~A Feature about A Male/ Crossdress Cosplayer~ Part 3 is about a crossdresser, Reika.
Reika is popular not only in Japan but also overseas. Among the cosplayers I have interviewed with, I heard of her name countless times. And when I met her in person, I felt that she has a big heart. She spoke very rhythmically with a good pace and answered my questions without hesitation. Also, those philosophical words are full of kindness and generosity that encourage us a lot. There are times when we face hardships in our daily lives, but we can hear many words that make us feel that they are such trivial things in the first part of this interview.
【~Cosplay is not only for female~】
Cosplay has now become one of the proudest aspects of Japanese culture. It's an industry that tends to focus mostly on women, but there are many men as well! And there are male characters that can only be dressed up by women! The editorial department from the emoma! has picked up some of these male/ crossdress cosplayers and will be looking into the charms of each cosplayer.
- 1 A Fun Hobby That Led To A Cross-Dress Cosplayer
- 2 Costume Geek!?
- 3 How to Spend a Day Off Overseas: Visiting Fabric Stores.
- 4 A Problem for the Entire Cosplay Industry: Manners
- 5 If you are looking for a job to work as a professional cosplayer, 12Company is the place.
- 6 Summary of the First Part
A Fun Hobby That Led To A Cross-Dress Cosplayer
I used to draw doujinshi (meaning fanzines in Japanese) and go to the events to sell my doujinshi. I saw so many cosplayers there and I was like, that looks fun! So I started wearing the costumes I owned in my booth. I did not have a person that I particularly admired or an ideal cosplayer that I wanted to be at all. It was just something I did for fun since I was free while selling my doujinshi at the booth.
After that, I continued to join the doujinshi club for about 8 years, so cosplay was really just something extra to do while selling goods and doujinshi.
It wasn't about taking pictures or not, it was more like a costume to wear at the booth.
Yes. At that time, I was in the art club. One of my friends who was in the kendo club told me, “I will give you a kendo uniform.” I also owned the Shinsengumi coat that I bought on a school trip. Then, I saw the Shinsengumi in past episodes of the Rurouni Kenshin that I really liked and thought, “Oh I can maybe do this!” That was how I started to crossdress. I dressed up as a man not because there was a specific character I liked, but because I had the Shinsengumi costume.
My doujinshi had reached the ceiling. My friends were working a hundred times harder than I was, but even though I practiced drawing everyday, it did not help me to grow compared to others. I knew it slightly from the beginning, but I was not good at drawing and started questioning myself about my skills.
However with cosplay, which I was doing a little bit, I could feel my own growth as I was able to create better clothes.
The hobby that I had more room for growth became much more interesting than the one that had reached the ceiling. The pleasure of cosplaying completely exceeded my doujinshi hobby.
I do sometimes.
But how do I say…. When I cosplay a female character, I feel like I am trying so hard to look cute somewhere deep inside of me. A high school boy’s uniform is not what I used to actually wear before, so it is totally fine as I can wear it as just cosplay. But when it comes to girls' cute outfits, I get so embarrassed because I feel like I'm forcing myself to dress up in young clothes rather than cosplaying.
The feeling of transcending the gender barrier is definitely one thing. When I cosp;ay as a female character, it feels the same as how I normally go out. But When I dress up as male, I can change myself into anyone I want, a man, an uncle, or a boy. You can change gender. The feeling of “changing” is something special about crossdressing.
Hmm, let me think….
I have been doing it so much, so it got to the point where I don't find it particularly hard anymore. Making my breasts look flatter is still exhausting though.
When I am dancing or on the stage, it is stifling.
I cannot breathe as much so I have to figure out how to sing.
It is not that hard in the rehearsal but it gets exhausting when I make my breasts flatter for the actual performance. haha
I graduated from the Fashion Design Department at Mode Gakuen, so my specialty is making clothes.
That's why I often hold workshops to teach young people from overseas how to make clothes. It is so nice and fun to have a job that I can utilize my talent.
For me, I get super excited when the costume is made perfectly beautiful.
When I put my costume that I have worked on for a long time on a torso, it gives me the best feeling.
The most important points in making a costume are the waist position, collar, and shoulder width. When I get it done just how I wanted without my face on it, it is the best moment. haha I am a bit of a “costume geek” in some ways.
How to Spend a Day Off Overseas: Visiting Fabric Stores.
I go to see the materials.
When the staff asks me where I want to visit beforehand, the first thing I say is, "The fabric store!” When they ask me what I would like to do with the extra time, I also say "The fabric store!”
I already know the price and texture of most of the materials sold in Japan, so when I go abroad, I carefully look at the quality and price of the fabrics and decide whether to buy it or not.
Especially, Chinese buttons are unbelievably cheap in Taiwan and other Chinese countries.
There are about 20 kinds of buttons on sale, and they are super super cheap too. I just keep saying, “I want to buy the whole store!” “I want this store to be in Japan!”
Also, I love cats. So every time I go abroad, I go to cat cafes recently.
Yes there are. There are actually so many.
They are cheaper than in Japan, and cats are very friendly.
I went to a cat café in Malaysia the other day, and the staff put a cat on my lap saying, "There's no cat near you, so I've brought you one!” hahaha
I think it was because I started using Facebook.
At that time, I was already receiving messages from overseas, but I could not reply to any of them since I was not good at English.
After I created a Facebook account, I received so many messages, and there are some offers for me saying, “Would you be interested in coming to our event?” At first, I was like, “WOW! Finally I will cosplay outside of Japan!” Now, I feel like it is easier to cross borders.
A Problem for the Entire Cosplay Industry: Manners
I don't think the Japanese temperament will change, so I don't think it will become like what it is overseas.
