Monday, July 29, 2013

Cosplay Questionnaire Part II



                                     Continued from Part I

                              How do you feel about the cosplay culture and community?

It’s changed a lot, for the better and well, for the worse in some cases. I think it’s adaptable so there isn’t a massive issue with trying to keep it like an older tradition or style. Cosplay to me was a form of icebreaker at conventions so people could initiate a conversation and become friends and so on. It’s taken a different approach now because conventions are indeed more commercial and based on popularity, so the attitudes may not necessarily be always as friendly or open. I think having a social hierarchy in cosplay is a bit too much honestly, as since this revolution there’s so many questions raised such as, is it bad to buy your costume? Or, what are the limitations of race in cosplay, or even just knowing what makes a great cosplayer and cosplay – money and photographs, or techniques. I don’t think half of these were as much of an issue before because coplay goods and materials were less varied growing up, and then the way people got into anime was a bit more like entering a real subculture, going on websites, using computers and collecting videos in the back section of a comic book store. It wasn’t a huge thing, so it was a bit more secluded. But honestly, with the availability now to easily stream anime and get into new anime immediately straight from Japan opposed to waiting a year or two for a two-episode video or DVD is priceless. It’s really up to each cosplaying individual to determine what true fandom is. Some people think it’s all about collecting all the goods, others think it’s achieving costume accuracy, and others think it’s either a blend of all or simply trying your best to show your love for it. It’s up to you and your attitude to adapt and retain your qualities as the culture changes. 


                                         How do you feel about the buying cosplays versus making cosplays argument?

 I’m a bit biased because I primarily sew nearly all of my items, but it’s hard to deny someone’s ability to cosplay a character well just because they didn’t make it. The idea of cosplaying wasn’t strictly enforced to be “sew-only” even way back when. It was just more practical to sew because most stores didn’t carry the cosplay you were looking for among other practical reasons. Nowadays, you have plenty of stores that carry decently made cosplays. Not everyone can sew or will like to sew and that’s okay. They can make it up with enjoying the make-up portion or have amazing wig styling skills. I hold a little bias where if someone is simply being a model, I think you can only praise the beauty and ability to pull off the character in a superficial way, unfortunately. It is just praising their beauty, which I am unsure of is a skill but rather a quality about them that you can appreciate. Those who make their items, whether costume, props, wigs, and more, are showing a crafting talent when they make great work. It’s appreciating the person beyond the vanity portion and accepting that they have the hands and skills to produce something that shows a great deal of time and effort. The good thing is that in way, you can judge cosplays based on whether it is a great demonstration of skill or a lovely depiction of a beautiful model in character. I know some people have issue with this, because it can potentially delude people into giving all their attention solely to vanity cosplays, but I think as long as they’re a real fan, they are working to share that love as they can within their skills range. I think just as a given however, I will usually praise and hold to high regard a cosplayer who successfully has taken the time to do the hard work themselves. Hobbies are rarely ever profitable, it comes out of a person’s time and money, so that is their product to show and it deserves recognition. 

                       Do you have anyone who inspires me to cosplay? If so, who?

I have a huge list of cosplayers from around the world that continue to inspire me, and then I also have my regular group of friends whom I collaborate ideas with. When I was younger, I kept a folder filled with pictures of their work and watched their skits on a regular basis. It’s crazy amazing to know now that I have gained some skills to be able to make my own creations come to life. 

 In what ways has cosplay changed your life?

