anibee Cosplayer Focus: Raistlin & Aya!
Photo by: KC Lee (http://kclee2002.deviantart.com)
anibee is taking our interest in cosplay to the next level, starting with a new regular feature where we get to talk to some of the most influential cosplayers in our community!
In this installment, we get to talk to Singapore's representatives for the World Cosplay Summit (WCS) 2012, Raistlin and Aya. Check out what insights and advice this experienced, multi-talented duo had to offer!
- As a male in a mostly female-dominated hobby, do you feel that you are at a disadvantage? How do you 'deal' with this 'problem'?
Photo by: Geno (http://heavens-leaf.deviantart.com)
Raistlin: That depends; due to the nature of the hobby, I get to be surrounded by cute-girls all the time - that's hardly a disadvantage!
On a more serious note, male cosplayers normally face a more difficult challenge because of our skill sets. For instance, due to the androgynous design of anime characters, make up is a basic necessity. Females usually have experience with it, but most males don't even know make up. Additionally, as most convention go-ers are male, they would naturally tend to look over most male cosplayers by default... unless if your name is Kaname (AFA Ambassador and popular male cosplayer) ; ) !
Photo by: Darren Sim (http://xkaonslaught.deviantart.com)
I had to spend a lot of time "begging" my female friends, who at that point of time were mostly non-cosplayers, to give me some tips and convincing them that I was not trying to be a drag queen!
- What advice do you have for new cosplayers (especially male ones)
R: Never try to compare yourself to a female cosplayer, or even to other cosplayers. A lot of new cosplayers, especially males, seem to find the need to see everything as a competition. Even if it is indeed a cosplay competition, no one is truly 'better' than the other, as cosplay itself is a performance art - some people might like your performance, some may not. What's important is to make sure you enjoy what you do and the process of it.
- There's always an issue with perceived 'elitism' and 'levels' amongst cosplayers. What's your stand on this?
R: This is a complicated issue! I feel that due to the scene being around for almost a decade, it's not unusual for the different generations of cosplayers to group together and form cliques with their peers.
This creates problems as it limits people from starting any potentially good collaboration. Any supposed 'elitism' and 'levels' are in my opinion, mostly just misunderstandings.
I'm always open to cosplaying with newcomers. So if you have something in mind, feel free to contact me!?
- You do singing in addition to your cosplay. What do you like about each of these activities? Do you prefer one over the other?
Aya: Singing to me, is like a special form of communication with the audience. When you reach the audience and they sing the song together with you - wouldn't that make you feel all warm and fuwa fuwa (fluffy)? :D
Cosplay on the other hand, has helped me in a different way, teaching me many skills such as wig cutting, tailoring, sound editing and prop making. All this and meeting new people through attending competitions have definitely helped enrich my life!
It's impossible for me to like one over the other as they are both very much make me what I am!
Photo by: Zerartul (http://zerartul.deviantart.com)
- Does your singing influence your choices in cosplay and vice versa? How do you balance it out?
A: It does to a good extent. For instance, I love Sheryl Nome (from Macross Frontier) due to her singing style and am confident of doing her despite our height differences (I'm really short!). I try to incorporate cosplay with singing as much as I can as long as there's a connection between the two. As for balancing it out, I do make it a point to do a non-singing character once in a while too haha!
- What advice do you have for cosplayers who also want to pursue singing?
A: You should always try your best to be good in everything you're trying to offer the audience - be it your costume, wig, character portrayal or singing ability!
- What got you into doing cosplay on a competitive level? Do you think taking part in competitions, with their high levels of stress etc, in any way compromises your enjoyment of the hobby?
R: Our first foray into cosplay competition was at the World Cosplay Summit (WCS) 2010 in Korea. We had not cosplayed beyond Malaysia back then, and wondered what it was like elsewhere. It can be very stressful because the preparation is far more intense. Having proper time management and the love for performing is extremely important.
A: After watching other country’s performances, we knew we had to improve ourselves too! Thus, we continued joining competitions such as in the Asia Cosplay Meet (ACM) 2011 and the current WCS 2012. The journey is never easy, but we've learnt so much from our participation in all the various contests we've done that it's always worth it in the end!
- How do you choose what to cosplay and what to do for a performance?
R: In both cases, I dream about it. Yes, I'm serious! After that I try to recall the next morning the details of the dream and see if it can logically happen or if I am capable enough to pull it out.
A: In my case, inspiration for a performance just strikes me randomly. When I watch an anime, that's when I'm most likely to get ideas as I'd see a scene in the show and think how cool it'd be to recreate it in real life!
- What's the biggest challenge you've encountered? How do you prepare for disruptions/malfunctions?
A: When I first joined WCS in 2010, it was the start of the "horror" - the horror of facing the computer for days/weeks that is! Editing sound effects and recordings for our performances was extremely tough for me at first due to my lack of experience. Things like computer crashes and losing all my files were perhaps some of the biggest setbacks I had to learn how to handle. Always back up your files separately!
R: The biggest challenge has got to be making this mecha costume (Solar Aquarion) for this year's WCS. I had to seek the advice and help of many experienced friends of mine. The materials to create the costume couldn't be found locally, requiring us to go online and even travelling overseas to get them! Once the costume was completed, we had countless rehearsals at the void deck below my house (much to the amusement of the residents in the opposite block). Many, many hours of hard work were put in, that's for sure!
- Any advice for cosplayers who want to strike out in the competitive scene?
R: The competitive scene is not about fame, glory and glamour, but rather, about showing your love for performing. There will always be critics, due to cosplay's nature as a performance art, since it's subjective from person to person. You need to be mentally strong in the competitive scene to survive the onslaught of criticism.
A: Withstanding negative comments from people and instead, using criticisms and feedback you get to improve yourself is a huge challenge, but is also the best way to show others what you're capable of. Of course, managing your own ego is important too - don’t let it get to your head!
Photo by: Darren Sim (http://xkaonslaught.deviantart.com)
Truly the full package! Want to follow Raistlin & Aya's activities? Check out their WCS Team Singapore Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/WcsTeamSingapore2012
They will also be participating in ACM Singapore at Cosfest on 7th July 2012, and give them your support too when they head off to Nagoya for the WCS Finals in 4th August 2012!
View more of their awesome cosplay pictures on deviantart: