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    Nardio Cosplay Adventures

     

    Hey all, Bernardo here. We started covering cosplay last year at Katsucon and fell in love with the community. After that we decided to make it a regular feature on Nardio. After going to some more cons, we figured we would bring in some new voices to provide you guys with an inside look into cosplay and the people behind it. So we’ve brought on some guest bloggers to cover their experiences and journey.

    Our cosplayer today is Leaves From The Vine Cosplay who we first interviewed at Liberty City Anime Con and met up with again at DerpyCon. She seemed to be everyone’s friend at the cons that I went to and if she wasn’t already, she soon became friends with everyone else. Her outfit at Liberty City Anime Con was cool, but craftsmanship at DerpyCon impressed the hell out of me. It was also the first chance I had to really chat with her a bit. What I heard and the way she carried herself at the con impressed me, so I thought she would be a perfect fit for this new series. So here we are. This is a fun and interesting one-shot post about her first KatsuCon.

     

    The first time I had ever heard of Katsucon was when I kept noticing the infamous “Gazebo” in the photos of cosplayers. It’s necessary to capitalize it because if you mention it to any cosplayer who has ever been to Katsucon or heard of Katsucon before, they know exactly what you mean.

    I knew had I wanted to go to Katsucon, but I didn’t want to go alone. I reached out to Vann (VSoL Cosplay) and Anthony (Tinfamousc Photography) and they told me that they wanted to go as well. Eventually Frankie (Simply Frank Productions), his brother Ricky (RD Pro), and my boyfriend decided to attend as well. Together, we had a “Katsu Crew.”

    After Liberty City Anime Convention last year, I became friends with a lot of talented cosplayers. We soon became comfortable posting “shout outs” to each other on social media asking if anyone would be interested in doing certain groups for Katsucon. This is how I had become a member of a Final Fantasy Dissidia group that I would later be a part of at Katsucon.

    Later on, finding new friends through Instagram, I discovered they were also fans of Saiyuki. We agreed since it was making a comeback this year, we should collaborate on a group cosplay in honor of the show’s return. Vann and I had become closer (basically becoming waifus) after LCAC, and wanted to collaborate as much as we could, so she joined the Dissidia and Saiyuki groups.

    Pieces for Tifa bought from Amazon

    As soon as DerpyCon ended, I began working towards Katsucon: looking up patterns, reference pictures, and tutorials from people who had done these costumes previously. As a middle school teacher, my crafting time is limited until after school ends. Some days I run clubs (one being the Anime Club of course) which restricts my crafting time further. Most cosplayers I follow post WIP (work in progress) pictures, especially Sharon Rose Cosplay who does amazing armor sets which had helped me tremendously when I worked with EVA foam.

    My initial line-up of cosplay for Katsucon was going to be Tifa Lockhart, Cho Hakkai, and Caesar Zeppeli. Tifa was easy enough to put together, everything (except the elbow armor piece) was purchased from Amazon. Of course, there were a few returns to get a more accurate pair of suspenders, a shirt that wasn’t see through, and a skirt that fit. However, that’s the risk you take when ordering clothing off the internet.

    Progress picture for Hakkai before inserting sleeves.

    Hakkai was a modified Civil War-esque jacket pattern, modified fashion glasses, hand-me-down shoes and khakis. Hakkai’s cosplay was the first time I attempted a light up prop based on a tutorial I found on Cosplay Amino (a wonderful app for the cosplay community that I would suggest to everyone). It consisted of a sanded down ornament filled with a short strand of LED garden lights and yellow organza. I was really excited with how it came out, since I had never attempted to work with lights before.

    The chi blast prop off and on.

    Caesar posed another problem with his studded jacket. I was able to talk to Jared (SenPie Cosplay) to get prop advice before, and he introduced me to contact cement. It smells something awful, but everything stuck onto the jacket. I also wanted a prop to go with him and as I had been shopping for last minute things at Joann’s (aka Cosplayer’s Mecca) I stumbled onto the iridescent and rainbow organza I eventually made into Caesar’s Bubble Hamon.

    The bubble hamon prop completed and my attempt at a pose Caesar does.

    A costest (cosplay test) of Caesar before styling the wig.

    During all this time, I was collaborating with friends online and in real life. Vann and Anthony came over to my house a few times and we jokingly dubbed those nights “Cosplay Sweatshop” during our Katsucrunch.

    Vann and Anthony at my house (aka Cosplay Sweatshop)

    As I said before, Jared and I traded tips and tricks to help each other along. It was during this con crunch time I realized that I was falling into a wonderful community of friends. We would post progress online, message each other about problems we were having, and pep talk each other out of slumps among other things. Mica, (Chibi Dude Cosplay) amazed me with worbla armor and contouring magic. Jared seemed to be a magician with props and mechanics. Anthony was creating his first cosplay (and was catching on quite quickly), and Vann was creating a bodysuit (which I have not even tried to attempt out of fear). Thinking back on it now, (in a nostalgic, not-in-panic-mode kind of way) it’s kind of poetic how well we all could depend on each other, and it makes me smile thinking about it.

    Fast forward through some improvements on my Link Between Worlds Hilda and Vann whipping up Ravio, we all packed my car to the brim and set off for the con.

    Katsucon registration line at around 9:30 pm Thursday night.

    When we saw the Katsucon registration line and looked at the time on our phones, we didn’t dream of getting out of there anytime soon, however, we never stood in the same spot for more than 5 minutes. For the enormity of the line, it only took about 2 hours to get our passes. So I give credit to the dear people running the registration tables for working as quickly and efficiently as they did to get a few thousand people their badges that day.

