Cosplay Interview: Rina Love

We’re bringing a different kind of feature to you today, readers. Below is an interview I conducted with Rina Love, a Sailor Moon cosplayer I met at Sakura Con 2011. She was also the organizer of the Sailor Moon picnic photoshoot! Images used with Rina Love’s permission.

And now, on to the interview…

Please tell us a little about yourself and how you decided to become a Sailor Moon cosplayer.
Ever since I was little (5 years old), I’ve loved Sailor Moon. I didn’t learn what cosplay was until I was 16 and decided to dress up with my best friend as Sailor Mini/Chibi Moon. So my love of Sailor Moon kind of just made me fall into cosplaying from the series.

What first got you interested in cosplaying anime characters?
My friends who told me about these conventions and googling cosplay! It all started With Sailor Moon though.

What was the first anime character that you cosplayed?
Sailor Chibi/Mini Moon was my first, but if you count my other two costumes I made for the same convention then it would also be Plusle (Pokemon gijinka) and Nijihara Ink from Moetan.

What other kinds of costumes have you created (anime or otherwise)? What are some of the more notable ones previously created?

Well, I’ve only been cosplaying for 2, almost 3 years so my list isn’t spectacular, but other types are anime based, sci-fi movies based (Pris from Blade Runner), video game related, and tv/book related.

My most notable and favorites are: Sailor Moon from the Manga-first arc. My dad made me the staff and I spent over 30 hours creating everything, a lot of that was hand sewing as well, and I made everything aside from my leotard (because it was cheaper to purchase) and my boots “base”. I did hand sew on the white pvc leather and gold crescent moon to the boots though.

My other favorites are: School Uniform Chibiusa-from the artbook illustrations of her short t-shirt of the Dream arc.

And Cardcaptor Sakura-Sakura Kinomoto. I made this in two days time basically, and based it off the anime and manga drawings, so it’s sort of combined.

How many costumes have you made (wholly or partially)?
Discluding ‘casuals and closets’: 8
With closet: 10

How long does it take to create a senshi costume?
30 hours or more. Time is usually spread out over a period of weeks though.

What’s was the most challenging costume you’ve ever had to make?
Sailor Moon thus far. It was for a performance group, so on top of making everything it needed to with stand the stage and not fall off.

What are some of your planned upcoming costumes? Will you be doing different costumes each time, or do you re-wear costumes at events?

My planned costumes for next year and to cap off 2011 are: Tinkerbell, Gwen Stacy (my “Halloween” costume), and Neptune-christmas edition.

For 2012, I hope to complete a lot more! These are my plans: Neptune (Hyperdimension Neptunia-Sakuracon 2012), Tinkerbell (updated-Tinkerbell movie’s version), and Small Lady.

I will rewear some of my costumes, but I also wear different costumes each time:) It all depends on the costume and how much I wore it the first time and how many photos I have of that costume.

If you have performed skits or dances in cosplay, what advice do you have for cosplayers who plan to perform skits or dances in costume?

I have performed in a dance in cosplay and my advice is to be prepared, always expect the worst to happen and don’t dilly-dally on wigs! Order them months in advance because if they’re not they’re in time, and if you don’t have a backup plan (like, your hair won’t work), then you’re kind of out of luck.

My wig didn’t show up in time for the performance when it was supposed to get there a couple days earlier. So my friend and partner got extensions which luckily matched my hair, and luckily my hair was long enough to be worn in buns and styled as Usagi’s. (My hair was also a platinum-golden blonde).

Another thing: be timely, and get ready hours beforehand! Rushing at the last minute makes nobody happy.

What advice do you have for people who have never cosplayed before and are just starting to get interested in it?

Cosplayers can be mean, but they’re human. Avoid those sites that belittle people, because in effect, it can make you feel bad about yourself. People are going to judge you no matter what, but look for allies and friends in the cosplay community who Don’t bring you down.

Also, it’s perfectly alright to buy your costume! Just research the person you’re purchasing from, and learn your measurements! Also, make sure the costume fits properly and isn’t too big or too small. Nothing looks worse than a slopped together and ill fitted costume.

