We kick off 2014 with our first cosplayer of the week, Himezawa! Originating from Germany, Himezawa has competed professionally in cosplay contests, representing Germany in the European Cosplay Gathering. As a Kyary lover, Himezawa is now pursuing her dream and love of performing j-pop songs online and at conventions across the country. Himezawa shares her international cosplay experiences and her plans for 2014.
When and how did you get involved with cosplay?
When I got into middle school, I got into a small group from my hometown who were into the same manga and anime series as me. We met up during weekends and they introduced me to cosplay. Just a few months later I travelled to my first big convention with them and got my own sewing machine. In the beginning, my mom helped me to get from the design to patterns to outfits and practised sewing for years, until I finally began to consider myself a cosplayer, and got a little proud of the pictures I got. It was a long journey from a sailor collar sewn onto a t-shirt, to a 16-meter-fabric-eating wedding dress.
With more than 90 handmade cosplays, do you have a favourite?
I have many favourites! Everytime I am making a new cosplay I think “this is it! My new favourite cosplay!” The ones I worked hard on are my absolute favourites, for example, the white dress I made for Elisabeth (Sound Horizon). It took me weeks just to get the material together. It was for my first cosplay competition so I had to do it all on my own, using the pattern of a wedding dress which I altered. My mum (a Taylor) shaking her head in the background. For the same contest I made Yui (Angel Beats!) from my first own patterns. I never learned how to do that properly and went through a lot of wasted fabric…
Just last year I made friends with a dance/cosplay group and performed with them for another contest (European Cosplay Gathering). I think the cosplays I wear on stage are also some of my favourites, after all I went through an emotional rollercoaster ride making and wearing them!
What do you find the biggest challenge when making your cosplays?
There are two things: one is definitely getting finished in time! I try to be as accurate as possible during the process, but sometimes I am too slow and have to finish it the night before or even the morning of the convention. The second challenge is finding the right wig. I got really picky with my wigs, as it always bothers me when online shops have descriptions that don’t match the wig you get in the end!
What do you do outside of cosplaying and attending conventions?
I just moved to the UK to study drama and I absolutely love it! I have always secretly loved acting, but was too shy to actually join any drama clubs or theatre courses in my home country before. I studied fine arts when I lived in Germany, so I still draw sometimes. I also enjoy playing instruments (violin, piano, and electric guitar), and write cell phone novels and short stories (I published small things since I was 8). In the case of hobbies, I do a lot of sports including swimming and archery in the summer.
How does the UK cosplay community differ from Germany?
The UK community is really polite and friendly, but sometimes if you approach cosplayers they are really shy. It doesn’t differ too much from the German cosplay scene. Sometimes I feel like it’s almost the same, maybe a little less competitive? Overall I think that the UK cosplay community is a whole lot bigger than the German one!
How do UK conventions differ to German conventions?
There are some differences, even though they are smaller than I thought! For example: The conventions I went to in London were more crowded than the ones in Berlin, Munich, or Leipzig. A whole lot of people show up to conventions in the UK, even if they don’t cosplay, or only use small elements of cosplay.
Also, there were a whole lot more cosplayers in their very first costumes, going to a huge con like MCM. I remember, when I started I barely could go to a meet-up with fellow cosplayers. In that point, I really prefer UK conventions, but I also miss the German ones! At MCM I also saw huge groups and meet-ups and I sometimes wish that I had that back in Germany.
You recently moved to the UK, what is the best thing about this?
I could finally study my dream subject! Also I can now finally visit all the UK conventions, I would have had to fly over for. Previous I had been looking at my friends blogs and wondered what it must be like to go to MCM or Hyper Japan but now I can find out for myself!
You have performed at numerous conventions, what has been your favourite performance?
My most favourite UK performance was at MCM in October, even though it went differently than I expected as we had to change the set list the night before and I had to sing without a vocal track that helped me, It was also my first full set (5 full dances in 20 minutes).
My favourite one in Germany was for the German Cosplay Championship finals in 2011. Back then, I had a huge audience, more than a thousand people, and even more on the evening TV program I was featured in.
Do you ever get nervous before a performance?
Yes, I get nervous a lot. At MCM I almost fainted, because I was so worried about the set list and the singing. (There’s actually a picture of me lying next to the stage area.) Usually, people think I am very calm, when they see me before performances, but that’s a lie: I am always shaking and worried, but it gets better, little by little.
Who is your favourite J-pop performer?
Kyary Pamyu Pamyu! I love the colourful concept, her energetic dances, and her sweet singing voice so much!! I wish I could see her live one day and not just on screen! Actually, I listen to her songs every day, because they make me really happy.
Con season is approaching and you are a guest at London Anime and Gaming Con, what will you be doing there?
I am still wondering myself! No, I’m joking. I am dancing again, with some new songs added to the set list! I am practicing hard and gave this year’s set list an actual theme and small plot line, so it’s more interesting to watch. I hope that people enjoy the performance, even though it’s only 30 minutes long.
I am also going to cosplay something I’ve been working on quite recently, but on stage I will wear something completely different. I hope, everything works out fine and I can actually do a costume change during the show, so there will be three different outfits on the Saturday of London Anime and Gaming Con!
What does 2014 hold for you?
I planned a lot during the end of 2013 on what I want to cosplay this year, and I hope that I can finish at least half of it, as I’m really busy studying and auditioning. For those who are curious, on the list are: Elsa (Frozen), Loki (Thor), Kuriyama Mirai (Kyokai no Kanata), Miki (The Idolm@ster), and another one of Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s music video outfits.
I will perform a lot more in the UK this year, and my personal goal is to keep up with my NicoNicoDouga/NicoNicoLive programs and learn more Japanese, as I’m currently having a lot of help from translation programs, friends and a small phrasebook. I really wish I could answer the comments I get on live shows.
Photo credits: All images owned by Himezawa. Portrait Kyary Pamyu Pamyu image by Jon Fisher Photography