What got you into cosplay?
Going to Fanime 2000 and Anime Expo 2000 for the first time opened up the cosplay world to me. I didn't know that fans would dress up as their favorite anime, manga, or game characters at these kinds conventions. It was awesome to see how people would express their hobbies and interests through such creative means.
The intense fan atmosphere at conventions really makes everything ten times more fun too ^^ It's an experience unique to only conventions I'd say.
What was your first costume and why?
Lucca from Chrono Trigger was my first serious costume. At Halloween of my 6th grade however I tried to piece together a Sailor Mercury outfit which didn't go too well. I ended up looking like a generic RPG character, and I was crushed when I saw one of my friends show up in a beautifully made Sailor Mercury costume that same Halloween. In any case, Chrono Trigger is a fantastic RPG and I thought that for my first real cosplay I would want to do someone I had always admired and would remember forever: Lucca! Also, her costume appeared to be pretty manageable in terms of construction, much thanks to my mom and dad for helping me.
What is your favorite costume and why?
My Final Fantasy XI (FFXI) Red Mage costume made me extremely happy because I love that game and being able to dress up as my character was really fun. Also, in making this costume I think that I really grew in terms of personal skill, being that all the costumes I made after my Red Mage were considerably higher in quality. I would say that my Guy Cecil costume is still my current favorite. I adore his character in Tales of the Abyss and I have many fond memories of debuting this costume at Anime Expo 2006.
Do you have a dream costume you'd like to make?
When I was in 7th grade I used to always think, "Wow maybe when I grow up I can dress up as Tifa or Aeris." Now that I'm pretty much 'grown up' I no longer have such desires, though I still love the two characters! Now, in terms of a 'dream costume' I would say if someone gave me buckets and buckets of money and I was able to buy the finest sewing machinery, fabrics, etc, then anything I would crank out would become my dream costume.
What has been your most memorable cosplay experience?
I will never forget the 2006 Final Fantasy XI Fan Festival during March 9th - 12th in Santa Monica, CA. I don't think I've engaged in live action role-play so whole heartedly as I did at this convention. I also liked this event because I got to meet my Final Fantasy XI friends in real life. Having already a strong attachment to the game along with being in a convention atmosphere has definitely made this my most memorable cosplay experience.
Do you participate in masquerades?
Once at Anime Expo 2002, our group, 'moshiMoshi anime' participated in the masquerade where I wore my Rena Lanford costume.
What was your best masquerade experience?
At Anime Expo 2002 we got to make great fools of ourselves in front of swarms of people, which I would classify as mighty grand.
Have you won any awards for your costumes?
The Red Mage Artifact Armor (Hume) that I made got into the top 10 costumes at the Final Fantasy XI Fan Festival 2006 costume contest. Needless to say I was very, very, very happy because this was the first and only award to be given to any of my costumes.
Tell us a little about yourself
~~ Life in Japan ~~
Being an American female of Asian descent, it's both a blessing and a pain to live here in Japan. In the very least, you can sneak through the locals' foreigner radar undetected in public places. On the other hand, people expect you to have perfect Japanese and are puzzled and subsequently crestfallen when they hear you speak with an accent. You get mistaken at bars and clubs for a Japanese girl looking to snag a white husband, and when you speak in fluent English to your white male friends, the Japanese women think you're competition out to kill their game. Some students may feel very comfortable working with you because there's nothing alien about your physical appearance. Then there are some students who are less interested in your experiences and stories because somehow you're not a "real" American; you have no blue eyes or blonde hair to impress them... Even so, when you see that one single, solitary kid come up to you after school and tell you they thought your lesson/ lecture was cool, it's all worth it.
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
~~ Cosplaying in Japan ~~
My first Comiket experience occurred after one whole year of living in Japan. After attending Anime Expo for 8 straight summers, along with a few Fanimes, I was confident that the sum of my experiences would have adequately prepared me for the famed event. I was very wrong. After the convention was over, I never felt so down and out. At least for the summer comiket, there is a very high chance that the weather will be unlike anything you've ever cosplayed in ever (unless of course you've been to a convention during a Japanese summer before) and it will bring down your costuming motivation tenfold. It will be very difficult for you to feel cute, pretty or stylish in the humidity and heat. Also, if you're coming from a country whose convention rules are rather liberal, the Comiket rules and regulations will make you feel utterly flabbergasted. Freedom does not exist at such Japanese anime/games/manga conventions (though Tokyo Game Show is leaps and bounds better in that aspect). Even if you think you're going to die from heat, do not take off your wig or any part of your costume anywhere that is not the designated changing room. I emphasize this example because my friends and I got caught, admonished, and thrown into Comiket's 'jail' for our actions. This experience was very emotionally taxing because it seemed all the things we disliked about Japanese conventions (and Japan in general) were blown up and splattered upon our faces; racism and discrimination against foreigners, obsessive and excessive behavior regarding organization + order, and the ridiculous notion that cosplaying isn't widely accepted as mainstream Japanese culture... But don't get me wrong. I enjoy Japan and am grateful to have had the opportunity to experience these things on a firsthand basis. I wouldn't trade my time here for anything in the world. However, I will be beyond thankful once I'm able to truly express myself back home in California. ^^
My favorite anime
Without listing all the titles I love: ... Speed Grapher, Yakitate!! Japan, Gankutsuou, Utena, Ouran Host Club ...
My favorite game(s)
Again, without listing all these awesome games: ... Rogue Galaxy, The Legend of Heroes: A Tear of Vermillion, Xenogears, Final Fantasy VI, Grandia II, Tales of Phantasia, Odin Sphere ...
My favorite book(s)
When I was in middle school I enjoyed Tamora Pierce's old works. I also like Elizabeth Haydon, Jennifer Roberson and Brian Jacques. The Harry Potter series is super fun, too.
My favorite character(s)
Konata from Lucky Star is simply wonderful. Anna from Shaman King, Elly from Xenogears, Freya from Final Fantasy IX, Haruhi from Ouran Host Club and Tula from Pirates of Dark Water are all my role models; they embody everything I like to see in strong female characters. I've also grown to love my dear Final Fantasy XI character, Shiina.
My favorite movies(s)
The Boondock Saints, The Sound of Music, Beauty and the Beast
My favorite actors/actresses