Oh and you don’t need to enter a contest to have fun or make new friends or get your photo taken! But keep in mind, the more popular and well made and put together a character, the more photos! Don’t get discouraged if you get no photos in a costume you love, it may just not be known.

Anything else you’d like to add for the readers of Moon Chase?

Sailor Moon is a fantastic series and fun to cosplay from, but I’ll admit, there seems to be an underlying competition sometimes between cosplayers for no reason. I’ve also made some great friends who love this series as well! Sailor Moon is what got me interested in cosplay, and I doubt I’ll stop cosplaying any time soon. 🙂

If you would like to follow or watch me, you can go to my cosplay.com and deviantART accounts:
Tarinalove on Cosplay.com
Tarinalove on deviantART

That’s all for today’s interview! We hope you enjoyed reading this insight into making Sailor Moon costumes. If you are a Sailor Moon cosplayer and would like to be featured on Moon Chase, please send us an e-mail!

Sakura Con 2011: Post-Convention Wrap Up

By now readers have likely read through my previously posted convention coverage. I reported on a variety of events to give a well-rounded view of the convention and I hope our readers have enjoyed it!

In this final post of convention coverage, I’ll talk about a few of the other events I attended more briefly than the previous posts (which is why I’m putting a few together in this one). For any readers who did get to check out Sakura Con first-hand, we hope you had a great time!

I’m including photos of some Sailor Moon merchandise I purchased at the convention in this post as well. I bought a pack of trading cards and a pencil box.

Sailor Moon Pencil Box #2 by Lanisatu
Sailor Moon Pencil Box (top view)

On Friday afternoon, I met with a group of Sailor Moon cosplayers for a “Sailor Moon Picnic.” It was a lot of fun to participate in a Sailor Moon photo shoot! I got quite a few photos of me cosplaying Princess Jupiter taken with a Sailor Jupiter and some other cosplayers. It was this photoshoot that was one of the major reasons I decided to wear my costume all day on Friday. My costume also met the masquerade guidelines and was something I wanted to wear for the Sailor Moon panel.

In the evening, just before heading to the Sailor Moon panel I was leading, my boyfriend and I went to the masquerade ball for a short time. It was nice, but the song choices gave it a high school dance kind of feel, since there were a bunch of popular dance songs played while we were there. The selection did not include many slow songs, nor did we hear many j-pop or anime related songs. Last year it was mostly slow songs, so it was really nice for couples and gave those who checked out the waltz lessons a chance to try out what they learned. I would have liked to hear more anime, j-pop, and video game songs this year as well, since it was an anime convention. Those don’t tend to be played in public very much, but the latest pop songs are heard everywhere. It seemed like there were a lot more people dancing this year though, so the change appears to have been a good thing overall!

Sailor Moon Merchandise at Sakura Con 2011 by Lanisatu
Sailor Moon Merchandise at Sakura Con 2011

On Sunday morning, the first thing I attended was the Kotono Mistsuishi and Dreamcatchers event. Although the title of the event as written in the pocket programming guide listed Kotono’s name first, she was actually only on-stage for the last twenty minutes of the event. Some audience members obviously grew tired of waiting and left early, before she was called up on stage. The majority of this event was comprised of skits by the “Dreamcatchers” that coincided with some anime clips from properties I didn’t recognize (the titles of the anime that these clips were from were not revealed at the event). This portion of the event was plagued with technical difficulties, and one of the skits was re-done in its entirety, although the only problem they had for that skit was during a live song performance. The skits did not seem very well rehearsed overall, and the fight scenes seemed a bit lacking in choreography as well. Some performers visibly showed hesitation during sword fights, which wasn’t particularly entertaining to watch. Although I understand the importance of safety during sequences like this, perhaps additional practice and choreography could have made for a more interesting performance. The anime and skit sequences didn’t seem to have any correlation to Kotono Mitsuishi that myself and at least some other audience members could discern. If anyone knows what anime the different clips were from, please share the details in the comments!

