Cosplay is not just massive in Japan – it is booming in Singapore too!
Cosplay, short for Costume Play, is dressing up as a personality from a film, book, or video game, mainly one from Japanese anime or manga.
I had a chance to interview two cosplayers in Singapore. Chiyo cosplays amateurishly and shares her thoughts about the Cosplay society in Singapore, while Akaei Ray does Cosplay for livelihood and talks about what is similar for her!
I spoke with Chiyo, who shared with us her journey voyaging as an amusing young cosplayer and her thoughts about the Cosplay society in Singapore.
Q: How did you get fascinated by Cosplay and Japanese so?
A: When I was in subsidiary school, my friends introduced me to anime, and like any other teenager, I got captivated by it. I’ve continuously been interested in costumes and makeup, mainly because I know theatre, so it felt genuine that I liked Cosplay.
I also romanticized Japanese life because I watched so much anime; cosplaying made me feel like I was somehow recreating that life. Not something I’m very proud of, though!
Q: What are some misunderstandings people commonly have about Cosplay?
A: How has your time doing Cosplay proven that they are unsupported? People think that cosplayers are either “underachievers who don’t have anything better to do” or “attention-seeking people (mostly girls) who want to display off their bodies.” It’s pretty uncommon to see cosplayers in Singapore in the first place, so sometimes people think cosplayers are mascots of some kind.
There were weird stares when people see me in public. I was initially terrified, but I just got used to it. Doing Cosplay first-hand made me realize that most of us do Cosplay out of the love of the anime series or the character. Because many anime characters have sexier or more “ecchi” designs, some costumes would be a little more exposure.
Most cosplayers who do these variations are people who are indeed confident of their body. They worked hard to achieve a specific figure. They weren’t ashamed for choosing Cosplay sexier characters.
Q: Three must-haves when cosplaying?
A: Eyelash glue: Singapore is so scorching and moist that your false eyelashes won’t stay on for very long!
Portable fan: again, a heavy outfit, a wig, and a full face of makeup are not very easy in Singapore’s weather.
Safety pins: in case your costume falls apart!! Or to fasten your costume pieces better.
Q: Describe your ordinary day at a Cosplay Convention!
A: I get prepared at home in full costume when I am either getting a cab or I have my parents send me to the convention. But when I have to take public transportation, I’ll do my makeup and bring my costume in my luggage. I have to take sunglasses and a mask just in case people are startled by my makeup.
I meet up with my friends after I am in costume, and we usually explore the convention together. Most patterns have artist alleys where people set up booths and sell merchandise. After researching, I’ll go and look for my photographer friends and take photos. From time to time, fans of the character I am cosplaying might block me and ask for a picture.
After over 6 hours max in costume, I’ll get out of costume (cos-down) and head for dinner with my friends.
Q: I understand you’re no longer as active in Cosplay. Do Cosplay and Japanese culture still feature in any part of your life now?
A: As often as I still want to keep cosplaying, my love for anime has dulled a little, and I do not have the time or money to continue this hobby. However, I watch anime casually and attend AFA (Anime Festival Asia) every year.
Q: What suggestion do you have for those who want to try cosplaying as a hobby but might not dare to do so?
A: Don’t be frightened to try something! Several of the friends you make on your cosplay adventure are sweet and supportive, and it’s nice to feel like you are part of a community. However, make sure you know your boundaries. Stay away from anything suspicious or sleazy, and make sure your Cosplay for yourself!
Next, I interviewed Akaei Ray – An expert Cosplayer who does Cosplay for lifestyle. She shares with us all about pro Cosplay in Singapore!
Q: Tell us more about yourself and your interest in Cosplay!
A: I am Akaei Ray, 21 years old this year. I started Cosplay as a hobby in 2015 but got more serious in 2017. I’ve taken content creation as a job around this year.
I am an amiable person on and off screen – my personalities on social media and in real life aren’t too distinct!
Cosplay is unbelievably fun – dressing up and becoming the personality you love makes me feel like a child again! My secondary school friend took me to my first anime gathering, AFA 2015, and I cosplayed with her there. I was amazed at the number of cosplayers on the scene on how they accurately observed the characters they were cosplaying.
Q: What were some conflicts you faced when you decided to take up Cosplay as a full-time career?
A: It’s not easy editing a large number of photos, going for shoots, printing, and making good while juggling schoolwork and public homework life. Now I am a fresh graduate, and I don’t have anymore, which gives me more time to work on my content.
Q: What common comments would people make upon learning that Cosplay is your full-time job? How do you learn to manage that?
A: The number one problem I get is how I make money and if it is sustained in the long run. Or what do you trade – do you sell explicit pictures of myself? Nudes? Too many of these lines!
But of course, I comprehend why people ask these questions. They are truthfully curious! I was once like this until I got into Cosplay. And then would explain to them what I do and why I do it! I enjoy Cosplay and content creation, so my passion for that helps me cope with strange questions and looks. After all, Cosplay is not that common in Singapore.
Q: Who is your favorite character to Cosplay, and why?
A: I liked cosplaying Himiko Toga from My Hero Academia and Rem from Re Zero. I love cosplaying such two characters as I feel I suit them the most, and I like their personality in their appropriate shows!
Q: Where do you commonly get your Cosplay outfits from, and we’re curious – what’s the most expensive costume you have worn?
A: I used to get my outfits second-hand from Carousell, but now I always get them from Taobao. The most expensive outfit I wore was a Jiangshi version of Shuten Doji from Fate Grand Order. It amounted to a little more than $100!
Q: How does a cosplay full-time career work? Where is your primary source of income?
A: I operate a lot on Patreon and Kofi. By promising my Patreon, you can get HD photosets monthly that can be served as phone or desktop wallpapers. Polaroids, posters, photo books, and more are occasionally sold on my program. They are what I generally sell when I booth at the circumstance. Paid product sponsorships and events are also other sources of income for me.
Q: How do you generally quote for gigs/photoshoots, and how does it work?
A: It depends on who I am working in favor of. I don’t typically charge for photoshoots as I work with only particular people. But my rates for anyone else could be $15 to $20 per hour. Photographers I cooperate with typically give me the photos from the shoot we made, and after editing them, I circulate them on Patreon or Kofi.
Q: Did COVID-19 affect your origin of income? How did you know to deal with that through the season?
A: It did! My income was cut in half. But thanks to that, I learned to adapt and explore online platforms where I can earn.
Q: Is it challenging to reach a work-life balance with this career?
A: It was at the beginning, but now it’s just a part of me. I don’t talk about business much with my friends as work is work, and they aren’t a part of it. I go for shoots and hang out with friends when I am free!
Q: What advice will you offer to individuals who aspire to take up Cosplay as their full-time career?
A: You must be aware of the number of eyes on you if you begin going down this path. People may say mean things, but you shouldn’t let that get to you. Cosplay is not a sustainable career, but it’s fun, and you should if you are still young and enthusiastic about it.
Chiyo & Akaei Ray has unlocked my eyes to the world of Cosplay! And there’s a whole extent of means to explore the cosplay universe! So long as you are concerned about and prepared to take that leap of faith, you can continually pick up Cosplay as a hobby as Chiyo did! Maybe even pursue it as a career as Akaei did. The possibilities are endless!
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