Wednesday, December 28, 2016

2016 Cosplay in Review

I'm here, I promise!

And with lots more good news and lots of hope for 2017. I know that everyone's probably heard the phrase, "Please let 2016 be over already", and while it's pretty true, it's hard to also not look back and realize that with lots of difficulties comes some of the best moments. 2016 was a difficult year for most people, and was quite the rollercoaster for myself.

I feel saddened by the loss of great celebrities and heroes, but I also mourn greatly the loss of the real people in my life and changes which, with some transitioning, will hopefully bear better news and promise as the new year begins. It's important to remember, as I often have to remind myself personally, that happiness is oftentimes the byproduct of living, which means for as much difficulties and pain we hate going through, happiness is usually the small, twinkling moments we have to live for.

So in light of this and given that it's the end of the year, I wanted to take the time to sort of make a little review of my cosplays and convention results of 2016. I'm honestly surprised and humbled to say that I never thought that this year of all years would be by far my most productive in so many ways, and it encourages me to look forward to some even bigger, better, and satisfying projects for the next year.

For starters, the obligatory costume count! 

Costume Count:

 - Tenjou Utena - Shoujo Kakumei Utena: Adolescence Mokushiroku - This costume will forever be remembered as the costume I handsewed through the Skate America finals, so now it's next to impossible for me to sew in the wintertime without watching some competitive ice skating (so bless 2016 for bringing Hanyu Yuzuru's best performances ever), but also because this was definitely a cosplay I had planned for nearly a decade, even longer, and I took my time to really work on it. I was really happy with the experience, and overall, really enjoy this cosplay for so many sentimental reasons. Every grill remembers their first Utena cosplay.
- Nami - One Piece: New World (Wake Up! Version) - I initially wasn't the biggest fan of doing a One Piece cosplay again, but I joined in my friends in the group. Overall, this was one of my favorites to make since I firstly, sewed it entirely while watching Reply 1997, which is like one of the best shows ever, and, I actually had no expectation of how this would turn out so I was pleasantly surprised when it actually looked pretty cute and coordinated altogether. The costume's also super comfortable, and I spent quite a bit of time making sure that it had a fun vibe to it with the hat and jacket.
- Sophie Hatter (Blue Dress) - This dress was like, constructing my soul; it changes colors, and looks endless and matronly at the same time. This was my first time making a costume-changing costume, so I sat and did some work on it before sewing it. At the same time, I'm really surprised by the experience of getting to make this costume, and how hilariously it has life with all of its crazy layers of colorful organza. Sophie is so much like me that beyond the skit, this is the second time I've cosplayed her and the first time I truly felt so happy to share my work as well.
- Sophie Hatter (Yellow Dress) - This is one of my favorite dresses of Sophie's, and I call it my Egg Dress. I knew from a longtime back what fabric I wanted for it, and it was such a great experience to make this costume. I am honestly happy that I can rewear it and have fun with it. I got to wear it at Anime California and had a fun time meeting other Ghibli friends.
- Kinomoto Sakura (Stars Bless You Version) -  I lowkey like couldn't handle how adorable this outfit was, or what a maniac I was for wanting to make it in such a short amount of time. Someone at Fanime actually was surprised at how I got it finished so quickly to add the details. To be honest, I'm actually surprised it is far more polished than other projects that I've done, but I think the answer's always been that when love's a factor, it's not hard to do some of the craziest parts without breaking a sweat. I will admit however, I was nervous at one point that I was going to have half a dress until one night, I got some C4 and took a small nap, then just went head-on with that cupcake skirt. I also overall love some of the personal details I added and I truly felt happy in my cosplay.
- Kagome - Inuyasha -  Kagome has always been that one generic uniform that you just have to love and you know won't sit with yourself until you've made it. I loved Kagome as a child, so making her for our Inuyasha skit was pretty much a pipe dream. I got the chance to make a nice, finished version that is easy and fun to wear, and I had a fun time making the costume itself.
- Yuuki Asuna - Sword Art Online (Maid Version) -  I wanted to make this for the Anisong Festival event at Anime Expo, since I love Tomatsu Haruka and Asuna. I also just wanted a cute cosplay besides Kagome, so I made her in a span of two days with a lot of first attempts at everything, but it turned out better than I had expected! I actually really love the apron, since I was surprised that my quick patterning lucked out. Also, it's so intensely pink that it's awesome.
- Tenjou Utena - Shoujo Kakumei Utena - This is probably one of my favorite costumes that I've ever made and it's for all the obvious reasons. I spent quite a bit of time on it, and I feel so, so happy to rewear it every time. The jacket and the epaulets are my favorite part. I enjoyed the process, and I really have no words other than Gahhh~ whenever I think about what a great experience it also was to perform in it. I love being Utena because it's not hard at all to be her. She's always been a part of me, and to be able to look back at this year and see how hard I worked on her costume, it really elevates the cosplay experience for me and I think just makes me smile so much more.
- Tsukumo - Karneval - This was for the Akiba Expo event in Little Tokyo in October! And also another favorite costume of mine that I really want to rewear soon. I originally wanted to make this outfit for the first Karneval skit we did, and then we set the date for the 2nd skit to be for PMX. A friend then told us that they were having a little masquerade at th event, so we decided to move it there instead. The challenge was to finish everything in roughly two weeks, skit choreography and all, but overall, it was super amazing and fun to do it. A lot of her design had to be pretty much self designed since she wears it in just one crossover splash image, so I got the chance to add more sparkles and fun silhouettes as I wanted, and overall, I loved how all the fabrics intermarried and how everything was finished, comfortable, and all ready for the event. The accessories also made the whole outfit fun, especially the hat and necklace. We also won 1st place with our circus trio act!
- Han Jumin - Mystic Messenger -If someone were to tell me that the last actual cosplay I made for 2016 was Jumin like a year ago, I'd be like, "WHAAAT". I fell so, so, so, so, so, so hard for Jumin Han when I started playing Mystic Messenger over the summer, and admittedly have played his route non-stop that it's probably bad but admittedly has kept my sanity in check throughout what turned out to be the hardest school semester ever. My friends and I play MM together and often joke around about our group and how much it's like the RFA, and one day while clucking around, we realized that we wanted to do a fun skit. Originally, my dormant posessive-weeaboo senses were like, "Let me be Jumin so no one else can touch his suit mwahahaha~" but then once we reconceived the skit, it worked out that I could be MC while our friend Frye went as Jumin. I have a plush white Persian cat appropriately named Elizabeth 3rd, so while MC was sourced, I wanted to make Jumin's outfit hands down. At one point, I realized why two weeks was probably a bad idea to try to make a proper suit, waistcoat, and shirt, but my love, err, obsession knows no bounds, so I went through two grueling weeks of midterms plus sewing menswear while watching (most appropriately) HapiMari and Dame na Watashi ni Koishite Kudsai because asshat Dean Fujioka in a suit is like the best fuel for Jumin fever.

