Today we are featuring another amazing cosplayer in the community. A cosplayer since 2003, Shinitama Cosplay is bursting with talent and I'm sure her closet is bursting too ;) Read her interview below!
How and when did you get into cosplay?
I’d heard about cosplay since before I started going to conventions and thought it sounded interesting. After I attended my first con in 2002 and saw how much fun the cosplayers were having, I knew I had to try it out. My friends and I spent the next year plotting out what our first costumes would be, we were so excited! My very first cosplay was Nuriko from the Fushigi Yuugi OVA, and I wore it to Anime Iowa 2003. My friends went as Nuriko’s siblings. It was a blast and I’ve been hooked ever since! When I began, I never would have imagined I’d still be doing it more than a decade later, or that I’d fall so in love with sewing in the process.
How did you come up with your cosplay name?
Hah, this one’s kind of embarrassing. It’s a misspelling of a character name from the old PC game “Oni” - I was trying to come up with an online username I could use anywhere that would be unique to me. My older brother suggested “Shinatama,” I borked the spelling, and it stuck. I think I first started using it in middle school.
What do you do when you're not in cosplay or geeking out?
I’m a freelance illustrator! I’ve done some work for novels and other one-off projects. One of my goals for the next year is to really push myself in that regard. I also take sewing commissions occasionally, on top of my office job.
Who is your cosplay idol/inspiration?
I admire Li Kovacs, Hanyaan Cosplay, Sumikins, AmazonMandy, and Rynn Cosplay a lot! I’ve honestly learned so much from them and from my other cosplaying friends too. There’s always something new to learn - it’s one of my favorite things about cosplaying.
What cosplay(s) are you working on right now?
I’m currently working on Queen Arianna and King Frederic from Tangled! Spring is my busiest season with Sakuracon and Emerald City Comicon. For those I’ll be making Mikage Souji from Revolutionary Girl Utena, Lisa Lisa and Joseph and maybe Kars from Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Battle Tendency, and possibly some Yuri on Ice costumes.
What is your dream cosplay?
I have a ridiculously long list of them, actually! The ones currently on my mind are Yukari Hayasaka’s blue rose ballgown from Paradise Kiss, Nakago from Fushigi Yuugi, and Haydee Tebelin from Gankutsuo. They all present unique challenges that I’ve not really explored much before (which also plays a big role in what costumes I choose in general. I always want to learn something new when I take on a cosplay!)
What are some random fun facts about you as a cosplayer or your cosplays?
I love adding nods and small references to the series I’m cosplaying with snarky props. Joke cosplay is a favorite, too! Humor is big in this cosplay household. This is most obvious with the Utena costumes - we got an actual motorized mini-car and painted it to look like Akio’s, and it’s now a hit at whatever con we bring it to! And the car’s not the only prop we’ve got for that series. We have the sword of Dios, a half-sword that we can “pull” out of peoples’ chests, an LED ball, badminton racquets, the rose crest ring, and a school briefcase. Recent additions include obviously fake $100 bills and LED shutter shades.
When we did Belle and Gaston, my boyfriend printed out a 5’6” picture of a barge and carried it around with him (because Gaston is “roughly the size of a barge.”) Our friends Fluffy & Moongazer22 made us a prop squirrel when we cosplayed Yzma and Kronk (and Fluffy joined us as Kuzco.) Those photos remain some of my favorites ever. The mic staff for the Ruby Rhod costume is functional and also plays music! The Gilliam prop from our Outlaw Star set is a speaker loaded with quotes from the show. We can also play the theme song on him!
As far as joke cosplay goes, I’ve done Howl in a towel before. My boyfriend is the one who really takes the idea of joke cosplay and runs away with it, though - to my delight. He cosplayed Wilhelmina Packard to my Helga Sinclair, he’s done The Boulder from Avatar: the Last Airbender to my Sokka, he’s worn Mamoru Chiba’s silly lumpy jogging outfit, and has promised to one day cosplay Gene Starwind’s maroon speedo+Hawaiian shirt getup from the hotsprings episode of Outlaw Star.
Jokes aside, sometimes I’ll change small design elements to suit my aesthetic better. I added rose cufflinks on Utena’s duelist uniform as a nod to Anthy, and opted for scrollwork buttons because I liked how fancy they looked in comparison to the flat gold they’re animated as.
Do you have any cosplay or convention pet peeves?
Blocking hallways is a big one. Not asking before taking photos or touching costumes/props/people is another. Things have gotten a lot better in this regard in recent years (thank god for “cosplay is not consent”!) but it still happens. You never know how delicate - or even dangerous! - someone’s costume or prop actually is. Some people prefer not having physical contact with strangers and that should be respected, too!
Don’t tear other cosplayers (including yourself) down in an attempt to compliment somebody - it puts everyone involved in an awkward position. And I’ve rarely had this happen, but if you don’t like the character someone is cosplaying, keep it to yourself! I’ve got a whole set of peeves that generally fall under the umbrella of “remember that the cosplayer is not the character.” i.e. just because someone is cosplaying a villain doesn’t give you the right to treat the person like dirt, cosplayers aren’t obligated to act out your shipping dreams for photos, etc.
Do you have any horror stories or mistakes you've made that others can learn from?
Where to start? I’ve made SO many mistakes over the thirteen years I’ve been cosplaying that it’s hard to remember them all! Most recently, though, I accidentally took a chunk out of my scalp because my Izumi Curtis wig was too heavy and I put too much faith in the combs inside it. That one hurt a lot, don’t do that - stub your ponytail wigs instead!
DO NOT buy shoes that are too small and assume you’ll be okay after walking around in them for three days (I learned that with my Sakuya Kira costume and relearned it when I made Kenshin.) If you’re working with stretch fabrics, pay attention to EVERY direction they need to stretch. I had to redo the top of the Powerline costume I made for my boyfriend because I forgot to account for vertical stretch. It came out fine in the end but it was a pain in the butt to redo it.
I feel like ultimately, the most important thing in cosplay construction is to forgive yourself for those mistakes and keep going. Any skill takes time to learn, and that includes sewing and prop building! It’s okay to not do it perfectly, whether it’s your first or your hundredth time.
Do you have anything else you want to say, or add to this interview?
As a veteran cosplayer, it’s truly awe-inspiring to see how the community has grown, both in numbers and collective skill level. I don’t think I’ll ever stop being amazed by it!
Where can we find you on all things social?
Go give her a follow over on facebook! I loved hearing everything she had to share with us. Have a great weekend!