hair that you want into a low ponytail and wrap it up into your hair elastic. Spray you base wig with hair srpay to help keep your pulled back hair looking smooth if desired. (For my base wig, I am using a Femme Fatale in Ravished Red from Amphigory.com which I have straightened and cut bangs into) Step 9. Flip your low ponytail up and pin it in place using your bobby pins to the back of your base wig. Step 10. Carefully clip your clip on ponytail over your flipped up ponytail at your desired height. Proceed to pin your clip on ponytail to your base wig thoroughly so the ponytail will stay in place and not fall off. Your wig will be pretty heavy! Add whatever accessories to the wig that you may have to decorate it. Now you have a wonderful high ponytail wig! // Tutorial by HezaChan

Photo credits: HezaChan (hezachan.com) Yoko Littner Cosplay by HezaChan

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J-ROCK COSPLAY

Portraying Dir en grey’s Toshiya Katya / Joshou Years of Cosplay: 3 Moscow, Russia joshou.deviantart.com

I want to make a costume. I want to put on latex and leather and a corset studded with screws, and I want to wear a wig, fake lashes and cupid bow lips in black. I want to move around, tall and regal, and see the world through someone else’s eyes. I want to wear gloves and ignore the heat and the sweat going down in rivulets on my spine under the synthetic material, because I want to be black and shiny and mysterious. I want to be Macabre Toshiya. In December 2000 Dir en grey went on to promote their then latest album, Macabre, around major concert halls in Japan. In the middle of their visual kei period, the band donned some of their most memorable outfits, highly elaborate and intricate costumes that keep getting up on every fan’s cosplay wish list, even now, ten years later. Meanwhile Dir en grey let go of their visual past and embraced new horizons in both music and style; yet on every Sunday, amongst growing numbers of The Gazette fans, the bridge leading to Meiji Jingu in Harajuku still fills with devoted Dir en grey cosplayers.

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Flickr.com is full of such pictures, of three Shinyas in the same outfit, or three Toshiyas, standing next to each other as weird cloned replicas of the same person. The same and yet so different siblings. Amongst them the most popular, the Macabre era costumes, blue Myaku kimono or the black, all latex album namesake attire. Toshiya frequently spoke about the difference, the transformation that happens when you wear a mask. The shyness that goes in and the power that exudes from becoming someone else. But is it the same thing when you cosplay? A Shinya cosplayer says “I think it becomes more natural when you’re in the clothes and makeup, and as much as it is a mask it’s also not a false lie either, because the make up and clothes brings something out of you that was already there to begin with; it’s just you feel more free to act out on it. “ The Macabre costume is hard to make, as both my eyes and experienced cosplayers confirm it. Yuegene, (formerly known as Fay_Zenryu) one of the great Toshiya cosplayers and a master of the craft,

having over fifty cosplays in various fields (manga, anime, real-person, vocaloid etc) admits that it was a very difficult task to complete. For Yuegene, cosplaying means trying to be the same with the character you are portraying, so having an accurate replica of the original costume is the key. But, since it is hard to find good and revealing photos of the original, one must improvise. “I watched all of Dir en grey’s lives but it’s still hard to remember the details of this costume.” Yuegene says, but it’s also difficult “because they always change some details too.” Same was for Joshou, who’s been active for three years and recently won an award in Russia for her Macabre cosplay. The process took over a month. “Actually I can`t even understand how I made any of the details.” There’s possibility to order ready-mades from Japan, but Joshou thinks that making your own costumes is key, no matter how hard, and she values the creative skills and experience she gets with every new one. Overcoming initial lacks in sewing skills required first simply finding similar clothes in her wardrobe and going like that, then gradually increasing

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complexity, which culminated with the Macabre costume. Joshou did the live Bunny Toshiya first, while Yuegene chose the Cage costume, a long dress with black and white voile and pleats. “I chose it because I like the song and I was very impressed with the music video. And… yes, because Toshiya is very beautiful” she says and laughs. She remembers, “The first time I went as Toshiya made me really serious. Because I was still not good at making a costume and didn’t have the knowledge, yet I still tried to make it by myself.” In the span of eight years, shedding the visual kei past, Toshiya changed gradually from a beautified feminine creature to a more masculine self and, in 2008, concomitantly with the release of the Uroboros album, he changed his style yet again. His long dark hair waving on his right side and completely shorn on the other. Eyebrows went under the blade as well. This extreme change of style didn’t however stop fans from portraying him even now. There are pictures from the American leg of the tour, a month later, with him and fans having the same look. Then, a quick search on curecos, one can find Akashi, cosplaying

