Some words with Japan’s most famous cosplayer25 August, 2011 by Chad
Last weekend, members from the media got to sit down again with Kipi, for a short interview session at the 2011 Singapore Toy, Game and Comic Convention. We posed some (hopefully) interesting questions to the popular Japanese cosplayer, the full details, below.
Coincidentally, Kipi had immediately recognized us from the previous Thursday’s session, greeting me cheerfully in Mandarin. She’s currently studying in China and has picked up some of the language, probably more than this editor could ever comprehend.
We were joined today by a translator, a couple of people from a Singapore anime fan forum and a few fans/bloggers. And just like that the interview took off, as we took turns having our questions answered.
Question (Supermerlion): You mentioned that you make all your costumes by hand, how do you go about making these costumes?
Kipi: I go to a thrift store in Japan to get the fabrics and make my own paper patterns, I then make the costume based on those patterns.
(At this point Kipi asks if someone could help her get her bag from outside so she could show us her designs. One of the STGCC volunteers who had been accompanying her goes to fetch it, she politely bids him off. In the meantime, we moved onto the next question.)
Question (Forum): You’ve been in Singapore since Tuesday, so far what do (you) think about Singapore? (For example the food).
Kipi: I finally got to eat Chili Crab yesterday! It was very difficult to use the thing that cracks the crab.
Question (Forum): So you’re ok with spicy food?
Kipi: It’s fine if it’s not too spicy. I liked the Chili Crab, it was very fragrant.
Question (Supermerlion): Have you had the chance to see any Singaporean cosplayers so far?
Kipi: Their poses are very good. Also the trends from Japan reach here really quickly there is no lag at all.
(The volunteer returns with Kipi’s bag. She takes out her sketchbook from the bag and opens it.)
Kipi: This is the initial design, I make the paper patterns from this.
(Kipi shows us some of her detailed sketches. They were neat and pretty well done.)
Question (Supermerlion): Do you consider yourself a professional cosplayer? If so what do you think the difference is between a professional cosplayer and someone just starting?
Kipi: I don’t really think of myself as a professional cosplayer. But most likely people who are professional cosplayers are influenced by the money that they get and they need to reciprocate this money by showing quality in their work.
The difference is very apparent when people make their costumes based on interest and as their career. But the quality of costumes is very important. Even if you’re not a professional cosplayer you can still make costumes of high quality.
The term professional cosplayer is something that has been coined only recently because cosplayers are now getting requests for them to appear at events and this is why (I) got the chance to come to Singapore.
Question (Female Blogger): How are you different from yourself when you cosplay?
Kipi: There is very little different about myself when I cosplay.
(Another fan blogger hands Kipi a gift. He asks her to open it.)
Kipi: I have a bad feeling about this.
(Kipi squeals in delight as she opens it. Inside were some Monster Hunter plushies. She thanks the blogger politely. The room is quiet for a while as it breaks out into spontaneous photography, before resuming with the interview.)
Question (Forum): What was the most difficult thing you faced in China?
Kipi: It was something that troubled me a lot (before visiting China). But it turned out that all my friends in China are very otaku as they are into anime and manga so they all can speak Japanese.
(But she brings up the different Chinese intonations).
But since Singapore has an education in both English and Chinese, I should had came to Singapore to study abroad instead. I’m envious. I also like the city, I could eat crab everyday here.
Question (Supermerlion): Following up from the previous question. How is your cosplay different now, from when you began?
Kipi: When I started, I wasn’t able to cosplay as many characters that I wanted to because the costumes were too difficult to make. But after several years of being able to sew, I’m now able to make more difficult costumes.
I’ve also made many friends among the cosplay community, so I now have photographer and other cosplayer friends. It is very important to have friends.
In Japan, many people cosplay solo. But in Singapore people cosplay at events as a team. As a team, you can split the work. You can do that when you have cosplay friends.
Question (Female Blogger): What are your favorite cosplay poses?
(Kipi is surprised by the question. She answers and demonstrates a forward pointing pose associated with Haruhi Suzumiya. Somehow the room breaks out into a stretch of phototaking again as she entertains the continual shutters.)
Question (Forum): What are your cosplay plans?
Kipi: I have many but I’m currently making (costumes for) Vocaloid’s Luka (Megurine) and Yuri from Angel Beats. (She repeats Yurippe in a sing-song manner).
Question (Forum): What is your favorite cosplay character?
(Kipi contemplates the difficult question for very long before answering.)
Kipi: Kasumi, Black Rock Shooter and Asuka.
Question (Male Blogger): Do you have any advise for cosplayers?
Kipi: When I first started there were many good cosplayers around and it felt like a very impossible goal to reach. But you need to be able to get the confidence to get into character abd take the poses. The other thing is, you must also be able to make the costumes.
At this point, the interviewer from the fan forum asks Kipi if he could have her signature. She complies. The session turns into a mass autograph session between Kipi and the bloggers. One of them had even brought a board for her to sign. We left at this point but I’d assume that it broke down into a series of Kodak moments after between Kipi and other interviewers. She has that effect on people.