It has! It’s a major part of my life now, and it helped me make certain career choices happen. I had a lot of social anxiety issues growing up, and anime and manga was a common group to make friends with through school. I got a number of my friends into cosplaying after going to a convention and enjoying the atmosphere. I think it's also helped me learn and improve on qualities about myself that helped me feel better about who I was. I think sometimes you can get caught up pretending to be another character or settling too much with the escapism, but I think in the long run, I've seen it help me refocus on who I really am and how it's valuable for me to value that within myself. Strangely enough, there’s no pressure to be anyone else other than yourself  in a unique way now– a fan with all power levels ignited. Ironically, those power levels are shown through cosplay. Taking up sewing is a great way to pass the time, and cosplay helped me figure out who I really was – an artist. I went to college initially for fashion design because I loved cosplay, then costume, but then it helped me find my way to my new major. I think the ability to use costumes and see them as a creative sanctuary is special to me, and it’s helped me have the courage to face some of life’s toughest moments and see the beauty of art and creativity born from it. My friends and I feel like we’re convention storm chasers, always seeking out the next cosplay opportunity and filling our free time with sewing, talking about cosplay, and just being genuinely and freely creative. 

                       How many masquerades have you participated in?

 I did two random masquerade experiences years back. One was in 2007, and the other was in 2008. I wasn’t really big into them back then except by just watching them. Then however in 2011 I got really into them again and now regularly participate. I think it also stemmed from having cosplayed for so long but now wanting a real experience to take the cosplay to another level incorporating music, acting, etc. And just having a great skit with friends. 


                              What is your pet peeve about cosplaying?

 It’s probably terrible but I really don’t like cosplayers who believe that they are the best character or version of that character, or people who just regularly make it seem like they are a hot commodity cosplay when they aren’t. I feel like the internet did that a bit to them…I’m not fond of give-a-ways and pandering for “likes”. I can see where having fans is great, I’m a fan of my friend’s work and they are of mine, but it can get superficial really quick and so much potential for drama. I feel like some people treat cosplay like it’s their only glimpse of celebrity life, and for some it actually is but it’s super rare. I also just don’t like it when people exaggerate their “hard level of technique and effort” when they bought a costume. I don’t mind if you buy a costume, but just give credit and don’t make a big fuss of claiming to have “worked so much on the cosplay” when clearly the main portion of it wasn’t made by you. 

                      When deciding on how you want your cosplay to look , what goes through your mind. (ex. Does the fabric/material have to look like the picture)

First thought: Unless it strictly calls for it, lay off of the shiny fabric. I think it’s an ongoing gag in my head, not because I’m tempted to do it but because there’s a nostalgic quality to it. I usually think of what is not only affordable, but comfortable, and still look accurate. Most of my cosplays use matte fabrics to avoid odd glares or looking unfortunately cheaper than the budget and effort really was. I also see what silhouettes I am familiar with in the costume versus what I will need to learn how to pull off. My friends and I call it MacGuyvering, because we end up finding a combination between standard sewing techniques and some we just make up on the spot with the time and materials we’ve got. Somehow, it all comes together! I also try hard to stay on a budget, but it’s silly that I had less control over the years till more recently. The costumes I spent a ton on were worn very little, or I invested in cheaper fabric, which was a bad learning experience. As for wig, I am a little picky, but I am addicted to online shopping so I really go for what’s most accurate and flattering to my face. That also includes me picking sometimes a specific blond color that won’t look odd since I have a warmer complexion.


                                          Are there any cosplays that you wish you could pull off? What are some you won’t do?

  I joke about this one all the time, but I really don’t think I can pull off the dominant, busty girls. It’s hysterical, because I simply can’t. I can cosplay characters with dominant or eve villainous qualities, but if they have a sexy factor, I just spaghetti all over it. I haven’t had a character I really like in that category though, so I don’t think I won’t be doing that for a while or ever. I also just won’t do next-to-nude skimpy cosplays. Some people say it’s for the “art” but unfortunately there’s just some social quirks that have really unfortunate deliveries. If someone ever does cosplaying scantily clad for the “art”, you will know. I guarantee it. 


                             Do you believe that a person has to have certain qualities to pull off a cosplay?

Not really, I think I approach cosplay as it being a fan hobby. Anyone can do it as long as they have a good attitude. I’d think the only restriction I’ve seen is that there are some people who have a particular body shape where a very skimpy outfit would not work out for social reasons. I also think there’s plenty of examples of dressing and cosplaying for your size, whatever it is, and there’s no hindrance on the amount of hard work and effort you should put into it. I’ve also seen several examples of cosplays with a specific race being tastefully done. There shouldn’t be much issue about it. 

