Kabotin, the hundred cosplay girl
Kabotin, 25 years old, physics student, is waiting for an answer about her thesis. This studious girl now lives in Sweden, and is willing to live there for a very long time! She is in charge of an association that has some success ... With some friends whom with shares an overflowing passion, she created a successfull association that hassome success: Objective Costumes, a community that links cosplayers and photographers. You might have met them at Japan Expo 2011, since they gather at many conventions!
Kabotin pleased us accepting this interview. She reveales her first steps in the cosplay world, and what that whole experience brought to her daily life, but also small slips and problems that she had to face. This is the profile of a young woman who loved to cosplay!
How did you come to the cosplay universe?
In June 2001, I went to the Epitanime convention (graduation school project). I went there with my best friend, who made me read many mangas while high school. We had heard of Epitanime, and we decided to go there. It was my first time! Cosplay had on me a big visual impact, it was exciting to see the characters evolving on stage. And I thought "why not me?" At that time I was 16 years.
It took me over a year to make my first costume! It was Genjo Sanjo in Saiyuki. I started doing it in 2001, just after Epitanime. My aunt helped me to buy the fabric. My mother helped me to cut and sew by hand. I started making the accessories, but I gave up.
Later, talking with a friend, we realized we wanted to go to the Epitanime Convention in 2002 : it would be my first group experience. So I picked my unfinished cosplay up again, and I finished it. I also made a cosplay of Misao, a character from the Kenshin series (It was not pretty, so I redid it later). And as for the Naruto cosplay group, I made a Kabuto costume. Finally, we were able to do a cosplay per day, and our group was the largest to go on stage in a convention ever! Forty cosplayers! The record was broken recently by a Pokemon group.
Cosplays of Misao (Rurouni Kenshin), Kabuto (Naruto) and Lethe (Fire Emblem)
How did you learn to make your own costumes?
For the first three self made suits (after the ones of Kabuto and Misao), I went to a friend's who had a sewing machine. I did'nt own one at this moment. I did my Lethe’s costume at her place. It was so hard, I had to go by bike with my fabric and everything, and I had to do everything within hours!
I bought a sewing machine a while after that. And it go started! It was going very fast! My friends advised mefor some fabric and patterns places. For a long time I had used my clothes to make them. There was a time when I created my own patterns, with large leaves. But as it was long, so I decided to buy them. Now I couldn't do without them!
How do you do your characters?
At first, I used to make the main part of the character and I was finishing with accessories. Now, I start by collecting lots of images. And when it's complicated, I’m drawing details of the parts. For the budget, I'm also doing a detailed list of everything I need. And I pay attention to reuse some of the accessories: shoes, for example, because otherwise it’s taking too much space! I have two large boxes of shoes (laughs), I only use them for cosplay, I do not put them on a regular day! (laughs)
How many costumes do you have made in total?
(Kabotin consults her blog) 64 cosplays! My blog is outdated, 25 are missing I think. It includes the design and the finished version of the costumes (by clicking on the images). There was even my first costume, so ugly! (laughs) I counted as mine the ones I did for the other. My cousins are asking me for some as well. It started when they first read manga. The first costume I made for one of my cousins is a character in Mar, then Samurai Champloo, and finally a character in Phoenix Wright.
Cosplays of Fuu (Samourai Cjamploo) and Phoenix Wright (Ace Attorney)
I wanted to do the prom’s night suit of Ron Weasley in Harry Potter. I bought a filthy cloth! The salesman asked me what I intended to do with it. It was funny to explain its purpose to him. If you knew the suit, you would understand!
Also … related to the shoes, as soon as I see some in a garage sale, I buy. For a long time, I tried those big shoes we had in the 90's, super compensated. They are hard to find nowadays! I finally found someone who sold four pairs of these, I bought everything at once! They are used in my cosplay ... (looks in her cosplay files for a few minutes). My cosplay folder is huge! Inside, there are things I spotted on the internet or in a movie. So I make a folder, in case I find the time to do it. Such as "major project", but it does not work, I do not have time!