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Toshiya, half of her head shaved to the skin and all. In the usual purikura styled pictures she looks a softer, younger and sweeter version of Toshiya, but nevertheless, perfectly spot-on. Asked about fans’ reactions, Die, guitarist of Dir en grey, said he understands them because he himself is a fan. In fact Die is a big fan of D’Erlanger guitarist Cipher. A knowing eye will recognize the red snakeskin guitar Die takes around the world with him to be strikingly similar to Cipher’s. The snakeskin tattoo as well. Fan worship goes both ways. Toshiya’s early costumes are an amalgam of punk, cyberpunk and anime elements, (CLAMP’s Clover comes to mind), sometimes highly erotic and powerful, yet laced with feminity and grace, in an empowering mix that, together with his infectious and highly active presence, makes him a favorite amongst Dir en grey cosplayers. It’s not only the beautiful costume, but also his personality that shines through and his musicianship that make fans decide to cosplay him and be inspired. Both Yuegene and Joshou play the guitar or the bass, as well as Sirena, a Toshiya

cosplayer from LA, who finds that the instrument actually adds to this “ideal” individual she’d like to portray and become like, visually and musically as well. That love and fannish connection is what Yuegene blames too “I love Dir en grey, and all the members and the music are great.” Still, “why is Toshiya special? Because I love him. I like his style and everything about him. I fell in love especially when I saw him play the bass.” And, when asked what she likes best to portray, even now, years and dozens of different costumes aside, Yuegene muses “Without doubt, Toshiya from Dir en grey. He’s always my inspiration.” When I first saw Toshiya it was in the Macabre period and I thought I’ve never seen something so beautiful, powerful, energetic and yet emotional too. Even if it has refined and gained new meanings now, that impression never really changed. Yuegene remembers “I first saw him when I was about 11-12 years old. I liked him when I saw him playing the bass and really, really loved him more when I saw the Osaka Jo Hall performance. That’s the best Dir en grey live for

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J-ROCK COSPLAY

Yuegene Fay Years of Cosplay: 10 Thailand yuegene.deviantart.com en.curecos.com/profile/?ch=44261

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me. I never met him, but I hope I can go to see Dir en grey live one day.” On stage Toshiya is a hurricane; he jumps, ballets, lets the music flow through him like a discharge; becomes one with the bass and the audience. He shed all the flamboyancy of costumes and makeup just as the rest of the band, standing out through music and mere energy. At the beginning of January, on stage at the Budokan, his bass droned through the massive hall and he played in a shirt and a kilt, a brief reference to the past, perhaps the first since Dir en grey left visual kei, maybe a moment of self-reflection, a way to go and accept the past self, so exotic to the outside world the band is trying to break into in recent years. In Budokan, on the last night concluding the tour, ending with the opening chants of Sa Bir, Toshiya moved to another step in his life. At home, a notebook in my hand, I’m thinking how to approach the Macabre costume and imagine the day I will as well embrace my self and walk out in it,

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unafraid, accepting and regal. In the end I asked Yuegene and Joshou a few questions about cosplaying Toshiya and cosplay in general and they were kind enough to answer. How is it to become Toshiya? What’s the easiest, and what is the hardest part in becoming him? Yuegene: It’s hard to say. The easiest part is that I always visualize him and his style in my mind; on the other hand, it is hard because I’m not Toshiya. My shape is not like his. Joshou: When I saw what Dir en Grey looked like I decided to cosplay Shinya. But gradually I came to the conclusion that I am more like Toshiya, so I started cosplaying him. I think that was a good idea. *laughs* How is cosplaying a real person different from cosplaying manga or anime characters? Yuegene Ok. For me, the word “Cosplay” means you must be the “same” with the character you cosplay. I think there are differences, maybe in detail, but cosplaying real people is still cosplay. The difference lies in the fact that you can

cosplay a real person by copying their style, the makeup and the costumes. But in manga and anime, I think it’s really hard. Because the face or body in some of them is visibly different to the human body. It’s very hard work to be an anime or manga character. Still, I think humans can do anything. *laughs* Joshou: Well, in my mind j-rock cosplay is perhaps even more difficult. You have to buy needed fabric, and have to look like your j-rocker. But there are some difficult anime-costumes, because the creators never think about cosplayers. Any beautiful memories relating to cosplay? Yuegene: I got to be invited as a guest for some events in other countries, and I met many people in different places. Even though the cultures and language might be different, we can be friends through cosplay and that impresses me a lot and makes me very happy. Joshou: *smiles* Our sleepless nights, exhausting rehearsals, the fears before performances, and finally... euphoria For you, what is cosplaying? Yuegene: Cosplay is Colorful Life.

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Do you have any advice for fans just starting out with cosplay? Yuegene: If you love that character, just do it! Joshou: Just do what you like. Sometimes people tell me: “Stop doing Toshiya cosplays,� but I don`t care. I have too many plans on him. I focus on that. // Article by Irina Georgescu

Photo credits: Joshou 1. Tatyana Sirotina (flickr.com/people/sirotina) 2, 3. JustMoolti (justmoolti.deviantart.com) Photo credits: Yuegene 4, 5, 6, 7. Jameskiller (jameskillermaster.deviantart.com)

