The other half of local cosplay duo Kachang Puteh, Kitska Hiwatari is no stranger to the cosplay community both here in Singapore and abroad having recently participated at HobbyCon 2013 as a special guest. POPCulture Online talks to the versatile cosplayer about how she got started with cosplay, how cosplay has changed her life and about her costumes.
POPCulture Online: How did you enter the world of cosplay?
Kitska Hiwatari: Well, I attended my first animanga convention as a regular con-goer. After watching my favourite characters come to life and taking photos of and with them, I thought I might try my hand at it too. Never looked back ever since.
POPCulture Online: What are your main criteria when choosing a character to cosplay? and Why?
Kitska Hiwatari: Wow, this is a tough one… Hm, my liking for the character serves as one of my main criteria. If you like the character (best example: Tokiya Ichinose from Uta no Prince-sama), of course you’d want to do justice to them, right? Also, some characters call out to me naturally (Terezi Pyrope from Homestuck, Spain from Hetalia) because their personality is similar to my own, which makes it easier for me to get into character once I get into costume. Sometimes when friends want to cosplay in a group, I find myself roped in through enabling, which I don’t really mind because it gives me a chance to test myself. I’ll admit, I do pick a few troll-worthy cosplays to surprise people but that’s not really a main criteria ahahaha.
POPCulture Online: How, in your opinion, has cosplay change your life?
Kitska Hiwatari: I’ve made a lot of new friends along the way, not just in the local scene but overseas as well. Cosplay helps me level up, in the sense that I learn loads of new skills, whether from the Internet (Google is your best friend!) or through friends. It also gives me the chance to travel overseas and appreciate their local as well as their cosplay culture. Also, I tend to push my limits and boundaries, giving myself challenges by attempting costumes and characters that people normally don’t associate me with.
POPCulture Online: What kind of skills have you learnt through cosplaying?
Kitska Hiwatari: Sewing and crafting, for one thing. Home economics and art in secondary school teaches you the fundamentals; when it comes down to application, it’s how you use your creativity to bring a costume drawn on paper out to the real world. Also, like I mentioned earlier, Google is your best friend, and in this age of technology, there will be something on the Internet to help you out with your cosplay, be it tutorials or patterns.
Make up application is also another skill that’s pretty important when it comes to cosplay. Before cosplay I know zilch about make up; my first basic cosmetic set was given to me by my mom, and from there I experimented. At first I only knew the basics: powder foundation, eyeliner, mascara, and lip stain. Then, as I looked at references and tutorials (again, Google!), I expanded my collection to include primers, concealer, eyeshadow palettes, contour palettes, false lashes, and most importantly, setting spray. Won’t want your make up to run halfway through an event, right?
Oh, one thing that people tend to overlook is the ‘play’ aspect of cosplay. I don’t come from an acting background – I learn what I know about acting and being in character through online roleplaying and story writing. Basically, I do my research on the character, learn their quirks, habits, personality, likes, dislikes, all their tics. Once you get the hang of the character’s personality, when you put on the costume, it’ll come to you naturally, and I find that it’s easier to think of poses when you know how the character carries themselves. Cosplay is not just putting on a pretty costume and strutting around, it’s bringing the character to life.
POPCulture Online: How do you balance cosplaying with your daily life activities, like work and so on?
Kitska Hiwatari: If anything, family, friends and work/school comes first. Cosplay is a hobby, and more often than not it doesn’t bring in income, so keep in mind which is more important when it comes down to choosing between the real world and fantasy life.
POPCulture Online: What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced when cosplaying?
Kitska Hiwatari: Procrastination. I’m a horrible, terrible procrastinator. Please don’t fall prey to the procrastination bug. Ahahahahaha. /);o;(\
POPCulture Online: Do you make the costumes and props yourself or how do you go about acquiring them?
Kitska Hiwatari: Half the time I make the costumes myself, from start to finish. When it comes to group uniforms and such, I find it easier to tailor as a group, so that everything will be, well, uniformed. There are also online sites that cater to cosplayers when it comes to wigs, costumes and props, that’s where the other half the time comes in. Of course, even with these online orders, there’s still room for improvement, and usually I modify the costumes to suit my own taste. For example, changing trims, taking in fabric to have a better fit, adding bling, sprucing it up basically.
POPCulture Online: How much has the cosplay community grown since you’ve started?
Kitska Hiwatari: Exponentially, i’ll have to say. Cosplay in Singapore had been around for more than 10 years; compared to when I first started out in 2006, the number of people in the community now is easily three to four times more. The standard has also gone up very quickly, with everyone levelling up and getting better. Who knows, maybe one day the cosplay community will be seen in a positive light, and with minimal drama from everywhere. Right now, it’s good to have a little publicity here and there to promote cosplay in a positive light (do check out the page I share with my cosplay partner Tessie at Kachang Puteh on Facebook ovo)
POPCulture Online: Fast forward 10 years into the future, do you see yourself still cosplaying?
Kitska Hiwatari: Definitely! Cosplay isn’t restricted by age, so don’t let the biological clock stop you from doing what you love. And, considering the fact that I’ve been cosplaying with my best friend Tessie since I first started out until now, I don’t see myself stopping any time soon.
POPCulture Online: If you can choose to be trapped in a game or anime of your choice where the only way out is to clear it, like the way Sword Art Online does, will you choose to stay in the real world or will you jump right in?
Kitska Hiwatari: Ahahahahaha if I get to have a true love end in my favourite dating visual novel game, I’d go for it right away! Though, I know i’d suck at fighting games because I have no skills in that area whatsoever (I’m a shameful button-masher.)
POPCulture Online: Thank you Kitska for your time!
Photos courtesy of Kitska Hiwatari.
by Alex Tan
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