Years of Cosplay: 5
Shuichi Shindou relates his adventures as a forger of contemporary fairytales and Russian high-end cosplaying. While sewing, fixing and armor-making are on, rehearsing is the next big challenge, and getting into the character is very serious business. Both Shuichi Shindou and Constantin Sergeyevich Stanislavski have Muscovite roots, and that is why we shouldn’t oversee the current trend of character method acting. A flamboyant cosplayer has to command a vast range of emotions – from rampant cruelty to shedding tears of joy.
Cosplay Gen: The Russian cosplay scene is pretty well developed, but how coagulated do you think it is?
Shuichi: Yes, you’re right, cosplay in Russia is spinning up every year and keeps getting better. It has increased both in number and in quality; the members put more effort into it and pay closer attention to details. Everybody has to start with something, and I started with a rather simple Death Note cosplay. Nowadays however, the quality level of cosplay is higher every year due to the increasing number of anime festivals. I enjoy attending cosplay events, especially after creating a new costume. Now I belong to a cosband called “Los Angelos”, and we’re creating a fairytale with our own bare hands.
Cosplay Gen: What was the most difficult costume you’ve created up until now? Can you describe the creative process in a few words?
Shuichi: The most difficult costume was the imperial uniform of Lelouch, which took about one year to make. But it was an effective experience – I really improved my sewing skills, fixing and developing an outfit pattern. Every little detail was drawn many times over, from different angles. Also, we collected a lot of pictures and screenshots to better understand the character. Of course, I didn’t work on that costume alone. In the end, I discovered that it was difficult not only to sew the costume, but to impersonate the character as well. It took some effort to master the facial expressions, the gestures and so on. In the end, I believe it was worth all the effort.
Cosplay Gen:What about props and accessories? Do you make them yourself? And what is in your opinion the most compliant fabric?
Shuichi: Yes, we make our own props and accessories. I, for one, prefer creating armor to sewing. It usually doesn’t take a lot of time – if you’re not distracted every minute, you know. For instance, I’m currently working on a “World of Warcraft” costume and the armor is almost ready, but I was delayed due to lack of time. My favorite materials are silicone adhesive and linoleum. They are very handy, soft and easy to blot and sew. My favorite fabric depends on what costume I’m working on, but I’d rather work with cotton sateen and corset satin.
Cosplay Gen: Make-up is an important part of cosplay; how do you handle it?
Shuichi: Up until know I didn’t have characters that required complex make-up or grease-paint. I don’t like opulent make-up and usually go for a light one. I always do the make-up myself because I’m quite skilled at that. As always, the basics of make-up are skin tone smoothing and drawing eyes, eyebrows or – rarely – lips. Sometimes I have to do body art, but it’s not that difficult, considering I’m an artist and I’m good with cosmetics.
Cosplay Gen: How do you practice becoming a certain character?
Shuichi: Rehearsals, rehearsals and more rehearsals, in front of the mirror, for a long-long time. It is not enough to know its background; you have to believe you ARE the character and to make the others believe that too. At first I picked out some cute characters, but I soon understood that it’s easier and more entertaining for me to play more flashy and hard-edged ones. For instance, Kadaj (FFVII: AC). He is a very flamboyant person with a vast range of emotions – from rampant cruelty to joyful tears.
Cosplay Gen: There are plenty of impressive ball jointed dolls out there; why did you choose to cosplay Ducan? Do you plan on cosplaying other dolls as well?
I decided to cosplay Ducan a long time ago – even before I actually started cosplaying. I accidentally saw the doll while browsing the Internet and immediately fell in love with it. I wanted the same costume. After three years of cosplay, I finally managed to fulfill my plan. Now my dreams have shifted from the costume to the doll itself.
Yes, I do, and I’m not alone on this one. Our first attempt at BJD cosplay was very successful, after all.
Cosplay Gen: What is the most important thing for you in cosplay?
To me, the most important thing in cosplay is the process itself. You create something with your own hands, always striving for the best, and you endow your costume with all that creative power. Afterwards, you make your appearance on the stage, in the spotlight, knowing that hundreds of eyes are watching you, and you feel the thrill. Cosplay not only encourages self development, but brings together different people. You meet new people, make new friends. Life shines with new colors! It is like escaping into a fairytale from the usually drab existence.
Every cosplayer helps cultivate this small miracle, not only in Russia, but all over the world.
// Translator: Tsubatsu