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!