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FASHION

A Short History of Ura-Hara Fashion Thanks to FRUITS photographer Shoichi Aoki, Harajuku is world renowned as the hipster place in Tokyo to namedrop. It is home to the kookiest fashion Japan has to offer, being the center of the Gothic Lolita and Visual kei looks scene since the 80s. Every Sunday, hordes of photographers come to shoot the gloomy kids in their Victorian garb whilst they pose coquettishly on the bridge, reveling in the attention. Most visitors coming to Harajuku scour the main Takeshita Dori area, with its rows of kitschy boutiques and cheap teen shopping. From there, they walk to the iconic LaForet plaza on the corner, and then up the Omotesando shopping area - often referred to as the Champs Elysses of Tokyo. The trendiest area in Harajuku, however, is the Ura Harajuku (the backstreets) area - which is home to the most popular, cutting-edge indie labels. Ura Harajuku is a labyrinth of tiny lanes that lie east of Meiji Dori behind GAP - but as a term, is generally used to refer to any of the roads that lie off the main Omotesando and Meiji streets. It is esteemed for its diverse range of independent boutiques, select stores, and street wear labels. Whilst Takeshita Dori is dominated by schoolgirls and various aggressively dressed subcultures, Urahara - in particular the ‘Cat street’ area - offers individualistic, affordable clothing from the best local and international designers. Harajuku itself began to grow after the iconic Meiji Shrine was built in 1920. The area was highly lauded for its spiritual power, which attracted people from all over Japan to visit. After the War and the destruction of the original Shrine complex, the American Forces occupied what is now Yoyogi Koen. Gradually - with the postwar economic recovery and the Olympic Games - Harajuku came to be populated with teens, creative industry people, and media. Urahara was once a residential area with cheap rent for unknown labels. In the 1990s, it became the mecca for young, visionary designers. The three people most influential in shaping Urahara culture are Hiroshi Fujiwara, designer Jun Takahashi of Undercover, and NIGO. In 1993, Jun Takahahi and NIGO (both 23 at the time) opened Nowhere, a store that was divided in two with wire netting. One side sold dark, surrealistic Undercover items, and the other offered NIGO selected import items such Adidas sneakers before he started his own brand, a Bathing Ape (known to its fans as BAPE). The two worked with Fujiwara Hiroshi on a magazine called Asayan, which is considered pivotal in creating the Urahara scene. When Jun Takahashi moved Undercover’s flagship store to Aoyama, NIGO started the BAPE brand, with the gorilla face graphic as the logo. This cemented Ura Harajuku as a style movement to be reckoned with - characterized by a street aesthetic, with haute couture prices. BAPE ‘s success was somewhat phenomenal despite their ridiculously high pricing. This was partially due to their noadvertising policy, preserving BAPE’s “underground” image, and hidden store fronts giving the illusion of exclusivity. Another

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Maki & Taka Both Maki & Taka are regular contributors to TokyoFashion. com, a Harajuku-based English language website dedicated to Japanese street fashion. The site is updated daily with fresh street fashion photos from Harajuku and other areas of Tokyo. TokyoFashion.com also covers runway shows, fashion events, fashion news, and anything else related to fashion in the world’s most crowded metropolis.

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FASHION factor helping the brand was NIGO’s A-list connections, who sported his limited edition hardcore/ cute tees, making them the ultimate commodity in cool. For years, people would line up to get their one-off BAPE items. Whilst BAPE mania has waned and seemingly caters to NIGOs friends in the hip hop illuminati and Asian shoppers on holidays, the stores are still something of a landmark, sporting renowned design firm Wonderwall interior design. Shoes are displayed on sushi conveyor belts, or take on the guise of ice-cream stores. In the meantime, Jun Takahashi put his strength into showing at the Paris collections. He is still seen by many as the designer who represents what is happening on the streets of Tokyo. Another influential store was Hikaru Iwanaga’s Bounty Hunter (BxH). His flagship store opened in 1995. While its current incarnation is somewhat unimpressive, BxH is legendary for creating the designer vinyl toy boom, with the advent of the ‘Kid Hunter’ toy. Since then, Bounty Hunter released the first toys made by KAWS in 2000, lowbrow artist Frank Kozik’s first toy (the Smokin’ Bunny in 2002), and helped Silas make their first James Jarvis toy. Urahara now is predominantly men’s street stores like Stussy, sneaker select stores, hipster girl brands like Milkfed and X-girl, and casual stores like United Arrows and Beams. Another “look” that is strongly represented in Urahara is the hippie/vintage look. Said to be born from the suburbia/ redneck yankee look, it can be found in the numerous shops selling flannelette shirts, wrecked jeans, denim shirts and secondhand items. On the flip side are the numerous hair salons that have created the “salon-kei” movement, which is a metrosexual, dapper look inspired by celebrity hair stylists. Whilst the FRUITS and gothic Lolita books by Phaidon started a mania of snap-happy photographers with point-n-shoots wanting to capture the freakiest, coolest, and most outrageous kids in the street, you will be hard pressed to find that many freaks ala the days of yore. On Cat street, you will definitely not see any neighbourly cats – rather a plenitude of tourist fashion victims and fat wallets. However, the biggest threat to Harajuku is globalization. Within the blink of an eye, the most iconic stores, such as the Snoopy store, were replaced by generic chains. The H&M opening in 2008 was hugely successful, and still sees lines of shoppers queuing up, much to the detriment of the Harajuku character. Despite this, Harajuku is home to the most cutting-edge and creative fashion in the world, and Urahara still has the stores that made the area famous in the early 90s. No matter how much Gwen Stefani tries to appropriate the Harajuku look, it will never completely sell out, as Japanese street level fashion is still a phenomenal creative outlet for fashion-obsessed kids, and has an energy and vitality that can’t be found anywhere else. // Article by Manami “Maki” Okazaki.

