Thursday, 6 September 2012

STGCC 2012: Touya Hibiki & Kousaka Yun (Interview)

Two well-known female cosplayers from Japan, Touya Hibiki and Kousaka Yun, graced our shores last weekend as guests of STGCC. With cosplaying styles on opposite ends of the spectrum, Touya specialises in cosplaying (crossplaying) as male, typically “bishounen” characters while Yun makes full use of her delicate features and petite frame to cosplay cute, young girls.

We were very privileged to be able to have interviewed them during the STGCC Media Preview, a day before the actual convention. Touya and Yun were cosplaying as Kaito and Miku respectively from the “Senbonzakura” video, and I (Seren) swear my heart stopped for a second when we coincidentally passed them by at the escalators on the way to breakfast.


Do you make your costumes yourselves or do you buy them?
Touya: Both. We make our own costumes sometimes, but there are also times when we buy them.


Both of you are very popular as cosplay idols, so in your opinion what does it take to be a cosplay idol?
Touya and Yun: (laughing) That’s the first time we’ve heard that! “Cosplay idol?”

In that case, what do you think are necessary traits to be a cosplayer?
Touya: Well we’re all doing it just because we like it…
Yun: (decisively) There’s no such thing as good or bad in cosplay.
Interpretor: If you ask a Japanese cosplayer, they’ll always answer that. That’s how the cosplay culture is like in Japan.

Which is the one part of your own cosplay that you focus the most on?
Touya: We’re really particular when it comes to choosing the location of our shoots. 


What’s your opinion on photoshopping cosplay pictures?
Both: It’s absolutely necessary. Absolutely. (laughing)

You both have been invited to different countries’ cosplay events. So how are the cosplay scenes in other countries different from in Japan?
Touya: In other countries, it seems like there is a greater knowledge and understanding about certain cosplayers and cosplay itself. In Japan, if we were to walk along the streets like this (in full cosplay gear), we’d get weird looks.
Yun: Yeah, cosplay seems to be a lot more accepted in other countries than in Japan. We don’t get laughed at that much even when we walk around in this. (laughs)


We’ve been asking a lot about what you like, but what is the one thing about cosplay that you absolutely cannot stand?
Both: (think for a very long time)
Yun: It’s rather hard when it comes to actually making the costumes.
Touya: Yeah.
Yun: And I’m bad with contact lenses too, so it kind of hurts sometimes.


What are the favourite characters that you like to cosplay?
Yun: Cardcaptor Sakura’s Sakura.
Touya: Prince of Tennis’s Shiraishi Kuranosuke.

What is the most difficult cosplay you’ve done so far?
Touya: Well… rather than one specific cosplay, it’s rather difficult for me to cosplay female characters. When I do, and I look at the pictures, it’s like my features are too strong and it still looks like a boy.
Yun: For me it’s the opposite. It’s hard for me to cosplay boys. I always have to study how Touya does it. (laughs) Drawing my eyebrows closer together, that kind of thing. 


(To Touya) When you cosplay male characters, do you reference girls who have cosplayed as that guy or guys who have cosplayed as that male character?
Touya: Well… rather than looking at other cosplayers, I tend more to look at the original drawings than anything else.

How do you choose the characters to cosplay?
Touya: I just choose the characters I like best.
Yun: (nods)


(To Touya) What are the challenges in cosplaying a male character?
Touya: I’m good with male characters. It’s a lot more of a challenge doing female characters. (laughs)

Have you tried any food in Singapore that you like? Especially since Singapore is famous for its food.
Touya: Yesterday, we tried bak kut teh. There’s nothing like it in Japan.
Yun: The noodles were really soft.

Touya: Yeah, and the soup was delicious.


So what do you do outside of cosplaying? What are your jobs?
(Both hesitating)
Both: They’re normal… normal jobs. (laughs)
Touya: Well… I can’t say. It’s a secret.
Yun: Something really realistic and proper. Like a teacher, that kind of job.

You guys have the chance to travel around because of your cosplay – what do you feel about this?
Yun: We’re very thankful.
Touya: We don’t really understand why we were chosen, but we’re very happy about it.

When you go overseas, is there anything you absolutely cannot live without?
Touya: My passport? (laughs) Hm… Senbei. (Rice crackers) When we go overseas, we tend to crave the taste of Japan, so… Oh, and green tea powder.
Yun: For me, it’s yatsuhashi. It’s a kind of famous sweet from Kyoto. It’s really, really delicious.


Have you had any unique experiences with cosplay overseas?
Yun: It just comes across that people overseas are more… enthusiastic?
Touya: Yeah, and they’re also kinder.

Since both of you have a lot of fans, have there been any weird or funny experiences with them?
Touya: Well, there are those who approach us really aggressively… we also get quite a lot of stalkers.

So what do you usually do in those situations?
Touya: I reprimand them. (laughs) Like, “You can’t do that.”
Yun: (laughs and leans back nodding)


So you’re not really against telling someone “no”?
Yun: If we’re being asked for a photograph and we really can’t at the moment, we just say that we’ll do it later. But we don’t give an outright “no”.

Of course, wanting to get as much Touya/Yun as possible, we obtained a slot for the interview session the next day, when Touya was dressed as Lelouch (Code Geass) and Yun as Madoka (Puella Magi Madoka Magika). As a result, some of the questions answered the previous day were asked again by other interviewers, so there is some overlap. We were equally excited anway. <3


Is this the first time you’ve come to Singapore?
Both: Yes, it’s our first time.

