Jean Killstein (Shingeki no Kyojin). Photo by ODA

REIKA

Years of Cosplay: 18

Osaka, Japan

Facebook Reika

Interview by Ruxandra Tarca

She is now a role-model in cosplay not only for those who have just embraced this hobby, but also for already experienced cosplayers. To her, every new series she enjoys means a whole new set of characters waiting to be impersonated. Traveling throughout Asia allows Reika to gain new friends and experiences, and share her own knowledge and talent as well. She always works with the same passion to complete her costumes, be it a simple shirt that requires 2 hours, or a complicated armor that takes 3 weeks to make. And while keeping a top notch quality for all her cosplays, Reika never forgets that cosplay is most and foremost fun, friendship and a deep love for a series and its heroes.

How did this adventure start for you? When and how did you begin cosplaying?
I started by drawing pictures. Then I met some friends who were also drawing and they brought me over to a small event. That was my first time. There were about 200 people there, so it wasn’t a big convention, but the cosplayers there seemed to have so much fun that I decided I wanted to try it out too. That was 18 years ago.

 
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Levi Ackerman (Shingeki no Kyojin). Photo by ODA
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Kaito (Vocaloid). Photo by zweit
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Origami Cyclone (Tiger & Bunny). Photo by zweit
 

What can you tell us about the creation process of your costumes? What is the average time it takes you to make a costume, including the props?
From the moment I say to myself “All right, let’s do this!” and start working, I can finish a simple jacket or shirt in about 2 or 3 hours. If it’s a costume that has armor or other complicated parts, I work for about 4 hours every day and I’ll finish it in around 2 or 3 weeks.

When I cosplay as characters that have weapons, I will always make the weapons first. This usually takes around 2 days. If I were to leave the weapons for last, I’d run out of time and risk to just rush through it, so that’s why I want to make them when my enthusiasm is at the highest. (laughs)

What was the most difficult costume you’ve ever made? Can you explain a bit its creation process and how did you surpass the difficulties?
There are so many! But I think the most difficult one was Origami Cyclone from TIGER & BUNNY. I wanted to finish the mask before everything else, but I failed many times. I also had to make a very big weapon prop, so halfway through I ran out of workspace in my room. I didn’t even have a place to sleep anymore! (laughs)

 
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Origami Cyclone (Tiger & Bunny). Photo by zweit
Origami Cyclone was a costume I wanted to make, but I thought it was so difficult that I couldn’t do it. But then I told myself: “I love this character, so I must cosplay as him!”
 

I knew that if I took a break while making the costume, my motivation could run out. So I made a point to myself to finish at least one part of it every day. That’s how I managed to stay motivated until the end.

Origami Cyclone was a costume I wanted to make, but I thought it was so difficult that I couldn’t do it. But then I told myself: “I love this character, so I must cosplay as him!” That’s the kind of mood I was in when I started working on it.

I didn’t want to be a perfectionist and give up halfway through, or to ask other people to make the costume for me. So I decided to have fun making it instead, and later on it was very rewarding to wear the costume I worked so hard on making.

On the same note, can you tell us how did you make your most difficult prop?
I found the weapon of a character named Guo Jia from Shin Sangoku Musou 7 (Dynasty Warriors, in English) to be rather difficult. The weapon looked a little like a billiard stick with a lamp attached to it, but I also had to use a kind of material that looked like a crystal, and it was hard to choose the right one. In the end I used polyurethane, which is a very popular material in Japan, and coated the parts in acrylic paint. All the way to the end, I was worried that I wouldn’t get the right look for it.

 
It’s not like at some point I decided to cosplay as boys only, but I usually cosplay as my favorite characters from a series and since most of my favorite characters are boys, that’s how it happens.
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Toshizo Hijikata (Hakuouki: Shinsengumi Kitan). Photo by ODA
 

What is your favorite material to work with when making your props?
There is a brand of polyurethane called Lion Board that is very easy to use. It can be bought online or in hobby stores, so it’s the best and most accessible material you can find in Japan.

I also use cardboard very much. For instance, when I make sword props, I always cut the blade out of cardboard. I’m not very strong, so I like materials that I can cut easily.

You’re already famous for impersonating so-called “bishies” from various series. Why do you always choose male characters for your cosplay? Also, is there a special type of character that you prefer?
It’s not like at some point I decided to cosplay as boys only, but I usually cosplay as my favorite characters from a series and since most of my favorite characters are boys, that’s how it happens. Honestly, sometimes I cosplay as girls too! (laughs) But I’m a little embarrassed, so I don’t upload too many pictures of my girl cosplays (laughs).

There are two types of characters that I like: The first type is characters who are on a kind of mission and fight to protect their comrades or teammates. I always think, “Please take me with you!”. The second type is characters who look cute and are very attractive to girls. (laughs) You know, the kind of characters that, if they would wink at me or kiss me on the cheek, I’d probably faint from excitement.

