～World Cosplayers～ first issue is about the Italian cosplayerYURIKOTIGER.
We will talk about why she became a cosplayer, and why she came all the way from Italy, where she maintains a huge following, to work and live in Japan. The roots of a woman with overwhelming charm, overseas cosplay event conditions, her advice for Japanese cosplayers trying to make it in the world, and many other topics!
What is World Cosplayers?
【～From Japan to the world, from the World to Japan～】
A series of featured articles from the editorial department of emoma! about interesting cosplayers from various countries, who play an active part in either Japan or overseas.
Kept on doing what I wanted to do, even if others around think its "not normal".
--- What sparked your interest in anime and cosplay?
When I was young and lived in Italy, I saw anime on the internet or on DVD's and thought "I like this!". Then, on Sailor Moon and other Animes I saw many new things where I became curious. "What's a Sailor Fuku?" "What's this kind of food?" "Why do things that we don't have in Italy keep showing up?" So, at some point I started to learn about it.
Cosplay existed in Italy originally in big events like carnivals or halloween - so as a child I already had chances to get familiar with wearing costumes. At such times, my mother would buy costumes for me like a normal black cat costume. "That's Batman's Catwoman!" I would instantly see it as some kind of fictional character and nothing else, so I probably wanted to do cosplay already as a small child.
--- Were you able to see Anime in your own language, Italian?
It was possible, but I watched everything in Japanese.
I did not want to hear the characters voices in Italian.
When Japanese gets translated to Italian, the feelings you try to survey with your voice changes completely, and if it's in Italian, it makes the characters feel like someone Italian right?
"But this character does not look Italian!!" is what I would think, so even if I can't understand what they were saying, I was letting my imagination do the work and watched in Japanese.
--- Did you have many friends who also liked Anime and Japanese things?
Not at all! I was all alone.
Now there's the internet so in Italy theres also many ways of finding out about Japanese things and what's trending there now, but back then no one knew about Japanese culture.
Thats why when I was wearing harajuku fashion and listening only to J-POP I kept getting asked "Why are you dressed so weird?" "Why don't you know any Italian songs?" and "Why are you so different?" "Why aren't you normal?".
Sometimes I even got asked "Don't you love your own country?"
That's the reason why I had to change middle school 4 times due to bullying.
But I just thought "What even is normal?", and your "normal" is different from my "normal" so I kept on doing what I wanted to do.
Studying eagerly to become one with the character
--- What was the reason you started to do cosplay?
It was Suzumiya Haruhi!
In 2007 I saw her for the first time and thought the is similar to me. So I thought, I want to try becoming her! I want to be her for real!
I made the costume but I did not own a wig so I cut and dyed my own hair to get it close to hers.
When I went to an event like that, someone came up to me and did not say my name but "You are Suzumiya right?" - They called me by the character's name! It felt like I turned into that character, that made me so happy.
--- What's the charm of cosplay in your opinion?
That you can become your favourite character or heroine. And meet the characters and heroines that I've always wanted to meet, through other cosplayers. Its a dream that everyone has a child, and this hobby can make it come true.
Also, you can connect with the world. You can connect with people with the same hobby and have a great time together.
To put myself as an example, when I started out I had no confidence in myself at all and I hated being infront of people and on stage.
But that turned into my job thanks to cosplay, people would tell me they like my performance! So that made me feel better about it and I stopped being nervous. I was able to think of it as something enjoyable. I am now able to say I like being on stage! I grew a lot as a person.
--- You have received a lot of awards in Italy since you have started cosplay, right?
Yes. The one I have received the most was "Best Performance" award.
I was 16 and could not make the best costumes yet, but I put all my energy and power into becoming the character in my performances.
Even now I would never lose in becoming the character!
I study the way the character talks, their dialogues, what they like and dislike... I study everything and anything so when I perform at an event I really become that person completely!!
There are a lot of foreign cosplayers all over the world, so in order to become someone unforgettable I learn how to do it, I want to show what I feel is the "genuine character".
The "Yuriko" part, aswell as the "TIGER" part is important
--- Why did you decide to live in Japan even though you were already famous in Italy?
When I was 8 years old I already gave myself the name "YURIKO", and I always had the wish to go and live in Japan. Since 2013 I live in Japan, but when I decided to go through with it and told my parents they kind of reacted like "The time has come, as we expected".
Still, when I came to Japan I felt like it was necessary to give myself courage, so I added "TIGER" with a strong significance after "YURIKO".
I combined the meanings of kind, cute, japanese-like "YURIKO" with super strong, sexy, a bit dangerous "TIGER" to express my own personality.
