Interview MiYo (KR)
by Cristian Botea and Ruxandra Târcă
Cosplay Gen: There’s always a beginning to a story; how did your cosplay story start?
MiYo: As a girl, I always used to draw something when I had some spare time. I was very interested in games and manga, and one day I found out that there was an event called ‘Comic World’ in Korea, like Japan’s Comike and other countries’ conventions.
I went there, and met lots of people, and afterwards I communicated with them via Internet. We became very close friends, and one of them once suggested: ‘Why don’t we do costume play together?
And that was how I made my first cosplay. It was Tenka from Fujisaki Ryu’s Hoshin Engi. At that time, when we planned it, it was just a one-time event; I didn’t even imagine that I would become so addicted to cosplay.
Scanty (Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt). Photo by Chori
Whitemane (World of Warcraft). Photo by DU KKEO BI
Incubus (Vindictus). Photo by Chori
C.G: You choose to cosplay as both male and female characters, with both simple and flamboyant costumes. To you, what are the most important criteria when choosing a character?
MiYo: The most important thing is ‘Do I like the story and the character?’. I usually make the costumes myself, and I don’t have enough time to make all of them. So I don’t want to spend my time making costumes I don’t like. And there is also the money problem.
The next step is to check the costume. I like costumes that look like something from an anime or game, which means I don’t prefer school uniforms or daily clothes. I do that when I really, really like the character, but not that often.
The character’s personality and appearance are also important. Of course, I like to cosplay when the character’s personality goes well with mine.
Jinguji Ren (Uta no prince). Photo by Chori
My personality is more like a man’s and I prefer the leader role when I need to do something together with others; so I definitely prefer charismatic male characters, especially the flirty ones, such as Jinguji Ren from Uta no Prince-sama. The sad part is that I’m not that tall, but rather small and slim, so it’s hard to find someone who can cosplay as my partner girl character. I would rather say Koizumi George from Paradise Kiss also represents me pretty well.
Bishamon (Zone-00). Photo by Chori
You’ve done 132 cosplay outfits in 2011; how did you manage so many costumes and photo-shoots in just one year and how do you find a balance between cosplay and your everyday life?
MiYo: I guess this would be the question most people would want to know the answer.
I did 132 photo-shoots in 2011, which means that I cosplayed every three days. Well, actually I usually cosplay during weekends and cover two or three characters a day; that’s how I did 130 photo-shoots.
I made and prepared around 80 costumes by myself, and for the other 50 costumes I got other people’s help.
I have friends who are professional costume makers, and they often ask me to take pictures for their catalogue. The costume quality is so nice, and they usually ask which characters I prefer (male, charismatic), so it’s fun working with them. Regarding the balance between cosplay and my everyday life, this is the question my friends often ask me, making fun of me that I’m an addict. Even I got amazed of how I manage this schedule!
White Rock shooter (Black Rock shooter the game).
Photo by Chori
Kamui (Gintama). Photo by Chori
Hatsune Miku Knife. Photo by Chori
But cosplay is so fun, so I try hard to keep the pace with all the schedules and also keep healthy. Cosplay is just a hobby for me. I’ve heard that there are professional cosplayers in other countries, but in Korea there’s no market and demands for cosplayers. And if there are, it’s only rarely and for an occasional event.
Anyway, I have a proper job, and also cover my cosplay schedule almost the same as a pro, so it’s easy to guess how my life goes on. Pretty tough! I don’t want to say what my job is because it’s private, but I can say that I work nine to five, five days a week for my regular job and work 8 more hours for my part time job. I can’t reduce my working hours, so I usually cut off my break time to prepare cosplays. Most of my friends have the same interest and we enjoy cosplaying together, so for me cosplay is about hanging out and relaxing.
Grell Sutcliff (Black Butler). Photo by Chori
Gypsy (Ragnarok Online). Photo by Chori
Kihyun (In-hyung-ga). Photo by Chori
I usually make costumes during weekdays, and have photo-shoots every weekend, both Saturday and Sunday. Two days are not enough to cover my schedule, so I sometimes cosplay two or even three characters a day. It became a common thing for me. And if I don’t have time on weekends, I take pictures during weekdays, in the evenings, at the photo studio.
I want to say thank you to photographer Chori, who always works with me and follows this tough and busy schedule without complaining. Without him, I wouldn’t make it. You are my hero!
As you can see, it’s a really tough schedule, so lots of people around me are concerned about my health, especially my parents. I know I need to cut down the numbers, but there are tons of attractive characters, so I can’t help myself.
Aexstrasza (World of Warcraft). Photo by Chori
Out of all the costumes you’ve done so far, which one was the biggest challenge for you and how did you do it?
MiYo: I would say it’s Alexstrasza, from World of Warcraft.
WoW is the game I’ve enjoyed from the open beta test. I really enjoyed Warcraft 3, so I was very attracted to the ‘Wrath of the Lich King’ expansion. I was a rather casual user before, but I played really hard the WOTLK expansion pack, in order to defeat Arthas.
