For those who attended Kitacon you may have seen my interview with international cosplay guest, Leon Chiro from Italy. Below is the exclusive, extended version!
Ahh, those are very good memories! I started to cosplay at the end of 2010, but this was just a taster, I can officially say that I started to cosplay in March, 2011. I got involved in a very random way; I was working for a model agency at the time (which I loved) when one day I wondered how cool it would be if I took some pictures as one of my favourite characters. Then a friend of mine replied saying ‘Simple. Cosplay!’ I looked into it more and discovered a different world! After, I did my first cosplay (Tidus) at my first convention Romics (the main convention here in Rome!) and that’s where it all began…
What is your favourite cosplay?
Actually, all my cosplays are my favourite because I made them with all my heart! Every character I choose to cosplay has a deep influence on me. If I had to though, I can narrow it down to three!
1) Caius Ballad, for the high level of craftsmanship involved. I also love this character’s story and walkthrough, he is the most difficult cosplay I did and it gave me a lot satisfaction to complete.
2) Tidus, for interpretation and heart, his story has had such a deep influence on my life and at the moment FFX is my favourite game ever!
3) Dante – Devil May Cry 3. He is just a badass and he marked a highlight for my ‘Cosplay Career’.
I study Sports Science and Physiotherapy at University. I am an athlete and was previously a National Runner in athletics. Now I am a ‘Free-Runner’ and I train myself in Street Workout and Parkour! I work part time as a bartender and occasionally do some modelling work. I am also a Pro-Gamer on PSN because I am hunting ‘Platinum’ trophies in the games! For the moment I have 110 platinum and I don’t wanna stop!
What do you find the biggest challenge when making your cosplays?
My biggest challenge is myself. I always do everything with my heart, but heart is not enough for cosplay because if you want to do a ‘High Level’ Cosplay, then you need skills and patience. My challenge is to always beat ‘myself’ by creating better cosplays each time. I always want to make my fans happy and to improve my skills!
I use my cosplay to compete in both national contests and abroad! Competition in Italy is very, very tough and the level of cosplays is getting higher. I feel I have a lot of things to be proud of; one is my winning streak at Lucca Comics, the main Italian convention, because I won five cups (awards) in three years of competing. I am also very proud of one of my personal achievements; which is whenever I make one of my fans smile with my cosplays.
How does the Italian cosplay community differ to the UK?
Competition. As I said before, in Italy it is a lot more competitive. That’s not always positive though because a lot of people often judge other cosplayers and this cause a lot of ‘fights’ between them. Cosplayers should be a huge family, but sometimes in Italy it seems to be more competitive than the Olympics!
Another huge difference is the number of conventions, in Italy they are increasing. I still remember last September, I was invited to a convention on the 15th and after I accepted, I was invited to another two on the same day! It was insane!
Do you think it is harder for boys to get recognition for their cosplays?
A lot of people can already guess the answer so I won’t say it! But I think that female beauty has more success than male, they have more seduction power that influences their cosplay. Mainly people are attracted by the ‘sexy part’ and not only for the props. The same is for the boys; a lot of them are trying to use cosplay to show themselves off! I think it’s always easy to get recognition for our body but it’s always harder to get recognitions for our crafting skills.
You have participated in a lot of cosplay competitions, any advice for aspiring cosplayers looking to enter in their first competition?
Heart is the solution. If you want to enter something in a cosplay competition do it with your heart. Choose the character you love, not the character you like (physically). Competition is made by victories but you can also ‘lose’ and still be a winner. The most important thing is that your personal victory has to be your own achievement. Exhibit your heart and communicate your emotions to the public on stage! That’s the real victory! Don’t give up, if the judges decide somebody else wins, continue to do you what you do as best you can!
Cosplay is heart. Cosplay is magic. Never forget that!
We won’t, thank you Leon for this interview! Be sure to check out Leon’s Deviuant Art page for high res images and more!