Photo credits: Taka Kira tokyofashion.com

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STREETFUL OF STORIES Do you sometimes, when someone in the street happens to catch your eye, ask yourself what that person is like and what their story might be? Do you sometimes observe them and try to guess whether they are happy or sad; cheerful or melancholy; whether they’ve had a good day or not? And where they are going, and who they might be going to meet, and whether you could be good friends with someone like that? We might not be aware of it, but each of us is constantly in the process of telling our story, our own unique and quirky story, to everyone else, friends or strangers, with or without words. Somewhere among the crowds, the swarms of seemingly indifferent people we go past every day, there are those receptive eyes and hearts to whom you, just by being yourself, might convey a fragment of your story – and thereby bring them a smile, a bright moment, a refreshing thought. Taking inspiration from the colorful streets of Japanese cities, I hope this column will be of help in presenting some of the ways young people from that country, physically so remote but so close to our interests and affections, choose to express their stories, telling and re-telling, discovering and re-inventing themselves, through the things they wear.

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What It Takes to Be a Lolita or Dare to Be Lovely

When I first saw photos of Japanese lolitas, four or five years ago, I was instantly drawn to their loveliness and air of tranquility. Here were people who, in this fast-moving world that’s running forward with all the speed technology can afford, chose be living reminders of long past eras of elegance and grace, when, even amidst whirls of change, the moments of quietude and simple enjoyment of the beautiful things in life were not as hard to come by as they seem to be today. Who were these lovely girls, and what made them look like pretty porcelain dolls? The more I enquired into the style, the more interested and attracted I became, and now, after all this while, although I certainly am not an adherent of all the different aspects of the Lolita culture, it is still as close to my heart as on that first day. That’s why, as our first excursion into Japanese street fashion, I chose to share with you some of my findings on what it takes to be a lolita. To start off, some clarifications are needed about what Lolita is and is not. First of all, although its name might easily make Western audiences think of Vladimir Nabokov’s novel of the same name, with its sexually precocious heroine, a fashion style that emphasizes female sexuality is what Lolita most decidedly is not. Rather, modesty and innocent childlikeness are two defining traits of the Lolita aesthetic. Secondly, and especially since you are reading this article in a cosplay magazine, it is important to understand that Lolita is not cosplay, but fashion. That is, someone wearing such an outfit is not “in costume” or trying to represent a certain character. They are just wearing clothes. Albeit quaint, and many times suitable for more formal occasions, Lolita clothing is meant to be wearable, yes, even on a day to day basis. What a lolita sets to achieve through her style is an image of pure femininity and grace, whether expressed by refined elegance or sweet cuteness. Vulnerability would be another word to describe the delicate appearance of a lolita. Paradoxically, however, courage and self-confidence must be essential characteristics of anyone who wears this fashion – after all, it takes adventurousness, audacity and sheer pluck to go out into the street looking as if you’ve just stepped down from a time machine! That is because, while the history of this style and its accompanying subculture seems to go not much further back than

the early 1980’s, the historical sources of inspiration both for the look as a whole and for the details of each garment or accessory are to be found mainly in the British Victorian era, with influences from the earlier Regency, and even from the French Rococo and Baroque. Since the Victorian fashion for children, rather than adults, is the basis for the Lolita silhouette, the skirts and dresses worn with this style are most often knee-length, or just above the knee, and rigid corsets that restrict normal breathing are not a part of it, although a clearly defined waistline is a must. Let’s then have a closer look at the different parts that make up a Lolita outfit. Above all, it is very important that every piece is made of high quality materials, and that the whole ensemble creates an impression of balance and harmony – not by any means shoddy or scanty, but neither excessively ornate and overloaded. Yes, lolitas wear lace, frills, bows, sometimes all at once, yet caution must be taken against gaudy pretentiousness. The colors and the patterns used are most often chosen according to which Lolita substyle one is wearing, and I will mention here only a few of the various categories: black, white, or muted colors for Classic Lolita; again black for the Gothic Lolitas, with cross motifs, coffins, bats and spiders; pink, baby blue and other pastels for the Sweet variety, with floral or food prints; navy blue and white for Sailor Lolita, with stripes and marine motifs; cheerful greens and reds, gingham and fruit- and flower-prints for a Country outfit. La pièce de résistance is always the bellshaped skirt, whether it is an actual skirt, or a jumper skirt, or a dress. In order to achieve the particular puffy shape needed for a skirt to be called Lolita, at least one, but usually several, petticoats are necessary. It is rare to find skirts or dresses of a suitable shape in stores that carry mainstream clothing. That’s why a madeto-order garment is recommended, or one bought from the brands that specialize in this style. If a skirt, or a jumper skirt, are worn, a blouse is of course needed – with either long or short sleeves, usually collared, and buttoned at the front, and also of modest cut, which doesn’t show too much skin. In keeping with this fashion’s standards of modesty, not only the shoulders but