                                Tell me about your most recent cosplay.
My plans or my most recently done? My most recently done was Belldandy, which I mentioned about before. I really love the character and the final product, although there’s so much that needs to be redone. I’m remaking all of the jewelry soon and styling the wig – I didn’t have much time at all! – and then fixing some construction parts here and there. I also want to drape a better white underdress, I will feel better when I get that done. Then for most recently planned, I have Kinomoto Sakura from Cardcaptor Sakura. I picked a design from one of the illustration books I really like, and I already am so excited about it. I wanted to go with her classical outfit, but something drew me to this design. I love whimsical and magical details! 


                             What tips will you share for beginners?

Don’t freak out about being popular. Don’t try too hard, be yourself, and remember that cosplay is about being able to share the love of a hobby. Not everyone’s going to love you, not everyone’s going to hate you, but it’s up to you to have a good attitude entering the world of cosplay and making the best of it. Be open to learning and using all these awesome resources – Youtube and Google are my friends – and learn from other cosplayers and be open to sharing techniques and learning from their work too. Cosplay should be a fun learning experience with friends. Be honest with yourself too, I feel like I learned that a lot through my experiences socially in the cosplay world, and it’s a really valuable message. 

                        Why do you cosplay?

  I cosplay because it is a form of art to me that is tangible and fully experienced when doing all of the steps. Like I said before, you go through all the emotions in a short rush of time – pain, suffering, tension, impatience, while working hard and yes, you will enjoy the process too, but there’s so many emotions at that one brief moment in time. Suddenly, it all goes away once you’re done, and all I want to do is drink an iced coffee and stare at my work on the dress form. Being a former design student, it was unfortunate that my time there was short for many circumstances, yet I feel like it was cosplay that helped motivate me to never stop learning even if I wasn’t going to stay in that industry for a long time. I still love to sew and design, so this is my way to channel those skills. Anime and manga helped me feel like I had a place to go growing up, and it’s a wonderful feeling to go to conventions and share that love and combine it with all that you love and know. There’s too many positive experiences to count that have propelled me to bigger and better things, and cosplay is still a regular part of my creative life. It’s the ultimate form of expression to me, and to literally transform yourself into a character that emotes who you want to be for that moment, and what you creatively stand for. Truly, it’s also an outlet that helped me find out who I am and where I stand socially with people. I’ve significantly improved and see cosplay as a process that helps me look into what I am able to do and what skills I have, as well as recognize the things I want to improve on ad make life long goals towards.

Cosplay Questionnaire Part I

So I filled out this questionnaire to talk about more about why I cosplay, and just more information about what I do what I do!

Cosplay Questionnaire Part I

        Introduce yourself. Tell your cosplay name or whatever name you go by when you cosplay.
       I’m Kagura! My cosplay name is Ohtori Kagura. 
 
       What got you into cosplay?
      I was raised with the belief from my parents that every day can be a dress-up day aside from Halloween, which I wasn’t allowed to celebrate when I was younger. My parents bought me Halloween costumes to use year-round, and it became a natural thing. Not long after, I got into anime and manga, and the idea of wearing a costume from an anime character seemed thrilling and exciting. It only took my first convention trip to really solidify my need to cosplay. 
       What is your first cosplay? Why did you choose it? And how do you feel about it?
      I don’t want to count Halloween, so my first “real” cosplay was Sohma Kagura from Fruits Basket back when I was still in middle school/freshman year of high school. Prior to that around 2002, I had some massive ghetto attempts at cosplay (does that still count?). I particularly was obsessed with Pokemon costumes and then Angelic Layer, which I had a cosplay of Saitou Kaede that I really was attached to. Therefore about Kagura, it was made by my mother’s aunt and I still wear it occasionally for old time’s sake. Kagura at the time was my favorite character and the one I could identify with the most. It was really well made at the time and extremely comfortable!
 
