Street Talk: Cosplayers Naoshi and Yukari
Hongkongers by day, cosplayers by night: Aio Ching aka Naoshi (right) and Yukari Heung (left) dress up to bring their favorite anime characters to life. They tell Adrienne Chum about costumes, cross-dressing, and staying in character.
HK Magazine: What got you started in cosplay?
Naoshi: We always loved manga. We saw others cosplaying, so we thought we’d try it out too. I’ve been doing this for about a year, but Yukari has been cosplaying for almost four years. I think we’ve done almost 40 cosplays in a year—we do photoshoots almost every weekend.
HK: Photoshoots? Doesn’t it get hot in the summer?
N: It really does! Lugging around a costume and a set of props in the heat can be pretty bad, but the photographers have it bad too. During the summer we usually do our shoots in a studio. If we’re doing any outdoor shoots, like at the beach, we wait until after 5pm because it’s not as hot. We typically book the studio or photographer for three hours, but with travel and prep time, a single session can take all day.
HK: What do your families think of your hobby?
Yukari: My dad doesn’t really have much of an opinion, while my mom will sometimes help with the costumes, as she’s better at sewing than me. She thinks it’s kind of cute. For example, for my current costume, I need a flower that is hard to find in Hong Kong, so my mother is helping me make a paper one.
N: My dad doesn’t really care. My mom is more conservative, so she thinks I’m pretending to be gay or doing gay stuff, especially because I do my own makeup.
HK: Are the costumes expensive?
N: It really depends on how detailed you want them to be. Usually the props are the most expensive: A sword can cost up to $1,000 even when the costume averages just $500.
Y: We also often customize the costumes when we get them so they fit better. Sometimes we will buy simpler, less expensive costumes, then add extra details we think are important using raw materials and creating them by hand. We don’t have sewing machines though, so it does take time—some costumes take about a week to finish, while others can take a couple of months.
HK: What do you do with your costumes when you’re done?
N: Some costumes, like the ones we’ve done so many times that we don’t want to do again, we sell. Other costumes we’ll keep if we really love them and plan on doing them again. Right now, two-thirds of my two wardrobes are all cosplay clothes. I keep tossing my normal work clothes to make more space for costumes!
Y: We end up keeping a lot of wigs because we can wear them for many different costumes, but they’re space hogs. We thought about renting some storage space with other cosplayers, but it’s expensive.
HK: Naoshi, sometimes you cosplay as a girl. Is it hard to stay in character?
N: Normally I only dress as a girl for photos, so nobody has to hear my male voice. But there are way more female cosplayers than male, so when I cosplay as a male character at an event, a line of girls will queue up to take photos with me.
Catch Yukari and Naoshi as characters from “No Game No Life” at Ani-Com this Sunday, or visit them at www.facebook.com/LYC3.6.