On happiness and what it means to be a hero – an Interview with Leon Chiro

No stranger to the international cosplay community due to his massive scale of collaborations with leading video game companies, Leon Chiro’s portfolio of collaborations include Ubisoft, Square Enix, Capcom, 20th Century Fox, Riot Games and the likes. In town for the Singapore Toy, Game & Comic Convention (STGCC), our writer speaks to the Italian cosplayer on being heroes, and the importance of happiness.


PS This article will contain sound clips from the interview because of reasons.
PPS Because it needs to be said, and my editor did give me suspicious looks when Leon and I walked out of the interview room. Yes, Kenneth, I got Leon to take his clothes off.

I am the line between professionalism and sexy back muscles

Nice to meet you! Thank you so much for having me here. It’s awesome being here with you.

I am so glad you got your luggage back.

Thank you. Well, you know what? I had it at midnight. Just in time.

How was the con experience so far?

It was very intense. It has only started for an hour, and there are a lot of people in the line already. I have never been to Singapore before. And it’s such a big pleasure to be here. Like, I have been travelling in Asia, but I’ve never been in the South. So it’s my first time here and I’m pretty sure it won’t be the last time because I am in love with this city. I’m in love with the community. I’m in love with everything in here.

You mentioned you have been to a lot of cons everywhere. How can STGCC top that con experience?

How can you top that? You already did! You’re already great, guys. I didn’t come here with expectations, you know? And I never go to any place with expectations. I’m just enjoying at the top, at the maximum, any kind of experience I have. In my opinion, every culture is beautiful the way it is. And it’s up to you to appreciate and admire everybody’s culture. Because we are all different but at the same time, we are all the same. Because we share the same blood, we are standing on the same ground at the same level. What I’m trying to say is that this experience has already changed my life. Even the expectations I didn’t have have been exceeded.

What do you look for when you pick a character to cosplay? I notice on your portfolio a lot of video game characters.  Most of them are very different. But what connects these characters? What is it about them that speak to you?

Well, 95% of them are video games. Because in my opinion, video games are the most powerful storytelling tool we have today. It’s not like a movie. Every time you watch a movie, it’s always the same. Every time you play a game, it’s always different because it depends on you. It’s like, going into the movie and deciding how to watch it and how to play it. When you watch a movie back, you already know what you’re going to see: the same exact frame, the same exact positions, the same exact perspectives. But with video games, especially with the new video games, you just decide everything: how to play, the difficulty, and so on. So this is, in my opinion, very important because it’s the facets between virtual and reality. Cosplay is also the reincarnation of video games, in my opinion. With video games, you can play the character in a virtual reality and you can do whatever you want in the game. With cosplay, you can play this character in real life, and you can do more than just controlling the character. You can be the character. And this is for me, what cosplay means: Interpretation. Heart. And that is how I choose all my characters. Because they all gave me something; they all gave me some emotion. They all had a very important connection with my life. All of them are kind of linked with each other.

Just to give you an example: I cosplay Dante because I feel like Dante, but at the same time, I have something in common with Tidus. Even though the characters I play are different, they have something in common. They are both cool, somehow. They both want to be stylish. They both want to be important. And they both wanted to be the heroes. You know what I mean? The concept of hero is something that always connected my characters, if you think about it. Like, I cosplay Zack and I will never cosplay Cloud. Because I hate Cloud. And even if Cloud is mainstream, I don’t care. Even if Square Enix asked me to cosplay Cloud, I would not cosplay Cloud. Because I’d say, “guys, it’s okay. It’s okay but for Cloud…” – of course, I will not refuse Square Enix, you know but—I already work for them as Gladio, of course. But the concept of hero is the concept that I’m very attached to. And this concept of hero goes to Gaston, also. Because he’s like a villain-hero? In the end, he is the most loved guy in the city, you know. He’s somebody who everybody wanted to be like.

Nobody shows off his core muscles mid-interview like Gaston.

 He is the hero in his own story.

Exactly. Zack Fair, Tidus, they are all heroes in the end. And now my ultimate cosplay will be, for this November, the Hero of the Heroes. I’m going to make a hell lot of work in that one. It’s so mainstream right now but I want to make the best character you have ever seen with this cosplay here. What I’m going to cosplay is…

All Might! Yeah, I’m going to be like 2 meters tall. I’m going to have body suit muscles and many will make the costume with me. I’m not going to make the costume by myself. I’m going to make it with some of the team, with my friends Fiore and Axel. We are going to work on them. Fiore will help me do the lycra. It’s going to be high quality lycra. And Axel will help me with the wig. I’m going to make the structure of the wig and he’s going to style the wig with me. We are going to do everything together and it’s going to be such teamwork.

Now, my colleagues gave me the mission to find out from you any tips on looking good, keeping fit, and generally being awesome.

*At this point, Leon grabbed my sound recorder, so I’m just going to publish the words from the man himself in all its full aural glory.

I told you I got his clothes/COAT off. And then he turns up on Day 2 of STGCC topless as Kazama Jin.

Photos by Alex Tan

By Tessie Tan

© POPCulture Online 2017

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