While trying to stupidly avoid making this entry longer but this is me shamelessly now digressing, but Jumin is probably one of the hardest cosplays I've had to make. I know some amazing friends and fellow cosplayers who really understand menswear silhouettes, but I think I've also learned that through crossplaying, people learn and don't learn all of the little things that goes into true menswear.

I am by no means an expert on menswear at all. This one experience does not even cover the many layers that goes into making proper men's tailored garments, but this experience really opened my eyes to why it's a whole different field. It's kind of interesting that while it's likely taught less as a separate program in certain design disciplines, it's got a whole world of its own, much like children's wear. Just researching on how to finish the skit properly and add certain elements made me learn little details I would have never considered had I just gone fully in without drinking in the process. The jacket was honestly the two hardest pieces I've ever made, and imperfect in certain ways, while I'm actually surprised that it looked like something by the time I was finished handsewing at 5 in the morning to Save by the Bell reruns in a motel (Jumin would personally have not appreciated me sewing his clothes in such a crass environment lol).

I tried my best to pay attention to the details, and overall, I'm super happy with the results of the costume and the skit! I really just set out to have fun and share my love of Jumin, and Frye was a super sport for agreeing to it (despite knowing the psychotic risks that come with it). Overall, I think it really made my year so much more fun because now, I can have Jumin's outfit there waiting for when male robots go into market, and I'll finally purchase one and make him wear it and greet me everyday when I come home from work...People keep thinking that I'm joking but just wait, just wait. Come on 2017, I want to see some progress on that plan.


Therefore, I essentially wouldn't call this cosplay a commission as much as really a cosplay I made for myself for an obsessive, vain, and knowledgeable experience. I honestly love Jumin as a character not only because he's my ideal guy, but because he shares a lot of qualities within myself that have made me feel more comfortable in some ways about the way I am. Ironically, 707 is hands-down the closest character I have ever seen in a series that's ridiculously close to my personality (and I mean more so in terms of his Day 6 and onward personality ehh), but I feel like a combination of the two of them. WHICH OTHER CHARACTER EVER TALKS ABOUT VITAMINS IN A PHONE CALL?!

