Category Archives: Cosplay

Hanadoki Con 2016 Solo Dance Performance

KieIdol

Last Saturday I went to a small convention in San Diego called Hanadoki Con.  I thought it would be a great opportunity to take a look at the local anime community, since I’m new in town.  I tried to arrange a show for Angel Hearts too, but it turned out I was the only member who could make it to the convention!  I decided to go ahead and do a solo performance, which was a first for me.  After 13 years and 53 performances though, I can’t help but think I should’ve done this sooner!  It may not seem like it, but I’m a really shy person (like painfully shy), so having to rally people to come watch and MC for myself was a challenge, but I feel like I leveled up.  I guess I was also always afraid to do solo shows because I thought I would look awkward and lame dancing by myself, but I tried my best to pick songs that were interesting on their own, and I think the audience enjoyed it!  Even though most of the audience wasn’t familiar with idols, they still clapped along and cheered, which made me really happy!

There was a little mishap with the schedule though.  I’m still not entirely sure what happened, but it seems my performance time got switched with another performer’s, and nobody on staff had any idea.  It worked out in the end, but I had to perform later than planned, and unfortunately I had to shorten my set list.  Also, no one knew about my performance time of course, so at first there was no one there in the audience.  It was pretty much a performer’s worst nightmare.  Another idol fan did me a huge favor and ran around the convention announcing my show.  I did a bit of that myself, but as I said, I’m terribly shy, so it took a lot of courage.  Fortunately, once the show started and the music was playing, more people came over to watch.  In the end, the show went well, and it was a huge relief!!  Thank you so much to the people who came to talk to me afterward and show their support.  It meant a lot to me! ♥  I feel really bad that there were people who came at the wrong time and were told I canceled, though.   I enjoyed performing at Hanadoki Con, so I hope the staff are a little more careful in the future, and something like this doesn’t happen again.

I’m really glad I had this opportunity to do a solo show.  It was really exciting getting to choose whatever songs I wanted!  Some of my favorite songs work better in groups, so I didn’t pick those, but narrowing down a set list was still hard!  There were way too many songs I wanted to do!  In the end, I learned eight new songs.  I practiced nonstop for three weeks!  Here are the songs I danced to:

Part one: THE IDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls – Onegai Cinderella, Transing Pulse, Star!!
Part two: Aikatsu! – Idol Activity!, Hello New World, lucky train, Original Star☆彡
Part three: Wake Up, Girls! and Hello! Project – Tachiagare!, Balalaika (Kirarin Revolution), and Ne~e? (Aya Matsuura)

Part four was supposed to be IDOLM@STER 765Pro and end with Thank You!, but sadly I didn’t have time.  I was especially excited to finally be able to perform Ne~e?, as Aya Matsuura is my #1 favorite idol.  I was also impressed that people knew Balalaika!  One girl in the audience was even singing along and doing some of the moves.  It’s definitely a very fun song.  I was very happy that people seemed to enjoy the Aikatsu songs too, even though they were not familiar with them.  Aikatsu needs more love! ♥

As for my outfit, I used this opportunity to make an original idol-inspired outfit that I’ve always wanted to make, but never had a reason to.  The outfit was inspired by obnoxious sparkly and fluffy Hello! Project concert outfits, awesome holographic confetti dot in some of my favorite colors, and some matching turquoise and hot pink petticoats and shoes that I found online.  Sadly, the shoes are in storage right now, but they probably would’ve been hard to dance in, anyway.  Luckily I found some silver holographic sparkle character shoes (made for dancing!), and they arrived literally MINUTES before I left my apartment for the convention!  They went perfectly with my outfit!  The dress design is simple, but I love the bright colors!  Seriously, I feel so happy every time I look at my outfit, haha.  I layered three petticoats, alternating hot pink and turquoise, for maximum poof.  The skirt turned out a little shorter than I had planned, but it was so fun to dance with such a bouncy skirt!  I wore a wig because my own hair would’ve gotten frizzy, but I think the pigtails may have been just a little too big!  They were heavy and a bit hard to dance in.  I had so much fun putting this outfit together.    I couldn’t help but come up with even more ideas!  Getting to do my own show really inspired me, so I hope I get another chance to do one sometime in the future!

