Written by: Nadine Tan
In line with CHiNOY TV’s theme of Beyond Borders, this article is about an unconventional career path and hobby: Cosplay.
At Cosplay Carnival 2022, the convention center is bustling with people in all sorts of colorful costumes. As one of the first anime conventions after lockdown restrictions were lifted, the crowds are insane. Among the crowd, two Chinoy cosplayers dressed in full costumes are waiting in line with their friends to enter the event.
Chinoys Jewel Chan and Aaron Ang might seem like ordinary students most of the time, but they also have an interesting hobby: dressing up as video game and anime characters! The two have cosplays of the wildly popular characters of Genshin Impact, as well as other famous anime and shows such as Harry Potter, Demon Slayer, Attack on Titan, My Dress Up Darling, Nier Automata, and more!
Despite the eccentric hobby being front and center in the popular anime “My Dress Up Darling” as well as having plenty of representation in movies and TV shows, there are still a lot of misconceptions about the community.
So today, our two interviewees will answer questions and clear up misconceptions about the cosplay community, as well as elaborate on the hurdles they had to get through as Chinoys.
Why do you cosplay, and what inspired you to start?
Jewel Chan, an eighteen-year-old High School student was inspired to start cosplaying by her sister.
“My sister Hana Chan, was actually the one who inspired me to cosplay!” She says happily, dressed in her original concept: genderbend Yoru from Valorant.
Her 3D-printed mask in hand, Jewel shares that she had the item 3D-printed and painted it herself. “I didn’t have plans on cosplaying before, but when I saw how happy it made her, I realized I also wanted to start cosplaying! I never saw her that happy before so I knew it was something special.”
Jewel’s family is very supportive of the cosplay journeys of both sisters, but this is the exception to the norm.
Starting out as a cosplayer in the Chinoy community is not easy. Sadly, cosplay is a hobby that is frowned upon by older Chinoys, as it is seen as too showy and wasteful of money. As such, any Chinoy that dares to cosplay may face some opposition from their elders.
Aaron Ang, a 21-year-old business student, is dressed as Gorou, the canine general of Genshin Impact. He says “As a teenager, I didn’t know how my family would react so I kept it to myself. Not many people in the Chinoy community do cosplay, so I was worried that they might not understand it.”
“Thankfully, as more people get into cosplay, it’s more accepted now!”
On a positive note, he shares that the cosplay community is a place where anyone is accepted – no matter one’s interests.
“I love cosplay because it’s a creative and fun hobby where I can make people smile! I also love that people will roleplay with you and treat you like the character, so it’s like this awesome way to connect with like-minded people who love anime and video games too!”
Jewel agrees. Piping up, she adds “I cosplay to feel happy and confident about myself. Whether the character is a guy or a girl, as long as you love portraying the character, go for it!”
Tell us about your favorite costumes and/or dream cosplays!
Jewel thinks for a while, mentally going through all the costumes she’s ever worn.
“I cosplayed a lot of characters already, so it’s very hard to choose a favorite since I always pick characters whom I adore and love. I love them all equally, but the character I had the most fun cosplaying as is Deadpool. I felt most like myself and could be as quirky as I wanted!”
As some Valorant players decked out in merchandise approach her for photos, she hastily adds “Currently my dream cosplays are Arataki Itto, Hawks, and Yor!”
We turn to Aaron who has just finished a shoot with a bunch of Genshin Impact cosplayers. As the event photographer walks off satisfied, we ask him the same question, and he immediately responds that it is the one he is currently wearing.
“My favorite costume is Gorou from Genshin Impact, because his costume is so detailed!” Aaron says, showing off the details. “It also has a lot of interactive parts, like this dog tail and a moon-shaped ornament that you can swing at people.”
“I also love my Ravenclaw robe, because every time I put it on, I feel like I’m a student at Hogwarts!” The Chinoy cosplayer adds with enthusiasm.
As a person who loves fantasy, Aaron shares that it is very fulfilling and exciting to get to step into a story and become a character for a day. In fact, cosplay was one of the hobbies that got him through quarantine.
What are your goals and dreams as a cosplay artist?
