Cardcaptor Sakura was one of the first series that introduced me to anime when I was in elementary school. I would come home and watch it on Kids WB--the English dub, Cardcaptors, may have been terrible, but as a kid I loved it. I would eagerly await every new episode. I loved Sakura so much--her kindness and her heart, her optimism and bravery. Plus she has so many cute outfits! When I was in high school, I heard about cosplay for the first time--that was when I knew I had to cosplay her someday. Now, I try to cosplay a new outfit of hers every year--and assuming that other things don't get in the way, I'm usually successful.

It was a lot of guess work. This was back when I was really new to making my own costumes. I think this was only the second year I'd been creating costumes myself, so I had no idea what I was doing in all honesty. I didn't even know what a dart was! But I somehow managed to make this costume--as well as my friend's Flower Card costume. This costume was mostly me sitting on my couch pulling thread to create the ruffle skirt from long rectangular pieces. The top was.... a miracle it worked at all. I used a pattern for the sleeves, but the shirt was pretty much just guess work and draping. It didn't fit right at all, but cosplay is a learning process, I feel like.

Everyone loved it. Cardcaptor Sakura is such a beloved character, and this particular costume isn't done often. Plus, I had my Flower Card with me and we matched, which made it extra special.

I think the best response I had wearing this costume was a little girl who was with her mom walking through the park. They weren't con goers, they happened to be walking by as my Flower Card and I were doing a shoot with some friends. The little girl loved us. She was so excited about our costumes and her mom got a photo of us with her daughter. Later, not long after the con was over, I actually saw the photo posted on FB thanks to a friend who happened to know the mother. She said it made her daughter's day!

My first convention was Fanime 2008 and it was a revelation. I was nineteen, living in San Francisco on my own with friends. They were going to Fanime and invited me along. I cosplayed as Sakura-hime from Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles--which, if you're unfamiliar with the character, is an older version of this character from an alternate universe. At that time, I couldn't sew at all. At all. The best I could do was make some spats to cover the shoes I wore with my costume so that my shoes were the proper shoes. But it was a costume I'd bought online from some company in China. I still have the costume, but if I ever did that costume again I'd remake it. The fabric was far too heavy for the sort of costume it was meant to be and it didn't fit right. I had to do a lot of altering to make the costume fit. But it didn't matter because I had such an amazing time. People were so nice! I had so many photos taken and got so many compliments. It was such a nice confidence boost.

There are so many stories from my time cosplaying, I don't even know where I would begin. I think, though, some of my best memories are the memories of meeting those really important friends or making people happy with my costumes. My very first convention, Fanime 2008, I was at the CLAMP meetup when someone who would become a very good friend, asked me and several other people cosplaying from TRC and xxxHolic to pose for photos. The group of us did a bunch of re-enactment shots with this person's then boyfriend. I met four people doing that who have been my friends ever since.

I think, in a lot of ways cosplay enriched my life. While I wouldn't have died or anything without it, I think cosplay has made the quality of my life better. Given me opportunities I would have had, helped me make friends, helped me learn skills, and been overall good for my mental health. I think cosplay has the potential to enrich everyone's lives who really loves it, as long as we don't lose sight of what's most important within cosplaying: friendship and having fun and accepting everyone for who they are.

-- ImaginEeri