When Kotono was finally on stage, she was asked to do some live dubbing of scenes from a variety of her past anime roles. This seemed a little awkward, since the scene would be played in original, usually without English subtitles, and then the scene would be played again while Kotono voiced her role but all other audio was muted. Kotono did a good job, even approximating the “echo” of one of Boa Hancock’s lines at the end of one of these scenes. Unfortunately, it was a little hard to understand for those of us in the audience who don’t speak Japanese. English subtitles would have been helpful on all the clips so that more fans could understand the demonstration more clearly.

To close the show, Kotono sang “Moonlight Densetsu,” accompanied by a live band and the Dreamcatchers who also sang along. With so many voices singing, and the band being a bit loud in comparison to the vocals, it was difficult to hear Kotono’s voice among the rest (we were seated near the front, so the sound may have been more intense that close). The event ended with a disappointing apology from one of the Dreamcatchers, claiming that they had planned a two hour show, but didn’t realize they were going to have a one hour time-slot. This meant that a competition that Kotono was going to judge had to be cut.

Later, people complained about this event (perhaps you’ve already seen some comments on other websites?); regarding the timing and how short Kotono’s appearance was.

My boyfriend e-mailed convention staff to say that we were disappointed with some of the technical difficulties this year, while also mentioning that we were highly impressed last year with how smoothly everything went. He also asked about the Dreamcatchers event. The convention representative who responded indicated that there was some faulty equipment that will be replaced before next year’s convention. Also, the representative stated that the Dreamcatchers were told on multiple occasions how much time was actually allotted to them. Convention staff tried to give them extra time, but they were not willing to set back other events in the same room because of an oversight by the Dreamcatchers.

I think it’s worth noting that the pocket guide schedule was released on April 7th, a full 15 days prior to the convention. As a panelist, I made a point of looking out for the schedule to verify when the panel would be and how much time I was allotted. It’s strange to me that the Dreamcatchers made it seem as if convention staff was responsible for there not being enough time, when the timing details were released in advance and they should have modified their event if there were unexpected discrepancies; instead of unprofessionally blaming convention staff. I must admit, I was disappointed in the event to the extent that I felt it would have been much better for me to attend something else instead. It may seem harsh, but if I see Dreamcatchers listed in the programming guide of a future convention, I’ll choose to miss their performance.

Unfortunately, the Dark Horse Industry panel was scheduled at the same time, so I was unable to catch it. Sorry about that one readers, but I’m sure they have a list of newly released and upcoming titles on their website!

Sailor Moon Trading Cards #1 by Lanisatu
Sailor Moon Trading Cards. A few of the card fronts, a card back, and the package.
A view of all the card front is available in an alternate photo.

One of the other events I managed to catch a portion of on Sunday, after lunch, was the “State of the Industry” panel, which had representatives of Funimation, Bandai, Dark Horse, and MGS. One of the major topics of discussion during this panel was the problem of piracy and how it hurts the anime industry. Companies are currently making efforts to lessen piracy and illegal downloads, but there is no expectation that piracy will disappear any time soon. The panelists even indicated that they expect piracy to always be a problem in some form.

Panelists encouraged the audience to use legal methods of viewing anime such as authorized streaming and simulcasts (many of these are free, but ad-supported). There are also companies who sell combo releases of Blu-Ray and DVD together. Costs are able to go down for these items as they take up less shelf space while offering multiple viewing options for buyers. It seems to be just one of various efforts being made to keep anime affordable, in order to encourage ownership and reduce piracy.

Regarding e-manga, there is currently no simulcasting type efforts in place for manga series. However, Dark Horse is interested in having releases online sooner and making efforts to find a way for faster online publishing to become a reality.

Sailor Moon Pencil Box #5 by Lanisatu
Sailor Moon Pencil Box interior
Sailor Moon Pencil Box #4 by Lanisatu
Closeup of the pop-out pencil sharpener

My boyfriend and I had to leave the convention early (it was Easter weekend and we had plans with family) so we did not catch the closing ceremonies this time around. All in all it was a great convention experience. Although there were some technical difficulties, staff was great about dealing with issues as fast as possible. I have seen things get much worse at other events when there were unexpected (or sometimes even plausibly expected) issues that had to be addressed for a safe and pleasant convention experience. I’m quite glad that Sakura Con staff shows that they care about having events run as smoothly as possible by dealing with any unforeseen issues quickly and professionally.

