Okay sports fans! We have a bit of a treat for you guys! I’ve got here a DOUBLE INTERVIEW! This one is the Bonbori and Houzuki sisters! They agreed to let me have a crack at them for this weeks Cosplay Interview!
Introducing Koi-ishly and Sangochan!
Q: When did you start cosplaying and why did you start?
Koi-ishly: The first time I cosplayed was when I was 16 in 1999 due to some urging from a friend. To be honest, it was the last time I cosplayed until summer of 2010. I’ve been going to conventions all through out that span of time. It wasn’t until summer 2009 that I showed an interest in cosplaying and it always helps when you have friends who are into it.
As for why I started, I can’t really pin point what made me say, “I have to do this next year!”. There was the influence of the con itself, it’s intimidating when there’s a ton of people in costume and standing there in t-shirt and jeans in awe of it all. It just felt right and things fell into place.
Sangochan: I started cosplaying in 2004 when I first realized it existed along with the idea of anime themed conventions. I just fell in love with the idea of being able to make a costume after your favorite character and then getting to put it on and run around AS that character with a whole bunch of other people who love doing the same thing. Theres just so much energy that it’s a bit overwhelming and never before in my life have I had more fun doing something with a bunch of my friends.
Q: What’s your favorite cosplay you’ve done and why?
Koi-ishly:I have two, sorry I’m cheating, you can’t make me choose between them! My 1st is the first cosplay that I made in 2010 that is Gwendolyn from Odin Sphere. I’ll leave it at that because I will be rambling a mess of words of how much I adore this character.
My 2nd, Hozuki from Otome Youkai Zakuro. My partner Sangochan241 and I fell in love with these characters while watching the anime. It was a crazy spur of the moment decision. I had no experience with wig making, we were crazy to do this but we were motivated by the cuteness of the characters. It was the hair design of the twins that drew me to this cosplay and I had to do it with my “twin” Sango.
Sangochan: My favorite cosplay has to be pre-time skip/time skip Yoko Ritona from Gurren Lagann. Gurren Lagann is my all-time favorite series, and Yoko has got to be one of my favorite anime characters, so I jumped at the chance to cosplay her. Aside from getting to cosplay one of my favorite characters, this was also the first costume I was able to complete without the aid of another person (aside from the riffle which I had commissioned). I was able to plan out the costume, find the materials, and then assemble everything entirely on my own. It was a major accomplishment for me since I was still very new to cosplaying at the time.
Q: What do you do to come up with a cosplay to make?
Koi-ishly:There’s a lot of factors when coming up with a decision of what character to do. At the moment, it’s all inspired from anime/video games that I have known about. There are some cosplays that I plan for the future that have interested me purely on design.
Something that draws me to characters are interesting props. I’m a sucker for armored girls and weapon yielding characters…
One thing I always do when a character has interested me, I do a ton of research. I can’t stress that enough. I research original and fan art. I research patterns and tutorials. I save all of this in a folder according to that character.
Sangochan: Usually I’ll get an idea in my head of what character I want to do or what costume a certain character wears. I’ll just see it and say “Hey, I really like the way that looks.” I know for certain I want to make the costume when I start picking out fabrics in my head and when I start to make plans for the costume (“Wouldn’t it be funny if I did this?!”) Once I know I’m doing the costume I start gathering reference images from the internet (fan art, screenshots, scans, etc.) and I keep them in a folder on my computer. Once I have enough reference material, I start to draw and sketch out designs for the actual mechanics of the costume (how to sew certain parts, measurements of certain props or accessories, as well as my own drawings of frontal, back and side views of the characters as I need them). Then I head out with my shopping list, gathering my materials and after a couple of all nighters with my sewing machine and my ipod, I have my self a cosplay costume.
Q: What was your hardest cosplay you made?
Koi-ishly: Hozuki by far. While a kimono is simple in theory but when put into practice… I just don’t know where I went wrong. While I have limited sewing skills, I felt all my abilities left me. Thankfully Sangochan241 was there to save the costume from my ineptitude with a sewing machine. I think the wigs were playing into my inability to sew. Those wigs were… I don’t think I can go into it due to the blankness that envelopes my brain when thinking about it.
Sangochan: It had to have been the Bonbori and Houzuki costume my friend and I made for Katsucon 2011.
Q: What made it hard?