the legs too must be covered. Long socks or tights are used for this purpose. Again for propriety’s sake, and in order to add yet more “poof” to her silhouette, a lolita can wear bloomers, which are allowed to peek a little from under her skirt, but not too much. The classical Lolita shoes are the Mary Janes – low-heeled shoes with rounded, closed toes and a strap across the instep. There are many variations of the Mary Janes, and for a Lolita outfit chunkier shoes are preferred, often with platforms or thick heels. High-heeled pumps are also an option, as long as they are elegant and “princessy” – not pointy stilettos! Boots can be worn, too, with the same care to choose a more classical style over a trendy one. Then, a well coordinated bag is needed – and here the creativity of the lolitas and the Lolita brands can easily be seen, since they range all the way from the cute animal- or cake-shaped purses of the Sweet Lolitas to the lovely woven baskets of the Country Lolitas to the bat- or coffinshaped bags of the Gothic ones. Good taste, along with ingenuity and even playfulness, are required in regards to choosing some suitable headwear, without which a lolita could not consider her outfit complete. Bows larger or smaller, hairbands, flowers, bonnets, hats, minihats, and the traditional headdresses are all options from which the discerning lolita will select, after careful research, the appropriate accessory that will harmoniously match her ensemble. The hair is usually worn long, sometimes styled into curls, tied in twin tails, or braided. However, a simple ponytail can be… too simple! If you have short hair, or for some reason prefer not to show it, wearing a wig is possible, too. All other accessories, such as earrings, necklaces, bracelets and rings, should closely fit the overall style of the outfit, and never be too flashy or ostentatious. The same could be said about the makeup, since Lolita, and its more grown-up variety, the Elegant Aristocrat style, emphasize youthfulness or refined maturity. According to what substyle one is wearing, other accoutrements can be added, for even more elegance, panache or cuteness, as required. Among the most common are parasols, which are also quite practical for protecting a lolita’s delicate skin from the glare of the summer sun, and dolls and stuffed toys – these latter

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STREETFUL OF STORIES ones most often acompanying Sweet Lolitas. To round off this presentation of the basic elements of a Lolita outfit, I must add some words of caution, a few short tips to make sure some common mistakes are avoided: Sneakers or stilettos are not part of this style! It’s worth to do some research on what would fit the clothes you already have and invest in a good pair of Mary Janes or other suitable shoes. Shiny fabrics are also big no-no, and you should stay away from thin, cheap fabrics and lace. Admittedly, it is expensive to put together a proper Lolita outfit, but a few well-made pieces which you can coordinate in different ways will take you a long way. Finally, proper undergarments are a must. A skirt with no petticoat is not Lolita. A skirt that’s too short is not Lolita, either. Yes, the Lolita fashion has its quite strict rules, but, as in a game the rules are there to make the game fun, so in this case their role is to give the style the solid ground on which any lolita can freely build, according to her own inventiveness and creativity. Attentive research is required, but in the end, the possibilities are infinite.

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My hope is that many readers had their interests piqued and their imaginations awakened, and feel now that they might like to give this style a try! To conclude, what is needed to be a lolita? A childlike heart that has not forgotten the fairytales that set it dreaming once upon a time. A yearning for grace and elegance, for the sweetness of youth. And most of all, courage to pursue your dream, and fearlessly tell your own story while letting your loveliness shine through. // Article by Măriuca Mihalache

Photo credits: 1. Helen Clara, Michigan, USA Photo by Helen Clara 2. Fanny Bissonnette, Québec, Canada Photo by Lili 3. Ida Elisabeth, Oslo, Norway Photo by Elsa løkken 4. Dina Dayupay, London, England Photo by Ravenblakh 5. Lorrie, Fredericton, Canada Photo by Corey Nowlan 6. Nicole Oliva, Long Island, New York, USA Photo by Michelle Oliva

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PROFILE

William Wong / AmenoKitarou Cosplay: Noctis Lucis Caelum (Final Fantasy Versus XIII) Years of Cosplay: 2 Sydney, Australia amenokitarou.deviantart.com Cosplay Gen: We see you’re a big fan of the Final Fantasy series; did the series influence you in any way to get into cosplaying? WW: No actually. I got into cosplay because I wanted to make use of the creative things that I was capable of, in order to make something beautiful. When making costumes, I generally look for something that is appealing to the eyes and seems challenging to make. It is just a funny coincidence that a lot of the costumes and weapons I like come from games made by Square Enix. Haha... CG: Tell us about the sword; how long did it take to make, and what was the most difficult part of the process? WW: The sword took me 10 days to make. It is made from a pine wood base, and I built the details on top with a range of materials like pipes, drink bottles, and sink strainers. The most difficult part of this weapon was the engine, obviously, not because it looked complicated, but because I could not find the materials I had in mind. CG: Who are you going to cosplay next? WW: That is a secret at the moment. I will keep everyone updated on amenokitarou.deviantart.com

Photo credits: Beethy www.beethy.com

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PROFILE

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PROFILE

Shizuka / RainerTachibana Cosplay: Lightning (Final Fantasy XIII) Years of Cosplay: 4 Auckland, New Zealand rainertachibana.deviantart.com tachibanashizuka.wordpress.com

