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Tell us about your first cosplay experience. Who, what, where, when, and how did it go?

Back in 1997, I was really into Sailor Moon, albeit the English dub. For that Halloween, I had my heart set on being Sailor Moon, and somehow I ended up making it. My family always had a sewing machine, but neither my mom nor I had any sewing experience whatsoever. It was… very interesting-looking in the end to say the least, *laughs* but I had a lot of fun wearing it to school on Halloween regardless.

Did you need any convincing from friends, or was cosplay a natural fit for you?

When I attended my first convention in 1998 and saw other cosplayers, I instantly had the desire to join in too! At the time, none of my friends were really into anime like I was so I would definitely say it was a natural fit for me. My sister (Freya) and cousin (Something Lulu), however, agreed that cosplaying looked like a fun hobby to get into, and I suppose you could say we all convinced each other.

From your costume range – military uniforms to gowns to athletic gear to girly and more – which is your favorite type to wear and why?

Hmmm… this is a tough one. Lately, I’ve really taken a liking to crossplaying as male characters. Not only is it more of a challenge (looks-wise), but I really just love the guy characters. Because a lot of my costumes recently have been male characters, I think I really surprised a lot of people when I cosplayed as Lacus Clyne from Gundam SEED Destiny in her pink flowing gown of extreme… pinkness. I think I like cosplaying the gowns like this (and Princess Zelda from Ocarina of Time) the most because it’s something that people don’t expect. One minute, I’m a little ninja running all over the place, and the next, I’m a princess. In my everyday life, I’m very casual and don’t glam-up at all, so it’s really fun for me to get dressed up in these gowns and dresses.

If you were the organizer of a World Cosplay Conference, what would be the topics of discussion?

There’s so many! I think a topic I would discuss myself anyway would probably be about a specific genre of costumes rather than a general sewing/costume construction technique. I tend to cosplay multiple characters from series that I really like (such as Gundam SEED and Naruto, for example), and I think it’d be fun to host a panel discussing costumes from a specific series.

You have quite a collection of fabulous wigs. Would you share some styling tips?

The first thing you’re going to want to start with when it comes to wigs is quality. Whenever I go wig shopping, I take extra time to really look at the potential wig I want to purchase. Is it made out of high-quality fibers, or is it a cheap party wig? Is there a skin top? Is it thick? Are there bangs? Is it layered? These are all aspects that need to be taken into consideration first because you might not be able to style the wig in the way that you want to because of one of these factors.

No matter the style, always work on your wig on a wig head. Even though wig heads aren’t the best representation of what your real head probably is like, it’s just a little too dangerous (and a lot more difficult) to style a wig on your own head. ^_~  Don’t have a wig head clamp to keep your project in place? No problem! My roommate (Richii) and I just stick them on our chair posts. *laughs

Another useful tip, which actually I learned from Richii, is to sew little wig clips into the front of your wig. This way, your wig will always stay in place, and you won’t have to worry about pulling it back on your head every five seconds.

As for specific styling tips, it all depends on the wig. But I can assure you that every single one of my wigs has their fair share of hairspray.

I guess the most recent wig experimentation I’ve delved into is hand-dyeing my wigs using a Sharpie marker. I (along with extreme help from the wonderful Richii, Chas, and Yunaleska) entirely hand colored my wig for Athrun Zala from Gundam SEED. The wig started out white and after all our labor, turned into a nice deep-blue color. First, we colored the entire wig, then washed it (Yes… washed it. Truth be known washing wigs does NOT ruin them, contrary to popular belief ^_~), colored it again to pick up any missing white strands, and then washed it once more. The result was a wig that not only was the color I wanted, but a wig that was dyed and didn’t leave my costume (or my neck for that matter) blue. I think the key here is not using alcohol. Sure it takes longer, but I really think the result is better in my opinion. ^_^

And now that the synthetic tresses are coiffed, where/how do you store them for best use?

All of my styled wigs live on wig heads. I have this really handy closet in my apartment with shelves that has thusly been named “The Wig Closet.” For traveling to conventions, Richii and I constructed a wooden wig carrier so that our wigs can remain on their wig heads while driving in the car without our having to worry about them moving around and getting ruined. Space is always an issue, but when it comes to maintaining an intricate style on a wig, I really believe that a wig head is necessary.

