[Salty Feature] Rina Tan: Discovering a Sense of Belonging Within the Cosplay Community
To some, cosplay isn't just about getting to dress up as the characters you love - it is also about the sense of belonging to a community who understands why you do what you do.
Rina Tan is one such individual who found her home in cosplay - after meeting many like-minded people in the cosplay community, she decided to stay and develop her skills and has since become a passionate pillar of the cosplay community.
How and why did you get into cosplaying?
I never intended to start cosplaying, but my high school friend influenced me to give it a try, so I started out with Vocaloid character Hatsune Miku. Back then, Miku was popular and her costume was easy to DIY, so I bought the main outfit locally and tried to make the other parts of the costume myself.
After attending my first few 'Cons' (conventions) in 2012 - C2AGE, AFA & Comic Fiesta - I slowly started to enjoy the hobby and decided to continue whilst learning how to make most of my costumes myself.
I never had a specific hobby that stuck with me, nor did I find friends with them. However, as soon as I discovered cosplay, I realised there were many people sharing the same interest, so I decided to start my journey there.
Which is your favourite cosplay so far and why?
My favourite cosplay is Lunafreya Nox Fleuret from Final Fantasy XV. I discovered her when I was introduced to the Final Fantasy Versus XIII trailer and I fell in love with her appearance right away. As I learned more about her as a character, I found that she was the ideal female protagonist that I could relate to.
I started my Lunafreya cosplay project when I realised that the release date of Final Fantasy XV was nearing; I intended to cosplay her as soon as the game was released, but one thing led to another and I managed to make contact with Wan Hazmer, one of Square Enix's developers that was overseeing FFXV's development.
I was very honoured to meet him, and even more so to receive an invitation to be an officially featured cosplay guest at the grand launch of Final Fantasy XV at Berjaya Times Square GSC.
I have loved Lunafreya as a character from the beginning, and being able to play a part in an official game launch was more than I could wish for - it was definitely one of the most memorable moments I have cosplaying as Lunafreya.
Tell us about your cosplay process.
Most of the time, I choose characters based on my own interests - whether I like the character development or whether it just seems intriguing to cosplay.
After choosing the character I plan to cosplay, I will proceed to look for reference photos and subsequently plan the budget. I would usually recommend new cosplayers to set a budget so that they will know how much they've spent. I typically budget RM500 per cosplay.
The next decision is whether you plan to purchase the cosplay or make it yourself; unless you're an individual with loads of free time, I suggest sewing since it saves costs, but if you don't have the luxury of time like me, you can buy the costume from Taobao, or purchase 2nd-hand from Facebook or by asking friends. After getting your costume, props are the next step - usually I commission the props, but at times I will try to make them on my own.
How much do you spend on creating one cosplay?
Like I mentioned previously, a good-looking cosplay can range from RM500 to a few thousand at the very least. If you're crafty enough in terms of making your own, it could cost less than RM500. If I were to start a new cosplay project - depending on how much effort I want to put in - my usual spending would be RM500 or less. The majority of my cosplays cost RM 500 or below; the most expensive cosplay I’ve ever spent on was my Lunafreya - from head to toe it cost about RM1,500 max. Also, having a custom-made costume is a lot more expensive than buying conventional Taobao costumes.
As for the most time-consuming cosplay, it would be Star Guardian Poppy from League of Legend as I had to DIY her costume on my own - with help of course.
Who are your favourite cosplayers?
My favourite international cosplayers are Aza Miyuko from Korea, Ladyxzero from Canada, and Louista_Gram and Reika from Japan. As for local cosplayers, I'm a fan of Rikka Janice, Miiko Thng, Dova & Shinku, Fujiwara Kazuko & Weon Haur.
Any last words for those aspiring to become a cosplayer?
Jump in and join the fun - don’t be afraid to try new things; we are a community that is willing to assist you in any way possible!
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