The Sun (Malaysia)
For the love of cosplay
More than just costumes, it’s a lifestyle
AGROUP of people were crowding a corner at Isetan in The Gardens Mall on a Saturday afternoon during the Summer Matsuri event in Kuala Lumpur. A long line formed, and all they wanted was to take pictures with two young women in their cosplay characters. From afar, it appears as if the two women are in a “weird costume”.
When we approached closer, we realised what the buzz was all about. It was the famous characters Yor Forger and her daughter, Anya Forger, from the popular anime Spy x Family, which is about a family of spies with superpowers.
Living more than one life
Cosplay is a bit like a fantasy come true. It’s a fun thing to do, especially when putting on the characters, but one needs a bit of creativity to bring them to life.
The two women donning the cosplay characters are popularly known as “Ruii” and “Wenzi”. (They declined to reveal their real names to protect their privacy.)
Ruii, a 27-year-old from Penang, looked sweet and attractive in her costume, while Wenzi, also 27, from Negeri Sembilan, looked cute and cheerful, especially in her pink wig.
According to Ruii, she was attracted to Yor Forger as the female anime character has soft and gentle qualities but transforms into an assassin with combat skills and weapons mastery to take down the bad guys.
The female assassin fights and kills the villains, while Wenzi just loves the cuteness of the little girl character, Anya, who has telepathic powers.
“Mostly, I cosplay cool characters. I tried to do something different in cosplay, and so this is the first time I am cosplaying a child character,” said Wenzi.
Ruii got into cosplay after being invited to join the anime group in college, while Wenzi got exposed through her sibling’s friend in college as well.
Cosplay is a combination of the words costume and play, with people dressing up as their favourite characters from anime, game series, comic books, television or movies.
Cosplaying has become a common thing in Malaysia, with a lot of people partaking in the activity during Japanese cultural festivals like
As cosplay figures, both Ruii and Wenzi carry these characters professionally while having fun with it.
But these are not the only characters the two have portrayed before. Ruii has cosplayed more than 50 different characters since she joined the field in 2019.
On the other hand, Wenzi, who has been cosplaying for the past 10 years, has donned about 100 different characters.
They purchase costumes for each character online, but most of the time, they add their own touch by making some of the accessories or props and styling the character.
What really attracted the two cosplayers was the fact they could come out of their comfort zone by playing another character in life.
“For me, I can become another character or person, different from my normal life. I feel very different, like another person,” confessed Wenzi.
Ruii concurs and adds that she is passionate about doing make-up for the many different characters she portrays. The different looks and, in particular, the transformation of her face into another character with make-up fascinate her.
“I really like makeup. I can change myself into different looks; sometimes we even do male characters. It’s very interesting to cosplay,” revealed Ruii.
“Actually, if somebody could not recognise us, the person behind the character,
i t would be considered an achievement for successfully pulling off a character,” admitted
The challenging part is that each anime character has distinctive characteristics in terms of facial expression, body language and poses. “Some characters are cute or cool,” said Ruii. If the character is male, then they would portray or adopt a different body language.
Learning new cultures and languages through cosplay
Through their experiences as cosplay figures, they learned about Japanese culture, language and tradition. For instance, Ruii got to learn the Japanese language, while Wenzi was exposed to Japanese events like Nihon Matsuri, culture, Japanese traditional clothes and food.
Cosplay is often seen as a thing for the younger generation because most of the participants are either teenagers or in their 20s or 30s. According to the two, most of them get exposed to this through social media platforms like Instagram.
They say the younger generation always wants to try something new; hence, they want to give it a try, but this could not have been possible a few generations ago.
“Nowadays, the parents are aware of and accept this idea, but perhaps the much older generation cannot accept this,” explained Ruii on the possible reasons why youngsters get into cosplay.
Despite the fact that the two have enjoyed cosplaying over the years, they do not plan to do this full-time.
Asked if they have any advice for those who are starting this journey, Ruii advised others to keep cosplay as a part-time thing and not a full-time career.
“It’s better if it’s a hobby and you’re doing it just for fun. It can be a career if they want to, but not everyone is lucky,” added Wenzi.
The two have a huge following, but do these fans admire the characters they portray or the real people underneath the characters? “Both.” exclaimed Ruii.
Behind the anime characters, there are real people with real lives; though they do not expose their real names, occupations, or addresses due to privacy, they do share certain things with their fans.
They have no plans to reveal everything about their personal lives in the future, either. “I have my own life. After the event, I need my private life with my family,” explained Ruii. Wenzi concurred.