It’s also encouraging to know that faulty equipment will be replaced before next year, to ensure things run even more smoothly. I’ve only been to Sakura Con twice now, but I have to admit it’s one of my favourite conventions to attend. There’s an awesome variety of events, a large dealers’ room with a plethora of items to entice fans, and you get to see some of the most interesting costumes – from anime to video games to Disney princesses. It was also exciting to lead the Sailor Moon panel, despite my initial nervousness in front of a large crowd. I plan to be on more Sailor Moon (and other!) panels in the future. It’s a fun way to interact with fans.

Here’s hoping I see more readers at future conventions. And maybe I’ll make it to Sakura Con next year too!

Sakura Con 2011: Kotono Mitsuishi – A Pretty Sailor’s Journey from the Moon to NERV

Although the panel title and description emphasized Kotono’s work in Sailor Moon as well as Evangelion, Kotono reminded panel attendees that they were not limited to only asking questions about those series. She was happy to answer questions about any of her work.

I missed the very beginning of this panel, since I had to retrieve the camera I was using just beforehand (it was accidentally packed too early!). I’m including details about the bulk of the panel here, but if there’s anything someone else recalls that I missed, feel free to add that in the comments.

Regarding her role as Excel, Kotono was asked how she was able to maintain her voice and what her methods were for playing that role, as the character mostly screams and screeches. Kotono began her answer by saying that maybe she was lucky, but her voice stayed with her the whole time. For that role, she developed a screaming voice that was uniquely her own. When she received the script, she was excited to see what dialogue she would have. In that series, Kotono said that there were many lines and lots of things to say while a character’s mouth was open. She said the technique to get through the lines appropriately was to speak fast and not breathe!

Next, Kotono was asked how it felt to have voiced the role model of Sailor Moon, who inspires confidence. Kotono said that this was her first role as a main character in a television series. Because of that, she focused on doing her best and working her hardest. She also received lots of help from more experienced cast members, such as Tohru Furuya (Tuxedo Mask). Once the show started airing and she heard good things from viewers, she became more confident. Before she’d heard the opinions of the viewers, she didn’t realize that Sailor Moon would be a role model.

When asked if the characters she’s voiced have become a part of her, Kotono confirmed that she has been influenced by the characters she’s played. She also said that she didn’t realize that she had certain qualities until voicing certain characters, that they brought out new parts of herself. She said it was like she had seeds inside her that grew once she experienced those roles.

At this point, a fan requested that Kotono give the audience a sampling of some of her voice roles. These included Misato, Ebichu, and Boa Hancock, among others. Since Kotono has voiced a wide range of characters, the fan who asked for the sample also asked about voicing the part of an old lady. Kotono said she hasn’t done that yet, but thinks she’ll eventually have to!

In Gundam SEED, Kotono played two very different characters: Murrue Ramius (the captain of the Archangel) and Haro. A fan was curious how it would work for scenes where two characters she was playing would be in the same scene. Kotono said that in Japan, when they record anime, everyone in the cast is in the studio at the same time. Each person steps up to the microphone when it’s time for their lines. If one person voices multiple characters in the same scene, they step up first as one character and then step up again as the next character.

Recording with an entire cast does allow for ad-libbing and unplanned lines to happen more naturally. Sometimes these lines may even make it to the final anime production. As actors, they try to fill holes in a role, which is what leads to unplanned lines.

Regarding the affect of technology on the job of a voice actor, Kotono said that there are both positives and negatives about advancements in technology. Microphones are better now and can even pick up a quiet voice. There are some drawbacks to this, as a quiet voice could potentially be used for a loud character. Kotono also thinks that actors used to be more careful about delivering their lines, but with computers things can be fixed more easily. This can mean less pressure on the actor. Kotono also said that voice actors are now expected to voice their roles more quickly.