So ! Getting back to my suit with the big shoes: I started to make holes in the shoes, but it was impossible! I always buy the cheapest tools, the drill was over heating, so I gave up. All that for nothing !
Are you particularly attached to your costumes?
Yes! The Kabuto’s suit (Naruto), this one I really love! It was so hard to throw the first suit Makimachi Misao (Rurouni Kenshin) suit away! When I did it again, it was ok : saved!
I threw one of Genjo Sanjo too, but I had less trouble, as I had not done it alone! There are some costumes with which I want to do photo shoots, like for my Fuu costume (Samurai Champloo). I will not throw this one, even when I'll be 80, I'll keep wearing it! (laughs)
I like to create the costume as much as I like to wear it. I cannot do without a photo shooting. To me a suit is equal to a photo shooting. Contests interest me less, but when it brings benefits such as free entry, I sign. And to go on stage may sometimes be super motivating.
Your passion has been accepted by your family?
At first, it was not very clear to my family. When I started doing a lot of costumes, my father began to be reluctant because I spent a lot of money in it.
I think there is a part of my family who knows that I sew, but do not know exactly what I do. And another part who knows everything. The hardest is with my father, he does not really accept it. For him it’s a waste of time. But it is true that Cosplay is expensive. I started to sort everything… I had to put costumes in the trash. After I started to store in my room. Huge! I have about 5m3 of cosplay! I have four sewing machines, dummys, four large boxes of fabric and costumes, it's horrible! (laughs)
Cosplay hepled you to do new friends?
Yes, Kao-chan or Milady as an example! These are very good friends! After that, I met a lot of people, but they are not as close as friends who could help me to move for example. I do not know if it's a united community, but the idea of cosplay that has been developed in the 2000s is still there.
Does cosplay helped you to have a date?
You should know that I do a lot of old bearded cosplay! So no! (laughs) I do not like showing my body. (Small aside: Kabotin is really fond of cosplay!) I make characters that no one has yet done (for example Neze in Wolf’s Rain) or versions that nobody does. I made a version not well known of Card Captor Sakura. I also do cosplay because it's pretty, for a group, or because I really like a character. This applies to Lady in Devil May Cry, which is still being prepared for at least three years. There are many cosplayers who have done it, but without the small details. I want to do it really well. Clarification, I never played the game! I just saw the videos. And her conflicts with her father brings us closer! (laughs)
(To return to the topic:) I cannot be with someone who does not accept my passion. But I know it's a selfish passion, which is expensive! But that's what I love.
Cosplays of Sakura (Sakura Card Captor) and Neze (Wolf's Rain)
When I started college, I have decreased my rate of production. And I started my master, more again! This year I did one cosplay as Saya from Blood +. This is something very simple, because I hadn’t too much time. The cosplay is a passion that takes average time, and with the studies, it is not always easy.
How would you describe the cosplayers’ community?
It depends on the behavior of people. We have the example of several fights. Clans may form. There are many rumors circulating in the world of cosplay. There are a lot of inside stories! 4-5 years ago, we had a great clash: girls who started the cosplay in the 90s. They were friends, then at some point they were no longer, I do not know why. At that time, the world of cosplay was small. When it began to grow, it was still small enough that those who were practicing met. Those two started troubles to each other and most of cosplayers had to choose a side. There are some people, like me, who managed to remain neutral. In the cosplay world, this kind of conflict is something that is sometimes difficult to manage. Now there are so many cosplayers, that it doesn’t affect us too much.
Before, there were 300 people working on Cosplay Forum. This forum has been very useful for me! We can meet people to make groups, and this is helping.
A few years ago, everyone was on Cosplay Forum. After, many members became inactive. When you present yourself, you did not say your name, but your Cosplay Forum nickname. Before, it was the cosplay community forum. Today, not that much because we are too many. Other forums were created around it.
I think there are two categories of cosplayers:
There are those who love a character, and / or want a technical challenge.
