Name: Maru (Prince Maru) and Ari (Arisatou Nox)
Location: Los Angeles, CA, USA/Philadelphia, PA, USA
1. What does cosplaying mean to you?
Maru: To me, cosplaying is like fanart or fanfiction—something inspired! It’s a piece of work that allows fans to both express their love for a series but also interpret a series, and produce something that helps convey their thoughts and feelings creatively.
Ari: The best way I can describe cosplaying is that it’s making a real-life figure of your favorite anime or video game character. Add in photography and it’s like making a painting. It’s a multimedia art form that allows for passionate nerds, like me, to turn that passion into art and look killer while doing it.
2. What was your very first cosplay experience? What inspired you to take up the craft?
Maru: I’ve been going to conventions for a while now because of my love for video games and anime, so that love is the first reason I started! One day I just decided to dress up as a character—and doing so allowed me to meet other fans of the same series I liked in a really fun way. Since then, I’ve also been inspired by the type of craftsmanship and photography that I learned can come out of this hobby.
Ari: I did a closet cosplay at Anime Expo just because an online friend told me that “dressing up” at an anime convention was mandatory. After seeing all the amazing cosplays in subsequent years both in person and online, I thought, “I want to do something cool like that too!” and we started making costumes a few years later.
3. If you could select a favorite costume that you have worn, which would you choose?
Maru: I would have to choose Sora from Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance. It’s been the best and most fun experience I’ve had so far as a cosplayer, from the sewing, the convention, and the photoshoot—and I’m just a diehard fan of the Kingdom Hearts series!
Ari: Right now, it’s my most recent costume, Servant from Danganronpa: Another Episode. I didn’t like his outfit in-game, but when we made it and I saw it in real life, I thought it was actually pretty cute-looking.
4. And, if you could select a favorite costume that you’ve seen someone else wear, what would that be?
Maru: I’m really inspired by Trinity Blood cosplayers, and I absolutely love seeing the work done for Ion Fortuna in particular.
Ari: I’m going to choose one of Maru’s costumes and say… Hinata Hajime!
5. What is an upcoming costume that you’re currently working on?
Maru: Devil Survivor 2! Really excited for that one!
Ari: Yamato Hotsuin from Devil Survivor 2 and Matoba Seiji from Natsume’s Book of Friends.
6. If you had unlimited funds and resources, what costume(s) would you create?
Maru: Reyson from Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn, Luther Lansfeld from Star Ocean 3, and Yggdrasil from Tales of Symphonia.
Ari: Luther Lansfeld complete with his Hands of Creation, from Star Ocean 3: Till the End of Time. It has always been a dream cosplay of mine.
7. How do you prepare yourself, mentally and physically, for an upcoming convention/event?
Maru: Mentally, I think deeply on why I love the character and series I’m trying to represent until I’m horribly nervous and restless—so I psyche myself out while also inspiring myself! Things can get pretty busy before an event, so unfortunately I don’t think I take very good care of my physical health haha!
Ari: I practice poses in the mirror in the days leading up to the event or photoshoot. Sometimes I diet… haha.
8. At the end of the day, in your opinion, what is the best part about cosplaying?
Maru: I alluded to this earlier, but I think that to be able to manifest your love for a series and character in a very physically artistic way is an incredibly emotionally gratifying experience for a fan. I’d call it an adrenaline rush from start to finish—everything from the creative process of the sewing to the creative process of the photoshoot.
Ari: I produce work because I love a character or a series and when I do a photoshoot or make a costume it’s my best interpretation of that love. When someone appreciates my work, they get see my perspective and that’s really cool.
9. What advice can you offer to those who are aspiring cosplayers?
Maru: Don’t cosplay for anyone else but yourself. I think this hobby can get really competitive in a variety of ways, but at the end of the day, cosplay whatever makes you feel happiest—even if that means a rather unknown series, a really simple costume, or cosplaying alone!
Ari: It’s important to establish a strong, communicative relationship with your photographer. Come to the shoot with ideas, or discuss it beforehand. When both parties have thought about the composition of the photo, then it’s truly a collaborative art.
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