Looking at the long line of cosplayers in front of her, she smiles, seeing all the happy attendees dressed in their dream costumes. “My dream as a cosplayer is to be known for my art and to be an inspiration for others to reach their dreams!”
Aaron says “My dream is to make fellow Chinoys not shy to cosplay, and to give them the bravery to be whatever they want! Of course, I want to make people smile, but encouraging people to be what they want without fear is the main one!”
As an event performer, the Chinoy has portrayed Disney characters such as Aladdin in college events and birthday parties. Ever since he watched the magical stage shows at Disneyland when he was a kid, it became one of his dreams to bring that same magic to others.
Share something you’ve done as a cosplayer that you’re proud of!
Jewel nods. As an experienced cosplayer who has regular photoshoots and activities, she occasionally receives exciting opportunities to cosplay professionally at events. “I was recruited by MLBB to be part of their cosplay showcase during Cosplay Mania 2019!”
She shares this with excitement, as not many cosplayers get the opportunity to work with Mobile Legends. At the aforementioned event, she cosplayed popular mage Kagura’s “Soryu Maiden” skin.
She also adds that she is proud of seeing people who were inspired by her. “Even though I’m not a famous cosplayer, a lot of people look up to me and see me as an inspiration to cosplay!”
“I’m one of them!” Aaron adds, laughing as he swishes his tail. She gives him a heartfelt look in response.
“Recently, I was a featured guest cosplayer at this open photoshoot called COSPLAY SATSUEI.”
What are some misconceptions that the older generation has about cosplay?
The two cosplayers turn to each other and laugh. There are a lot of things that older people don’t understand about cosplay. Jewel goes first, answering that some people think cosplaying is “jejemon.”
“I see it as an art form, and a way for people to express themselves.”
Aaron nods, seconding the motion. Then he adds another misconception.
“One of the big ones is that cosplay is only for girls, since they see it as playing dress up. But it’s not! Cosplay is for everyone!”
Do you ever feel conscious about cosplaying in public?
“Definitely! It was a harrowing experience to go out of the changing room in full cosplay and a wig, but the moment I heard someone shout ‘it’s Gorou from Genshin Impact!’ I knew cosplay was something special.” Aaron shares, recounting his experience.
“Cosplay is an outrageous way of expressing oneself.” Aaron begins. “And I think it’s important because it makes people less judgmental about hobbies and the ways people have fun. As Chinoys who grew up in very conservative communities, I think cosplay is one way of opening those boundaries!”
Jewel nods. “I felt conscious too! The second time I ever cosplayed was in 2012 when I was still young. I portrayed Ram from Re:Zero and felt ashamed because I felt my arms were too big for me to cosplay. But seeing everyone asking for photos with me and my sister made me feel much more confident about myself!”
Is My Dress Up Darling accurate in its portrayal of the cosplayer lifestyle?
Jewel agreed heartily. “YES! I relate to a bunch of scenes that happened in My Dress Up Darling! “Does being a girl or a boy matter when you really like something?”
This is one of my favorite quotes in My Dress Up Darling since I was bullied for acting boyish, liking stuff that were meant for “boys”, and cosplaying. Stereotypes does not matter as long as your contented for who you are and what you love. As long as you feel happy, no one has the right to tell you otherwise!”
“I haven’t watched it yet!” Aaron says apologetically
Who are cosplayers you look up to?
Both are big fans of Hakken and Alodia for their amazing cosplays and transformations.
“Alodia was one of my inspirations when I was just 7 years old to start cosplaying. Watching and playing anime/videogames made me love characters and want to be like them.” Jewel says.
“Seven years old??” Aaron asks in disbelief.
Alodia Gosiengfiao, also known as Senpai Alodia of the Philippines, is one of the biggest cosplay inspirations of the entire country.
Next, Aaron gushes about his number one cosplay inspiration. “Thames Malerose! He’s so dedicated to his craft and loves his fans a lot. I always tune in to his streams, and he feels like a funny big brother!”
I also admire that he has an intense workout schedule in order to have a superhero body for his cosplays. It’s hard to get to that level of fitness, but he does it anyway in spite of his busy schedule!”
As I wave goodbye to the pair of cosplayers, I wish them luck on their cosplay journeys. Hope you enjoyed this peek into the whimsical lives of cosplayers!