Interview with Ojii-chan

It’s time for another interview, this time with Ojii-chan! He’s a long-time cosplayer from Washington, who enjoys figuring out how to best crossplay female characters!

Ojii-chan

Ojii-chan out of costume

What’s your cosplay alias and why did you choose it?
It originally used to be Laughing_man in the old days as I was big on Ghost in the Shell, and it was ironic because I’m a quiet person and don’t laugh out loud that much. Later on I picked a better one that suited me: Ojii-Chan, which actually means “Grandfather.” I picked that even though I’m not a grandfather, but just to let everyone know I’m not trying to hide my age (like I did in the early con days), because I usually have 15-20 years on the average convention-goer nowadays. I still watch anime and collect figures and stuff even though I’m nearing the 50 mark (*shudder*), plus I’m lucky enough to still have a youthful look. My motto is: elder in time but young at heart.

How many years have you been cosplaying and what got you started?
Aside from being Han Solo for the Star Wars special edition in theaters in 1997, I didn’t officially start cosplaying until 2000 when I went to my first Convention: Sakura Con. I think I read up on conventions or something and saw that people dressed up when they went to these conventions, so I thought why not? So I cobbled together a decent Son Gohan costume and a not so decent Android 17. That first convention experience was an eye-opener, a lot of fun, so I kept on going. In 2018 that would equal about 19 years of cosplaying.

What has been some of your favorite things to work with when constructing costumes and why?
Well actually I don’t know if this question applies to me since I don’t have a lot of costume making skills, like sewing—the big one. Plus a lot my past costumes have been online purchases or they were made for me. I can tell you I’ve done handsewing, fabric cutouts and gluing, painting props and weapons and constructing a car out of cardboard for my son—Initial D. Among those I do like painting the props (like a guitar)and weapons and I also enjoyed doing a homemade screen print for a shirt and shorts for a costume-that was for an Ataru Moroboshi track outfit. It was a lot of work but when I saw the finished product I was pleased. Also I love to style simple wigs for costumes—such as most recently styling a wig for Motoko Kusanagi from Ghost in the Shell Arise. The results were also pleasing.

What are you excited to be working with in the future and why?
I don’t have any costume MAKING plans in the future as like I previously mentioned will usually just purchase them. I want to do a Sakura cosplay/crossplay from the Street Fighter Zero game, so that will need a wig so I look forward to styling the wig for that. I’ve been pondering whether or not to do a Mai Shiranui costume from King of Fighters. The question isn’t to make it or not, but rather how to pull it off properly. She bears a lot of skin so it would require maybe skin colored tights or spankies if I wanted to go that route or just wear some hot pants to be more discreet. All his goes over the hip and butt padding too. And how do we do the breasts if she’s not wearing a bra obviously? And the long wig? It’s a fun challenge to figure out how to cosplay a female character convincingly!

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Ojii-chan as Vegeta from Dragon Ball Z/Super, photo by Darkain

What are some of the traits you like to see in other costumes and who do you think does well in them?
OOOOOh the details, especially in those wonderful game costumes, too many to mention but say for example Final Fantasy. I don’t really play those games, but I’ve seen footage and art of the characters and many, many cosplays of them throughout the years. There are so many little designs, patterns and pictures on the costumes it’s amazing. Also something like Tsubasa Chronicle or .hack// franchise—so many things people paint, layer on, or glue on it’s great! I also like how some cosplayers have a lot of props they carry around for their particular character. My wife cosplayed Kagome from Inu-Yasha a few years ago, and she actually brought a bicycle to walk around with, a yellow back pack full of actual snacks and a first aid kit, school textbooks and to top it off a Shikon jewel shard in a little bottle on a necklace string. It’s all the stuff Kagome has with her on the series. Or even a little detail like a Magneto cosplayer I saw at ECCC who put a magnet inside his gloves so he can pick up metal things—that’s a cool detail. Who does well in them? Well anybody can pull it off really whether you’re a veteran cosplay maker or a novice concentrating on their very first “awesome” costume. Although I’ll say more often than not, ladies fare better in those type of detailed costumes.