The first time I saw Alexstrasza’s modeling, I told myself it was so beautiful. And after I played the game, getting to know the story related to the five dragons and the fan fictions, I was more and more drawn to Alexstrasza, so I finally decided to cosplay as her.
Her costume is full armor, so I had a hard time choosing the way to make it. I don’t have a working space, I can’t handle professional tools, and, most importantly, I don’t have enough strength to handle hard materials. So I came up with the idea to make the material which is familiar to me and easy to handle look like metal with some processing. Even though it took a pretty long time, I managed to make the armor at a quality that would satisfy me.
The costume takes pretty much space, but I still have it in my room.
Kaito (Irohauta). Photo by Chori
You have done a lot of Vocaloid outfits, and Kaito is quite frequently found amongst your cosplays. Do you identify yourself with this character? What do you find as most difficult in cosplaying a Vocaloid character?
MiYo: I really like to listen to music, same as many other people, so I often listen to Vocaloids songs. When the song is my cup of tea, I check the costume and if I like it I make a new cosplay plan.
Well, I don’t identify myself with Kaito, but I prefer mature male characters; that’s why Kaito became my most frequent character. Since Vocaloid has tons of costume variations for the songs, I have many Vocaloid costumes on my cosplay list.
Kaito (Project Diva, Nekomimi version). Photo by Chori
Kaito (Yami ni Shoeru Tsuki). Photo by Chori
Kaito (Cendrillon). Photo by Chori
The attractive part of Vocaloid cosplay is that you can act as the character in various ways, depending on the song’s atmosphere. For example, I did Kaito many times, but not always having the same style. Sometimes cheerful and cute, sometimes gloomy and dark. In addition, it has its own voice and music. That’s very charming.
I haven’t found any particular difficulties on Vocaloid cosplay yet. Sometimes I have trouble identifying the costume design when it’s covered or not shown in the PV. That being the case, I usually customize or design it myself. It could be the difficult part, but it’s also fun.
With so many cosplays under your belt, you’ve also certainly done a whole lot of photo-shoots for them as well. What was your most interesting photo-shoot session until now? What sort of advice would you give to cosplayers and photographers alike for the photo-shoots?
MiYo: You know, it’s really hard to pick only one since I’ve done so many photo-shoots and they are all precious memories. But if I must pick, I’d like to pick four of them.
Aexstrasza (World of Warcraft). Photo by Chori
First one is for Alexstrasza, in January 2010. It was the first photo-shoot with Chori. At that time we didn’t know each other at all, I had only asked him to take pictures of me because I really liked his photo style when I saw his page on the cosplay site. That was the beginning of our long journey and partnership. At the same time, the Alexstrasza costume is one of my biggest projects.
Sumeragi Subaru. Photo by Chori
The second would be the photo-shoot for Sumeragi Subaru from Tokyo Babylon, in April 2011. Actually I took Subaru photos several times during 2011 spring’s sakura season. That’s because Sumeragi Subaru is my lifelong favorite character and it had been my dream to cosplay as Subaru with sakura since I started cosplay. I was really happy.
Shiroyasha (Gintama). Photo by Chori
The third is for Sakata Gintoki, Shiroyasha, from Gintama, in July 2011. Gintama is my favorite series, and Gintoki is my favorite character in it. I especially like his past, when he was called Shiroyasha, so we went to a water valley to get a good background for the photos. Miyuko, whom I really like, cosplayed as Shinsuke. We both knew that we wouldn’t have time to cosplay together after she joined a cosplay team because of that team’s tough schedule, so it was a precious moment to cosplay with her.
Matheus (Beast Master and Prince -Snow Bride-). Photo by Chori
And the fourth would be the photo-shoot for Matheus from Beast Master and Prince, from January 2012. I usually cosplay in couple, but I really wanted to see all the characters of this series, so I set a team project. I chose all the seven cosplay members, three photographers, found the place, and then set the schedule and transport to the place. I hadn’t done such a big project before, so it was difficult to put everything together, but it brought truly satisfying results.
Tips for cosplayers
Daily make-up won’t appear in photos. It’s preferable to practice make-up for photo-shoots.
Facial expression is very important. What do you see first when you see cosplay photos? Of course, the answer is the player’s face. The pose is secondary. Even if the pose is perfect, the photographer wouldn’t choose that picture if your facial expression isn’t good. Focus on your face first. And then, check your pose.
SeeU Vocaloid. Photo by Chori
Sindbad Magi. Photo by Chori
Jack Skellington (The Nightmare Before Christmas).
Photo by Chori
Even a small thing that you wouldn’t think it will show will appear in the pictures. So always check everything as much as you can.
Do not rely too much on Photoshop. If the original copy sucks, there’s no way to make it look nice. If you think there’s something wrong, stop shooting immediately and check your make-up, clothes, and wig. Do not think it’s a waste of time. If you don’t stop and check, all your photos would go straight to trash can.
You don’t know when the best shot would be created. So always do your best when you take pictures.