Koi-ishly: Using a new material is always hard. I’ve dabbled in a lot of artistic mediums through out my life, but wig making was something I’ve only admired from afar. With the twins hair, I knew it would be very costly to have them commissioned and to add the time it takes to make. I feared it wouldn’t have been done in time. I decided I’d take on the challenge. By some miracle everything feel into place, but there was a lot of frustrated nights and tears a long the way. This by no means was a piece of cake.
Sangochan: What made it so difficult was how simple the entire costume looked. We initially choose it because the hardest part appeared to be the wigs, and even then it would just be covering shapes with wefts and adding the fox ears. So we thought it would be a good “funsies” cosplay for us to throw together and enter into the hall contest. Because of this, we really underestimated how much work the whole costume would take. We also underestimated how much time we needed to actually get the entire costume done (I was actually working right up until I got to my hotel room at the convention, I had to hand sew a few final details on that I just didn’t have time for earlier). In addition to that, this costume was leaps and bounds above the heads of our costume making ability. It pushed me to my limits since I was trying to figure out new techniques and different ways of doing things so that I could finish the costume not just to be worn, but to be judged. When I look back on it, the actually construction of the costume wasn’t all that difficult, but when you’re racing against the clock even the little things seem to be complex. So we wound up having to re-make certain parts of it because we rushed through it the first time trying to get it done. Once we were able to take a deep breath and slow down the whole thing came together rather nicely.
Q: What was the easiest thing about it?
Koi-ishly: Making the sakura blossoms. I have been working with polymer/sculpty clay since I was little. I love working with it and it is a forgiving material.
Sangochan: Getting the materials. We found all the fabric for it the first day we went out shopping, and we were even able to find the trim with a little bit of hunting on the internet. Our wigs were even easy to find. My friend and I were both hunting the internet for various wigs and colors we liked for the twins and she finally found Arda wigs and that’s where we wound up getting all of out wig materials from. (2 long base wigs, 4 curl extensions, and even 2 regular extensions, this wig took A LOT of hair)
Q: Have you ever competed in a masquerade or other kind of cosplay contest?
Koi-ishly: I’ve only competed in two hall contests. I have considered entering a masquerade, but I enjoy the hall contests. I’m not much for singing/acting (I love to dance). It’s something I would like to try one day.
Sangochan: Yes, I’ve only participated in one, the Hall Costume Contest for Katsucon 2011 with my friend Emilie who I cosplayed as Bonbori and Houzuki with her. We took first place for the novice level.
Q: If so, what was the most memorable part of it?
Koi-ishly: Katsucon 2011 Hall Contest. Walking into judging and the judges were sitting at a table. As we walked up one immediately says something along the lines,”First, you have to explain how you made those wigs.” I don’t have a lot of experience in the Hall Contests, but hearing that made me so happy and proud of all my hard work. It was a huge compliment.
Sangochan: The amount of attention we got from our wigs. I didn’t think that they would cause this much of a stir or even get us that much attention. Outside of the contest, people would stop us to take our picture just for the craftsmanship of the wigs! And the fact that we won and got a plaque if pretty memorable too.
Q: What would you tell to some of our readers who are new to cosplay and what you did when you first started.
Koi-ishly: My first time cosplaying I went along with my high school friends. My friend’s mom made my Rei school uniform from Neon Genesis Evangelion. I was very lucky to have someone make me a costume for free. This is not the norm in cosplaying. It’s take a lot of time and money to make a costume. When I think of my cosplays, I’m realistic. I try to think of what I know I can make and what will be a challenge. I did not listen to my own advice when making my Hozuki cosplay… but sometimes it will work itself out.
The number one thing to remember is to enjoy it. If I didn’t enjoy it, I wouldn’t be doing it.
Sangochan: Since I knew nothing about cosplay or even how to sew when I started to cosplay, the best tool in my arsenal was knowledge. You want to not only make the best costume you can, but to make it well, and the best way to make a great costume is to master the skills you’ll need to make that great costume. Make sure you do your research before starting any costume if you don’t have experience with certain materials, fabrics or even techniques needed to construct the costume. Along that same line, I would have to say always keep learning and don’t be afraid to learn a new skill. If you stumble upon a tutorial or a video demonstrating something you may not need to use for a costume you’re working on currently, learn it any way. You never know when you might need to know how to sew a pleated skirt or how to become a ninja using only an old tee-shirt. That way, when the time comes for you to finally put your new skills to use you’ll already be familiar with the process and materials needed. With each new costume is a new opportunity to learn something new and to be able to practice what you already know.
You can find them on their respective cosplay.com sites: