It’s time for another interview, this time with Hime no Toki! She’s a lovely cosplayer from Florida, who is quite the talent!
What’s your cosplay alias and why did you choose it?
My alias is Hime no Toki, and it was inspired by artwork I drew when I was in high school (long story… trust me. I will spare you all the details). I also realize it is improper Japanese, and should read “Toki no Hime”, but I like how “Hime no Toki” rolls off the tongue more easily and I don’t mind zany plays on words, so I went with that. I also sometimes go by ‘Reimi’, but that was a more recent change and I usually only use that one on international sites. That name is based off of a girl from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, one of my favorite manga.
How many years have you been cosplaying and what got you started?
I started in 2003 so this will be my 9th year as a cosplayer – time flies! I started because I enjoy arts and crafts, and have been into anime since I was very little, and seeing photos of Sailor Moon cosplayers online sparked an interest. An opportunity to combine art and fandom? Yes please!
What has been some of your favorite things to work with when constructing costumes and why?
I always love working with fabrics. Textiles come in so many different forms and each present their own challenge and have their own pros and cons. Strangely enough ,I have developed an affinity to stretchy fabrics, and really enjoy working with them. But I guess that does come in handy a lot for JoJo, one of my favorite series to cosplay from! I also have a love for very gaudy, fabulous fabrics that I can’t quite seem to shake off, which lends itself well to cosplaying from the aforementioned fandom. I also love to bead and work with leather, and cast resin.
What are you excited to be working with in the future and why?
I want to try to work on perfecting armor and accessory craft, and have a few projects that will involve pieces like shoulder pauldrons (Lina Inverse) and multiple accessories (Medusa from Kid Icarus: Uprising), so I have my work cut out for me. I pretty much have one ‘rule’ that I set for myself when tackling a costume, and that is that I will not create any costume unless I am sure it will be able to be constructed well enough to stand multiple wears and be crafted to the absolute best of my abilities. I do not believe in sloppy work or rush jobs, or doing something halfway. I’ll usually mull over a design for a long time before I start to work on it, and do my research for it. I have been slowly working myself to tackle more and more complicated costumes over the years, and my own personal standards set the bar for what I’ll be up for working on next. I really enjoy learning new techniques, and applying them to future projects.
What are some of the traits you like to see in other costumes and who do you think does well in them?
I really love seeing someone ‘nail’ a costume – but what I love most is cleanliness in costumes – it’s the ultimate ‘wow’ factor for me. Even simple designs can be appreciated when the seams are finished and pressed, the fit is excellent and flattering, the choice in fabrics spot-on, and everything polished. I’m really big on craftsmanship. As for cosplayers who I think excel in various aspects, that’s an incredibly tough question to answer because I’ve come to know MANY talented cosplayers over the years (many more than I can put here without taking all day), whether just through photos online or in-person, but here’s a few: PikminLink (for her stunning character portrayal), Yaya Han (for her inventiveness and originality with her works), Dakatsu (for his stunning prop and armor work), JiaJem (for her amazing craftsmanship), Hanyaan (for using such unordinary fabrics, and using them well, and for being a JoJo cosplayer), Glay and QuantumDestiny (for their wigs and just being awesome in general) and that’s just to name a few! The community is absolutely rich in talent, and I am thankful for that.
What is your view of the “cosplay scene”?
It certainly has changed over the years! When I started out, access to Japanese media was limited, especially anime and manga. The community was much smaller, and pretty much everyone at the convention, cosplayer or non-cosplayer, had a genuine interest in anime, gaming, etc. We also had fewer resources to work with for crafting our costumes. As time went by and anime became more mainstream, the community suddenly grew, almost as if overnight. Then I started to notice issues coming up that before were either rare or unheard of in the cosplay scene. I think the biggest issue is how superficial cosplay has become. These days, it’s incredibly common to see threads on cosplay forums about body image problems, and it’s really disheartening to see that. I can remember a time when there might be one thread about healthy fitness, but now everyone is worried to the extreme about how they look and being ridiculed in costume. Cosplay has become a highly judgmental hobby, and it is really sad to see it plunge into that territory. Sometimes it seems that everyone is worried about what everyone thinks of themselves and their costumes, instead of being their favorite character for a day and making new friends with people who share the same love for the series. Now granted, there’s plenty of positive still alive in the community, but the negative has certainly increased over the years. Bottom line, I think the community needs to get back to having fun – it’s a hobby, something to do in your spare time to get away from school, work, and all the stressful things in life. Don’t make your hobby yet another thing to stress about. And when and if it DOES become stressful, take a breather from it.
What are some of the things you want to see change in the scene?
I think it should be a requirement for all of us to eat a slice of humble pie once in a while. I’m a firm believer that over-inflated egos have no place in a hobby involving dressing up as cartoon characters. One-ups-manship is only going to create problems. In general, I would really love to see the elitism fade away, and that the scene would go back to how it was when I first started. Well, minus the lack of resources part. I certainly appreciate the access of materials and knowledge that has improved over the years. There is a lot I’ve seen and experienced in my nine years of cosplaying that was a less than savory memory, but I think cosplay (in the social aspect sense) has also really taught me how to handle situations really well, especially when it comes to respect and keeping a level head and being a mature person capable of handling all types of scenarios. I’m a firm believer of trying to make a positive outcome (or lesson) of a negative experience. Sometimes that’s the only way to grow as a person.
What is some advice you could give people starting to get into cosplay?
First and foremost, have fun. Since cosplay is a social function, a lot of it boils down to common sense and common courtesy. Learn when it’s a good idea to turn a blind eye to some of the silly things in this hobby (ignorance CAN be bliss, in certain cases). Respect your fellow cosplayer and if you compete, keep good sportsmanship in mind. Don’t make everything into a contest. Remember that being humble goes a long way. Don’t resort to petty gossip, because you will be contributing to an already outrageous problem. And on that note, don’t stick your nose into someone else’s problems or ‘drama’ or whatever it is they call it these days. If you are new to crafting, try to start out with simpler projects and work your way up, it’s a lot less stressful that way. Know that things CAN go wrong, and try to deal with them gracefully and learn from your mistakes – we all make them! When asking another cosplayer questions about construction, try to be specific (it can be really hard to answer generic questions). Budget and plan for your costumes well in advance of the event you wish to debut it. Oh, and did I mention to have fun? Because that’s the most important part!
What are some of your favorite conventions you’ve attended and why?
I enjoy Otakon and Fanime the most, though locally I enjoy MegaCon and MetroCon (though honestly, I don’t feel either quite compare to Otakon or Fanime). I enjoy bigger conventions with lots of events and things to do, and a venue that is surrounded by places to see and eat at so there is still more to do during convention down-time. Also, I absolutely love seeing amazing costumes in person, and Fanime and Otakon are both really good for that.
Give a random fact about one of your costumes that you’re proud of!
I suppose I’ll talk about my most recent one, since it’s one I’m particularly proud of – Princess Kraehe’s Odile tutu. The entire costume is constructed to be an anatomically correct performance-grade tutu, and involved loads of research. Even the fabrics, materials, closures, placement of beads, and methods to making the tutu look feathery are accurate to the stage ballet.
Thanks for the interview, Hime no Toki! You can see more of her work on her Deviantart, on her Cosplay.com account, on her American Cosplay Paradise account, on her World Cosplay account, and her Cure account!