Tell us about your first cosplay experience. When, where, what costume, how it went...
My first cosplay started in 1999 in Hong Kong when I cosplayed Athena from King of Fighters ‘98. There was a comic market, and I went with my two sisters who are cosplayers too! Cosplay in Hong Kong at that time was still in the early stage. Most of the cosplayers and even the helpers or audiences over there were very friendly, and we shared our thoughts about the comics, manga, video games, etc. that we loved and played. The atmosphere was so warm and fun that it made my sisters and me keep going in our cosplay!
Do you have many events where you can cosplay?
My hometown is Macau which is a little island next to Hong Kong (not belonging to a part of Hong Kong). During my first cosplay years, there were no such things in Macau so all we could do was go to Hong Kong and attend the events there. Nowadays, Macau also has its own events (although they’re small events, at least they’re getting bigger and better). It shows that cosplay actually can survive everywhere, no matter how small the place, and the most important thing is the enthusiasm!
Is there any difference between cosplay in Hong Kong and in Japan or in the U.S.?
There sure is a difference. Cosplay in Japan is very professional and co-operative to me, I think can one even use “crazy” to describe their enthusiasm for cosplay. They really go very deep into the character and even improve the costumes to a higher standard. But one thing I found is that cosplay in Japan separates into two extremes: they are either very professional or very obsessive in a sense that one can use “bad” to describe. In the U.S., I think cosplay is more national in a sense that everyone is equal, with no specific in high or low standard, and it has the feeling like a big family. Cosplay in Hong Kong falls in between Japan and the U.S. Events are not as big as either side, but the atmosphere can compare to both sides. There is a variety of different types of cosplay, too.
How did you learn to sew?
I learned my sewing through handwork class in school, but I think my handwork is no good….. Still a lot improvement needed. I prefer using the sewing machine for costumes because it's faster and more tidy, but for those difficult parts, I will go find a tailor and make adjustments according to my sisters and me. For accessories, I like hand sewing because it can make more detailed items. I prefer making accessories like headdresses or dolls rather than making costumes. How lazy I am…^^; For drawings on the costumes, I leave them for my dear sister, Bright, to do because she is very talented at drawing (not like me).
Is it easy or hard to find unusual materials to make your costumes? What's the hardest thing to find when you shop for parts?
In Macau or Hong Kong, shoes, wigs and make-up stuffs are not difficult to find. I just need to alter certain parts such as trimming and styling the wigs. But when it comes to feathers, special fabric, jewelry, etc., it’s not easy. First, not every shop sells these items; second, it’s not cheap at all. A small package of plain feathers costs a lot already, but if you need feathers with a pattern on them, they are even more expensive. So what I do is get some plain feathers and then draw the patterns on them, or I use some soft cardboard instead of feathers. The hardest things to find are the items which can be transformed into props -- like my fans for my Da Qiao (Dynasty Warriors 3) cosplay. It took me a long time just to find suitable fans which were light enough for me to hold in each hand, not to mention the weight and sizes after alteration.
Can you share some construction tips?
Prepare all the things you need well before your event. Do good research on your costumes, and get to know how accurate you can be. Don’t go over your ability when there is no sufficient time or material for it. Ask for others’ help when there’s a need, and learn from it. Don’t rush yourself because there will always be another chance for you to show your hard work!
You seem to have costumes from everything: anime, manga, video games, j-rock. Is it easy to find the games, music CDs, and books in HK? Also, does the new anime from Japan air on HK television as well?
It is because there are a large variety of games, CDs, and books in Hong Kong, and certain shops help you order stuff from Japan, too, so it’s not hard to get anime goodies. Hong Kong television only shows anime like Cardcaptor Sakura, Gundam Seed, etc. which are not overly violent or hentai which would only show on mid-night hours if at all.
Are your family and friends supportive of your cosplay hobby?
My parents were not so supportive when my sisters and I first started cosplay because they worried that it might affect our studies. But we showed them that it wouldn’t ruin our studies and that we actually learn a lot during our cosplay days so they don’t really disagree with cosplay now, and sometimes, my mother even helps us to sew! I’m very happy and lucky that I have my dear sisters to cosplay with me which keeps me going. Our family relationship is getting closer and closer as we have more chances to communicate on all types of topics and grow through learning how to help each other when we meet difficulties. My friends think it’s interesting although they don’t cosplay, and now they come and support us when there is an event.
Does cosplay enhance or detract from your spiritual life?
I do feel cosplay enhances my spiritual life. When I first started to cosplay, I was very shy. I didn’t dare to take photos with other cosplayers because they were strangers to me. But when they approached me in a friendly way and encouraged me, I got to try a lot of things which opened my mind. It enhanced my personality to be a more cheerful person and to dare to try and learn more, and now I am doing the same thing towards newbies, too. I really wish that they enjoy themselves in cosplay.
Does cosplay have a role in your career or future career?
Cosplay definitely has a role in my career. I'm working as an aesthetician (specialist in beauty line) now, but when I first started cosplay, I was still in school. I believe that make-up and skin care is an important point for improving cosplay skills and presentation, and I would like to maintain my skin and my sisters' skin in good condition, too, so I decided to be an aesthetician. Although cosplay’s not everything in my life, at least it is a hobby that I never want to give up!
If you had unlimited resources, what would your "ultimate costume" be?
Hee hee, I never thought about this question before, but if that’s really the case, I think I would like to have a gorgeous costume like those gods in the Final Fantasy series.
Here is your space for additional comments:
First of all, really thanks so much for inviting me as the Spotlight of this month! It’s really my pleasure. Actually, I still keep myself as a student of cosplay because there is always so much for me to learn. It just makes me feel like I’m hunting a great treasure in my life. I hope you will feel the same way and enjoy your cosplay journey, too. I’m so happy that my sister, Bright, introduced cosplay to me which gave me the chance to make friends who share the same interest. I'm truly thankful to all the friends I made in cosplay. Because of you, my life became more colorful and happier, and I hope you all feel the same way too! There are still a lot of things waiting for me to learn, but I will try my best to get through it. Let's ganbatte together!!! ^ 0 ^
Rinka, one of the greatest things about cosplay is that it can bring a family together, and it's awesome to see you and your sisters cosplay. Working as a team is more fun and makes the time go faster and is more rewarding when you see the results in the photos people take. You look the part! Here's to your many years of continued success, both in cosplay and your career. Ganbatte minna!
Garry aka Prof.
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