On a weird side note, I absolutely am between confused, weirded out, and sort of creeped out by the amount of people who think that Jumin's a sugar daddy route lol. I was happy to meet people in the fandom, but the online community has a lot of posts of him either being some Christian Grey-sugar-daddy-asshat, and while it's up to anyone's interpretation of what he really is, I'm admitting that I only see the asshat part. I personally also don't think I'm on board with sugar daddy jokes period, and for people to sort of interpret certain scenes as BDSM or alternatively, hate Jumin because they think that he promotes abuse or mind breaking...I actually really hope that people would be able to read a little more deeply into what it takes to finish his route for a good ending. It goes way beyond what I feel like Fifty Shades or whatever other smut people think it is does, and why he's actually a really interesting character. A lot could be said for several of those routes to be honest, which is why I really enjoy the game.

Being someone who has played his route at least somewhere around 20 times and counting, I like breaking down little parts of the character, and I invest in it because I feel like his character has more value than being seen as, "Oh look, rich handsome guy who wants to keep me locked in, how romantic~" Not really. It's got a great deal of character development for someone who is used to internalizing his thoughts and emotions and learning how to balance his expression and actually develop real intimate connections with people. Of course, this is about a game in the span of 11 real-time days, so it's not an insanely accurate process of falling in love, but it's an emotional process for me every time.

So for me, being someone who is much like that with my thoughts, as I struggle to write in this blog and actually find my own balance, it's a rewarding experience to play a game that has more than just one character who learns so much about themselves in this game-time. And Jumin to me just embodies the innocence, awkwardness, and intellect I appreciate in someone, but have also come to love when spending time with myself too.


- Shiba Miyuki - Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei - I haven't worn it yet, but I am absolutely happy I got to finish it! I'm hoping to wear it to a local event of some kind, because Miyuki is one of my top favorite characters of all time. It was originally for Anime LA, but we had some scheduling issues, so I opted to stay in normal clothes for the evening.

- Monkey D. Luffy - One Piece: New World - This one was for my brother, who really love One Piece and wanted to go as Luffy for Anime LA. I ended up self-patterning the top, so I was pretty excited about that since I got the drape that I wanted.
- Monkey D. Luffy - One Piece: New World - This one was for my good friend as his first cosplay, and it is a duplicate of my brother's design, although they chose slightly different shades and textures of fabric. My friend was really happy with his outfit, and overall I was happy to have been able to make the two sets for him and my brother to enjoy the con as.
- Miroku - Inuyasha - This cosplay was for my brother for our Anime Expo Masquerade group. Shippo and Miroku are his two favorites. I did some research prior to making this cosplay, since the robe itself is simple to understand, but took a few tries. I am particularly fond of the glove and the rosary beads I made, since I don't have much experience with jewelry making but had so much fun. The gloves were a new experience too, but I loved the result. He also made the staff, which turned out great. We're hoping to rewear these soon.
- Sango - Inuyasha - This cosplay was for my friend Ashley to wear for our Anime Expo Masquerade group. She's a sweeheart to have been able to join us for this skit. I made the robe out of my usual kimono pattern and made all the modifications for the various seams. It wasn't as hard to map out as I had initially thought. It took about forty-five minutes to sit and stare at the picture, then at the fabric, and then really feel the experience and essence. Our two friends Frye and Justin were absolutely awesome to create the boomerang, and Ashley topped the costume off with her amazing makeup skills.

- Sakura Chiyo - Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun - I wore it to Fanime Day 1 with my best friends Shii and Lyric as Mikoshiba-kun and Kashima-kun! It was such a fun costume to wear, and I genuinely share a lot with Chiyo-chan that it was so easy to be in character. I got her costume online off of Taobao, and the quality is absolutely great to wear out without much hassle.
- MC - Mystic Messenger - The skirt's technically made, but I consider it a sourced costume since it was just to lulz around the convention and do our skit. It doesn't stop me from stupidly loving the pickles out of being MC, especially since I bring Elizabeth 3rd out with me. She's obviously such a generic character, but it's still so, so much fun to run around as her. I actually do have plans to rewear her as just my, "I don't want to cosplay because I clearly have been sewing up until the con" outfit, and considering that I have like...4 sweaters and counting now for her...(I swear I don't have a problem), I'm totally onboard with keeping this cosplay up lol.