Since I came to Japan, I felt the difference of the culture, I saw the good and the bad sides of Japan and there were times when I was sad too, but thats great. Isn't that what it means to live somewhere?!
I saw the good and the bad sides of Japan, thats how I understood the greatness of Japan for the first time.
--- Are the events in Italy or other countries different to the ones in Japan?
In italy theres a lot of events for cosplay, during 1 month theres always 1-2 events somewhere in the country. But they are totally different from comiket or similar japanese events. Italy's events are more comparable to the small, countryside events in Japan.
Theres runways, talk events, there is always a cosplay contest. And theres lots of children, families, and students.
That is why costumes that show too much skin are not allowed.
In Italy and Europe we have a lot of cosplay contests, but not very many in Japan, so I was actually surprised.
--- From the view of Italy, what is the image of Japan's cosplay culture?
Japanese culture itself is popular, and more and more people get interested in cosplay, but there's also still the prejudice of perversion to it, so often I get into fights with Italian people about this matter.
If a cosplayer from Japan wants to work overseas, the word "Otaku" does not exist in Italy, there is no Idol culture in Italy either, so by only being cute or representing yourself the same as others around you, you will not be noticed.
In Japan there might be cases where you get popular by reproducing an Anime truthfully with your cosplay, but overseas you need to have that little extra.
That is why recently the cosplayer Reika has become a topic because of her amazing cosplays of male characters.
It is an amazing skill to change a female face into a male-looking face.
You need some kind of extra skill like great performance or amazing makeup, otherwise you won't become famous in Italy.
You should make life decisions on your own without getting carried away by others.
--- What kind of work do you do overseas?
I visit overseas countries around 3 times in a year. Mostly Italy where I have the most fans, but also sometimes Canada or Malaysia.
For example, if I visit Italy for 2 weeks, during weekdays I do fanmeetings, PR, or commercial work. On the weekend I appear at events.
At events I come as a cosplay guest, judge the cosplay contests, and hold panels.
In my case I talk about my life until now, the Japanese entertainment industry and culture. Usually my panels are always fully booked.
This is weird but when I have to speak at overseas events, I talk in Japanese. I talk in Japanese and the translator translates it. That way everyone enjoys it more.
--- Do you have advice for cosplayers who want to participate in overseas events?
To give you an honest advice, you should study English first.
I don't speak English very well either, only beginner level, but it is dangerous without that.
For example, foreigners are fine in Japan without speaking Japanese right? Its very safe.
But overseas is not so easy, so if anything happens you need to be able to tell people that you need help.
Also, you should understand the culture of the country you are going to beforehand. Even overseas, Italy is different from America, every country differs.
When you cosplay a character according to their official information and skin colour, it could be a problem.
Even in my case, when I am careless, it gets dangerous, so you should really take care.
But going overseas would definitely be a great experience.
It's very good to see how foreigners think and what actions they take.
And finally, foreigners are very friendly so become their friends and just enjoy it!
--- Is there anything you want to challenge from now on?
I want to create a rock band!
I always wanted to make music, I also have designed a lot of fashion items, so I want to create clothing that fits the music and do a performance.
When I first told my management about it, they said "Oh, then we have to look for foreign members." but I instantly said no! I want to have the talent of Japanese people! I always wanted to do J-Rock!
And I will not be cosplaying in that band.
Cosplay is very important to me, so it would feel wrong for me singing a song that the character would not normally sing.
As a cosplayer I want to visit more smaller events. Actually, I want to show the charm of cosplay to Japanese people.
--- Please give your fans a message
If there's something you want to do, you should do it.
Even if others think of it as something weird, don't mind their opinions. You need to make life decisions on your own!
If I would have cared about what others say, I would not be in Japan now.
If you care about anything besides yourself, the thing that you want to do will always distance itself from you and disappear someday. It was hard for me when I was all alone, but now I am happy so it was worth it.
I want my fans to know this!
Also, have confidence!
Japanese people don't have enough confidence and carry a lot of insecurities, but there are good things about Japan and Japanese people, so have confidence!
You only live once. If you don't understand that, you will carry around insecurities.
It is also important to understand that you are important. Your family and your friends too.
Things you like, important things, small happinesses, they are all valuable.
I myself don't think I am an essential existance for everyone, but if you will think about my opinions even a little bit, I will continue sharing them from now on too.
"World Cosplayers" is focusing on foreign cosplayers.
For the first article we welcomed YURIKOTIGER, who says she is made of 90% passion.
When we interviewed her, we saw her as a beautiful Italian woman. However, when we spoke to her, we noticed her funny personality and energy, and a straight heart.
When we look at her we naturally feel happy, she is definitely a cosplayer worth more and more attention.