anibee Features: Up close and Personal with... Kirihara Naoya!

Cosplaying may not last forever

but friendships made last a lifetime...

Japanese cosplayer, Naoya Kirihara was in town recently for J-Obsession 2014 where she put up a wonderful performance on stage for our local audience. There was also an Autograph and Exchange of Coscards Session. anibee is honoured to have got a chance to chat with the young and talented cosplayer herself while she was here.

Interviewed by: Akizuki Shin

anibee: Looking at your World Cosplay account, you cosplayed mostly male characters. What sparked you to start cosplaying male characters?

Naoya: When I was 13 years old, my elder sister, Maria, made Hiei's costume from " YuYu Hakusho". I wore it to the Comiket Festival and the switch for cross-dressing was triggered. (Do you know Hiei from " YuYu Hakusho"?)

anibee: Performing on stage and doing a cosplay photoshoot are very different. During the photoshoot, there are only the photographer and other cosplayer s. However for a stage performance, it would be in front of a huge crowd.

How do you prepare yourself for such performances, for instance , the dance steps?

Naoya: I would choose an appropriate work for the event and reserve an affordable dance studio. Next, I would take a span of 2 to 3 months to practice for the performance.

anibee: Different cosplayers have different criteria when it comes to searching for a partner in a photoshoot or an event. In your case, what are the criteria that you look out for?

Naoya: In my case, it is simple. I cosplay with friends who can enjoy it together.

anibee: Different cosplayers have different working styles. How do you normally work with other cosplayers whom you have partnered with so far?

Naoya: If the anime or games that I like are the same as my friends, we will cosplay and have a photoshoot together. If it isn't the same, we will work together with each other another time.

anibee: It is very difficult for a female to cosplay a male character. For instance, the makeup is different from the normal female makeup and most of the wigs require tremendous styling. What advice would you give to cosplayers who want to try out cross-dressing?

Naoya: It is important to understand that the character's facial features are different from us. Personally, I would study the character's face and would always put the character's picture in my mobile phone for reference.

For the eye make-up, I will use eye shadow and eyeliner to draw out the line of the original shape of my eyes. Of course, there are exceptions where I will add on fake eyelashes for the male characters , for example, the character, Gareki from " Karneval".

For the wig, I would firstly draw out the character's hairstyle and add in a few points (for example, the fringe is supposed to be "M-shaped" instead of straight bangs) to help me in the hairstyling.

anibee: As a cosplayer, one of our concerns is when we are told that our favourite anime character does not suit us. In such cases, what advice would you give?

Naoya: Personally, I think that it is easier to choose a character that resembles us more and this is what I do. Of course, I have tried and failed at times too. I would seek opinions from my friends too. This is also one of my worries. Could someone also give me some advice? (laughs)

anibee: Do you make your own costumes?

Naoya: Sometimes I make the costume, sometimes I would buy and modify it myself. The costume (Matsuoka Rin from " Free!") which I wore on stage at J-obsession was a costume I made myself.

anibee: During a photoshoot, it is sometimes hard to portray a character's image. Do you have any advice for such situations?

Naoya: Personally, I also feel that it is difficult to portray a character's image for the first time. After the photoshoot ends,I would try my best to get the photos as soon as possible and check them. I would also get advice from my friends. I would reflect on how to improve (the makeup or the poses) and challenge it once or twice again.

anibee: On what basis do you pick the places for a photoshoot? It is difficult to find places that are illustrated in the anime overseas, which are mostly based on the infrastructure and scenery in Japan. An example is finding a suitable place for the anime "Gintama" where it is based on more ancient-looking Japanese infrastructure.

In this case, do you think we would be able to have a proper photoshoot? Do you have any advice?

Naoya: Personally, I feel that it is a similar problem that we face in Japan. For example, I like FF(Final Fantasy), however it is difficult to find a similar location that is portrayed in FF. We should find locations that resemble to that of the anime such as a ruin or a vast grass plot. I envy Singapore's nature and beautiful sea!

anibee: There are times when the characters' props are either highly-priced or are unavailable for purchase. Do you make your own props such as the sword for Hijikata in "Gintama"? Do you have any advice to give cosplayers who are intending to make their own props?

Naoya: I bought the sword for Hijikata. In Japan, we can buy swords at an affordable price for roughly 2 to 3 thousand yen. I made the sword for the character, Noel from FF13-2. For the purpose of performing, I had to make it light. In this case, I recommend using urethane and a light iron plate to make the sword.

anibee: Going into a more personal question, what kind of clothes do you like normally? As you cross-dress often, do you wear clothes that are similar to Akira from Kera Magazine (i.e. Punk, Rock, unisex fashion)?

Naoya: I like Uniqlo and simple clothes. Oh! I like G-dragon's style from BIG BANG.

Yes, one of my best friend designs Gothic-Punk clothes (BLACK MIQURI) and sells them on her website. I buy my clothes from there too.

anibee: Lastly, what words of advice or encouragement do you have for people who are interested in starting cosplay or who are into cosplay?

Naoya: Cosplay is one of the most popular hobbies. We can even make friends globally and it is more convenient with all the social-networking sites like Facebook. Cosplay is a wonderful hobby, so if you are interested in it, please try it out! For those who are already into cosplay, please continue to cosplay more and if it is possible, you could even plan to go overseas and attend events such as Japan's Comiket (Comic Market)!

Check out Naoya's performance at where you could view some of the past performances by VENaS.S too!