Cosplay

Cosplay

Konnichiwa, my name is Hayate Konno, a HR staffer by day, & cosplay model / singer / streamer by night. I’ve been cosplaying for the past 11 years. I’m also a certified Japanese Speaker & Translator from Ipoh, Perak, but currently working & staying in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

I eventually participated in Comiket when I studied abroad in Japan in 2016-2017.

Some other overseas cosplay events I have joined in were Cosfest and AFA (both in Singapore), and Vietnam’s Haru Matsuri, where I was invited as a guest performer.

I also participated in local cosplay events other than Comic Fiesta, such as Animangaki, Comic Fiesta Mini (Penang), and Cosmart. Slowly I was receiving invitations for not just cosplay events, but also for radio interviews, as well as for guest performances.

What is cosplay?
Cosplay is short for “costume role-play.” The term was coined in Japan in 1984 and it’s very popular among all genders. Cosplayers make and wear costumes to transform into their favourite characters from comics, anime and movies, or celebrities or historical figures. We even embody the personalities of these characters, whether that be an accent or a particular way of talking or moving.
Usually, a good cosplayer would have a deep understanding of costume design, sewing, wig styling, prop making, special-effects makeup, plus having a high comfort level when posing for the camera.

So who can cosplay?
Anyone can cosplay whoever they like – cosplay is for everyone no matter where you’re from, what race, or what size you are. The purpose of cosplay is to have fun and socialise with other people who have the same interests.

However, cosplaying is not as easy as it looks – it takes a lot of dedication, hard work, and also money; but in the end, the experience of cosplaying is extremely satisfying.

Cosplay events around the world
The single largest cosplay event is “Comiket”, held in Japan during summer and winter. The event attracts hundreds of thousands of convention goers, where thousands of cosplayers congregate on the roof of the exhibition centre.

In America, the highest-attended fan conventions featuring cosplayers are the San Diego Comic-Con and the New York Comic Con. For anime-specific conventions, there’s the Anime North convention in Toronto, Otakon in Baltimore MD, and the Anime Expo held in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, Europe’s largest conventions are the Japan Expo held in Paris, and the UK’s MCM Expo and the Super Comic Convention, both held in London. For Malaysians, Comic Fiesta is our country’s biggest annual event.

My story
Speaking of Comic Fiesta (founded back in 2002), I started my journey as a cosplayer when I attended my first ever Cos event at its 2010 event, held at the Berjaya Times Square Hotel ballroom. My cosplay debut was as Akiyama Mio, from K-ON. I love this character because her personality is similar to myself – naturally shy & timid, but able to have full confidence & stage presence when performing on stage. I wanted to be as brave as her, and I liked to sing, hence I wanted to dress up to be like her.

My stage name ‘Hayate Konno’ is a tribute to ‘Hayate Yagami’ from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha & ‘Makoto Konno’ from The Girl Who Leapt Through Time.

My reason for cosplaying
I’ve been an outgoing person since primary school. I was in a brass band, and also a track and field athlete, so I always got sunburnt and had to keep very short hair due to sports training.

I studied in an all-girls school, and I always wanted to look pretty like the other girls in my class. I also liked to try new things to get new experiences. One day, I stumbled upon some information on Japan culture; it was about a Japanese Cosplayer named KIPI. I wanted to be like her, to try on cosplay and to make myself prettier. I began to like watching anime and reading comic books, and slowly started learning Japanese through singing anime songs. Eventually, I took Japanese language classes in a language centre in Ipoh.

The hard work of cosplay
10 years ago, we didn’t have as many online shop platforms like today, so for my first costume, I saved up my pocket money by working a part-time job as a waitress in a restaurant. I also did well enough in my studies to get awarded with cash prize and scholarship in school competitions. After that, I asked a tailor to custom-make the Akiyama Mio costume for me. I even finally kept my hair long, because back then I had no idea where to buy a wig. Yes, I used my real hair for cosplaying!

