We were very lucky to have had the chance to speak with guest cosplayers Onnies from Thailand, stayxxxx from Taiwan, Siutao from Hong Kong and Miu from Vietnam during Comic Fiesta 2016! The girls generously answered our questions and even slotted in some laughs here and there. Let’s see what they have to share!
Q: If you could travel back in time to your first cosplay, what would you change about it and what advice would you give yourself?
Siutao: I don’t want to say how long it has been since I first started cosplaying, but back in the days, a wig is very expensive for a student like me. It was very difficult to find them in Hong Kong. It’s not as easily attainable as it is now, simply from a click on Taobao. Even if I went back in time, I don’t think I would’ve been able to do anything differently since I had no money. (laughs) Wigs were for people who wanted it for everyday use, so the prices for wigs were very high and there wasn’t much variety in them. So I actually can’t do much even if I went back in time. If there was one thing I could change though, I guess I would’ve taken more initiative to make more friends.
Miu: I think I would improve on my makeup because I didn’t have much money to spend on cosmetics, my makeup did not turn out really good. The wig I bought was not meant to be used for cosplay, so it did not really go on well with my costume. I would improve on my makeup, wig and my costume.
Onnies: Diet today, not tomorrow! (laughs) Don’t eat too much!
stayxxxx: I will tell myself that you will face many happy and unhappy incidents but don’t change yourself and who you are. Just be yourself and stay as who you want to be.
Q: How did you start cosplaying? Did your parents allow it?
Onnies: I started cosplaying because I liked to play online games. My friend asked me if I could cosplay with her so that was how I started. My family allowed me to do whatever I want to do.
Siutao: My friend and I really liked reading manga so one day she asked me if I was interested to cosplay with her for an event. I had never known about cosplay so I asked her what it was. In the end, my friend didn’t show up so I ended up cosplaying alone. As for my parents, my mother doesn’t really like me cosplaying because our house is too cluttered with my cosplay stuff. My father allows me to do what I want to do. Sometimes when I face certain problems when making props, I will go to him for help.
stayxxxx: I started cosplaying because my classmates were gathering a cosplay group and they have already filled all the important roles except for a minor side character. They approached me to fill that spot saying I might fit the role well. When it came to actually performing, my role was the only non-speaking role out of all of them. It was like being a tree without any speaking lines. At the time, I saw that they were all having a lot of fun and it made me wonder why cosplay made them this happy. I became curious about cosplay and so that was how I started. About my parents, my father doesn’t really care about what I do and I won’t let him interfere anyway. As for my mother, she will approve of characters that she likes, but if I’m cosplaying characters that she doesn’t like, she will say my cosplay is very ugly. (laughs)
Miu: I like manga and anime when I was young. I went to a cosplay event in Vietnam before, and even though I really wanted to cosplay, I was still a student with no money. After I started working, I managed to have some money to start cosplaying. My parents approve of me cosplaying as long as I am spending the money that I earned myself. They like it when I can go overseas for events and meet new people.
Q: What was your toughest cosplay project and what’s so tough about it?
Onnies: Elementalist Lux because I was contacted by the game company to make the costume for them but I only had four days to make it. It was very difficult. The costume making itself was not hard, but it was the short timeframe that made it difficult. It was like a nightmare. I was lucky because I had my friend to help me.
Siutao: To be honest, all my cosplays are tough. It is mostly because I give myself a very short period of time to make them. I would always ask myself why I was so silly to start so late, because I would get anxious and worked up doing it every time. Due to my busy job, my free time is limited to late nights. As you all know, houses in Hong Kong are very small. I don’t have a big workspace either. I had to sit in my small kitchen at home to make my costumes. But because I was able to earn some money from my job, my friends and I are renting a studio outside where I can complete my costumes and props right now and it made my situation a lot better. The toughest cosplays I think are the ones from Kantai Collection. Their designs are very detailed. It always takes me a long time to think about how to make it.
stayxxxx: The toughest cosplay for me is Levi from Attack on Titan. Initially I followed the reference photo for the costume to make it thinking that if I followed them exactly, the costume would magically turn out the way I wanted it to be. Later on I realized that the costume didn’t fit me at all. During my first photoshoot, it took me almost 3 hours to wear everything. At that time, I realized that anime and manga character designs are a bunch of lies. If they really were wearing all this in the actual manga, the titans would have already eaten them while they’re still getting into their battle gear! Also, Levi is always angry and unhappy as if someone always owed him money. During my photoshoot, my photographer kept asking me to show more hatred in my expression. I felt like I was already doing my best looking angry, so it was really quite difficult.
Miu: The toughest part of cosplay for me is mainly due to my job. I go to work in the morning and come back home maybe around midnight, so I couldn’t buy the materials I need for my cosplay. The shops are so far and I don’t have a car for me to get there. Sometimes I skip lunch just to go buy materials and then I head straight back to work. I had to make a few of my costumes within a few days so I am always busy because I need to work and make costumes at the same time. It feels a lot easier now because Taobao has so many costumes!
Q: How do you balance your work life or study life to cosplay? Do you have any time management tips?
Onnies: (laughs) I want to know too! But when we grow up and start working, you must know what you have to do first. It is important to prioritize what is important.
