The Cosplayer Feature is a series of interviews done by HappyCosplayer featuring cosplayers from around the world who would like to share their story. Cosplayers are featured every other day both here on my blog and on my Facebook pages: HappyCosplayer, JustCosplay.
“May you be inspired by them!” -HappyCosplayer
Featured cosplayer: Kamuiyamato!
Cosplay Page: Link | Country: USA | Gender: Female|
Happy: When did you begin cosplaying and what got you interested in the hobby?
Kira Elric: I started cosplaying at conventions (and not just Halloween costumes) in 2005. I was searching for one of the animes I liked at the time online and I saw people in costumes so I got interested. After learning that they called it ‘cosplay’ I did more research and ended up trying it out for myself.
Happy: What do you remember about your first day cosplaying at a convention?
Kira Elric: The first time I cosplayed was Edward Elric at JAFAX 2005, and I can vividly remember my mother (who came with me and was cosplaying Trisha Elric), fixing my collar and making sure everything was prim and proper while we stood in line to get in. People just kept smiling at Ed getting all flustered that “his” mom wouldn’t stop fussing, but that con was what sealed the deal for life for me.
Happy: Would you consider yourself more of a seamstress or a builder?
Kira Elric: I’m a seamstress. I actually worked as a seamstress professionally for two years and I have carried this over into costume commissions. I can build props to a point but I don’t have any where near the experience with building as I do with sewing. I’ve made almost all of my and my husband’s costumes. (Sometimes I get too busy and just don’t want to makes things and that’s OKAY)
Happy: Is their anyone who really inspires you and why?
Kira Elric: My mother and my husband. I mean don’t get me wrong, there are TONS of amazing cosplayers but I look at them more as someone else who just loves and enjoys the craft like I do. My mother is the one to taught me the skills I needed to start and the one I go to when I need help or don’t think I can do something. My husband is basically my own personal cheerleader and he keeps me going. They are the support system that let’s me believe I can make anything.
Happy: Have you ever-experienced harassment or bullying while cosplaying?
Kira Elric: Let me count the times. I’ve been told I was too short to cosplay this, too tall to cosplay that, ‘You know this character is a guy, right?’. I’ve had people tell me they hated me to my face because of the character I was cosplaying. I’m also had people tell me they would to perverse things to me because of the character I was cosplaying – again to my face.
I remember one incident very vividly in my mind however, at Sakuracon 2014 – where my husband and I were cosplaying Sasuke (me) and Naruto (him). We had a girl yell to us (by character name) from the Balacony above with her camera hanging over the edge of it and she asked “If I dropped this on you, would it hurt?” I replied in character with ‘Maybe not me, but him sure.’ and it was in that moment that this girl began to scream at me as if I was my character about how ‘I deserved to get hurt for all the things “I’ve” done.” And when I got angry and went to yell at her my husband stopped me and pulled me away to calm down while this girl screamed at us that it was horrible I even liked Sasuke.
So yeah that happened. That’s a thing. It wasn’t really ‘handled’ by staff or anything. My husband just pulled us out of the situation but that happened.
I was also harassed online after my photographer posted pictures of my Hatsune Miku – World’s End Dancehall cosplay for the first time. A commenter saying that the dress ‘wasn’t modest enough’ and I was ‘showing too much skin’ simply because the dress shows a little more leg than most (because of the side slit). My photographer tried to explain that the dress was not made for them but for me and I try to be as accurate as I can be with the things I make, which turned into an all out war of how I’m a horrible person.
I had tried to explain to this person that I didn’t understand the difference between showing a little bit of leg in a female cosplay and showing my entire back and stomach in a male crossplay. I was told I needed ‘cover up’ and it was ‘ too sexual’. My photographer simply ended up deleting this girl’s comments and banning her from her photography page.
Happy: Are there things you have learned through this hobby that you never would have guessed to have learned before you started cosplaying? If so what are these new skill traits?
Kira Elric: I know how to make craft foam look like leather! I know multiple ways of sealing paint. I know how to do basic embroidery and how to dye fabric. I make all my own patterns, so I can draft patterns. I know how to style wigs and color them! I’m pretty creative at fixing things now too. Also, let me tell you – I can do some amazing things with craft foam and tape.
Happy: A lot of people get overwhelmed or ‘brunt out’ over time with this hobby called cosplaying. Have you ever felt that way, or do you feel like you ever would? What would you say to those that maybe feeling burnt out now?
Kira Elric: Well I’ve been cosplaying consistently for 15 years now, so yeah I can promise you I’ve felt this way. I’ve had thoughts of quitting completely or that it was a childish hobby and I should give up – but I love it too much to stop. It’s done too much good in my life to just let go of it.