    People had also dressed up that Thursday, so seeing some costumes while in line provided some Disney-esque wait line entertainment quality. Then once we walked out of the queue hall, we were able to take in the aesthetic of the Gaylord Hotel that we had missed on our dash to get our badges, and I must say: It. Was. Gorgeous.

    They had an indoor fountain towards the back of the SMALL VILLAGE that was inside the building. Literally cobblestone streets, trees with twinkle lights, brick buildings, an “outdoor” cafe which all created this feeling of walking through a small main street area. Then The Gazebo. It was on a balcony area overlooking the little village and had strategically placed trees that provided soft lighting to the area around it.

    The next three days were spent wandering the giant halls, the outdoor area leading to a beautiful water view with a lit up ferris wheel in the distance, and the cafes around the village. Personally, my group did not go to any panels because we were having too much fun in cosplay. We met a lot of people we follow on social media (Brooklyn Link, Sharon Rose, TheEndOfSomethingBeautiful, be_cosplay, Princess Chris, Castle Cosplay to name a few), and then I was able to meet up with friends from previous conventions and some I had only talked to online before.

    The group I was with on Friday was for an older anime, Saiyuki, that is getting a new OVA in 2017. Vann and I teamed up with 2 other talented cosplayers I had met through Instagram (and met in person at Otakon 2016) kioragrace and anrin._  and when we met in person at Katsucon, we got along immediately.

    Picture of our Saiyuki group borrowed from VSoL Cosplay.

    We met up in front of where Greg Ayres was signing autographs kinda/sorta on purpose since he did the voice for Son Goku in Saiyuki. However, the autograph line had closed, so we decided to hang around that area while trying to figure out what to do next. After a few minutes, we hear our character names called and look up to see a Rule 63 group of the characters we were dressed as, which meant that they were the genderbent counterparts of our characters.

    My male Hakkai cosplay with the female Hakkai cosplay from the group we bumped into. Photo by RD_Pro

    We knew we all had to get pictures together and after a few more minutes, Chris Ayres (who was also signing autographs) asks us to wait until the line was done so he and Greg could talk to us. Cue the moment where all of us are freaking out over one of the voice actors from the show wanting to meet us. After he was finished with autographs, Greg came over and told us how he loved our cosplays and loved to see that Saiyuki was being represented still. He took the time to sign our props and proceeded to take a bunch of selfies and group pictures with us, pretty much being the chill dude that he is.

    The group I was in for Saturday morning was a Final Fantasy Dissidia group and, let me tell you, it was fantastic! Everyone looked amazing and it was nice to finally see the costumes in person when we had only been sharing progress photos in a Facebook group until that day. Kaurawr Cosplay had a perfect masamune sword for Sephiroth and Mica had worked on all the little details that went into Vaan’s (Final Fantasy XII) costume along with seeing the contouring magic in person. I met another friend Jessica (who was dressed as Y’shtola from Final Fantasy XIV) and she is a complete sweetheart! Some of us had a few costume mishaps (the materia on Tifa’s glove had popped off when I pulled a hair band off my wrist) and Jessica ran to get superglue and a few other things to help us. She also said Y’shtola was the first time she had used a sewing machine and I would have never guessed if she hadn’t told me. Jared had his awesome gunblade he had made from scratch and looked amazing as Squall. Vann was adorable as Garnet since she was living out her cosplay dream of being her (which made it more adorable) and her hard work showed. While working on Garnet she had been worried about the construction of the body suit, but (dear lord) it looked gorgeous.

    Our full Dissidia group! Photo by Sumikofoto Photography.

    After wandering around as Tifa and Garnet for a while, Vann and I decided it was time to switch into Hilda and Ravio. One of the perks of Hilda’s costume is that I can wear it over a normal outfit and be completely comfortable, so changing by my car in the parking garage across the street was no problem. Legend of Zelda fans and cosplayers are some of the nicest people I’ve met, and I am so excited to do more with that community in the future. So the rest of the night was spent running around to all of the LoZ cosplayers and getting pictures with them.

    VSoL Cosplay and myself as Ravio and Hilda.

    One of the many Links VSoL Cosplay and I ran to take a picture with.

    Sunday was a day cheesing for pictures. I don’t want to sound conceited or prideful, but I think all cosplayers are excited when people want to get pictures of their hard work. Caesar had been a new challenge for me and I even had bubble guns my boyfriend and Vann helped me out with for pictures. Vann was flawlessly rocking her Korra and connecting with others in the Avatar The Last Airbender community. This was the first JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure cosplay and I must say, the community is one of the most welcoming and fabulous communities I’ve encountered.

    A hall shot of my Caesar cosplay by Pop Culture Uncovered and Harry Crosland.

     

    If I hadn’t stressed it enough, this convention was the time I truly felt like I was a part of something bigger. I can’t find the words to describe the “click” I felt during Katsu. I know it definitely had to do with all of the amazingly wonderful people I have gotten to know and meet before and during this weekend. And that’s what cosplay is for me: it’s clicking with people about fandoms and creativity and interests through costumes. It’s almost like an icebreaker, but to call it that would do it a disservice since it’s much more.

    All in all, Katsucon superseded my expectations. I already have cosplay groups for next year’s Katuscon set. There really is no “after” Katsucon because everyone is already talking about next year. It’s skipped the “after” and has gone straight to the next “before” section. It was like once Katsucon had started to usher everyone out, all of the new friends I had encountered began to plan for next year.

    That in and of itself is a testament to how much everyone enjoyed Katsu.

    Leaves From The Vine Cosplay Facebook

    Leaves From The Vine Cosplay Instagram

    Leaves From The Vine Cosplay Cosplay Amino 

     

     

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