Until now, most cosplayers didn't want to be seen by others in public, and they only cosplayed in closed areas.
But now, more and more people have become "I want to get attention, I want to be seen by people in public, and I'd rather change and go out!” From this point, more and more cosplayers started showing up to town events. I think there will be more events like that in the future.
Outside events are nice! But, when I think of what if I accidentally meet someone I know, I cannot go to events in the area where I work. So, people who can go out without worrying about that are very cool.
At the same time, there is also me hoping that they will not go over the line.
A lot of young people cosplay too, so the more they go out, the more problems with regard to manners arise. I want them to enjoy cosplay while being careful of others in public.
Also, another thing I have noticed is that the difference between costumes and cosplay has been fading away even though there is a huge difference for me.
I feel like if people in costumes start to come to big cosplay events or town cosplay events, it may cause new problems.
Hmm I am not sure.
I think it is fine to have it mixed as long as we both do it within common sense.
However, the common sense that we both have is a little different. I think that is the problem here.
When I cosplay as my career, I make sure to be punctual, to keep promises, and to follow the rules of being a member of society.
When it is for my hobby, even if I oversleep and show up late to meet someone in the worst case, it will not be a big deal. If that happens with my work, that will not be good at all.
Clients are working hard with you.
If the one keeps misbehaving like, “Oh I forgot about that,” or “Oh I am sorry, I just woke up,” they will no longer count on people in the cosplay industry.
Whether you are in a firm or not, you have come to the point where you are able to receive tasks. So I strongly hope that we all do the right thing for everyone’s sake and for the future.
When I hear the story of a cosplayer who did not show up on time from a client, I want to say, “I am so sorry, I will apologize on their behalf,” even if it is something I don't even know.
If you are looking for a job to work as a professional cosplayer, 12Company is the place.
I often saw that some agencies, who do not specialize in the cosplay industry, were recruiting professional cosplayers. But I was a little curious if they were actually taking very good care of cosplayers properly.
Even if there are a lot of cosplayers, if an agency cannot provide costumes and wigs to dress up nicely, that is not working as a cosplay firm.
When I was working on creating a company, my main focus was to establish a company where cosplayers can work properly as cosplayers.
“We can depend on this company to handle cosplayers' work.” That was a firm I wanted to establish, and that was what we needed.
So, I decided to take the role of CEO.
We ask the girls in our office what kind of work they are interested in doing, and if they say they want to do, then we offer them job opportunities.
However, as an agency, we make a proposal that focuses on cosplay, such as "Our girls are cosplayers, so what about modeling in cosplay costumes?”
If they still cannot take it into consideration due to a financial reason for costumes, then we will rethink it. But, we will clarify that cosplay is our strength as much as possible.
All three of us were working in the cosplay industry at that time.
We had been doing it for many years and were very proud of cosplay as our career.
We had a lot of faith in cosplay, and clearly it was what we lived for.
In addition to that, all of us had a similar passion and belief in cosplay, and we were frustrated by the work we couldn't do as individuals.
That's why we thought we needed an appropriate company.
Without an agency, when a cosplayer is offered a job, but rejects it because it doesn’t match their schedule, they would not introduce somebody else to do the job.
But with an agency, we can introduce a cosplayer who is suitable for the job.
For example, let’s say person A is offered a job, but there are other cosplayers who are more suitable for that work. In that case, we can also offer person B, C, and D the job.
It means that even though they are not offered directly, we can suggest the client within the office.
Also, we receive a picture of a character from the client and propose the cosplayer who best fits the image.
We can provide the cosplayers a job opportunity where they can shine as who they are.
Another thing is that our agency can make and mend costumes, we are able to provide the costumes that the girls need for the job. This is to avoid problems like “I received a wrinkled costume on the day of work” as much as possible.
We also have an office where we can have meetings, and a studio where we can take pictures and videos, and stream.
We have prepared an environment that makes it easier and more comfortable for the cosplayers to work.
If a cosplayer just wants to take quick pictures, they have to reserve a studio and book a photographer which will cost tens of thousands of yen.
We have created a comfortable work space where they can use our services freely on such an occasion, and we would like to increase the number of our services.
If we don’t have enough staff, I go help and work as a staff for our own events.
However, I don’t think it is good as a president to be running around to do tasks. So I am usually at the office five days a week watching over the staff to help them when they have problems or need help.
Also, I want to make sure that other older staff and I can be there for the cosplayers when they have questions like what kind of costumes everyone would like to wear at social gatherings, or what they should do to get more job opportunities.
Some answers may change with the times, but I want to be able to give advice as much as I can.
I would like to create an environment where I can tell the cosplayers who seem to be going the wrong track, “It is not the right way.”
First of all, someone who is punctual and can work diligently as a member of society. Someone who is honest and sincere. It is what any company is looking for, but simply someone who is reliable as a person.
It is hard for them if they can’t manage themselves well because some of the jobs require them to wake up early in the morning.
Also, someone who is competitive.
We have auditions, so they should have a strong willingness like, “I will be the one who will get it!!“
We, the agency, also check Twitter and other SNS, but it's difficult to monitor all the content. That is why they have to work hard on their own.
I feel like this job is more suitable for a person who is hard on themselves.
Contorarily, a person who is lenient with themselves may fall by the wayside.
Summary of the First Part
I am sure there are many cosplayers who would like to join 12Company which has a well-managed environment because of Reika.
She answered serious questions without hesitation, so I kept asking her about deep topics. But she seemed to be happy when she was telling me a story about buying materials for costumes and going to cat cafes. She definitely looked dignified and cute.
In the second half of the next page, she talks about the keys to expanding her career overseas, the most dangerous country in the world, and her hobby, her love life, and approaches to deal with insults.
There is also a gift from Reika to our readers, so please look forward to it.