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Cosplay Gen: How long did it take to make this costume and what was the most difficult part? RainerTachibana: I had actually planned this Lightning cosplay very early on, in 2007, but never started it till very much later, choosing instead to debut Noctis Lucis Caelum (FFVersusXIII) first. Sketches, drafts and blueprints weren’t actually worked on until 2009, when I decided (on the very last minute, as usual) to attend an end-of-year event in Singapore as part of a Final Fantasy XIII team. Total time spent on this project was probably around 60+ hours. I needed to spare extra time on my schedule to complete the Blaze Edge (Lightning’s sword) for the cosplay, so I enlisted the help of my personal tailor (who is awesome) to construct the base of the costume, and I would later add detailing and make accessories/props/armor. Some time was also set aside prior to that for sourcing for fabric and making and compiling sketches, and for analyzing the costume itself. The Blaze Edge, made from lightweight wood, small metal components, plastic, and foam, took about two days, on and off, to complete. The rest of the costume and accessories, such as the leg pouch, straps, boots, and other miscellaneous details took longer because I hand-stitch very slowly. The most difficult part in making this cosplay was perhaps getting the overall look right. Lightning is

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a very tall and long-limbed character, and so I had to modify the sizing and length of my costume to ensure that my overall proportions didn’t deviate too far from hers. Also, as is the issue with every Final Fantasy character I do, I had to adapt my makeup style to suit the character - nothing too heavy and overdone, but at the same time reshape my features to match the character’s. Another difficulty was working on a tight timeframe. Sadly, because of this, I wasn’t able to complete every single detail to perfection (or satisfaction), but this will be resolved since I’m reworking the entire cosplay in the near future. CG: You also cosplay male characters; which do you enjoy cosplaying most and why, male or female? RT: The traits that I admire in a character are almost never gender-related, and so I like cosplaying both genders an equal amount. People who haven’t met me face-to-face often ask about my gender. I believe that when it comes to cosplay, gender doesn’t matter. Female cosplayers often cosplay male characters effectively, and the opposite is also true. A lot of male cosplayers also cosplay female characters, and a number of them do it very well. Characters are becoming so diverse and unconventional; and can’t simply be classed according to

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whether they are male or female. There are certain types of characters with certain traits that I tend to develop a liking for; it really depends on the character itself, and has nothing to do with gender. CG: Would you like to have a career in cosplaying or will you keep on doing it for yourself and your fans? RT: Oh, I really don’t know. It seems that cosplay is getting more and more exposure and acceptance in the past year. If there was an opportunity for a career (or even as a sideline) in this, why not? Unfortunately, such an opportunity hasn’t presented itself, so I’ll be happy to continue pursuing cosplay as just a hobby.

Photo credits: 1, 3. William Wong aka Rescend (rescend.deviantart.com) 2. Ahbu (ahbu.deviantart.com)

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PROFILE

Lionel Lum Years of Cosplay: 15 Milpitas, California usagichan.com Cosplay Gen: How long did it take to make that costume and what was the most difficult part? Lionel Lum: It took 3 months to build the first version in 2008, and an additional 2 weeks for an updated version in 2009. All of it is completely hand-made out of craft foam, foamboard, vinyl, and polystyrene plastic sheeting. The most difficult part was designing for comfort and mobility. I could be in it for hours and hours and not have to worry about keeling over from exhaustion. It’s really very lightweight. CG: Were there cases when people found it hard to believe there was an actual person in that costume? LL: Most people thought I was indeed a robot or a statue. But because I moved around a lot like Bumblebee in the movie and just acted naturally, people eventually got even more excited and stood in so many lines for pictures of me and with me. I think it was mostly pictures with me that outnumbered pictures of me. CG: If you were to cosplay another robot, which one would it be and why? LL: It’d have to be Sideswipe from the second movie because he skates around on wheeled feet, which is pretty insane. I love doing challenging projects, but we’ll see.

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Cosplay & Photo Credits: Bumblebee (Transformers) by Darkain Multimedia darkain.com

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PROFILE

Walter Brattelli / Vegapunk89 Years of Cosplay: 2 Milan, Italy vegapunk89.deviantart.com Cosplay Gen: Tell us more about your Trafalgar Law costume, how did you make it? WB: Oh well, for the hat I’ve bought a wooly jumper, which I knew it would be useful also for the katana. I cut the fabric and gave it to my grandma (who is quite skillful at sewing). If you can’t sew, you can try to cover a similar hat with the fabric. For the spots I used 2 acrylic pens, black and brown. I colored the bigger spot in black, and then I drew a brown line over the black spot, in order to achieve a sort of light effect. I bought a simple black hoodie and a simple yellow t-shirt; I’ve sewn the yellow t-shirt (without the sleeves) on the hoodie. For the symbol, I printed it on a special paper (Epson, Iron-on cool peel, transfer paper), and then I ironed this paper on the t-shirt! It’s easy! I used an old pair of jeans. For the spots I applied exactly the same procedure and colors as above. Now I’ll tell you how I made the katana. It’s made of wood and it can’t be drawn out of its sheath. I’ve sawn a slab of wood, which I afterwards polished with sandpaper. The hilt of the katana is made of the same material as the hat.

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CG: Was it hard to make the Inazuma costume? How did you manage to have the two different colors on each side? WB: It was really hard. The shoes and the glasses are painted with acrylics, and I can’t see through the glasses. For the coat I’ve bought two kinds of fabric, orange and white. So I made half of the costume, the other being mirrored. Same goes for the trousers. As for the fur, I’ve used a strange hairy carpet that I’ve dyed orange. CG: Are you thinking of cosplaying any other One Piece character? If yes, which one? WB: I was thinking of Gol D. Roger from chapter 0, but I don’t think I’ll make this cosplay. So I’m waiting for some new character, maybe Vegapunk... who knows!