So what do you think of it so far?
Yun: It’s a very beautiful, clean place.
Touya: The food’s delicious.

Oh, what have you tried?
Yun: Bak kut teh.
Touya: And crab.
Yun: We haven’t had chicken rice yet though. We’d like to try that.

On to the serious questions. (laugh) How long have you been cosplaying?
Both: About five to six years.

What do you look for when it comes to choosing a character to cosplay?
Yun: I start from what I like. If it’s a character I like.
Touya: I just kind of read manga and choose a character I like.


Do you think things like “Oh, this character’s too tall for me,” or “This character’s a bit too manly to pull off”?
Touya: Well, of course for me, even if I like a really cute, tiny female character, I won’t be able to do it.
Yun: Similarly, I tend to like a lot of cool-type characters, but since I can’t cosplay them myself I get her (gesturing to Touya) to do it for me. (laughs)

What are your jobs outside of cosplay?
Touya: It’s a secret. (laughs)
Yun: Well… my job is to play with young children. Sort of.

How do you find a balance between your real jobs and your hobby, cosplaying?
Touya: Well, when we’re working, we do really normal jobs, so… I tend to cosplay about twice a week.
Yun: I just put aside my free time for cosplay whenever I can. I also have hobbies outside of cosplay, so I also take time out to do those and just hang out with my friends.

There are a lot of people in the world who misunderstand or oppose cosplay, saying it’s a waste of time or money. How do you react to these people?
Touya: We don’t really have very much opportunity to meet those sorts of people.
Yun: The network of people we move around in is limited, so… We haven’t really thought about it.

Touya is probably very used to cosplaying male characters, but since you (Yun) normally do female characters, do you feel weird doing male characters?
Yun: I normally do a lot of female characters, and it’s easy for me when it comes to facial expressions and poses. When I cosplay a male character, I have to change my makeup up a bit and actually study the poses from manga and anime to make sure I don’t come across as too feminine. It’s not too weird, but sometimes I think guy poses are difficult. I learn from Touya. (laughs)


So you (Yun) normally do the male characters who are younger with a smaller frame, right?
Yun: Yes.

Have you (Touya) ever tried this category of male characters?
Touya: I’d like to! I’d like to, but I might come across wrong. I’d like to try Alois though.(from Kuroshitsuji)

(To Touya) Have you been cosplaying as male characters right from the start or did you start off with female characters?
Touya: Well, I got dragged along to a cosplay event by a friend and made to cosplay on the day itself. She just pushed a pre-prepared costume into my hands and told me to wear it – it was Hijikata from Gintama - so I did. And that was a male character, so yes, I started off doing male characters. I’ve done female characters a total of… three times. Hatsune Miku, Sheryl (Macross Frontier) and Ringo (Air Gear).

How did you start cosplaying?
Touya: Like I said before, my friend was the one who introduced it to me.
Yun: I was also introduced by my friend.


In the Philippines, some cosplayers have become akin to real celebrities. Does that happen in Japan?
Yun: No, not at all! It’s like we’re all on the same level, all friends with each other.

In one sentence, please describe what you like most about cosplaying.
Touya: Being able to wear the same clothes as my favourite character from my favourite series.
Yun: The fact that it’s the one gateway between the 2D and 3D worlds.


Do you have any cosplayers that inspire you or whom you admire.
Touya: This person right next to me. (Gestures to Yun) I’m really happy being able to collaborate with her.
Yun: Well in that case, it’s the same for me! (Gestures to Touya)
Touya: “In that case”… (laughs)

We interviewed Cosmode’s Jacky just now, and he mentioned disliking cosplay competitions. What are your feelings towards participiating in a cosplay contest?
Yun: I’m not really into contests myself, but I know that for some people, entering contests is another way of enjoying cosplay, and that’s totally fine.
Touya: Not us though, not really.
Yun: We’re more interested in photography.


How important do you think the photographer is to a cosplayer?
Touya: They’re even more important than ourselves. (laughs)
Yun: (agrees)

STGCC is a convention where there are cosplays of not only anime and manga, but also of Western series. How do you feel, being in such a convention?
Yun: It’s cool.
Touya: It’s cute.
(Both laugh)
Touya: Everyone looks like they’re having a lot of fun.


Do you travel outside of Japan for photoshoots or do you mainly stay in Japan?
Touya: We’ve gone overseas before, but we mostly stay in Japan.

Where in the world would you like to go to have a photoshoot?
Yun: Somewhere in Europe.
Touya: Yeah, Europe. I’d like to go to France.
Yun: The backdrops would be amazing.
Touya: Oh, especially for Kuroshitsuji. That’d be awesome.
Yun: But even in Japan there are places you can go to to create a lot of different atmospheres.

Is there a location in Japan you like the best, for photoshoots?
Touya: Kyoto.
Yun: Kyoto’s nice, yeah.
Touya: I also love having the sky, in general, as a backdrop. This has nothing to do with Japan though.

And that’s a wrap! (For Touya/Yun) As thanks for the people who have taken the time to scroll all the way down here, we have a little omake (bonus) for all of you… Below is a clip from our first interview with Touya and Yun, taking place just before the transcript. The question I was asking can be construed as slightly inappropriate, but Touya’s reaction was so ridiculously cute that I had to post this. Subbed by yours truly. ;) Enjoy!

-Translation/Transcription/Commentary/Video Subbing by Seren <3
-Layout/Pictures/Posting by Emi

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