        How long have you been cosplaying?
       I’ve been cosplaying for actually about ten years now. It’s been a really thrilling experience to see the progress and growth over the years. 

      How do you get your costumes?
      Aside from some small fraction which are either bought and redone from thrift shop clothing and two purchased ones, all of my other cosplays are made by me. I started making them (and actually have them hang properly) around late high school and really used my college time to make more time for learning to sew. 

     What materials/tools do you typically use in cosplay?
     I have my lovely Pfaff 360 machine, which is a gift from a good friend of mine who has witnessed about some six years of me cosplaying nonstop since we both became friends. I also have my older Singer Prelude that still technical works but I am afraid to reuse out of fear of breaking it. I also have several combinations of sewing tools in a little pink bag, which were bought over time or original supplies from my college sewing classes. 

     What do you look for in a character you want to cosplay?
      I love characters who have a certain quirk to them, whether they are passionate or courageous or very, very girly. I also like a lot of underrated characters. A lot of my character choices seem paradoxical at times, I will identify myself with moe characters that I adore to cosplay, but then there is always a cosplay that is either a witch or a really eccentric character that seems strangely away from my personality. But that’s what cosplay is for, ne? 

    Is there a pattern in your cosplays?
        I look for a creative approach to something new. I love school uniforms and if I had unlimited resources, I would make too many uniforms that my closet would explode. So, I look for uniforms that put a spin on the same old elements. I also love gowns and a lot of details, colors, if they have older romantic silhouettes. I think these are all elements that hide my ulterior motives of secretly wanting to be a princess.

           What do you prefer? Cosplaying in a group or on your own?
        I believe a combination of both is really fun. I sometimes choose characters that not everyone I frequently cosplay with are familiar with, and there’s no big deal about doing it on your own. You still love that character! Then there’s just some cosplays that work so well with groups, whether it’s because no one would recognize who you’re cosplaying as without them, but also because there’s a certain authentic dynamic you want to achieve between your character and the other characters within that series. I will really appreciate a great Luffy cosplay, but it’s always amazing to watch a whole Straw Hat Pirates crew walk around the convention together. 

    When cosplaying what do you feel is most important?
    I think it has a lot to do with having a positive attitude – it’s infectious, and in cosplay, it’s all about you sharing that love of your character and the series. Other people do take notice and it’s wonderful when it can be a powerful ice breaker that can make your convention experience a memorable one. Secondly, it’s really making the attempt at accuracy. I think being borderline nuts with accuracy isn’t my cup of tea, but really being able to make use of the materials you have available to you and reworking them to match as closely as you can is important. The great thing about the internet too is that there’s a great fountain of reference pictures from the original source or likely previous cosplayers that have shared their techniques to achieving a particular look. They’re great for learning experiences and deciding how to craft the cosplay with the right accuracy. 

         How many cosplays have you done?
       I’m actually...somewhat sure. I keep a rough list and based on it, about 48 cosplays.

   How do you feel about being in character while you cosplay?
  I try to stay in character most of the time at conventions, but there’s just some moments you have to break it or keep it on the down low so you’re open to socializing with different types of people. I also think it works out that I identify personality-wise with a lot of the characters I cosplay as, so it’s not a huge stretch in the “acting” department. 