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Anime LA 2016

20160213ALA

Two weekends ago I went to Anime Los Angeles 2016…. or should I say, Anime Ontario?  Anime LA’s move to Ontario, California was the reason I even went this year, and I have to say, the location was great!  The convention center was spacious and bright, which was good both for hanging out and for taking photos.  Even though there were no attached hotels, there were many good close options, all with free parking.  I stayed at the Ayres, which was very nice and just across the parking lot from the con center.  It did rain the last day of Anime LA, but it wasn’t too terrible, since there was plenty of space inside the con center for everyone to hang out.  Also, even with ALA’s move to a convention center, it still kept some features that let you know it was the same convention, such as the painted benches, the cosplay photos on the walls, and the crazy ribbon-collecting.

This year’s theme for ALA was idols!  You’d think I’d be super excited about this, but unfortunately with my big move, I wasn’t able to take full advantage of the theme.  I did have idol costumes to wear, of course, but nothing new or spectacular, and no performances.  I was happy to see so much idol cosplay all weekend long though, including a good number of Aikatsu and WUG cosplayers!  There wasn’t nearly enough IDOLM@STER though.  Maybe next year I will fix this.  No matter the theme, it’s always idol time for me! ;D

Meanwhile, since coming home from ALA, I’ve been VERY SICK.  It’s probably the time of the year, but this seems to be a big problem with ALA.  PLEASE, GUYS, DO NOT COME TO A CONVENTION (or anywhere with a lot of people, really) WHEN YOU’RE SICK!  Remind everyone!  There will be other conventions, and other chances to cosplay.  Most conventions I’ve been to are also good about at least deferring your badge to next year if you can’t make it.  I can understand if you’re just getting over a cold, and you’re taking REALLY good care of yourself (proper sleep and food) and minimizing your close contact with people, then it’s ok to come.  But definitely if you have the FLU (or anything worse!!), PLEASE STAY HOME.  I know, it sucks.  I had to do it one year.  Angel Hearts was performing, too, but I woke up the morning before ALA with a terrible sore throat, congestion, and a fever — there was NO way I was going to a convention.  I had to redo our soundtrack last minute, and the girls had to scramble to cover for me, and I felt really bad.  Even then, it’s better than showing up with the flu.  Better for everyone.  Please don’t do it.  PSA over.

How to De-tangle a Curled Wig

Here’s a simple tip for both cosplayers and Lolitas — how to de-tangle your curled wigs without ruining the curls!  With light wear, a curly wig can be carefully finger-combed if it is only a little tangled.  After a couple of wears though, wigs can get pretty tangled, but as you may have realized, you can’t just take your brush and brush out your curly wig like you would a straight one.  I mean, you could, but you’d end up with a poofy wavy wig instead of a curled one.  That doesn’t mean you can’t brush it, but the key is to carefully and patiently work on each section, one at a time.

WigDetangle1

This wig got pretty messy after a windy day out.  The left side has already been carefully combed out, while the right side still needs work.  I started by pinning my wig on a stand so it’s well anchored and easy to work on.  Even if you don’t have a wig stand, finding some way to hang it will make things easier.  Separate out one lock of hair, and very carefully and gently comb it out until it is completely smooth.  Since wig hair is plastic and the curls are heat set, you won’t ruin the curls if you are gentle with your wig.  Once it is tangle-free, you need to re-form the curl.  I do this by wrapping the lock of hair neatly around my finger and then gently releasing it down into a spiral.  That’s it!  No product needed.