What is your view of the “cosplay scene”?
A lot has changed. From the beginning you have all these fans making their own costumes and they get better and better every year. Others buy them like I do and have fun with it throughout the years. But now you got “professionals” that are official convention guests and ask for money for their picture. And you also have these pinup cosplay girls online asking for money to finance their cosplay hobbies or get their digital pinup photos. I liked it better in the old days when it wasn’t about money, it was putting your heart into your costume whether you made it or bought it and less about money. I mean if it’s your career then I get that. Also you have people on the internet picking at your costume or your body type, age etc. which is not what cosplay is about. It’s not as innocent as it used to be.

What are some of the things you want to see change in the scene?
I’d like to bring back that innocence, take away the pros and erase all the online judging and begging for money, but that would be so difficult. But I think a lot of the smaller corporate sponsor-free conventions out there still strive for those innocent times. I think that’s the main thing: some of these anime or comic conventions started out so small and now are so huge that everything revolves around making profits and getting big numbers. They’re so based in industry now, they’ve forgotten about fans, what they want and the foundation where these cons came from. Anime Expo, Sakura Con, San Diego Comic Con, New York CC and Emerald City Comic Con are all like that. I do enjoy going to Emerald City Comic Con but many fans don’t like how it’s so big and industry based. These conventions all said in the beginning: created by fans for fans, but a lot of that is lost now on us fans. Let’s bring those cosplay contests back to the forefront like they used to be, and not be second fiddle to some musical guest that we never heard of, with the corporate sponsors sitting in the front rows. I think the power needs to go back into the hands of the fans and away from the money mongers. Maybe then the cosplayers only worry would be: what should I cosplay next?

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Ojii-chan as Chun Li from Street Fighter

What is some advice you could give people starting to get into cosplay?
The sky is the limit. Whatever you want to be you should do it. If you want to start simple that’s fine. If you want to wear something more elaborate, go for it, and make it happen. If you can sew it all yourself, that’s awesome. If you need help, there’s nothing wrong with that. You can buy a costume if you like to. It will be different for everyone. Some will to start simple then maybe challenge themselves and later do some crazy stuff, and I’ve seen a number of “crazy” costumes and props in all the years I’ve been attending. There shouldn’t be any hindrance in making your dreams come true. That includes age too: little kids to senior citizens, make/get your costume and have fun with it, enjoy, be happy.

What are some of your favorite conventions you’ve attended and why?
Well you can see I worry about those bigger conventions, so I’ve got real fond memories of smaller cons such as Anime Oasis in Boise, Idaho. I went there from 2003-2012 and they were so much fun in such a little con, even when they did grow a bit. And I met so many wonderful people I’m still with friends to this day. I also like Anglicon, a british media convention that was around for many years then suddenly folded, then came back in 2014 when Doctor Who popularity peaked in the US. Again so small but you can meet a lot nice people, plus easier access to meet and see the guests who can walk freely in the convention area and not get mobbed. I’ve met Colin Baker, Peter Davison and Sylvester McCoy there! Geek Girl Con is unique as highlights the girls and ladies of fandom, which is great. There’s just as many lady artists, gamers and such out there as guys, if not more. I love going there. As for bigger cons I did like Fanime Con when I went there from 2005-2007. I had a great time shooting cosplay photos, seeing events and guests, and the weather was great and San Jose is a nice city. Finally I like attending Emerald City Comic Con, as huge as it is now. There’s so much to see and do there, and usually they have cool guests. Of course all of these conventions have some great costumes and cosplayers.

Give a random fact about one of your costumes that you’re proud of!
Well like I mentioned I usually buy mine, but I’m proud of building the AE86 Initial D for my son. First time I ever did that. But I’m mostly proud of my wife who has made most of my Ranma Saotome tops: a sleeveless red tunic, a light blue sleeveless and a wonderfully looking green long sleeved one. She made them all by herself and she’s making more! She loves that series. We got to know each other from the beginning from our mutual interest in Ranma ½. She also styled the Ranma wigs too.

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Ojii-chan as Ranma from Ranma 1/2

Thanks for the interview, Ojii-chan! You can check out his Facebook pages here and here, and his CosPix page here!

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Man Posing as Cosplay Photographer Assistant Gets Called Out

Earlier this month, Martin Wong exposed a man who was pretending to be his photography assistant… But, honestly, instead of giving you the run-down in text, I figured it’d be better to just share this video by FanService Renji. He not only breaks it down for you, but illustrates exactly how I felt about the situation.