What’s a common pitfall for you during costume construction? (i.e. anything that seems to gum up the works on a recurrent basis)

Hand sewing. I hate with all hating passion I have in my little body the act of hand stitching. Be it buttons, beads, hems, anything. Drives me crazy! *laughs* Currently, I’m working on a pair of wings with help from Jaina Solo and, unfortunately, that’s required a lot of hand sewing so there’s just no escaping it for me. T_T  I try to make things that don’t require hand sewing at all, but in the end… every single one of my costumes has something that was hand sewn. It bogs me down, but if I don’t do it, then the costume will never be finished. Must persevere!!

A friendly East Coast – West Coast rivalry seems to exist in cosplay circles. What do you love about being a West Coastie?

Coastie XD No, I don’t think it’s a real word, but it’s pretty awesome sounding I think. Definitely much better than coaster. ^_~  What I love about the West Coast… there’s so much, really. Cosplay-wise, there are a lot of wonderful conventions down here both big and small. Granted, I’ve never been to an East Coast convention so I can’t really judge on the quality of our conventions versus their own, but it does seem like we have a lot more maybe?

Probably my favorite aspect about living on the West Coast is the weather! In my town, well… usually anyway, it is so beautiful and sunny. Warm, but with a nice cool ocean breeze. Pretty ideal for cosplay to me because I absolutely adore cosplaying outdoors! Outdoor photos are my favorite to take, but they can also be a pain if it’s too hot or too cold. Usually over here, it’s just right. ^_^

Your photos characterize you as someone with a sunny disposition. What do you do when life’s rain clouds roll in?

Brush my hair in my face and listen to LinkinPark, of course. XP *laughs* For the most part, I am a pretty happy and optimistic person, and I try to make light of unhappy situations as much as I can. But when the going gets rough, and nothing can stop those rain clouds of life, I do something with my friends. Be it impulsively making a brand new costume with Richii or going to the bowling alley with my dear friend Singeurn, as long as I’m with those important to me… life can’t be that bad.

A lot of times, cosplay does help me cope with some problems and disappointments in life. It’s a nice get-away, something creative I can pour my heart into, and something fun to enjoy.

Does your costuming hobby mesh well with your career path?

To a certain extent, anyway. My dream is to become a performer… be it dancing, singing, acting, or all… I absolutely love performing live. Musical theater is my main love, but ballet comes in close second. Currently I’m in the Entertainment Department at Sea World (which is an adventure park for marine mammals), and I entertain guests, but sometimes I get to work in the Costume Shop and sew! So in instances like that, cosplaying definitely does mesh with my job. If it wasn’t for cosplay, I obviously wouldn’t know how to sew, and I wouldn’t be able to work on special projects at work like that. As for pursuing a career in costume-creation or fashion design, I’m not really interested. It’s just a fun thing for me to do on the side.

Though back to the performing aspect, in a way, I’m keeping up with that while cosplaying through my involvement in TeniMyUSA (http://www.tenimyusa.com/). TeniMyUSA is the Prince of Tennis Cosplay group where we sing and dance to various songs from the Prince of Tennis Musicals. We’ve had some really fun and silly performances so far, and I absolutely love being a part of the group! We really are just out to have fun and spread the love of TeniMyu.

How do you choose your costume line-up for a convention?

I usually try to wear whatever my latest costume is, or what I’m most currently into. I also like to see what costumes my friends are wearing so that we can do group cosplay. I try not to bring too many costumes to a con, but in the end, I always bring more than I probably should. I really like wearing three costumes a day at conventions and sometimes even four.

You’ve cosplayed at the famous Comic Market in Tokyo. How did the experience compare to US conventions?

