All right, this cosplayer has a fun name. I screamed it in my best anime screaming voice a couple of times. Their name is–pause for dramatic effect–OTAKU GUNSO!!! They’re front and center in the above image cosplaying as Haruhi from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. They’re a long time cosplayer and was an absolute joy to interview.
Jacky the Nerd: What is your cosplay alias?
Otaku Gunso: Just call me Otaku Gunso.
JtN: When did you start cosplaying?
Otaku Gunso: I started cosplaying back in 2006 when … I guess not that many people were cosplaying. Nowadays everyone knows at least 1 or 2 people that cosplayed. Back then I was a loner and knew NO ONE that cosplayed.
JtN: Why do you cosplay?
Otaku Gunso: I cosplay for a couple of different reasons. 1: Obviously is because it’s fun to play as different characters for a weekend. 2: It’s the level of self fulfillment it gives me. 3: I have to say I’ve really come a long way because while many start off being really good and that’s amazing I’ve literally had to work my way up the ranks.
When I first started cosplaying as I said before I knew no one that was into it I didn’t even know how to use a sewing machine. The funny thing was that I learned about cosplay compliments of the volume 1 comic party manga which show cased a few at the end of the volume after explaining what it is and all. I ended up teaching myself how to use the sewing machine, and without the use of a single pattern would manage to craft together different outfits at my own progress. Maybe I would have been better had I used a pattern but that was just something once again I didn’t know about. Dissecting clothing was what I did for reference purposes. From examining the inseams to feeling the material that’s literally how I taught myself to sew.
JtN: What is your favorite cosplay experience, and why?
Otaku Gunso: I have 3 actually and all of them tell a tale of cosplay milestone as well. First up my goth lolita Mikuru cosplay from The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi; surely it was fun wearing it and was also fun doing the saikyou pare parade on stage. When I made the cosplay it was actually my first time making a petticoat. I had made the petticoat part of the skirt from scratch and then just put the material I wanted to use over it along. I looked at a tutorial online that had no pictures and put my skills into use right away. For a first time it still looks fairly amazing and it’s an easy outfit to wear out even outside a con. Unfortunately, the audio died, but here’s me in the 2010 animeNEXT masquerade doing the saikyou pare parade. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BnXdhT6m8dw&feature=youtu.be&t=32m59s
Second time around was a few years later in 2013 when I cosplayed Takuto from Star Driver. I was relatively new to prop making despite my smaller attempt making a wand for Pururin back in 2011 (a year after Mikuru). My star swords were literally the “stars” of that cosplay. My costume design was on point and although at the time of Mikuru was when I really started getting good with my sewing (heh it took me 3 and a half years to get good). Once again I used a tutorial online I saw about making stuff light up using LEDs. Real LEDs are expensive though so I used battery operated Christmas light LEDs. They cost a lot less and had the same effect. The only thing I really had to shell out cash on was the polycarbonate sheets I used for the casing but even with that I used cello wrap for the color. Once again I took something I had no prior knowledge in and put what little experience I had into that act. So far I’ve been blessed to not have messed up using my own cosplay as a starting point to something new and unfamiliar. Also, go watch Star Driver NOW!!
Third up, and this one is the money maker right now. Ikazuchi no Fusanoshin from Onmyou Taisenki was and is my greatest cosplay accomplishment yet. I haven’t outdone myself on that one just yet. Onmyou Taisenki and I go way back; it’s a very obscure anime so while it took me a while to watch and finally finish it, the series really ended up becoming one of my favorites to date. Having taken me roughly 4 months to complete, I literally had to pull out all the stops on this one. Some parts were easy but other parts once again required me to put forth skills that I didn’t have prior such as making the head and the foot claws. I did eventually get some cosplay acknowledgement at Liberty City Anime Convention where I won best of Journeyman for my Fusanoshin cosplay. Bountiful acknowledge … how it only took me 9 years, but hey I did say I worked my way up right? Nothing can kill the amount of pride I have for this cosplay not even this awkward video I threw together during my first test run 3 days before the convention.
Otaku Gunso: What is one of the biggest changes you’ve noticed in the cosplay community since you started in 2006?
There are many more cosplayers out and about these days I notice. Back then it used to be very far and few in between but nowadays everyone knows at least 1 or 2 cosplayers in their “group of friends.” I do also know that it has gotten more mainstream these days which I don’t know whether to consider that a good thing or a bad thing though.
It’s good that more people know about it because before if you dressed like a fictional character people thought you were a loser. Now people actually see the amount of work that goes into it and realize that the people that do this are real people with real lives. Of course the down side is that there are many body shaming people. I don’t know about anyone else, but I believe in cosplay freedom and being able to cosplay who you want as long as you remember to have fun with it. I can’t tell you how disappointing it is when someone says, “Oh this person is ugly in that cosplay,” or “So and so is too fat to cosplay.”
I also notice something that’s possibly not entirely new but that people tend to be much more confident in themselves from cosplay. Surely I would have to include myself in this statement as well to say that even I received a confidence boost from cosplaying. Aside from learning things about yourself that you never would have known prior and the self-accomplishing feat of putting something together that you never knew you were capable of surely that would be a boost for anyone’s confidence anywhere.
Author’s Note: I’m going to put up the second part of the interview sometime later this week or next week. I also recommend Star Driver. I watched it last year, and its a good ol’ fashioned fun mech anime. Here’s a preview trailer.