Featured image taken by Joker (Clicks.Arts.Frames)
Introducing KAYRI 慧星, one of THE MAGIC RAIN’s resident cosplayers! Having cosplayed for a little over three years, she has cosplayed characters such as Mavis (Fairy Tail), Mumei (Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress), Yagami Taichi (Digimon Adventure tri.) and Uraraka Ochako (My Hero Academia). As a university student studying in America, she has had the chance to experience some of the world’s largest anime conventions such as Anime Expo, Wondercon and many more. Read on as she shares her views and experiences throughout her cosplay journey!
Disclaimer: Answers may be edited for clarity of reading and comprehension.
Tell us exactly what got you into the ACG sphere.
I’ve been watching anime since young. Classics such as Digimon Adventure, Pokemon and Sailor Moon used to air on television in multiple dubbed languages, so I never knew that the Malay-speaking Taichi or Cantonese-speaking Usagi originated from Japan as “anime”. When I was in high school, I met a friend who strongly recommended One Piece (the anime was at the 400+ episode mark at the time).
I suppose Form One students were very free and had nothing better to do, so as impressive as it sounds, I went on a full One Piece binge. Needless to say, I got hooked on it and my anime addiction expanded into other forms such as manga, games, and eventually… cosplay.
So how do you connect the moment you got into ACG to the fact that you are cosplaying now?
I’ve been attending Comic Fiesta religiously since 2012. Not knowing that ACG events happened year round (the only other one I knew of was AniManGaki), I looked forward to attending Comic Fiesta every year. I was always awed by the amazing cosplays I saw during the event, and I was that geeky girl who would go around awkwardly asking for pictures of cosplayers who did such amazing portrayals of my favourite characters. I never thought it was something I could do, but after I graduated from high school and got a few part-time jobs during college, I wanted to step out of my comfort zone and check cosplay off of my bucket list.
I cosplayed for the very first time during Comic Fiesta 2014 as Musk from the mobile game Ayakashi: Ghost Guild. There were many new experiences that came from my first cosplay. I made a cosplay prop for the first time, I learnt how to do makeup from zero knowledge (what’s a foundation and why is it not the pre-university course? You mean I have to put glue over my eyebrows so people can’t see it?), how to use Taobao, how to wear a wig, how to put on false lashes (this is in a whole new level of difficulty altogether). I am thankful for these new experiences that have allowed me to gain so many valuable skills, and during this process, meet a lot of like-minded people I can call friends now.
What started out as a one-time thing just to complete an item on my bucket list has now become my passion and my hobby that I continue to learn and grow from.
What is your view about the cosplay community locally?
The local cosplay community has definitely changed a great deal from when I first started out. It has expanded a lot, and the community feels somewhat larger now. The community practically lives on Facebook, so even if you’ve never met someone in person, you may already know them very well as Facebook friends and fellow cosplayers. There is also an unspoken expectation for the level of cosplay that is deemed acceptable. As cosplayers, we seek to constantly improve ourselves and our cosplays, and there is a strong need for accurate portrayals of characters.
What is your view about the cosplay community globally?
I cannot speak for any other community, but having ventured into the American cosplay community briefly, I found that there seems to be a heavier importance placed on the culture of having fun. It is alright if your shoes aren’t 100% like the character’s, as long as you’re having fun cosplaying. Many American cosplayers also make their own costumes and props from scratch.
Would you say that the cosplay community is synonym to drama?
Because the community lives on social media, it is easy to receive news about a certain person or incident from third-parties, and it is easy to come up with a skewed perception of what’s going on just from reading comments or posts. All I can say is that as long as we do our best in what we do, we won’t have the time nor effort to meddle in affairs that don’t concern ourselves.
Is sexiness required in cosplaying, both metaphorically and physically? How do you adapt to a sexier character if you aren’t fond of showing skin?
I personally feel like sexiness =/= showing skin. You can portray sexiness through facial expressions and makeup instead of simply wearing revealing costumes. However, if you really like the character whose costume is revealing, but you’re not comfortable wearing it, I suggest looking into nude-colored sleeves or stockings, safety pants, or even fake boobs made out of foam to help with the accuracy of the character, while wearing something that is within your comfort level. Never compromise what you’re comfortable with just to seek the approval of strangers.
A lot of cosplayers have a backstory of dealing with depression or negativity, and they plunge into a community that is more than ready to talk about skin colour, body sizes and accuracy in portrayal of a character. How does that link up for you?
As long as you are doing your best, and you are always looking for ways to learn and hone your cosplays, don’t let the words of strangers online bring you down. At the end of the day, cosplay is about having fun. Although constructive criticisms can be used to improve ourselves and learn from our mistakes, baseless insults about one’s physical appearance should not matter. In this community where success is seemingly determined by positive comments, numbers of shares and followers, it is too easy to get swayed by what others say.
Remember why you are cosplaying in the first place. Should personal satisfaction of a self-made cosplay be undermined by one negative comment? This is something I am keeping myself in check about as well.
What kind of change has cosplay brought to you or someone you know?
After I joined the cosplay community, I learned to write Facebook posts in Chinese.
Tell me one cosplayer you would date right now.
This mysterious cosplayer who cosplayed as Trafalgar Law from One Piece during Comic Fiesta 2013. He had the aura of the character and his cosplay was amazing. Up until today, I still never found out who he is.
What is your dream cosplay?
Erza Scarlet’s Nakagami Armor! I feel like I haven’t reached the level of skill required to make the costume yet, but someday when I feel ready, I will challenge myself with making her Nakagami Armor.
Finance is a touchy subject when it comes to cosplay. How do you regulate your expenditure and how do you determine which cosplay gets a better budget and which one doesn’t?
I feel (slightly) better about spending for cosplay when I remind myself that I am spending money earned from part-time jobs. At the same time, thinking about carelessly spending hard-earned money helps with self-control. (laughs) I am not able to cosplay too often now, so I pay more attention to making cosplans (cosplay plans). Unless it is a character I am really, really, really interested in, I will hold off plans for it until a later time.
What is the most important aspect of cosplay to you?
I aspire to bring out the best that I can in my cosplays, and that doesn’t necessarily mean spending lavishly on the most expensive costume on Taobao. I seek to produce good cosplays to the best of my ability, either by learning to make small props, or improving in my makeup for different characters of various styles. I believe in constantly challenging myself through cosplay, and I place utmost importance in stepping out of my comfort zone each time I cosplay.
Let’s talk about creativity vs accuracy. Would a character be considered inaccurate if you apply a twist of creativity to it? How much of creativity is allowed to be put in into a cosplay before it becomes totally inaccurate?
I feel like creativity should be encouraged so we can continue to improve our craft as cosplayers. However, I think one should understand the character before attempting to switch things up. As long as you get to know the character’s personality and traits, I believe the creativity you exude in your cosplay will still bring out the character’s aura even if certain aspects of the costume isn’t accurate to the thread.