So to anyone out there who is thinking about quitting, please set down and seriously ask yourself why? Is it because of bullies? If so, forget them, this hobby is for you. Is it because of fear? Do you not feel good enough? I promise you, you are. Everyone starts somewhere and we’re all nerds in costumes so if you want to be apart of that life, you’re more than welcome.
Happy: What is it about cosplaying that you love?
Kira Elric: Cosplaying is a way for me to express both my creative self and the love I have for certain characters. I tend to cosplay characters I feel a connection to; my favorites if you will. So not only do I get the challenge of trying to figure out how to make something, I also get to show who my favorite characters are. Not gunna lie, I can’t leave out how much good cosplaying has done for me. I love how connected it can make people feel.
Happy: What is it about cosplaying you dislike?
Kira Elric: When I started cosplaying all those years ago, cosplay wasn’t popular or well known as a hobby. It was something that I could say “I cosplay” and still have to explain it. While I like that it’s become more accepted, with the introduction of social media, it feels more like a competition than it should be. I mean, I know there are competitive cosplayers and there is such a thing as competitive cosplaying, but that is their choice and should be left for the masquerade. That’s what it’s there for, to compete and show off one’s skills.
So I guess this fuss about follower count or the pressure from not looking perfect for some stranger on the internet I feel has made cosplay more stressful and less fun. There will always be people who excel at things and people who just started, but I don’t understand why something like cosplay has to be one of those things. Follower count means nothing, it just means a bunch of people like your work or seeing your pictures – it says nothing about you as a person – but because of this aspect of cosplay I feel like it makes people scared to try and that’s what I don’t like. Cosplay is supposed to be welcoming and I feel like it’s not as welcoming as it used to be.
Happy: Why do you cosplay? Why do you keep coming back to it?
Kira Elric: Cosplay has done a lot of good in my life. I used to call it “a self esteem boost to the veins” when I first started. I never had a lot of friends and going to conventions made me feel welcomed, loved, appreciated. It made me feel like I belonged somewhere and I could just talk to people about the things I loved without fear of harassment or rejection.
I’ve made friends because of cosplay, most of which live states or so away, but that’s okay. More imporantly I met my husband and best friend because of cosplay. He is the other half of my soul, the other half of my heart and without cosplay I would have never met him. We bonded over characters and enjoy dressing up and being nerds, and we’ll keep doing it.
For as much as cosplay has changed over the years, nothing will take the joy from having a child walk up to me and my husband when we’re in Sasuke and Naruto and have them ask me why “I won’t go home because I’m making Naruto really sad.” or the excitement on someone’s face when they see me dressed as their favorite character. Nothing tops that. Nothing tops the joy is brings people and I will keep doing it forever just for that reason.
Happy: Have you ever hurt yourself accidentally or intentionally for cosplay?
Kira Elric: Um …. My hubby told me I had to write out the short list. So to sum it up shortly, yes both accidentally and intentionally. It’s most of the time accidentally but intentionally happens from time to time too.
For example, I own a high temp hot glue gun and I can’t count the times I’ve burned myself with it. A couple of them were 2nd degree. But the one that stands out in my mind was Acen 2009. I ordered a cosplay of Suzaku Kururugi from Code Geass online to match one of my friend’s Lelouch cosplay and when it came the shoulder parts were a really tacky golden yellow color instead of the antique gold they were supposed to be (the rest of the outfit was), so I took them off the outfit and took them outside to my parent’s back field where Dad had a tarp laid down so I could spray paint them.
Well when I went out to check on them, being the country girl I am, I was bare foot and stepped on a nail in the process of getting them. But Acen was the next day and I would be damned if I wasn’t going. So I asked mom for some cream to help heal it and wrapped my foot and dealt. I walked Acen’s floors in 3 inch heels that weekend all in the name of fancy Suzaku. It was horrible and you can see the pain on my face in all the pictures but dammit we had a full group.
Happy: Over all how would you rate the cosplay community as a whole?
Kira Elric: It depends on where you are. Most of the time if you’re at a convention, the cosplay community it’s self is extremely welcoming. I’ve had next to no problems with fellow cosplayers.
Now online is another story, because I’ve seen all kinds of competition and ‘you’re the best this’ and ‘you’re the best that’. I think egos appear bigger than they are due to fans and the way the online community is set up – but I will say from when I started to now I hear a lot more of ‘-insert cosplayer name here- is the best -insert character- ever!’ or ‘best cosplayer’ in general from both friends who do and don’t cosplay. I feel like there is more competition than there used to be, and in places where there’s no need for it.
