Cosplayer Name: Ichan Kobayashi
Known Cosplays: Zel, Chun-Li, Allegretto, Many More
Con Circuit: Texas and Louisiana
It’s been a while since I’ve done a Cosplayer Spotlight. Not for a lack of subject matter but for me just being plain lazy or overworked. I haven’t decided yet but we are back on track now! And for my Cosplayer Spotlight this time around I am going back to the beginning of my dive into Cosplay Photography to someone that is long overdue to have some light shined down. I met Mr. Kobayashi at a little first year con called Atsuicon in Houston, TX. This con barely broke 1000 attendants and fell apart on Saturday but by the love of the fans was saved at the last minute by a generous $12000 donation by the fans that were there. It was a high point in the fandom for me and showed what people are willing to do to keep the party rolling. Because of this saving light I was able to meet Kobayashi and several others that I call good friends to this day.
It has been about 5 years since then and time keeps ticking on and so do the photoshoots. I’ve worked with Kobayashi many times now and he is still on the top for the best male cosplayer I have work with. His skill at the sewing machine and working with leather products is a great sight to behold when he rolls out a new costume. His skill has been recognized by the community and he has run several panels regarding make-up, wigs and overall costume design. He has won stage awards for his work and is just an overall great guy to hang with. So here we go then with the questions and the answers from Mr. Kobayashi followed by a few photo highlights of some of my favorite pics I have taken of him over the years. ENJOY!
1. How did you get started in Cosplay?
When I was twelve or thirteen, manga was pretty rare here in the US. Major bookstores didn’t carry it, and compared to today, very few titles were being published in English. To find any, I had to go to my local comic book store, and even then they only had one or two bookshelves full of the stuff. On one such trip, I saw a flier pinned up with registration information for something called “A-kon”. I asked the clerk about it and he told me it was an anime convention. I had no idea what a convention entailed, but I knew I wanted to go. I made my dad, who is not into anime at all really (he’d watch Ranma with me, but that’s about it), take me. I raised my badge and spending money by doing a clinical trial for an acne treatment (I was twelve or thirteen – it was a win-win situation) and off we went. It was an overwhelming and life-changing experience to be so young and attend such a big con as my first one. There were so many PEOPLE and they were wearing these THINGS. I felt so out of place I ran upstairs to our room and threw on the only thing I had that was close to a costume – a black robe with a red embroidered dragon on the back – over my regular clothes. I knew that I’d be back next year, and with a costume.
That was what first got me into cosplay proper, but I had always been interested in costumes and had been making them (not very well mind you!) for years before that. I won best costume at a local festival in the children’s division years before for my White Rabbit costume from Alice in Wonderland. It wasn’t the best outfit ever, but you could tell I was the one who made it, and that’s what counted.
My mother was also a big influence on me in regards to clothing and costuming. She’s always loved classic Hollywood movies and fashion from the 1920s-1950s, so I picked up on that somewhat. I remember the first time my parents took me to the Ren Faire – it was much like my first experience at a con. I felt so out of place in normal street clothing I got them to buy me a cheap (quality-wise, not price – nothing’s cheap at faire!) costume top. I knew I wasn’t as good looking as the other people there, but I felt a little better.
2. What is your first costume and why did you pick it?
The first year I went to A-kon knowing what to expect and preparing for it, I had two costumes. Both were really closet cosplay, and not that great any kind of cosplay to be honest. I went as Sabin Rene Figaro from Final Fantasy VI and Rufus Shinra from Final Fantasy VII. I picked them for a few reasons: firstly, they were easy closet cosplays, and I didn’t know how to sew. Secondly, I was dying my hair blond at the time, so that fit. And, of course, because I love those characters. Cosplay is all about love, as corny as that sounds. That’s what my cosplay mentor always taught, and so many talented and kind people I’ve met through cosplay have always echoed that.
3. What is the most memorable moment you’ve had in your Cosplay history?
I’ve had so many wonderful moments thanks to cosplay, but I have to say the Amano fashion show at Onicon, I think back in ‘07. I knew Yoshitaka Amano was there, and would be judging the show, but he actually came backstage and greeted each of us! Not only that but he drew and signed a sketch of each of us! He drew mine on the ribbon on my prop sword, and that sword is now hanging on my wall. My friend who wore my Sabin outfit while I wore my Edgar outfit, told me later that Amano-sensei had told him that in all the years since Final Fantasy VI had been released, the outfit I made was the only one that matched his original vision. I didn’t personally hear this, but it makes me so happy I’d like to believe it.
4. What is your favorite costume you have seen on others?
I don’t know if I have an ultimate favorite. There are so many good ones out there. Of course when I see a favorite character done particularly well, especially a challenging one, or one that’s usually not done very well, my inner fanboy comes out and I’m very happy. I’m also a big sucker for well made angel wings. There’s one Ultimecia that falls under all these categories, so maybe her. There’s also a large FFXII group that was at AX I think two or so years ago; they had an Ashe and a Prince Rassler, both in their wedding attire, and it was gorgeous. They also had a really impressive Ultima whose wingspan was easily twelve feet. When I see amazing costumes like that, I’m not afraid to admit I’m both in awe and somewhat jealous.
5. Besides cosplay, name one other hobby you are in to?
I think as with many cosplayers, cosplay consumes my life in many ways. I’m about to graduate with an Associate’s Degree of Applied Science (our program chair always makes us type the whole thing out) in Fashion Design and Marketing, and hopefully continuing my education with a Bachelor’s in Theatre with a concentration in costume design, so you could even say I went to school for cosplay. Other things I like to do are pretty uninteresting and common, like reading and playing video games, and even those usually eventually lead back to cosplay in the form of inspiration. But, being a cosplayer means one has to be a jack-of-all-trades, so I’ve picked up so many bits and pieces of knowledge in a lot of different fields, like wig styling and cutting, plastic artistry, leather-working, working with photos, and even shoe making, just to name a few.
Click on the thumbnail for a larger version of the photo .