The most important thing: BE CONFIDENT! Think that you’re the best in the world when you pose for your photographer. It’s really important!
Tips for photographers
I’m not a photographer, only a cosplayer. But these are the things that I’d want from my photographer, so they can also be considered some kind of tip.
Try to make a bond of sympathy with the cosplayer as much as you can.
It wouldn’t take more than five minutes to get general information about the title and character. And those five minutes will bring satisfying results both for you and the cosplayer.
Arch Bishop (Ragnarok Online). Photo by Chori
Ayanami Rei (Neon Genesis Evangelion). Photo by Chori
Takasugi Shinsuke (Gintama). Photo by Chori
It’s pretty difficult for the cosplayer to check the clothes and wig when they take photos outside. So help them. Check their appearance, especially the wig, from time to time.
And also, don’t over-trust Photoshop and retouching. Try to make your original copies look as nice as you can without Photoshop. Thus you can save time and get good results.
Yuri (Popn Music). Photo by Chori
Cosplay can have a lot of ups and downs. In your experience so far, what has your most favorite aspect of cosplay been, and oppositely, what has your least favorite aspect been?
MiYo: For me, the most favorite part is that I can get lots of photos of me. I really enjoy seeing my cosplay photos. I know it sounds a bit narcissistic, but it’s really fun and I think lots of cosplayers will agree with me. It feels like finding out a new self.
The aspect that I don’t like is that it makes me complain about my appearance. I like charismatic male characters, but I’m kind of short and slim. Actually average height, but it’s pretty difficult for me to find a partner to play female characters with me. My body rather fits to cosplay small and cute girl characters, so I’m always struggling and complaining about my body. I guess I would be satisfied with it if I didn’t enjoy cosplay.
Fugen Shinjin (Original Design) Hoshinengi. Photo by Chori
Sheryl Nome (Macross Frontier). Photo by Chori
Howl (Howl’s Moving Castle). Photo by Chori
What is your opinion about cosplay competitions? Do you ever take part in such contests?
MiYo: I’ve heard of them, but I haven’t taken part in any. In Korea, cosplay is just a hobby. There have been a few attempts to make business out of cosplay, but I can say there’s no successful result yet.
So there’s no such an event as a competition; there are only some occasional events to attract people’s attention. There is no event that would totally involve cosplayers, such as WCS.
I’ve heard that in China and Singapore there are professional cosplayers who do cosplay as a job, like an actor or a movie star. I’m not sure if it’s true or not, but if it were, competition would be very active.
But so far, for me, cosplay is just a hobby that brings me a lot of fun, so I don’t want it to be competitive. Even though there’s no competition, Korean cosplayers try hard to improve themselves to make better costumes and cosplay photos. And we really enjoy cosplay. I think that’s enough.
Kyubey (Puella Magi Madoka Magika). Photo by Chori
Through the Internet you have the ability to check out cosplayers from all around to world; do you have any cosplayers you look up to? Do you wish to go visit conventions outside South Korea?
MiYo: It’s hard to mention all the cosplayers I like. But if I have to pick one, I would pick Hagaren. I found her photos on deviantART, and they caught my attention from the first glance. All of her photos are just amazing and breathtaking. I hope I can meet her in person someday. And I also really like OKITASAKU from Japan (CureNo. 5280); her Gintama cosplays are just gorgeous. Lastly, Miyuko from Korea (CureNo. 244247). I know her personally, and she’s not only a superb cosplayer, but also a girl with a great personality. There are tons of other cosplayers I’d like to mention, but if I’d start, I think I couldn’t stop until I covered all the pages, so I only mention my favorite cosplayers.
And, of course, I’d love to visit other countries’ conventions, especially in China. I usually see cosplay photos on Cure and deviantART, and whenever I think the photos are gorgeous, there is a high possibility that the cosplayer is Chinese. It’s relatively easy to find information about the Japanese conventions, but I have no idea where I can get info about Chinese conventions. That’s why I’m curious about Chinese conventions. I’d also like to visit Singapore and Australia, as their cosplay is nice, too!
Ciel Phantomhive (Black Butler). Photo by Chori
Kaito (Vocaloid-Imitation Black). Photo by Mugoon
Megurine Ruka (Sandplay of the Dragon). Photo by Chori
You’ve been cosplaying for over 10 years. What is the most important thing you have learnt from cosplay?
MiYo: This last question is pretty difficult. I feel like I must say something nice and inspirational, but I can’t come up with any idea (laughs).
Well, I can say I learnt this: if you are confident and love yourself, people around you would do the same. And I learnt how to get along well with people who have various characteristics.
By doing cosplay, I could be more confident, could love myself more and also could meet priceless friends. Cosplay is one of the ways to communicate with the world, represent and motivate myself. But most of all, Cosplay is a great hobby that brings me a lot of fun! What I want to say is that even if I hadn’t learnt anything from cosplay, so what? Fun is fun! If I enjoyed it, that’s enough!
Murasaki (Popn Music). Photo by Chori