Throughout my cosplay journey, the main obstacle I faced was the budget and time I needed to spend on cosplaying. In the beginning, my parents were very opposed to me cosplaying due to wanting me to be more focused on my studies and my co-curriculum activities during secondary school. Most of the time I had to make my own props, accessories and costumes to save on my budget. I couldn’t afford to keep buying & ordering pre-made costumes since I was still a student at the time.

The hard work of cosplay
10 years ago, we didn’t have as many online shop platforms like today, so for my first costume, I saved up my pocket money by working a part-time job as a waitress in a restaurant. I also did well enough in my studies to get awarded with cash prize and scholarship in school competitions. After that, I asked a tailor to custom-make the Akiyama Mio costume for me. I even finally kept my hair long, because back then I had no idea where to buy a wig. Yes, I used my real hair for cosplaying!

Throughout my cosplay journey, the main obstacle I faced was the budget and time I needed to spend on cosplaying. In the beginning, my parents were very opposed to me cosplaying due to wanting me to be more focused on my studies and my co-curriculum activities during secondary school. Most of the time I had to make my own props, accessories and costumes to save on my budget. I couldn’t afford to keep buying & ordering pre-made costumes since I was still a student at the time.

Other than that, I needed to learn how to style and trim my own cosplay wigs. I’m also a self-taught makeup artist – whenever I cosplayed, I did the characters’ makeup all by myself. I frequently watched tutorial videos from Youtube & did my own makeup tests during my free time, to make myself look even better in photos, and to be as alike as possible to the characters I’m cosplaying.

I grabbed every opportunity that I could to join any cosplay or singing competitions I found to hopefully win some cash prizes. My first competition was in 2012: I joined both the solo and group categories with my cosplay partner. In that particular competition I managed to win first place in the solo category, and champion in the group category. My parents were proud of me and have since become more accepting of me in cosplaying. I have joined several contests throughout Malaysia; Kedah, Penang, KL, Selangor and even some international competitions. It helped boost my self-confidence for wanting to do more cosplay, and trying out more, different characters had become more than a hobby to me – it had become my goal.

With all these cosplay events and competitions, I was able to meet many new friends, people who have the same passions and interests, as well as those who are good at making props and costumes, styling wigs, doing makeup, and also quite a few photographers.

From top to bottom, left to right:
1. My first competition in my cosplay journey (2012).
2. Performance at Comic Fiesta 2015.
3. Runner-up of the Southeast Asian Cosplay Competition. (2021)
4. Sutera Mall @ Johor Bahru event, invited as a guest performer (2021).
5. Invited as a guest performer at Haru Matsuri, Vietnam.
3. Champion of a cosplay competition organized by SinChew Newspaper. (2017) 
7. Interview on ON FM. (2015)
8. Winning the grand prize at the Cosmic Star Singing Competition. (2018)

Nowadays:
Going to cosplay events around the world, entering cosplay competitions, selling merchandise, boothing.

This is the latest event booth.

Cosplay Competitions:

1. All the judges of the cosplay event. 2. Me and some Kamen Rider cosplayers. 
3. The contestants of a cosplay competition in Masai, Johor. (I was invited to be a guest judge for this particular event.)

Tips on cosplay:
▶ Be passionate about the character you are portraying. Whether it be from a TV show or a video game, know the character from the inside out. Don’t choose a cool costume simply because it’s a trending costume that everyone happens to be wearing, choose one of a character you really love. What’s the fun in dressing up as someone you know nothing about, right?

▶ Plan ahead and save up some money before starting to cosplay a character to avoid overspending.

▶ Study up and survey more to improve your wig-styling and trimming skills.

▶ Be friendly and humble to everyone; they could eventually be your big supporters one day.

I hope this article will give you an idea about cosplay! I hope you enjoyed reading it, and have no regrets in the future. Arigatou gozaimasu!

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