I'm drawn to characters I can identify with and yet see personality traits in them that I admire. So when a friend wanted to do a group cosplay and Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles was on the list i leapt at the chance to cosplay Kurogane, and dragged my cosplay partner into cosplaying Fai too. Kurogane is such a sarcastic and surly character; his default mood is grumpy, much like me. He is also fiercely protective of the people he cares for and despite his attitude Kurogane can be quite wise. These are things which I respect.

The armor is made of leather, I particularly love the headpiece because it was my first time wet forming leather and it came out perfect the first time around. The mechanical arm is made from a combination of wonderflex, 4way stretch with foam and plastic mesh added to a sleeve to make the muscles, and a little latex for the fingers so I can still operate my cellphone while wearing it. Clamp is known for some outrageous fashion statements and Kurogane sports a gigantic rope for his cape, which on my cosplay is made from a horse lead.

My cosplay partner and I attended Anime Los Angeles a few years back in Kurogane and Fai. Some fans in a window overlooking the deck pounded on the window, pointed at me and held up a sign “do you even lift bro”. So I hoisted my poor Fai over my shoulder like a sack of potatoes and struck a pose. They were cheering so loud we could hear them through the glass. It was both terribly in character and amusing. My poor cosplay partner puts up with so much.

A friend I call my sister was the one who introduced me to cosplay. She had amazing and whimsical stories from the conventions she attended in California. The idea that there was a way to make costumes to wear for more than once a year was spectacular. That was only the beginning! My first time cosplaying, I was terrified and excited! I went with friend to the convention but we soon got separated in the crowd. I wore Izumi Curtis from Fullmetal Alchemist and unknown to me, the episode where she appeared had yet to air on American TV. I got some pretty strange looks when I tried to interact with other cosplayers. I had given up till one Edward cosplayer half screamed and shoved their friend between us. We got to chatting and became close friends.

My Grandmother worked in theater and did monster's makeup for haunted houses. After being unable to see her for six years I showed her some pictures and told her this was her fault! She was near tears and so delighted, needless to say she is very proud of me. I work in a professional environment and the only time things come up is when I request time off or am caught hand sewing in the lunch room. I'm older than your average cosplayer and some of my coworkers don't understand, so I dress it up as “working for stage” or “Competitive costuming”. Some still react with a bit of fear and curiosity but leave the subject alone.

Cosplay came at a time in my life where everything and everyone I knew changed, it was a silly masquerade that led to close friendships and having a more positive outlook towards myself. As silly as it sounds, cosplay has really given me a sense of purpose and value for the first time in my life. I fight with low self esteem and this crazy hobby encourages me to be better, try harder and in the end I have physical proof that I can create something awesome that everyone can enjoy. I continue cosplaying because I love seeing the good in people. At conventions I see experienced cosplayers encouraging younger cosplayer's costumes, and competitors backstage helping each other with last minute fixes or calming each other down before going on stage. Meeting new people because you share a similar love for a character or series is fantastic and can create bonds that last for years. It's seeing the kindness and humanity blossoming in the form of brightly colored wigs and large props.

-- Inoli Shiba