[INTERVIEW] CELEBRITY COSPLAYERS: PASSION FOR THE CHARACTERS DRIVES US TO COSPLAY THEM!
Cosplaying is an integral part of any anime conventions, where droves of people turn out in the costumes of their favourite characters. It’s just under 2 months to AFA2016, and we thought we might introduce a few cosplayers who might be attending the event again this year! Last year’s lineup included plenty of amazing celebrity cosplayers – including Ely, Tomia, Sansin and Liui!
ELY, the sweet and charming cosplayer from Taiwan, was here in AFA for the first time as an invited guest of AFA2015. She first rose to fame in the cosplaying scene with her accurate and beautiful portrayal of characters – notably Sakuya from Touhou. Not stopping with one good cosplay, Ely continued to dazzle fans with a variety of anime characters – such as Asuna from Sword Art Online (SAO) and Nozomi from Love Live!
However, the one character that truly defines her cosplay is none other than Sinon. Her dedication and love to the character can be seen by how many version of Sinon/Shino she has cosplayed over the years, we each one looking amazing! Furthermore, Ely also does plenty of cosplaying of her own original characters!
TOMIA, one of Korea’s most popular cosplayers was in Singapore for her first time as a celebrity guest cosplayer! The sweet-looking cosplayer has cosplayed a variety of characters – from Asuna of SAO, to Kotori of Love Live! The cute and sometimes playful cosplayer certainly popular with fans, with her Facebook page already surpassing the 230k mark!
SANSIN, a rising cosplayer from Korea, is known for doing something really unique, and being really good at it. She cosplays only male characters! She has cosplayed Gintoki from Gintama and Levi from Attack on Titan!
LIUI, a rising cosplayer from the Philippines, is very talented and diverse. He mainly cosplays Disney and DreamWorks characters but also does a few anime cosplays! He is able to pull off many realistic cosplays of Disney characters, with the most notable being Hiccup from How to Train Your Dragon. Also wildly popular, the Filipino has a backing on Facebook of over 230k fans!
We at J-Experience managed to sit down with them for a quick interview – to find out the difficulties of cosplaying as well as their memorable experiences. Without further ado, here is the interview!
Interview [Ely, Tomia, Sansin, and Liui]
Q: How is the cosplay culture – in the Philippines and South Korea – different from that in Japan? Are there any local elements that are added into the culture?
Liui: In the Philippines, cosplay is becoming trendier for children, teenagers and even adults to try it, who think it is cool and fun. My friends and I are also promoting it as a fun activity for everyone, which have resulted in more people trying it and I think that is a good thing. Sometimes, cosplayers even get to earn money out of cosplaying and it is almost the same as other countries.
Liui:However, there are many events in the Philippines where there are no suitable locations for cosplaying. I hope someday it can get as fabulous as Anime Festival Asia, an event which has a nice location and is easy to access.
Tomia: In Korea, there are a lot of specialty shops catered for cosplaying, and cosplayers can prepare their costumes very quickly. It is very unlike in Japan where the cosplayer takes a lot of time to prepare each costume one at a time.
Q: When you first started cosplaying, what is the hardest thing you encountered and how did you overcome it in subsequent cosplays?
Ely: I think the hardest thing would be making the seams of the costume and to make the costumes as slim as possible to the character. It’s also very difficult to make the 3D costumes look like the 2D designs.
Liui: So true.
Tomia: It’s the costumes that are the most difficult to learn. I actually look up the internet to find out how I could make the costumes myself. However, it was very difficult following the instructions on the internet so I attended fashion school instead. So I am now able to make any costumes that I want! (laughs)
Liui: As a male cosplayer, there are many difficulties that I have experienced. It’s not the costumes, nor the cosplay; it’s about showing others that even males can do good cosplay. However, the hardest part is making my parents believe that cosplay, is a good hobby. That it is something that they can accept and appreciate. That is very valuable to me as a cosplayer.
Liui: It is not about how difficult the costume is to make, but rather how passionate one is when he is creating his costumes and how passionate he is when showing everyone how much he loves the character that he portrays. That is the most difficult part; it is something inside your core.
Q: Were there any criticisms when you started this hobby and how did you overcome it? How would you inspire others to overcome such criticisms to continue cosplaying?
Liui: I don’t think we have the same experiences but we don’t really care. (laughs) We don’t really care about what people say about us but for our families, especially for people older than us; they think it is immature and childish. They don’t think it is something that professional people should do. I think the saddest part is that how people would say that cosplaying is immature and it’s not a good hobby suitable for our age. But we don’t really care about what people say.
Liui: For me, I do a lot of Disney and DreamWorks cosplays. There are a lot of other people doing it as well but people would say that I am Asian and I shouldn’t do such western characters. That is kind of painful even though I am just doing it for fun but I don’t care.
Ely: I love cosplay so no matter what they talk about, I wouldn’t really mind. Without cosplay as a hobby, I would be like a normal person doing normal things and normal work. But, cosplaying is something I wish to enjoy and I think I can separate and enjoy the best of both worlds. (laughs)
Liui: Yeah, true.
Sansin: I started to cosplay when I was young but I stopped for a while. Two years later, I started to cosplay again at 18. Everyone tells me that it is a very old age to start cosplay. I currently only cosplay male characters and there are a lot of limitations to it. I just love doing cosplays and overcame it (the criticisms). My advice to those that just started cosplay is to not be afraid and just go with it. Just do it!