Siutao: Same as Onnies. Work is important, and sometimes my work is affected when I go to events overseas as a cosplay guest. As long as you do your job well, your boss won’t have any complaints. Money is important; without money, you can’t do anything, not even cosplay. So…I can’t really share any time management tips with anyone because I don’t have them either. (laughs)
stayxxxx: (sighs) I also find it hard to balance between my work and my cosplay. When I am too stressed out about my work, I will put all my energy into cosplay. When I am stressed about cosplay, I will keep on working.
Miu: Sometimes I get really tired of my job and I want to quit my job just to spend time with my hobbies, but I need money to do my hobbies too so I still need to work.
Q: How did your cosplay name came about?
Onnies: My Thai nickname is “On” meaning cute. I started playing online games and I wanted to register myself using On but it wasn’t allowed because it was only two letters. I just put in some random alphabets to fulfil the minimum letters needed for the player name, so my name doesn’t really have a meaning.
Siutao: Siutao is not my real name. I used to love Card Captor Sakura and I went online to read a doujinshi. In that doujinshi, Sakura and Syaoran got married and had a child called Siutao. So I used that name to call myself so now I am Siutao.
stayxxxx: I’m sure everyone knows what the word ‘stay’ means. I have faced many situations throughout my cosplay journey and I wish to remind myself not to change; I am who I am and I don’t want to change myself for anything that happens. I just want to stay as the person that I am. Also, my name is pronounced just as ‘stay’. The four Xs behind my name is just a way it is stylized.
Miu: I like cats, and in Vietnam when they call cats they will call them “miu miu”, so I used Miu as my name.
Q: Any tips for newbie cosplayers?
Onnies: Just love what you do and enjoy cosplay. Anyone can make mistakes so just go for it and do what you like, you’ll grow in the meantime and you’ll improve.
Siutao: Just try to understand the character and their personality, and the result of your cosplay will be good. The first time is okay even if you don’t do so well because you’ll know what you need to improve on. Familiarize yourself with the character’s hair, makeup and the way they behave.
stayxxxx: I encourage everyone to make their own costumes. You might not initially know how to make costumes or do makeup but as time goes by, you will realize that you have the hidden potential to do it.
Miu: Just do your best!
Q: Cosplay is a fun hobby, but unfortunately there are many negative stereotypes and connotations attached to cosplay. Have you ever dealt with that and how did you overcome it? What advice would you give to younger cosplayers who are facing the same issue?
Onnies: Yes, I did also receive bad comments but I didn’t care. I made my costumes myself using my own money so there is no reason for others to care. You should just believe in what you do and love, just ignore others’ bad comments.
stayxxxx: Cosplay is just like any other hobby such as singing and playing basketball. There’s nothing bad about doing too much of it; no one will ever think you’re playing too much basketball or singing too much. If someone ever has bad perceptions about cosplay, it might be because you are too addicted to it, like if you sing so much that you spend all your time in the KTV and ignore your studies. Another bad perception to cosplay is that it is too expensive. I think we can save a lot of money by making our own costumes.
Q: Has there ever been a time when the process of making your props or costume was so hard that you just gave up on it? If not, how do you keep encouraging yourself to make new props or costumes?
Siutao: Yes, I once wanted to make this long sword for a character from the mobile game Million Arthur. I was going to Taiwan to cosplay that with my friends, and I wanted to look for a cheap alternative to make the sword so I used cardboard as the base instead of lightwood which is very expensive. But the sword ended up bent instead of being straight so I still had to go back to using wood to make it. When I face a problem while making my props, I would try to use alternative methods to make them instead of giving up. I will try my best.
Miu: Sometimes I have trouble making costumes such as Kurumi’s which is too detailed and they end up not looking as good and it makes me feel like giving up. I am lazy to open up the stitching and sew it again but I will go look for some tutorials or some other ways to make it better so that I’ll have the motivation and the mood to make it again.
Q: (to Onnies) We recently saw your cosplay from LoL (Dark Elementalist Lux). What is your favourite hero of all time?
Q: (to stayxxxx) You recently collaborated with Thunderbolt Fantasy. Can you describe your experience working with this project?
stayxxxx: I’m actually a big fan of Gen Urobuchi, one of the producers of Nitroplus. It is not easy working with a Japanese company because they pay a lot of attention to detail. I woke up at 4am to get ready by 7 so that the crew could do a check on everything. Ironically it was producer Gen Urobuchi who was not controlled by anyone, he did whatever he wanted to do and said whatever he wanted to say.
Q: (to Siutao) Hong Kong is known for its dim sum and desserts. Which would you prefer, Har Gow (crystal shrimp dumplings) or Siu Mai (steamed Chinese dumplings)?
Siutao: Har Gow. (laughs) I like the texture of its skin!
Q: (to Miu) You are an illustrator and I am curious to know if you will ever post your artwork on any online platform. Is there somewhere we can find your artwork?
Miu: Because I don’t have too much time to draw for myself, I only have some sketches in my sketchbook. My job doesn’t allow me to post some of my art for my company anywhere. Next time I am thinking of creating a Deviantart or a Pixiv account for me to post my work.
We are very grateful to all four of them to have taken the time (and patience!) to answer our questions. The fans who attended their panel and watched them on stage will surely know how lovely these cosplayers have been, and will probably understand them a lot better after that. We hope Onnies, stayxxxx, Siutao and Miu enjoyed their time at Comic Fiesta and in Malaysia, and we hope to see them again at future events with more amazing cosplays!