    What are the top 5 on your list of "Want to Cosplay"?
a.       Tenjou Utena (ultimate duelist design) – Shoujo Kakumei Utena – Utena is my favorite character and series of all time, and I really want to make a beautiful version of her, complete with the wings and embroidery done on the main tunic. It would be based off of the embellished Animerica Extra cover art.
b.       Beatrice the Golden Witch – Umineko no Naku koro ni – I love Umineko, and Beatrice was one of my favorite characters. There is something quirky about her, and the design, I just gasp for.
c.        Alexiel – Angel Sanctuary – Angel Sanctuary is one of my favorite manga of all time, I really love angels and super complicated stories that just fill each page with details and more details. Alexiel and Sara are my two favorite characters, and making her wings is my dream.
d.       Eternal Sailormoon – Bishoujo Senshi Sailormoon Sailor Stars – Sailormoon is a classic, and I love so many designs from her and other senshi, but I really want to make her Eternal version. I also am keen on Princess Sailormoon, but Eternal brings out the nostalgia in me.
e.       Mari Makinami Illustrious (plug suit) – Rebuild of Evangelion 2.0 -  I have always wanted to make a plug suit, and Mari is my EVA girl. I loved the other girls but I never felt like I could compare with the other characters until Mari came along. I’d make all versions of her if I could!

    What is your favorite cosplay and why?
   That I’ve made…I think it’d have to be Belldandy from Ah! Megamisama. I actually recently made this cosplay for Anime Expo 2013’s masquerade, and I chose it in kind of an impromptu fashion…I usually take a super long (and probably irritating) amount of time to commit to a cosplay. I ended up just staying committed from the spot and I made everything really by instinct and little direction, and took a lot of inspiration from the character. I feel like the outcome was great and I got wonderful craftsmanship compliments, which helped me feel like it was a great milestone in my cosplay endeavors. The cosplay wasn’t the most difficult, but I think it showed the most attention to detail and the desire to be a bit more elaborate than the original reference material. I also just think Belldandy is one of the cutest characters ever!

        Which is your least favorite?
      A way, way long time back (and I dread that there might be a photo lurking still), I had a friend who had a Beyblade group and at the very last minute asked me to cosplay as Hiromi. I scrambled and actually had a fuzzy pink sweater and I stuck a badly drawn scribble on it with tape, and oh facepalms, it was just really, really bad. I didn’t even have a wig, so I tucked my long hair back and hid it...and I just felt ashamed. The others did a great job though! 

       Do you think cosplay should be a commercial hobby?
       I do and I don’t…I think I feel this way because I don’t really see myself directly making money out of cosplay. I think cosplay has helped propel me into other commercial hobbies or jobs, but it is based more on the technical aspect than actually being commercially involved by putting on a costume and taking pictures. I don’t think it’s a hobby that should be commercialized because already, it creates a different impression that it’s a cash cow and all people are in for the money, skimpy costumes, and to be popular. I’d like to think that it could just be a hobby that people will put forth their own money and time as they please to send their message about their love of costumes and anime. I won’t deny the field’s certainly changed, but it’s people’s personal business as to what they see will benefit them in the long run. Even with the community changing, it hasn’t ever directly affected me in a negative way or taken my quality of my work away. 

         Your most memorable cosplay experience? What makes it so memorable?
       I made a maid version of Mindauki Yuno from the visual novel, Unity Marriage for Anime Los Angeles a few years back. Not many people knew who she was, but it was just fun to run around in a pink maid outfit! I was getting ready to host a panel in a Cirno cosplay when one of the girls there was chatting with a friend at the time and she mentioned that she was cosplaying from a doujinshi I was familiar with. She was from Japan and visiting the US, and we got to talking and sharing about visual novels and doujin works. I told her about my Yuno cosplay, and she was really happy, and told me how wonderful it was to see someone cosplaying from something different. She continued to tell me, “Please come to Japan and cosplay with us there! They would love your work!” and it meant mountains to me. She later on e-mailed me and told me she had sent some of the pictures we took to a doujin mangaka!

