We’re back with another Spotlight On column, and this week, we interview Anibee Ambassador Hunt hopeful Mika Matsuri, better known on the web as Mikaka.
This bubbly and energetic teenager’s a newcomer to the scene, but she’s certainly made a name for herself, both as a cosplayer and aspiring entertainer.
She was a finalist at last year’s Teenage Big Day Out, a shortlisted contestant in TGX 2011’s Cos X, and with her soulful voice, she’s crooned her way into the hearts of the judges in anisong competitions. Her musical talent also came to the fore when she played pop princess Ranka Lee at Cosplay Chess 2011, performing an a capella segment on stage.
What makes this 15-year-old tick, and what’s her take on cosplay, the Anibee contest and everything in between? We find out.
Mikaka as Dark Magician Girl from Yu-Gi-Oh!
Crimson: When did you get into cosplay, and what was the experience like?
Mikaka: I first started cosplaying in December 2010. It was actually a paid event, but it didn’t turn out too well.
I was cosplaying the vocaloid Kagamine Rin, and since I’d just started out, my make-up wasn’t all that nice and my wig wasn’t styled as well as I’d hoped. The more experienced cosplayers at the event mocked me for it.
It made really me sad at first, but I bounced back!
Mikaka: Their criticism fueled my desire to do better. I spent 2 months learning how to do make up properly, and I watched videos to see how the characters behaved. Whenever I felt like giving up, I would remember what happened, and I would tell myself that I should do my best. They tried to put me down, but it had the completely opposite effect. Now that I’ve matured as a cosplayer, I’m actually glad it happened.
Mikaka (left) as an angel (original character).
Crimson: Your cosplay has been described as ‘moe’. What’s your definition of ‘moe’?
Mikaka: Being moe is about acting cute and child-like, but I’ve come to discover that being classy is more important than being moe. Otakus may fetishize you if you’re moe, but nobody else in the community will take you seriously. An air of grace and refinement certainly makes a better impression!
Crimson: So you’re really an ‘ojou-sama’ (elegant lady)?
Mikaka: *laughs* I’m still trying to find my cosplay identity, but I don’t rule out the possibility of more ‘ojou-sama’ characters. I’m also venturing into Western and mecha cosplay this year, and I’ll be trying my hand at making armor!
Crimson: That sounds pretty ambitious. Care to share what your plans are?
Mikaka: I’ll be cosplaying Danny Choo‘s mascot Mirai Suenaga. I’ll be making her Retrograde Suit, and that’s going to be a real challenge because I’m very new to prop-making. I really love and identify with the character, so I’ll do my best!
I’ll also be making my first World of Warcraft costume. The character’s called Parvink, and she’s a gnome warrior. She’s small but deadly, and an inspiration to me.
Mikaka as a white lolita (casual fashion).
Crimson: How does it feel to be a finalist in Anibee TV’s Ambassador Hunt?
Mikaka: I’m really happy to be a finalist. At first, I was a little hesitant because I wasn’t sure if I was good enough to be a brand ambassador, but thanks to everyone’s encouragement, I decided to take a chance.
I’m actually really grateful to Anibee. Thanks to this contest, I’ve had the opportunity to meet many wonderful people. I’ve also picked up new cosplay and prop-making skills, and moved out of my comfort zone to explore new ways of showcasing what I can do.
Mikaka (right, foreground) as Yui from K-On!
Crimson: Let’s imagine for a moment that you do become a cosplay star. What do you hope to achieve when you gain that kind of popularity?
Mikaka: I hope to show everyone that cosplay is a serious hobby, and that people can look good and feel great about themselves when they cosplay.
Most people don’t take cosplayers seriously, and I hope to dispel that perception. Thanks to cosplay, I’ve made many new friends. I was an introvert and insecure in the past, and I’ve seen these traits vanish with each event I’ve gone to and with each compliment I’ve received from people I didn’t know. I’ve widened my social network and broadened my horizons.
I’ve learnt how to manage my time more effectively, and I’ve mastered practical skills like sewing and prop-making, which were really helpful in my school projects.
Cosplay has transformed my life. It’s an important part of who I am, and I hope to share the benefits of cosplay with everyone.
Sounds like this magical girl’s got some lofty dreams, and we wish her all the best in her many endeavors.
If you’d like to connect with Mikaka on Facebook, here’s a link to her page. Also, you can check out Mikaka’s cosplay blog here.
Spotlight On is a new column featuring cosplayers in the local scene. If you’re a cosplayer and you’re keen to be interviewed, or if you know a cosplayer who might just fit the bill, we’d love to hear from you!
Drop us a note at INFO [AT] NEOTOKYOPROJECT.COM with the header Spotlight On, or leave us a message on our Facebook page and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can!