Cosplay & Photo Credits: 1, 3. Inazuma (One Piece) by Noriyuki Wakabayashi (noriyuki83.deviantart.com) 2. Trafalgar Law (One Piece) by LadyBorderline (ladyborderline.deviantart.com)

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INTERVIEW

Cosplay Society Years of Cosplay: 2 Bucharest, Romania cosplaysocietypro.deviantart.com

Cosplay Society

about the Joy of Playing

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I’ve met the members of Cosplay Society in a cold winter afternoon, and we had a very nice talk over a cup of hot chocolate. A bunch of lovely and lively kids who taught me about what it means to really love cosplay and what it takes for them to do it, in a country in which cosplay has just began to develop. They told me about how they save their daily pocket money for future costumes, how they rehearse in parks or in other public spaces using as background the music played from their mobile phones, how people often mistakes them for some theatre actors, and also about their goals and future plans. A group of nine merry high-schoolers, bound together by their love for cosplay, who consider themselves a big happy family. I asked the girls (Yuki, Aki, Kato, Yoko, Sakura, Ami, Rena, Yume, Akemi) a few questions, willing to get a little more insight into their world.

Cosplay Gen: Although in Romania cosplay is still in the beginning stage, the public here already knows you as a group. Still, each of you takes part also in the individual cosplay contests. What do you think about the differences between individual cosplay and group cosplay? Which one of these do you like most? CS: The benefit of individual cosplay is that you are able to draw attention better, as everyone out there is watching you, but there are also drawbacks; for instance, you must create the atmosphere on the stage all by yourself. There are some cases when a character is nothing without a partner, such as Hikaru and Kaoru Hitachiin (Ouran High School Host Club). The weak point of group cosplay is that misunderstandings might always appear. We are many and we have different ideas. A skit must be divided equally among all the members. Still, we prefer the group contest because it’s much more fun to perform together with your friends. We complement each other and we’re having lots of fun together. CG: At Nijikon 2009 (Romanian anime convention) you’ve just won the first prize and the public’s award

at the group cosplay contest, and this was also your first victory. How did you feel? Are you more motivated to improve yourself? CS: Winning the first prize made us feel accomplished and proud. Yes, that motivates us a lot, but sometimes it’s quite difficult, because the public’s expectations are growing bigger and, as you probably know, a good cosplay means a lot of effort. CG: I’m sure you know the cosplay scene pretty well. Do you have certain models that inspire you? Some favorite cosplayers from abroad or even from Romania? CS: In the beginning we were inspired by a group of cosplayers from Canada, called FightingDreamers. Now, each of us has her own model; there are a lot of astonishing cosplayers abroad, but in Romania this field is still “under construction”. CG: It’s been two years since you exist as a group, almost with the same members. What is your secret? How do you succeed to preserve the group’s unity? CS: Our group is based on democracy. We don’t have a group

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INTERVIEW leader and all the decisions are taken through the means of vote, without being imposed by someone. We consider this the fairest method. CG: You told me that you are willing to collaborate with promising cosplayers, even if it’s only for one contest. Why do you do that? CS: Sometimes, in order to have a good skit, it’s necessary to bring forth a certain number of characters, and we aren’t always able to cover this number. That’s why we are willing to collaborate with other cosplayers. Also, we stick to collaborations because we are a constant group and we can’t afford to take everyone in. There are a lot of good cosplayers in other cities, but we prefer to work project-based with them because rehearsals and meetings take time and they cannot participate. (e.g.: Millennium Earl from the D.Gray-man skit). CG: All of you are high-schoolers and you always have a very loaded schedule and a lot to study. How does school match with cosplay? CS: They actually don’t, because we make a lot of sacrifices for cosplay and usually things don’t end up well. We are trying to skip classes less, but in the end it’s still bad. CG: Can you tell me a funny moment of Cosplay Society? I know you had lots of them and that they are very dear to you. CS: There are too many funny moments to choose one, but we can mention the 2009 Christmas and New Year’s Eve, which we spent together. The funfactor? Kato. She has a contagious laugh, and everything becomes more relaxing when we hear her.

CS: We think that cosplay in Romania is evolving. There are some cosplayers who are already known here and we are sure things are going the right way. In several years we hope to be better than we are now, more experienced and, why not, to make a career out of cosplay. We intend to go to many events and festivals, here and abroad. CG: If you had to give a piece of advice to someone who wants to get into the fabulous world of cosplay, what would you say? Yuki: Be sure you have all the necessary resources to make the cosplay you chose. Aki: Use your inventiveness! Kato: Choose characters that fit you and that are loved by the public. And don’t forget about the details, they’re important... Yoko: First of all, have fun! Don’t forget why you began to cosplay and be original! Sakura: A good cosplay takes devotion! Keep working hard! Amy: Take all the critics positively and don’t be disappointed. Rena: Involve yourself in what you are doing and don’t be lazy! Try as much as you can and don’t be disappointed if you don’t succeed from the first attempt. Learn from your mistakes! Yume: You have to be prepared for cosplay and for certain sacrifices. Akemi: Don’t worry, be happy! Stay tuned for more CoSo ;) // Interview by Ruxandra Târcă

CG: I know you have to rehearse in the park or in other public spaces and there are many times when people don’t understand what exactly you’re doing and react in unexpected ways. How do you manage? Did you try to find a location for your rehearsals, e.g. a school’s gymnasium? CS: Yes, the lack of a location is, indeed, a problem, especially when we have more complex skits. We tried several times to get a gymnasium, but we were always turned down. We have to rehearse in the park or at home, and when we rehearse in the park we always get various reactions. But we didn’t care, because we were having fun, and what they told us didn’t matter. In 2008 we had our private location for rehearsals, offered by our friend Caro, but she now lives in another country. We miss her :(. CG: What do you think about the Romanian cosplay scene and its development? Where do you see Cosplay Society in several years? As a group, what are your long-term goals?