As a side note, Kotono mentioned that there was a time when anime voice acting was done live, so if there were any embarrassing errors those would still be broadcast. Now the atmosphere is more relaxed. A story Kotono heard about a live recording was that one of the actors was absentmindedly playing with a microphone stand while he waited for his turn to speak. He got his finger stuck, so he couldn’t step up to the microphone when it was time for him to say his lines. Thus, his character said nothing for the entire episode!

When it came to revisiting the character of Misato, for the Evangelion relaunch, Kotono said that it does feel like there’s a bit of a difference in her approach to the character because there has been years between the the last time she had the role and the more recent voice acting. She was surprised and a little angry at first when she was asked to come back because she thought she was finished with the character because [spoiler alert!] Misato had died at the end of the series [/spoiler]. After calming down, she decided to take the role on again and keep the new performance as close to her old approach as possible. She did want to do well with the new performance, but she said she has made some unconscious changes in the way she delivered some lines – which the director pointed out. For example, he would say things like “Misato said this line more cute before. Why is she so dark/rude now?” Kotono joked that this seemed a little mean, but she was laughing about it so it’s pretty clear she didn’t think it was that bad!

As a student, Kotono recalled that even then she wanted to be in the spotlight and perform. She thinks this was part of her motivation to become an actor. She was in the Broadcast Club in elementary school, which was a group of students who made the announcements at school and acted out folk tales at lunch (the latter she found a lot of fun and it influenced her to become a seiyuu).

Visiting Sakura Con was Kotono’s first time in Seattle and she said it felt like she made lots of new friends! She said she will take that positive feeling back with her to Japan. At the end of the panel, Kotono asked the audience to squeeze together for a couple of photos which she has since shared on her blog. I’ve shared those in this post too, and you might be able to spot me in the pink shirt near the front, on the left side of the photo above this paragraph.

That’s all I have in my notes for Kotono’s panel, I hope you have enjoyed these recaps! If there was something else at the panel that I missed that you would like to add, please leave a comment.

If you want to read Kotono’s blog posts about Sakura Con they are here (arrival in Seattle), here (about autograph signing and the first panel), here (about the performance with the Dreamcatchers, where Kotono sang “Moonlight Densetsu”), here (the one with the photos), here (includes an English message about the charity auction), and here (includes the quiz questions).

Sakura Con 2011: Tiffany Grant Interview

This interview was recorded on video by Nico Nico, who have recently launched their U.S. site. If anyone has found the video, please let us know and we will add the link!

To start things off, Nico Nico asked Tiffany to record a message to anime fans in Japan. Tiffany said that she send warm wishes and prayers. She also wants to send love to all anime fans, as it allows her to continue doing the work she loves.

The last time Tiffany was at Sakura Con was in 2000. She said it seemed like the 2011 convention was twenty times larger, so it’s a huge difference from before. She also said she was very impressed with how well run and well organized Sakura Con is.

When it comes to cosplay, Tiffany is always excited to see fans cosplaying the characters she’s played, especially Asuka from Evangelion. Fans can also see pictures of Tiffany cosplaying some of her own characters in the photos on her website.

Tiffany said that her most “famous” line would have to be “what are you – stupid?” from Evangelion. Fans can hear voice samples on Tiffany’s website here. She really liked that Asuka is a multi-faceted character and commented that the studio atmosphere is different for more serious scenes.

When preparing for a new role, Tiffany said she clears her mind and tries to start fresh for each role. She also listens to the Japanese performance to see how things were done, before recording in English. Her performance is informed by the original video as well as the director’s input. She also noted that she often goes with her gut instinct of what feels right for the scene.

Tiffany has a background in theatre, even from the time she was a little girl. She has now been voice acting for over seventeen years. One of the reasons she got her first voice acting job is that she was an actor, so she got called to the audition. She was new to anime at the time.

She always had an interest in voicing, particularly mimicking voices and accents. Even as a child she made the connection that actors played the voices of cartoon characters. She wasn’t originally sure how to get involved in voice acting, but when that first audition for a voice role came up; she went for it. Tiffany said she has been able to do a huge variety of characters because she does voice acting for anime. She loves her job and especially likes playing critters who make silly sounds.