- 10 new costumes made this year (more like 9.5 but lolol)
- 1 costume finished
- 4 commissioned costumes
- 2 bought/sourced
=  13 costumes for myself  + 4 commissions
= 17 costumes in total

Wheeeee! I can't remember what 2015 was, but I feel like some of the reasons why I'm happier with this total than any other is because.

1. This year I had the most masquerade wins with our cosplay group and sub-group! We got:
2. My craftsmanship is always improving and I'm learning something new, so all costumes are lined/finished and I've taken a lot more care in making sure the fit and the quality is there.
3. I've focused on a variety and tried to take on new challenges, like menswear, which have really encouraged me to try more aka more excuses to drool over Jumin's suits.

5. My first Best in Show experience!!!! And with my favorite dream cosplay ever!!! That's like a fairytale dream come true!
6. Honestly, this has been the most rewarding experience for creating skits that we love and want to share and inspire others. Nothing brings me more happiness than to have someone tell me that our skit's uplifted their spirits or has encouraged them to compete or try new things.
8. PMX 2016 was actually one of the best social experiences ever by getting to meet all the really fun Mystic Messenger cosplayers. I am kind of weird at times about being parts of fandom communities, but everyone has been super fun and likeable that it was really encouraging for me to join in and really enjoy that part of the cosplay experience. In general, most cons we went to this year had great experiences, especially in the masquerade green room.
9. The Fanime road trip is essentially like 99.9% of what we live for each year, hands down.Not a day goes by without us breaking into laughter whenever it comes up.
10. Fairytale is by far my favorite skit that we've ever done. It embodies a vision which started so differently in my head but became absolute magic with the combined efforts of my friends and myself that to watch is isn't to just remember those moments on stage, but the months of work and experience we dedicated to celebrate Howl's Moving Castle. For us, it sets the precedent of the type of skits we want to share with people, because we want to share emotions and tell a fairy tale story.

Cosplay Goals for 2017:
1. Of course, more skit ideas are coming! Our group's an endless fountain of ideas and new ways to try to keep a variety and up our quality and experience.
2. Keep on working on my craftsmanship and trying new things.
3. Actually organize my fabric bin so I can make things with existing fabric to spare my family more woe lol.
4. Actually make a Love Live cosplay finally! I have my fabric for Kotori (lol see above) but haven't gotten the umph to do it, but I know I want to. I have dreamt of finishing it.
5. Elevate my cosplay experience as much as I can while having fun and working hard on my craft.
6.  Fuel my love of idol groups and actually make an idol crossplay because I can't handle waiting for a wandering soul to become my male model to dress them into every bruh from B-Project. >D
7. Complete another dream cosplay from the list.
8. Somehow squeeze in more Utena, or at least, more sparkles and hearts in every way possible.
9. Attempt a costume with a really unusual silhouette or something, or do more menswear, actually. Those Jumin outfits aren't going to be sewn themselves.
10. One future cosplay for Fanime 2017 is actually a second attempt at a cosplay I made about two years ago, so I'm sure that it will be an eye-opening experience to see how much I've improved.

I think also based on this post alone, my other goal would be to keep all my Jumin ramblings in separate posts lol. 

Some confirmed cosplay plans for 2017:
- Kaioh Michiru/Sailorneptune - Most likely for Anime LA 2017 to go with my friend Maiko's Supersailormoon! Besides Usagi, Michiru has always been my favorite (and also partly why I play the violin lol) so I'm super excited.
- Kinomoto Sakura - Anime LA 2017 with Shii as we begin the next phase of our love of...fairy tales and Alexander Rybak lol.
- Ren Kougyoku - Let's go, round two!
- Roy Mustang - My soul is in nirvana as I await for Fujioka Dean's portrayal in the film.
- Suzuhara Misaki - Shii and I wanted to be a fun duo, so I have fabric for Misakicchi ready.

And let us pray hope that this will be the year I can actually work on my Rose Witch lol.

And a lot more ideas coming soon! ~

So as 2016's New Year's end/eve will probably become the most globally watched end-of-the-year event, I keep hope that there will be a lot better things coming our way soon, and while it's easy to fall into the pits and despair, we shouldn't fear that we lack the courage to stand up and keep on going. How else will you find happiness?

And never forget, if 2016 brought us Yuri on Ice, so we can't necessarily say that it was the worst year ever.

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