          What is your favorite part about cosplaying?
        My favorite part about cosplaying is enjoying the moment between the success of pulling off your character and forgetting the pain and tears, blood, and sweat that you probably endured through it. It’s completely letting go of all that tension that you, your sewing machine, and your wallet have gone up against. You don’t care once you’re caught up in the moment enjoying friends, the cosplay scene, the amazing goods and panels, and the atmosphere of being the character you wanted to be!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Anime Expo 2013 Review: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

And here's another personal review of Anime Expo 2013! I arrived back last week and had a great deal of fun. Here's the review:

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly of the convention:

THE GOOD:

- The cosplay quality was really nice! It felt great to see a great deal of anime cosplays than it had been the past couple of years. I don't necessarily condone anit-anime cosplays at all, but they were dominating a bit too much over the last couple of years. Or, there were too many people not in cosplay. I got the opportunity to take lots of pictures, and there was such a variety of old cosplays and new ones, even rare ones! I was so excited when I see the Nanami Haruka and Heroine from Amnesia. All the sweet otome-game excitement!

- It's a double-edged sword, but the masquerade process was significantly easier than Fanime. The only major con to this side of the issue is that it was easy for me and most of the contestants out there, but the staff had a major hell of an experience. It's strange to think that masquerade was almost not going to happen considering the ridiculous circumstances. Tony, the main cosplay events manager, was gracious and professional throughout the entire process, and his team helped me get everything set up in a timely and effective manner. I had no problems with him at all, and even complimented him on his hard work!

- The Dealer's Hall was wonderful! So much Detective Conan stuff, some great visual novels, pencil boards, and cute little keychains and effects. I bought the loveliest artbook from Matsubara Hidenori featuring his art for Ah! Megamisama, Evangelion, King of Thorn, Count of Monte Christo, Sakura Taisen, and Fushigi Umi no Nadia! I was so shocked to find this! I also got a free little Kira Project VN, a Windmill pencil board, an Utapri keychain of Masato, and my glorious Lychee VN Ruby binder. I don't collect Lychee cards, but I am using the binder for my other VN works and notes!

- My cosplays went way better than expected! I only wanted to make 1 new cosplay for the convention, which had turned out to be Belldandy. She was so much work, so I knew I wanted to take my time with her. I wore Moemura on the first day, and I wound up getting so many compliments about her. I managed to go to the gathering, and took some pictures with some really awesome Maodka cosplayers, including a super friendly Moemura, Kyoko, and Miki. I then wore Mari on the second day and got to spend my time with my friends Nanami and Yori. Nanami wanted to take some shots by the EVA cockpit dressed as Rei, and then we all got some awesome shots of the EVA girls trio. And then as Belldandy, a lot of people really liked it. My friend Emi made the wings and gave them to me! They're super lovely. I got compliments backstage.

- The skit went all right! I performed it by winging it completely, ad improvized on the spot because my original skit idea wasn't able to work out since my partner had dropped due to family circumstances. So, I was able to perform and used my aings, costume, and fans to try to create a dance.

- Although I didn't win, the craftsmanship judges came backstage to tell me what a wonderful job I did! They told me they were so impressed with my hard work, and that I needed to keep working and come back again for next year. It was such an inspirational thing to hear, because I've always been one to feel unsure of my skills. It's inspired me to work harder!

THE BAD:

- That horrible autograph line! I didn't even get close to getting Ito Noizi's autograph, which was the one thing I wanted from Anime Expo's main events! I was saddening, and I eve bought a cute autograph board for her to sign, although we weren't close at all. She had a plane to catch and even more unfortunate, they told me had I gone to her panel I would have gotten better tickets! But I was in craftsmanship judging at the time...it was saddening. And the line organization was hard to keep up with.

- I accidentally lost my belt for Belldandy backstage, although it's not a horrible loss. It's easy to tangle although really pretty, but I wanted to remake it anyway because I wanted a better chain that wouldn't tangle. I feel more confident in remaing a great deal of her jewlery since I am confident about them now. I'm going to remake the earrings and the collar while I'm at it.

- One of the backstage skits had super large sets and were trying to move them through a super small backstage setting. One of the sets hit me hard on the leg while I was sitting in the waiting area, and I was in a lot of pain. It really sucked to have that happen before going on stage! They apologized and I knew it wasn't intentional, but it still was a bit of a damper on the entire experience. I'm not really fond of huge sets that much. ^_^;

- On top of that, I twisted my anle the neck day. Ow! Thankfully, it wasn't too bad at all and it's healing right. I didn't know how it happened, but I'm at least okay!