WigDetangle2

When I am finished with a piece, I clip it out of the way so I can work on the next piece.  Work your way from one side of the wig to the other.  It can get pretty tedious if you have a long, full wig, but the results are worth it.  Your wig may even look as good as new!  If you aren’t so particular about having well-defined, tight curls, you can brush larger sections and then run your fingers through afterward to break the curls back up into smaller sections.  Either way, with a little patience your curled wig can look fresh and springy once again!

Throwback Thursday – Zelda and Meeting Japanese Cosplayers at Anime Expo 2001

The Legend of Zelda has always been one of my favorite series of games, and Princess Zelda has always been one of my favorite characters.  Even back in the Zelda I and II days, I loved the images of Zelda and wanted to cosplay her before I even knew what cosplay was.  It’s still my dream to cosplay those old versions of Zelda.

My first Zelda cosplay was the Ocarina of Time version, which I first wore at Anime Expo 2001.  My family and I spent a long time working on it, and it was my first experience making armor with thermoplastic and casting ears out of latex.  Back in those days, no one cosplayed Zelda, and it was probably because of the lack of reference.  This was before Smash Bros. Melee was released, and the only reference I had of adult Zelda from Ocarina of Time was footage from the game, which my friend had taped for me on VHS, and a tiny drawing on the cover of a CD soundtrack.  Unfortunately, despite the amount of work we put into the costume, the details were pretty inaccurate.  When Smash Bros. Melee came out with Ocarina Zelda as a playable character and all kinds of reference for her costume, it was both a blessing and a curse.  I could finally see all the details, but I realized that in order to make my costume accurate, I would have to completely remake a significant portion of it.  Maybe someday I’ll get around to it, as this is still one of my absolute favorite costumes.

My Ocarina of Time Zelda Cosplay from Anime Expo 2001 and Japanese cosplayers Kaie, Barbie, and Nomi.

My Ocarina of Time Zelda Cosplay from Anime Expo 2001, and Japanese cosplayers Kaie, Barbie, and Nomi.

The memory that stands out in my mind with this costume was running into Japanese cosplayers BK Moon (Barbie Tsukino and Kaie Tada) and Nomi backstage before the masquerade — or rather, having them run after me.  My friend said, “Hey, the Japanese cosplayers are calling you, but I can’t understand what they’re saying.”  Their interpreter then came up to me and said, “They really like your costume and would like to take a closer look if that’s ok.”  Those three had been my cosplay idols ever since I saw them at my first anime convention, Anime Expo 1999, so it was kind of surreal to have them gushing over my own costume.  My friend later realized that they were calling “Piichi-hime!  Piichi-hime!” — they had mistakenly called me Princess Peach instead of Zelda. ^^; I guess even in Japan Zelda wasn’t well recognized.

This is a memory I’ll always treasure, because even now these cosplayers are my idols.  I found out only recently that BABI and KAIE now have their own Gothic Lolita brand, Triple Fortune.  Back then I never could have imagined them in J-rock or Gothic Lolita style!  They were probably best known for their Sailor Moon and Sailor Venus costumes.  It’s really inspiring to see how far they’ve come, and it helped give me the courage to continue working toward my own transformation from cosplayer to designer.

How I Got Into Cosplay

I have always loved dressing up.  When I was very little, the first thing I would do each morning after I got up was play dress-up.  My mother sewed a lot of dresses for me, and I loved going to the fabric store with her to pick out fabric and patterns for new dresses.  She also made my Halloween costumes, of course.  I even had two Halloween costumes that were inspired by my love of video games — a white magician inspired by Final Fantasy and an adventurer inspired by the American design for Princess Moonbrooke from Dragon Warrior II.  I was never interested in learning how to sew for myself though until I started cosplaying and going to conventions.

When I got into anime, I naturally started wanting to dress up as some of my favorite characters for Halloween.  My mom even said I should dress up as Sailor Mars!  But Halloween only comes once a year.  As I scoured the internet for any Sailor Moon and anime web sites I could find, I came across some sites that included cosplay photos and photos from conventions like Anime Expo.  I was really excited that there were people of all ages who dressed up in anime and game costumes outside of Halloween.