I could probably go on about this one for pages and pages, but so as not to bore you too much, I’ll try to just keep it to my key thoughts. *laughs* ^_~  Simply put: Comiket is EXTREMELY different from any convention in the US. The main purpose of Comiket is the Doujinshi Halls where thousands of aspiring mangaka come to sell their doujins based on popular anime and manga. Thousands of fans come armed with their suitcases and backpacks all to get their doujinshi (and at insanely cheap prices to boot). As for myself, I’m not into doujinshi at all so this aspect of Comiket really didn’t interest me, even though it is the main purpose of Comiket. The real reason I was there was to cosplay, of course. ^_^

What an experience that was.

In order to cosplay at Comiket, you have to pay a fee which, in US currency, turned out to only be around $6 so that was pretty nice. Once you buy your cosplaying badge (er… booklet? It’s not really a badge, per se, mine looked like a booklet…), you change into your costume in the changing rooms. Absolutely no exceptions. You can’t come to Comiket in costume nor can you leave Comiket in costume. There were two separate changing rooms (one for the girls and the other for the boys), and it was very crowded. I was lucky to even find a corner to change in! The annoying thing about this was that there wasn’t a place for us to leave our bags and regular clothes so we pretty much had to tote them around the entire time while cosplaying. Once in costume, you can either cosplay in the indoor cosplay square or the outdoor square. There weren’t a lot of people indoors so Richii and I went outside where all the action was. Not only was it insanely crowded in the square, but it was in the low 90° (like that’s low... hah) temperature-wise with 80% humidity. Icky sticky, indeed! Despite these conditions, I somehow really did enjoy myself. Richii and I were cosplaying as Tsunade and Jiraiya from Naruto and had a constant, non-stop line of photographers wanting our pictures. It was really insane… we couldn’t move an inch! We also made friends with other Japanese cosplayers that were also cosplaying from Naruto, and it was really fun talking to them and taking photos. Everyone at Comiket, including the photographers, was so friendly to us! Well… except for one staff member who thought Richii’s boobs were too big and that the “V” in my shirt was too low, but that’s an entirely different story. XP


photo credit Super No.1

For the most part, cosplayers at Comiket would pick where they wanted to stand in the cosplay square and stay put. This was really different to me because I’m so used to running around all over the place at US conventions. Comiket really was a wonderful experience for me, and I’m definitely planning a return trip in 2007. At least this time, I’ll be a little more prepared. ^_^

What aspect of cosplay at conventions do you hope would always stay the same, and what aspect would you change?

In all these years of cosplaying, I’ve noticed lots of changes, actually, to the cosplay scene. Certainly the size, for one thing, has grown incredibly large. I feel like recently, there’s been more of a competitive aspect (outside of masquerade and costume contests) to cosplay that I never really saw before. And… I really wish it’d go away. Cosplaying is supposed to be fun, not a battle of “whose costume is better.” I really hate the feeling that I get now at larger conventions of being constantly judged by my peers. I cosplay the characters I do because I love them and want to express my fandom in that way. I just have fun. I hope that this aspect of myself never changes because I really enjoy the light-hearted fun that I have at conventions. J Cosplaying is a fun hobby of mine that, despite how “serious business” I may sound, is something I do take rather light-heartedly. I want everyone to remember that cosplaying is not about “being the best” or winning, but about having fun!


photo credit Consplayers

Here’s your space for additional comments and the dispelling of rumors.

Fortunately I don’t think there are any rumors going around about me… save for some people thinking that Pikmin Link and I are dating, *laughs* which isn’t true, but other than that, I don’t think there’s anything, ^_^ thank goodness.

I also would like to thank Cosplay Lab for having me as their April Feature (my birthday~! Woo!)!! This website is truly a wonderful place to see other cosplayers and their costumes, and I’m really honored to have been chosen. ^_^ I hope you all found this somewhat interesting! Please don’t hesitate saying hi at the next convention. ^_~

see more of Sana-chan's costumes here

Sana-chan, You bring your characters to life with talent and charm. We all need reminders that cosplay is something to enjoy with our friends, and you're a great "Ambassador of Fun." I think people would be hard-pressed to find a more cheerful cosplayer than you. The experience you gain now seems like a wonderful preparation for life as a performer so keep chasing your dream, and we'll see you on stage!

Mrs. Tomoe

 
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