While I’m glad the situation was handled so well, let’s hope it is a good lesson for any others out there that attempt to do the same thing. Not a good idea!

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Wand Tutorial

This is a VERY easy tutorial to make wands and would even be something fun to hand out as party favors! 😀 It was created by Noriko-Sugawara and you need minimal supplies!

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Wand Tutorial by Noriko-Sugawara

Hope this helps! 😀

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Making Time to Create

I get asked a lot how I have time to get anything done with all the stuff I’m doing… I currently work a full-time job with 40+ hours a week, help out with marketing for a store run by friends of mine, and then run my own store. In between all of that, I work on costumes for myself. I’m getting better with planning and budgeting time, and I’ll be doing a review of a product to show you how you can do the same in a later post. For now, though, I figured I could share some of the things I do.

To start off, I’ve been sewing for over fifteen years now, so I quickly learned ways to build things at a decent speed when I need to. That doesn’t mean I like to rush, but I can if I’m nearing a deadline (like Denver Comic Con in June).

  1. Get everything cut out all at once, or separate it into major sections so you don’t have to spend too much time and energy on something so tedious. I just did a bunnysuit recently, so I cut out all the fabric one night, then the lining the next, and the interfacing on the third night.
  2. Pin everything you can so you can just toss under a machine when you have time. As I cut out the bunnysuit, I would pin pieces together, so I could just start sewing as soon as I was done with all the time-consuming stuff. I would also skip ahead and see where I could pin other pieces not involved on what I was sewing, so I could just do it all at once.
  3. Do all your ironing at once, if you can. I did this with the interfacing and as many seams as I could, just so I wouldn’t have to get the iron ready and let it cool a lot. Plus, then I had more space without the ironing board out. 😀
  4. Save the most time-consuming aspects for the last part if you can and plan to do that when you have the most time. For me, that’s installing the zippers, handstitching, etc.
  5. A trick I like to do is sewing a hem in one spot before heading to work, and pinning another to do when I get home. If I have time, I repeat, so I can do the same thing the next day before work.

Those are all my major cheats I can think of. Do you have any that you want to share??

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Magic Angel Eyes Contacts Review

So, about a month or so ago, I was asked to review some contact lenses for Magic Angel Eyes, a contacts store that I was also blogging for on their site. I was more than happy to oblige, as the plan was to do a different pair of lenses each month and hopefully help with their marketing.

It was an adventure to say the least. I’ll explain more after the review of the Black Wolf Contacts we picked out.

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My husband wearing the Black Wolf Contacts, with camera flash

When we selected the Black Wolf Contact lenses, I was surprised at how quickly they shipped. They normally sell in the store for $30, but as I was doing a review, I got them for free. They were packaged well, kept in protective solution and we made sure to rinse them in actual contacts solution and let them sit for about a day before my husband put them in.

Once he put the contacts in, he realized they were slightly thicker than previous ones we had reviewed. His eyes took slightly longer (about an hour) to adjust, but once they did, he didn’t have too many issues… And I gotta say, they looked really cool.

My husband liked them, but stated they did create an “overcast” over his vision, so everything appeared darker. With the amount of black to the lenses, that didn’t really seem surprising. He did state they did mess with his peripheral vision, and again, we’re pretty sure it’s because of how dark everything was. He wore the lenses for a few hours, which is what was recommended for longest wear-time, and took them out. His eyes didn’t have any issues or reactions to them, which is always good!

So, the Black Wolf Contacts definitely are a good product; the look great, they wear decent, and they have a long contact life if they’re well taken care of.

But the company, Magic Angel Eyes? I absolutely DO NOT recommend. I wrote for them for about 3 months. I was asked to start doing the monthly contacts reviews, and I was more than happy to oblige. I had planned to help other cosplayers receive sponsorship via the company for contact lens reviews. They set and agreed to the rate of $30 an article, at 2 articles a week. After the first month of writing for them, it was a constant battle of getting paid the right amounts on time. They got 2 weeks behind at one point, and continuously argued with me, claiming they needed to research the problem, when I outright showed them the amount of articles, compared what they had paid (both sets of records; theirs and mine), and got dragged along for weeks.

