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Tell us about your first cosplay experience. When, where, what, etc.

I cosplayed first at Anime Expo 1999 as Larva from Vampire Princess Miyu. I was with my former group PhoeniX SeeD (before we had the name). It was something we hadn't done before and were curious about the experience. I made the mask, and the cloak was made by Maryanne (AngelWingsRinoa from PhoeniX SeeD). I decided to cosplay as Larva because I thought I wasn't attractive enough to have a face- or figure-revealing female costume. I always expected to be dressed up as masked male characters. It's funny how things turned out. I fell in love with cosplay after that and gained more confidence in my appearance.

How do you decide what characters to cosplay and when to wear them?

I choose characters based on whichever anime/games/movies/series/music I enjoy. I usually love the character I make the costume of. I am currently into Tenipuri, Tenimyu, One Piece, and Yugioh! so most of the costumes I've constructed/worn as of late come from those series. Similarly, my costumes from a couple years ago were mainly from CLAMP - Chobits, Angelic Layer, Rayearth, and Card Captor Sakura. Weather, convention settings, and friends have influences on which costumes I bring to a con. Unfortunately in So Cal, the weather is mainly hot so it depends on afternoon versus evening. Another factor is indoor conventions like San Diego Comic Con versus an outdoor con like Ani-Magic. Friends doing same series costumes also influences whether I will bring a costume to a convention.

How do you budget your time during the planning and construction phases of costuming?

I am a horrible time planner. However, I am a hard worker who can meet a deadline. It depends on my determination at the time of construction. For example, my Pai Mei costume for Pacific Media Expo was a 3-day project. I wanted to make his costume since Kill Bill: Volume 2 came out in theatres. I decided to go to PMX but had no plans for the con due to it being the weekend immediately after my finals week at school. Wednesday night before the con, I decided to compete in the masquerade and construct my entire costume. I studied all morning and at work for finals, and stayed up at night to work on my costume. The day before the masquerade, I called my friend Jason (Udonboy) to be in my "no idea what's going to happen" skit for Sunday. Sunday we made up our skit and competed in the masq at night. I like to work on things all at once and finish everything as quickly as possible. If I break in the middle of a piece, I usually forget about what I previously worked on.

Which do you enjoy doing more and why - hall cosplay or stage performances?

I enjoy stage performances more. It's always so fun to be doing a skit with friends on stage. Having a group of friends who work hard and having a fun time practicing and joking around is the best aspect. It doesn't matter whether it's a competing skit or a USA Musume performance. Both give an exciting feeling once you've completed. There's always lots of rehearsals and practices. Doing a good performance gives a great satisfaction. At PMX masquerade, Udonboy and I were waiting for a long time for our turn to do our skit and he was getting tired and annoyed. I remember him saying he would never want to do a masquerade again. After we performed he said it was a lot of fun and if I ever needed him again he would be willing to help.

You've gained a lot of experience in your years of cosplay. Share some useful tips on material selection, sewing and general construction techniques, and stage presence.

I like to choose materials that are :

1) accurate in color, same or similar to the fabric for the costume;
2) ease in sewing and maintenance; and
3) price.

If I am making an armor-looking costume like Dark Magician Girl, I will use shiny plastic-looking fabric like stretch vinyl. I will not use baroque satin to sew a costume because it will wrinkle easily and also feels too thin and weak. I will stay away from fabrics that make big messes like shedding or fraying. Also, if I have a choice between $5 per yard crepe fabric or $1 per yard crepe-like fabric, I will buy the $1 per yard fabric.

Some good tips I have for costume construction are to :

1) Make sure to wash my fabric first to ensure no future shrinkage and fabric dye rubbing off. That's something people forget to do before cutting fabric. You wouldn't want to sew a great costume, spill something on it, wash it, and find out it won't fit anymore.

2) Use a sewing pattern for your costume. If your'e going to make a pleated skirt, a pattern is the best way to have your skirt even.

3) Make a mock costume if you're going to use expensive fabric. Use cheap $.50 per yard fabric to make a mock version of your costume before possibly cutting and ruining expensive $20 per yard fabric. Not only are you making a pattern for your costume with the mock version, the second time you make the same thing is always better than the first version.

A couple tips for stage presence: 1) Be in character. If you're a brooding, recluse character like Ryoma (Prince of Tennis), it's strange to run around smiling and hugging people. That's more for a character like Kikumaru. Being in character adds more flavor and believability to the cosplay. 2) Overact. Most people underact and don't put enough emotion or body language into acting as their character. If you're going to act surprised, a mouth dropping open into a "=O" isn't as noticable as falling backwards and flailing your arms around. It's also in many J-doramas and anime to overact to everything.


Between budget and accuracy in your costumes, how do you find a happy medium?

I've always found a good medium. Living in So Cali, it is only a 20 minute drive to the Fabric District. Fabric price is rarely a problem. All of my fabric for Pai Mei was totaled $10 at $1 per yard. My Iris fabric was $2 per yard. The most expensive parts of my costume are always the wigs and shoes. Wigs cost anywhere from $30 - $120. Shoes run from $4 - $60. It's best if I can have a costume that I can use a previous wig or shoes.

What career path have you chosen and how will cosplay lend itself to helping you achieve that goal?

I am currently studying at CSU Fullerton on Kinesiology with emphasis on Fitness and Health Promotion. Martial arts, exercise and sports are my favorite hobbies. Unfortunately, cosplay has nothing to do with it! Sewing and knitting are my second hobby. The good thing is cosplay is really opposite from my school and work life, giving me an escape from reality!


When the going gets tough, how do you deal with it?

I usually don't let things bother me. Things can either get worse or better, so I try to do my best for the situation. What is tough is when other people make things dififcult. I can control myself, but I can't control others. If I'm doing a group cosplay and people are being flaky, I can try to help them, but it's up to them if they're going to be dependable or a pain.

If a live action version of your favorite anime series were planned and you could star in it, what show would it be and which character(s) would you play?

Prince of Tennis is my favorite series as of the past year! I'm also a major fan of the musical. I love tennis and all of the characters are lovable. Not to mention the musical actors are all talented and good looking! If I could, I'd want to be Ryoma. My favorite character is Kaidoh, but I'm Ryoma's height. I'd also be surrounded by the most gorgeous men I've ever seen. I'd mostly want to get close to Naoya Goumoto! ^_~

As cosplay fandom becomes more and more mainstream, what do you feel is important to instill in new cosplayers?

The most important idea to remember is that cosplay is a hobby. It shouldn't take over regular life. There should be a good balance between juggling cosplay persona and reality persona. There are many people who will cosplay the same character, and there's no reason to get upset over that. Cosplay is based on fictional, animated characters. It's for fun and to show appreciation to your favorite characters.

If you have any rumors to dispel or anything else you'd like to add, now's your chance.

The only truth that most people don't know is that I'm currently single and free to mingle! I'm just waiting for Naoya Goumoto to come to America, meet me and marry me! *laughs* ...if that were ever possible. =p

see more of Hichan's costume collection here

Kimi, your costumes and your attitude about cosplay are great. It's nice to see you keeping things in perspective - especially when it comes to financing this hobby. Your career choice lends itself well to high energy stage shows with awe-inspiring martial arts. It was great meeting you in person at AX 2004 and we wish you much success in your future endeavors.

Garry aka Prof.


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