Q: Meeting with the fans, having autograph sessions, standing on the Akiba stage and being a part of the cosplay panel. What do you feel when you are participating in all of these?
Liui: We all have our fanboys and fangirls. I think the fans just like the characters that we are cosplaying.
Ely: I always appreciate them.
Liui: Yeah, it is because of them that we are here. We are very happy to see people surrounding us, the feeling is sometimes scary but you know, they appreciate our presence and it means a lot to us.
Q: As we know, all of you are very passionate about cosplay. Has it in any way impact your lives?
Tomia: I changed my major in my studies. I am not sure what else to say (laughs) but it has surely changed my career choices.
Sansin: For positive changes, I am actually someone with low confidence. So when I cosplay a male character, I gain a lot of confidence through it. As for the negative part, my wallet is always empty. (laughs)
Liui: As for how it has changed me, before cosplay, I was already confident in meeting new people and goofing around. I think the positive things that cosplay have given me is that I have learnt to appreciate the things I want to do more, my family when I travel overseas and people in general. You should not judge people from the way they look and appreciate them for what they are able to cosplay.
Liui: I have also learnt to appreciate the children; I used to dislike children as they were noisy. Now one of my goals is to make children happy, even those young-at-heart.
Liui: The negative side is that I am losing time with my family and friends at home, but they are happy for me as they know I am enjoying myself.
Q: Is cosplaying your main job? If no, how do you manage between cosplaying and working?
Ely: Cosplay is not my main job but because of it, my main job changed. I was working as an office lady in a Japanese company but, after doing so many cosplays and being invited overseas, I became an illustrator to accommodate my hobby.
Liui: To be honest with you guys, I work as manager in the Philippines. After managing in a few companies, I started to not enjoy my job so I decided to change career – to human resources. In the new company, I had a good position. However, I felt that I was looking for something that made me happy and one of it was cosplay. My mom then asked me, “Why are you doing this (cosplay)?” I told her it makes me happy and it makes me feel more beautiful and younger.
Liui: After college, I started working and I had no time to have fun. However, I did made an investment for my career so whenever I want to go back to my original profession, I would be able to. But for now, not many people have the opportunity to travel to so many places and to meet new people all over the world. For now, I am just taking my chances. If I am not happy later, I still am able to go back to my career.
Tomia: When I was attending school, I made costumes while working part-time. I was able to plan my schedule as I was doing part-time jobs. I did web design and I helped to fit models as a part time job. I also helped people to make costumes. I directed photo shoots too. I have received a lot of help from the people around me so I am able to enjoy cosplay. I think there is no problem trying to balance between work and cosplay.
Sansin: My major is art so I do a lot of commissions for otaku fan arts and drawings. In that sense, there are not many obstacles between managing my job and cosplay as it is closely related.
Q: What is the most memorable experience you guys had while doing cosplay photo shoots?
Sansin: We rented a hotel room to do a team photo shoot. In ‘Hunter X Hunter’, there was a scene where the characters gather in the hotel room and we tried to recreate that scene in the photo shoot. That is a very special photo shoot to me.
Tomia: There are some negative memories that I have. While I was shooting as Elsa, the weather was very cold. We were shooting at a rural area, and the driver didn’t know the way to town. We drove around for five hours and I caught a cold. After that, I couldn’t stand even twenty minutes for the photo shoot so we went straight back. (laughs)
Liui: Memorable? I think everyone knows my Hiccup photo. The real story of that is my father took that photo at our house rooftop. I was wearing the costume on top while just wearing my boxers at the bottom. (laughs)
Liui: It is basically about expectations versus reality. I didn’t expect the photo to go viral and on so many websites. Now, when I look at the photo, I feel very proud. People ask me where the bottom half of the photo and in my mind I am thinking, “Nope, boxers”.
Ely: I was doing a photo shoot for my photo book in Japan. The mountain was Mount Tengu and my character was a Tengu character. While cosplaying there, I met a little girl; she said “Aww, it is a Tengu.” I was thinking when the little girl went back home, she probably told her mum “I met a Tengu at the Tengu mountain”. It is an interesting story for the girl.
Liui: Yeah, you made the girl happy.
Ely: Yeah, yeah, she’s so cute.
Q: What do you do with old costumes?
Liui: I don’t sell or recycle it. It is like a novelty item for me and you cannot give something like this. For now, I don’t want to give it away or sell it. It is like a part of me.
Tomia: Aside from costumes, I make a lot of dresses and traditional costumes and I still am able to wear them. I make some of the costumes as presents for weddings and I give a lot of them as presents as well. For the cosplays that I have done before, I never really keep the costumes.
Sansin: I have three of the same costumes. One costume for event, one used for photo shoots and the last one as a spare and I keep all of them. The spare costume is in case blood needs to be used in some photo shoots.
Ely: If I make the costumes, I won’t sell them as there are many ‘trade secrets’ that are used in making the clothes. However, if I buy the costume and fix it, maybe sometimes I will sell the costumes to earn money for the next one. I do not usually sell them as all of them are very memorable.
We hope that the cosplayers will continue to bedazzle us with many more exciting and beautiful cosplays! Please do continue to support them at events and conventions so that they will continue to participate and interact with you guys! We hope to see them at Anime Festival Asia 2016 again this year!