- I wish I had Belldandy's dress better completed. I have plenty of time now, but I didn't get to finish and instead draped a skirt as opposed to a full-length dress. it successfully gave the illusion that I had a full gown, but I still want the most genuine effect. I'm going to rework a lot and fix, style the wig (I had little time!) and better makeup and gloves. I also think I solved the key to her anklets!

THE UGLY:

- THOSE LINES. Ugh. I'm so lucky I actually had some fun in them pointing out cute cosplays, but I was horrified that the original Day 0 line that we tried to get to actually closed an hour before they had placed their notices up. It was horrible because we had ran all the way past this seedy neighborhood.

- The crowd was admittedly terrible. It is great to see how much it has grown but dear goodness, it was hard to walk through and hope that you wren't going to hurt people with your props and vice versa.

- Food prices are always nutty at the convention. There isn't much to say, other than I think I successfully spent triple price for a burger at the convention restaurant simply because I couldn't leave the area before craftsmanship judging.

- The heat. x_x The heat was rather bad, but it's California and then summertime, so you can't necessarily complain that much.

 -The AX behind-the-scenes controversies - Although it's not directly affecting the normal, regular attendee, it's still a saddening piece of news to hear about how corrupitve they have further sunken to.The fact that they publicly fired Tony is unacceptable, and the way they later on tried to distribute prizes and made a fiasco of the departments is just as worse. I really hope that even though like I said, the attendee situation may not necessrily be that affected by this news, that they still see tis as a window of opportunity to improve.

Final Thoughts:

Anime Expo was fun not just for me, but for friends I took with me who were very new to the con scene. They got great results, and we got the chance to wear cosplays together and find our own niches. It's the first con in ages where I didn't bring a sewing machine to fix and or finish things, and it was such a freeing experience to run around and enjoy what the convention provided.

But it was a great experience. I got the chance to be a regular attendee, take pictures, compliment people, and ask them how they made their items. Backstage, I got the chance to talk with a really old-school and amazing cosplayer who was awesome enough to share the experience of pre-masquerade with me after thinking that I'd be completely alone and bored. The cosplay quality was also great and refreshing to see, and the lovely souvenirs I got aren't ones I often buy, but I was glad to have picked up!

My cosplays have very much improved since last years. I wore my Juliet last year and it was likely to look at, but it was all made of a cotton fabric that wrinkled a bit more than I liked, and it was obviously tough to discuss how I made it -- I admittedly made a great deal of it under very stressful conditions and was so sleep deprived that I didn't realize at one point that I was still sewing! It's an ongoing joke with my friends now, and we call it, "pulling a Kagura".

And I do intend on returning back! It was a great milestone to see hood friends, gathering around with people, and getting the chance to really be a cosplayer and a fan.

 ----

And cosplay updates!

My cosplay list keeps ever-changing, but I'll be having a more formal cosplay plans for the year and the next.

Our next cosplay convention is Japan Expo USA in Santa Clara, CA. It's a European-organized convention, since the original convention originates from France. It went on during the same weekend of Anime Expo! Japan Expo is pretty famous for being a huge convention in Europe, and it's exciting to see a new branch down here in the US.

We have a cosplay group forming for the ext big Japan Expo masquerade,  and already some of us have the materials set for it. It's so exciting, because it might also be one of the best cosplay ideas ever since an old special friend may be joining us!

I'm in for a great deal of work, but it shall be mega worth it!

Also for Nisei Week here in Los Angeles, I'm planning on working and finishing my Kinomoto Sakura cosplay from Cardcaptor Sakura! I'm going to get started now and hopefully will get it all ready for then!

I'm hoping to post more pictures soon, but for now, there's the review and some updates!