 
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Guo Jia (Dynasty Warriors 8). Photo by zweit
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Cao Pi (Dynasty Warriors 8). Photo by ODA
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Sindibaad (Magi). Photo by zweit
 

Is there a certain character or series that has a special place in your heart? If yes, could you tell us a story related to it?
A game called Hakuki. It’s set in Japan’s Edo period and the story is based on some historical factions that actually existed, as seen from a girl’s perspective. I’m impressed with how deep the story is, and how the characters have very distinct traits and personalities.

For one year after I found this game, I kept making costumes for these characters. I ended up cosplaying as Hijikata (the main character of the game) 38 times in that year. Even I was surprised.

And then, of course, there’s Uta no Prince-sama. At first I saw the anime, and then I played the games. The characters are high-school students who want to become idols, but to me, they already are my idols. It’s a series I love very much.

You seem to prefer cosplaying several characters from the same anime, as it happened with Utapuri, Kuroko no Basuke and, most recently, Shingeki no Kyojin. Do you have a special reason for that?
That’s true. I can’t say I ever like one character in particular, but more like I fall in love with a series every time. That’s why I always want to cosplay more than one character from that series. When I’m at a photo-shoot in a setting I came up with, I end up thinking, “This photo would be great if this or that character were here!” And that’s when I decide I want to cosplay as that other character, too.

 
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Seijuro Akashi (Kuroko’s Basketball). Photo by ODA
I’ll cosplay as long as I’ll have series that inspire me. If there would be no series and characters to love, I wouldn’t have any reason to do this anymore.
 

You’ve recently been to Romania, that being your first visit in Europe. In what way did you find Europe different? What can you tell us about this first experience?
I travel around Asia a lot, but it was my first time coming to Europe. It was the same as I’d read about or seen on TV, and everything felt new and different.

I had so much fun at the festival in Romania. My strongest memory is how much fun the people coming to the event were having together. In Japan, the most important thing to do at a convention is to take a lot of pictures, so there are lots of people who move around quietly with their cameras. In Romania, people were much more social. If I have another opportunity, I definitely want to come back to Romania!

You travel a lot, to various conventions. What do all those experiences mean to you? How did they influence you and left their mark upon you?
I love to take part in various events, so I travel around Japan a lot. If I make new friends at a convention, we can go together to the next one. Cosplay isn’t fun if you’re doing it all by yourself. It’s so much better to have friends around you who have the same hobby.

Even if I’m invited to perform at an event, I always want to walk around and mingle. I love to walk around and feel the atmosphere of the place.

 
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Ivan Karelin (Tiger & Bunny). Photo by zweit
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Tokiya Ichinose
(Uta no Prince-sama: Maji Love 1000). Photo by zweit
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Ren Jinguuji
(Uta no Prince-sama: Maji Love 1000). Photo by keiiti
 

In what way did cosplay help you in your daily life? Be it your job or your usual routine?
I think it helped me in a lot of respects. I learned how to take good photos, I know the difference between various types of cameras and I know how to sew my own clothes. If my boots or sandals break, I can fix them by myself and wear them longer. (laughs)

I travel to many countries and see, hear and experience different things that I can then use or learn from.

You have an 18 years cosplay experience. What do you think it was the most important thing you’ve learnt in this long time of cosplaying?
Treasure the series you love, don’t give up until you’ve exhausted all possibilities, and enjoy yourself with your friends.

I’ll cosplay as long as I’ll have series that inspire me. If there would be no series and characters to love, I wouldn’t have any reason to do this anymore. The reason I go on is because I have this wonderful inspiration.

I’ve also learned to never abandon a project halfway through. It’s not “I can’t do this, so I won’t”, but “Maybe I can do this or maybe I can’t, but at any rate I’ll try!” This is a very important mindset, I think. There’s no need to get upset if I fail to do something, just as there’s no need to expect everything to come out perfectly. Above all else, I’ll keep enjoying myself as I go on.

 
You don’t need a license or anything to cosplay, so first and foremost, try to do it! Start lightly. I said this before, and I’ll say it again: don’t expect everything to come out perfectly.
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Tokiya Ichinose (Uta no Prince-sama: Maji Love 1000). Photo by keiiti
 

If you were to give a piece of advice to those who want to start in this hobby, what would it be?
You don’t need a license or anything to cosplay, so first and foremost, try to do it! Start lightly. I said this before, and I’ll say it again: don’t expect everything to come out perfectly. As you start working on a costume, treasure that feeling of excitement and keep it while you move forward. The most important thing is to have fun.

On the long run, what are your future plans as a cosplayer?
I still haven’t really decided on my next schedule. When I find a series that inspires me, I start working on costumes to depict those characters, but it all depends on chance. (laughs) I’m not the kind of person to decide ahead on a schedule.

Next year, I want to visit a country I’ve never been to before, just as this year I came to Romania. I’d love to take part in different events around the world!

 
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Kaito (Vocaloid). Photo by keiiti
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Soushi Miketsukami (Inu x Boku SS). Photo by keiiti
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Protagonist (Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4). Photo by zweit
 
                  

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