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Photo credits: Alexandru Dan

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THE BEGINNER’S CORNER Basic seams If it’s your first cosplay, I suggest you choose a character with a rather unsophisticated costume, such as school uniforms (each anime has its unique uniform, and it’s much easier for you to be recognized by the others), and if you prefer a casual costume, such as a dress or shirt and trousers, focus on your wig, otherwise nobody will tell that you are cosplaying. But back to our costumes; regardless the complexity, all of them have a set of basic seams. Even if you are a beginner and you can’t sew straight, there’s no problem as long as it’s not visible and you can cover them, for instance with ribbons (if the costume allows it). If you don’t know what kind of fabric fits for certain costumes: Satin/or elastic satin is appropriate for shiny costumes; lycra is a fabric that fits tightly on the body; and for uniforms I suggest a dull and synthetic fabric. Regardless the fabric, don’t buy more than 2-3 m. If you need more, you can always buy some extra later; it’s better than to buy too much of it. Always cut 2 cm more than the normal size, because the fabric is going to be overcast; for instance: if your waist is of 64 cm, cut 66 cm of fabric. Overcastting This is a very important step if you don’t want the costume to disintegrate and you to be left dressed only with half of it. Now there are special sewing-machines, but perhaps not all of us can afford them, so we have to manage how we can. It is advisable to fold the fabric twice, but if another fabric is going to be attached over it, for instance a ribbon or lace (depending on the costume) you can fold it only once. A beautiful seam can be very simple to make; once you bind two pieces of fabric (for instance, the front and back of a shirt) you notice a lateral strip left by the seam, which doesn’t look too good; turn the fabric inside out and paste/fold the rest onto the main fabric, then sew as close as possible to the previous one. You’ll see it’s more resilient now. Although the sewing-machine makes straight simple seams, we can play with the fabric in order to get what we want, such as when the overcast is finished at one end. If you want to tailor a folded skirt (such as the classic Japanese uniforms), you pass the fabric once more under the needle and, while further sewing, once in two fingers distance you stop to fold the fabric one piece over the other following the same direction. You’ll just have to pay attention that the distance between the folds is the same everywhere,

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otherwise one fold will be wider than the other and it won’t look good that way. The last step is to iron your skirt vertically and emphasize the folds. If you are tailoring a skirt that has a strip of different color at the base, first you sew that ribbon, and afterwards you begin making the folds, otherwise it will be more difficult. If you want the fabric to look baggier, the technique is the same, but this time you fold a piece of fabric upwards and the other downwards, or one to the left and the other to the right. This kind of seam can be applied wherever you wish the fabric to be more rigid; for instance, a shirt with baggy shoulders, or an animestyle skirt; in the end, don’t forget to add a waistband* – a piece of fabric similar to a ribbon, which covers the seam of the folds – to cover your waist. If you want a Suzumiya-style skirt, after you fold sew once or twice vertically, but only up to the middle, to bind both edges. Note*: For trousers and shirt sleeves, never sew in straight line (the right sleeve should be parallel to the left sleeve), but in a turned V-shape. Take one of your shirts or trousers and see that the sleeves and legs are sewn like this. Finally, how to apply the elastic; measure that part of the body where you want to use the elastic and cut the elastic according to the size, then cut twice as more material. When you use the sewing-machine always pull the elastic and hold the fabric straight; when you release the elastic it will shorten and will take the shape of the waves. I use elastic when I want to make a very simple skirt (it doesn’t fall from your waist, and doesn’t need a zipper), or for long sleeves, to make them baggy and fixed on the wrist. The zipper should be always applied last. And if you don’t want it to be visible, ask for hidden zippers, because they are the most delicate. Also, you can try clips. However, buttons are a little bit more complicated, because you must overcast the cutting, which is something not so easily attainable with a standard sewing-machine. And, after all, it’s cosplay; it’s not compulsory to have the most perfect seams; what matters the most is to make the costume look good on you and to play with various kinds of fabric; if you are a beginner, you can try to tailor miniatureclothes, until you get used to that kind of seam and you’ll be able to make the costume you wish for. And you don’t have to ruin too much fabric either, not to mention the time you save. Just play. // Camelia Antal-Burlacu

1. folds in the same direction - front

2. folds in the same direction - back

3. folds in the same direction step 1

4. folds in the same direction step 2

5. folds in the same direction step 3

6. folds in the opposite direction - front

7. folds in the opposite direction - back

8. folds in the opposite direction - step 1

9. folds in the opposite direction - step 2

10. elastic - front

11. elastic step 1

12. elastic step 2

13. spin over step 1

14. spin over step 2

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