Finally, they put all marketing on a “temporary hiatus” and said I’d be paid the owed $120. I had to issue an ultimatum when deadlines would come and go of billing them on PayPal.

I researched the company even more in-depth than when I had started writing for them. I had seen the occasional bad review, and ignored them. I then learned they had stolen video, without credits, from other cosplayers and used it for advertising purposes. On top of that, the random people I was supposed to be speaking with were all one person literally giving me the run-around on paying. I was supposed to be paid March 9th and finally requested the money on March 10th and finally received back payment owed on March 11th.

So, while their product isn’t terrible, their business practices are absolutely shady. You DO NOT steal other people’s work. You DO NOT give people the run-around on money owed to them. You DO NOT give sad excuses to employees and customers about “business transitioning issues” when it’s just ONE employee making the mistakes.

As part of this cosplay community, I will tell you all, AVOID THIS BUSINESS. There are better ones out there to order from who don’t jerk people around because they feel that’s okay to do.

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Raven from Teen Titans Make-up Tutorial

This video tutorial was created by JordeeKai and is relatively easy to follow. The overall look she created is amazing!

Hope this helps! 😀

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Kamui Cosplay’s Book of Cosplay Armor Making Review

I’ve honestly had Kamui Cosplay’s Book of Cosplay Armor Making for some time now and never took a look at it as I’ve never really made anything needing extensive armor. However, after going through my files and recently finding it again, I decided to get off my butt and actually take a look at it.

The book itself covers the absolute basics to thermoplastics and using them for cosplay armor. The title is slightly deceiving in that aspect, but it’s actually a decent read. There’s some obvious editing issues, but with the various translations done, it’s understandable mistakes.

The introduction is quick and very up front and honest about everything involved in armor-crafting, including cost and time. It doesn’t exaggerate, but gets straight to the point.

The breakdown on thermoplastics is also an easy read, with the primary focus being on Worbla. Kamui Cosplay does compare Worbla to Wonderflex and explains the pros and cons of each and how to best use each for what you’d need by explaining durability, flexibility, and other comparisons. She also lists different places to buy various thermoplastics from and gives a decent idea of cost and how much is needed for projects.

There’s also a listing of tools needed for working with thermoplastics. Each item is broken down to its basic uses and she also goes over the dangers of working with the various tools, which is kinda important! 😀

Kamui Cosplay then goes over the various ways to pattern your armor and lists her ways of doing it, even giving very clear instructions on her process. She links to previous tutorials throughout the book that she’s done on YouTube to allow you to actually see how she builds what she’s writing about. Happily, she doesn’t overdo it with the linking either!

From there, she gets into actually working with Worbla and using foam to create the “sandwiching” seen in most patterning of armor. She explains the process and how to best use the materials to avoid waste. She also explains how to remove bubbling from Worbla, which is caused by too much heat, which is exceptionally helpful with expected blunders.

Kamui Cosplay also goes over the importance of labeling your pieces and keeping everything in order as it can save headaches later on. She also goes into making matching pieces together and avoiding long breaks, which I can attest to as a cosplayer in general being a good idea for projects.

The book then goes into detail working and shows a lot of decent images and explanations, including discussion of keeping Worbla scraps for the smaller pieces later on. Pages 22 to 33 are all images of examples of her work with explanations on how things were made and it does feel a little excessive with personal images, but not enough to make me not want to continue the book.

Kamui Cosplay then gets into armor attachment and her method of doing it involving Wonderflex, D rings, and Worbla. It’s sound and easy to do with good images and explanations, along with how she figured out why her method was a good one. On top of all of that, she also makes it clear on the importance of testing the attachments before attending a convention.

Finally, she covers transportation of armor. She explains on how sometimes it’s best to plan your build on how you also plan to transport it, which makes complete sense with all the pieces, size, and everything else that honestly goes into armor making.

Overall, the book is an easy read and just covers the basics on armor-making with thermoplastics. As long as you go in expecting nothing else, as those are in other books Kamui Cosplay has published, then you’re set. I think it’s a good starting point for beginners, just so the basics can be taught and allow you to decide what all you’d want to do on your own project from there. If you want to read this book or others by Kamui Cosplay, you can check them out here.

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