Thoughts of a true costume player
Some call it fashion, some call it an art, but costume play — more commonly known as cosplay — is a lifestyle. Many misconstrue costume play as mere dress up, but Miyuki Hara, a veteran cosplayer from California, sets the record straight.
Daily Wildcat: Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do.
Hara: I started cosplaying in 2011 because I was bored and wanted to find people who I could share a common interest with. I have always been really into arts of all kinds.
Can you tell us a little bit about cosplay?
People cosplay for many reasons. Some do it as a way to show their love for a character or series. Some do it to meet friends or because their friends do it. Some people want to play out their fantasies about their favorite characters. Some people — and I fall into this category — just have an innate need to make things and use cosplay to focus their creativity. But regardless of why people cosplay, the one thing they all have in common is that people cosplay because they find it fun.
What is new in the cosplaying world at the moment?
I guess the new thing with cosplay is that it now has TV shows dedicated to it … bringing it more into the mainstream. A few years ago, I’d have to spend quite a while to explain to someone what exactly [cosplay is], but since the recent spur of cosplay-related TV shows, I find myself meeting people who already know what cosplay is, even though they don’t know anyone who cosplay and have never been to a convention.
What is it like between cosplayers?
Between cosplayers, it’s fairly tame. We go to conventions to have fun with friends and meet new people, so usually people are quite friendly.
Do you think that there is any age that is either too young or too old for cosplay?
I don’t think there are any age restrictions on cosplay, though I do think that kids should be supervised. Cons are usually fairly safe, but they do sometimes draw [in] some weirdos, and excessive alcohol consumption among adults is a reality. But otherwise, I don’t think that there is any age limit on cosplay.
Can you tell me about your experience when you have gone to different events and places?
From the perspective of an adult cosplayer, most cons are about hanging out with friends, photo shoots and drinking. I personally prefer smaller cons because I can actually talk to people. At large cons, everyone is all over the place, and it’s hard to meet up and hang out.
Is there any downside about cosplaying for you?
I feel like the main downside is that often cosplayers are viewed as obsessive “Japanophiles” or “weeaboos”, which sometimes is true but not always. When people find out that I spend tons of time and money making cosplay, they automatically assume I must be obsessed with anime.
What would you say is the best and most important part about cosplaying for you?
The most important part of cosplay for me is exercising creativity. I’m not a big fan of much, so the fandom aspect isn’t there for me, but I love working on creative projects. Art is what I live for and what I love, so it’s really important for me to always be involved in its production and appreciation.
Follow Cristien Keeme-Sayre @DailyWildcat