Tiffany said that she finds voice acting is a very broad style of acting that is dramatic and requires projecting, which is similar to theatre acting. However, if being physical in a voice acting role, an actor needs to be conscious of the microphone placement.

Does Tiffany watch anime for fun? Sometimes she does. She said that she enjoys Miyazaki films and also really liked watching Fullmetal Alchemist. When watching anime, she doesn’t tend to think that she’d rather play a character that has already been done, she just tries to enjoy watching it.

As a big Hello Kitty fan, Tiffany is always wearing something with Hello Kitty on it. At the interview, she was wearing a ring, watch, and had a bracelet charm that were all Hello Kitty related. Aside from Hello Kitty accessories, she was also wearing little Asuka earrings!

The manga series Gunsmith Cats: Burst! – which was the sequel to Gunsmith Cats – ended its run in North America last year, with the final volume being published in April 2010. Tiffany said that she hasn’t read any of the manga volumes (of either Gunsmith Cats series, but she heard about how popular they were and that the series was a longer one. Tiffany played Becky Farrah in the OAV series of Gunsmith Cats and said she would love to play the role of Becky again if there were more episodes were made. She also said she found that character was the most like herself. On her website she even says that the voice of Becky is very close to her natural voice and she includes a clip of the “no pizza, no Chinese” line in her vocal samples.

Here’s a fun fact for Moon Chase readers: Tiffany played the same character as Kotono Mitsuishi in Blue Seed. The character was Kome Sawaguchi. Tiffany said she was excited to be able to meet Kotono at Sakura Con too!

In closing, here’s a little information about a charity effort that Tiffany participates in: Voices For is a group of pros, mainly in the voice acting industry, that makes albums for charity. Tiffany has contributed to both albums which are currently available. More details about the charity effort are on the Voices For site.

Image credits: photo from Sakuracon.org, image of Becky from sandarsdimension.com

Sakura Con 2011: Bandai Industry Panel

Bandai representatives reminded attendees that their online store is available at store.bandai-ent.com – this store includes exclusives before they go to other vendors.

This panel also experienced some unfortunate technical difficulties, but this time there was video and partial sound. I had to leave part way through to go to an interview (to be posted tomorrow!), but I heard that convention staff was able to fix the issue before the end of the panel. The details at the end of this post I found via the Bandai online store.

Announcements:

K-ON!
Released April 26th, but also available at the convention.

Girl Who Leapt Through Space
This 26 episode series from Sunrise was released April 26th and was also available ahead of schedule at the convention.

Girl Who Leapt Through Time
Two disc set includes the movie on Blu-ray and extras on DVD. Released April 26th, but also available at the convention.

Tales of the Abyss
This 26 episode series from Sunrise is based on the Namco Bandai game. The first volume includes episodes 1-7. Limited edition release includes a copy of Asch the Bloody manga volume one, regular edition (without manga) also available. Release date: June 7th.

Gundam 00 Movie: Awakening of the Trailblazer
This hybrid release is coming July 5th to DVD and Blu-ray. The movie is the final chapter of the Gundam 00 saga.

Gundam Unicorn
DVD volume one will be released June 7th, is currently available for pre-order, and will contain two episodes. The packaging features a reversible cover. This title is already available on Blu-ray, with volume three currently available in Bandai’s online store and in the Amazon Marketplace.

Mobile Suit Gundam
The original 42 episode series, to be available in a two part Anime Legends hybrid release. Coming this summer.

Turn A Gundam
50 episode series, new to North America. To be released in late summer as a subtitle only release.

Also in the Bandai Online Store:

  • Baccano! Blu-ray limited edition boxset, available May 17th. Currently available for pre-order.
  • Durarara DVD part 3 available spring 2011, available for pre-order online.
  • K-ON! volume 2 on Blu-ray and DVD June 14th, currently available for pre-order.
  • Girl Who Leapt Through Space volume 2 available June 7th, currently available for pre-order.