Happy: What are some of your favorite cosplays you have worn?
Kira Elric: Well Luke Fon Fabre and Yuri Lowell are always fun for me simply because I adore those characters with all my heart. Izuku Midoriya’s hero suit was the last costume I made, and I need to tweek it, but I adore Izuku so much so I can’t wait to cosplay him again.
Hatsune Miku – World’s End Dancehall – is my pride and joy however. I poured my life into that costume. I patterned it out completely by hand, and after I made the pattern, I dyed all the fabric myself (the dress and sleeves in two different batches of mixed color dye I’m so proud ended up matching), I handmade everything and I put every single leaf in the dress and sleeves one at a time.
There’s a 1/2 mile of gold thread in the entire outfit. Miku was a dream cosplay of mine but due to always cosplaying boys I was worried about ‘not being pretty enough’ for a female costume but with enough talk from my husband and my friends I got over it. Miku is a stepping stone for me, so I’m really proud of her.
Happy: Do you have a dream cosplay you would love to do someday?
Kira Elric: Nerd Alert! Yes. Yes I do. I have a few but the dream cosplay of cosplays for me is Shiroi Kumo or Makenshi from Final Fantasy Unlimited.
Don’t judge me, I loved FF:U even if it bombed in both Japan and the States. I want to work on him really bad and I’ve started on things here and there, but I’m inching along because I wanted it to be prefect whenever it’s finally done.
Happy: What was an amazing experience you had in cosplay that you will never forget?
Kira Elric: Let’s talk about another cosplayer for a minute. Evilweasel72. So he is currently my husband, but we’ve been together for a rather long time, 8 years come July in fact. We met back at Acen 2009 (my year of pain (rip my foot)) and started talking, later in the year we started dating and have been together ever since despite him living two hours away from me. We talked when we could, and saw each other when we could but in early 2011 he finally moved up to live with me and some friends. We got our own place in June of that year and we were both super into Tiger and Bunny that year. So of course I made use Kotetsu and Barnaby cosplays that year.
After going back to the hotel room the Saturday of that convention, before I could even get out of costume, he took my hand and asked me if I’d marry him. I thought he was joking, but completely serious he asked me again. I said yes obviously. We had some personal issues to deal with but we finally got married last year. Youmacon 2016 was our honeymoon. ❤
Happy: Has cosplaying presented you with challenges? If so what sort of challenges? Were they hard to overcome? Are you still working on overcoming them?
Kira Elric: Well I mean, I’ve had my fair share of ‘how do I get this to do that’ and ‘why can’t i find the right color material’ but honestly now it’s more ‘how do I make this costume work around my cane?’
I’ve always been the kind of person to be up for a good challenge, but now I have to think about how to make things work and not be too cumbersome because of injures and such. I was involved in an accident in 2014 that put me on a cane from time to time now, and I’ve had to learn how to cosplay around it. haha. Just cause I’m slow now doesn’t mean I’m gunna stop.
Happy: What is your favorite convention right now to attend?
Kira Elric: YOUMACON. I’ve gone every year since it started.
Happy: What is a convention you would REALLY like to attend one day and why?
Kira Elric: Katsucon. I hear so much about it and it looks so pretty but I am poor
Happy: Does any one in your family cosplay? How about close friends? Did you get anyone to cosplay because you were doing it?
Kira Elric: My mother started cosplaying with me when I did, but she doesn’t go to cons anymore. Close friends, pretty much all of them do – considering that’s how I met them. My cousin cosplays every now and then, and he falls into the category to ‘cosplay because I was’. A lot of my friends from high school cosplayed because I did too.
Happy: What are your future goals with cosplaying?
Kira Elric: I always want to get better. I want to work with different materials and have a bigger space to work. (I can only do so much in a 1 bedroom apartment with a bird in the house (she’s sensitive)). I want to expand my library of knowledge and skills. I hope to get some of my dream cosplays done (Makenshi and Bankoutsu) and to be able to make things even faster / better for the people who commission me.
Outside of cosplay, I’ve love to get a bigger place and expand my art a little more. I make buttons and pins, sell shirts on redbubble and I would love to be able to more with that. Other than that, I want to get better in general. After the accident in 2014, it killed my stamina and I want to be able to move around like I used to and be able to do things for hours like I used to, so personal goal to take better care of my psychical and mental health.
You can find Kamuiyamato at the following links! Please leave some love for them via a like/follow and so on and help continue to make the cosplaying community better by encouraging and inspiring others!
Husbands Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/evilweasel72/
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