I looked up Anime Expo and found out that it was in Anaheim and that the next one (AX’98) would be exactly one week before my family trip to Disneyland.  So close, yet so far.  I was bummed that I couldn’t go, and when we made it to Disneyland I kept thinking, “Just a week ago, there was an anime convention here, where people dressed up as anime characters.”  My parents said that maybe we could go the next year. (Yessssss!)  At that time I was hanging out on IRC with a group of anime fan artists, and many of them had cosplayed and gone to conventions.  When I found out they were doing a panel and meetup at Anime Expo ’99, I was even more excited to go.  It was a chance to meet my online friends, wear a bunch of costumes, and even enter a costume contest!

The 1999 San Francisco Cherry Blossom Festival Anime Costume Parade and Contest, my first cosplay event. Photo by Eurobeat Kasumi Photography.

My first cosplay experience, however, was not Anime Expo.  I was with my family in San Francisco’s Japantown one weekend when I saw a flyer for a cosplay contest and parade during San Francisco’s Cherry Blossom Festival.  The event was in two weeks!  There was not enough time to make a Sailor Mars costume, so the night before the contest my mom and I threw together an extremely ghetto Tifa costume from Final Fantasy VII.  It was the easiest thing I could think of and didn’t require buying anything (yes, I already had kickboxing gloves).  I met a lot of fun people at the event and even won a DVD box set in the contest.  It was a great introduction to what I could expect to see and experience at anime conventions.

After that, I was inspired by all the costumes I saw.  With only two months left before Anime Expo, my mom and I got to work on making a few more costumes so I would have one for each day.  My mom sewed while I worked on accessories.  I started by upgrading my Tifa so I had all the accessories.  I knew I wanted to be Sailor Mars for the costume contest, but I felt that the regular version was too common and plain for a contest, so I chose the Eternal version.  I hadn’t even thought about the third costume until I happened to find a blue and yellow Adidas bodysuit in my size at Ross.  It didn’t have the right number of stripes, but the moment I saw it, I thought, “Chun-Li!” … and it was cheap.  It was close enough that I knew I could get away with it, and then I would just need a vest, armbands, and hair ribbons.  I have to admit, I actually hate that design of Chun-Li, and I’m more of a Cammy fan (in junior high I was obsessed with black lace-up boots because of her), but this was too good of an opportunity for me to pass up.  My Chun-Li costume was well received at AX and some people even told me, “Wow! You have the legs for Chun-Li!”  (I was active in martial arts back then and was fairly muscular.)  To this day, I am still not sure if that is a compliment.

So I went to Anime Expo 1999 with three costumes: Alpha Chun-Li, Eternal Sailor Mars, and Tifa.  I had so much fun, met so many people, and took pictures of EVERYTHING.  When I got home I connected with the people I’d met online and started joining more communities and looking up more conventions.  In 2000 I graduated from high school and I went to as many conventions as I could — FanimeCon, Sakura Con, Anime Expo, Otakon, and Ani-Magic.  The most fun for me was participating in cosplay groups and meeting other cosplayers who were fans of the same series.  I am thankful to my parents for allowing me to travel to all of these events — especially the out of state ones, because for the next ten years I was only able to go to California events.

My mom taught me how to sew so I could make my own costumes.  Although she still occasionally sews something for me as a favor, I make most of my costumes myself.  Unfortunately in recent years I have not been able to make as many costumes and travel to as many events as I would like (real life comes first), but cosplay is a hobby I know I won’t be giving up any time soon.  I have an insanely long cosplay wish list and am constantly adding new ideas.  I also met my best friends and fiancé through cosplay and conventions.  I have so many great memories from cosplay, so as long as there is more fun to be had, I will continue making new costumes and dressing up with my friends.