And others who are making a character because they love it. They wear their cosplay so many time !
I made a conv’ in Sweden last year. I found that there was a lot of teenagers. I felt that it is brand new there, it's a generation where they claim they love their series. A bit like the latest generation of cosplayers in France. I remember the Bleach serie cosplayers who gathered at Japan Expo, and they proclaimed their series’ name, as a slogan!
The convention I attended in Sweden is very small. Yet it is the largest Nordic Convention! I wish it was as Epitanime, for conferences, for example. I realized that in Sweden, anime whe had in the club Dorothée TV show arrived well after France. This could explain the time laps between us in the cosplay. I started to discover the animated series with Dorothée. The generation of my age, in Sweden, has not seen it.
You're the president of “Objectif Costumes”. Tell us more about it.
I created the association, which has a dozen active members. They are mainly photographers. We did around 160 photo shooting since 2008. The first idea is to highlight the cosplayer’s costumes, avoiding to have garbage in the background, or to take a picture of a samurai in a parking... We want to bring the model into the environment that suits him.
A session can be a full afternoon long. Some sessions are programmed to reproduce scenes from a manga. For example, I have two photographers who analyzed the manga and the anime : Black Butler and selected scenes they wanted to do. The main photographer took months to find a place! Finally we had some permission. It was the ball scene where Ciel is disguised as a girl in a wedding hall in Paris: it was a great victory. There was the main photographer, his assistant, backstage photographers, extras and even a TV staff ... it was a big group of people.
Do you have any story related to your association ?
At the beginning of the association, we were bored with the authorization requests. Now it’s very important. We went to the desert of Retz in Chambourcy, in the 78. It’s manufactures park (construction taking part in a landscape composition). It's been a very nice scenery for photos. The park was abandoned for a long time and it was forbidden to the public. We went to take pictures and to see just how it was. I went back a second time as an assistant to a Cosplay of Lara Croft. We did a photo and a video shooting. Recently, a photographer asked permission, and he was asked to pay 5000 euros because they are normally restricted visits with a guide. They have no preparation to host associations. And when we ask the same questions to different people that have the same job, they gave us different answers. I was shocked... and it's the same for national monuments, we have to pay 350 euros a day for the picture rights. We are an association, not a business! We don’t have any benefits when we are doing photo shoots and exhibitions.
Despite this, at the Ministry of Culture, there are a lot of money for the associations. For example, the home of the association is a huge complex to help them.
You recommend to other cosplayers to create an association?
Not necessarily because it's a lot of paperwork! I suggest to do it only if it’s an original idea.
What did it brings you to be an association ?
If you are an individual, you go to a castle, you took pictures, you promise not to use them. But that's a promise. When you are an association, it provides legitimacy and a guarantee to the owner. Then it’s easier for them to accept.
In case of serious mistake, you may lose your title?
No, I'm the manager. So if the castle burned for example, the association can survive (we have an insurance), but I'll die! (laughs)
Is there a connection between your studies and your
passion for cosplay?
As a researcher, when you need a single pieceor tool, it can be ordered to the factory. I’m always thinking that I would like to use their tools for my costumes! (laugh) Msore seriously, cosplay was very helpful for my concentration and my patience.
To cosplay allows you to be creative into your serious daily
At a human point of view, it’s very funny. Occasionally, I get little words in my lab, it's fun. For example, in license, I did an internship in a lab. In the morning we did the preparation, and the rest of the day, we were in the dark. So, I started talking about my passion and I discovered that one of the researchers was a photographer! Finally we set up a photo shoot! It was epic! My colleague brought some friends of his: There was 8 photographers for 2 models! The session lasted 8 hours! The funny thing is they never sent me the pictures! (laughs)
If you had a dream?
I would like with my association, to rent a minibus, and to go do photo shoots. We could go to Belgium and in some lost places in France. It's my dream to do this like that. Let’s find money and let get it started !
Thanks to Kabotin for answering our questions, and for the time she spends for us.
Enkil and Hina