Each month, we sit down and interview a gorgeous geek girl who enjoys hand-crafting sexy and awesome costumes from the world of comics, sci-fi, fantasy, video games, anime, and more! This time we talk to AkaneSaotome, one of the most talented and prolific cosplayers on the Eastern Seaboard. She’s also one of the most recognizable, as her elaborate homemade costumes and colorful wigs have wowed photographers at conventions nationwide. AkaneSaotome even helps other cosplayers look their best with her own online cosplay wig and accessory business, BlackMoon Cosplay.[quote]
Name: AkaneSaotome (aka Emily)
Location: Western Massachusetts[/quote]
GLA: Thanks for the interview! So, you’ve cosplayed dozens of characters, do you have a favorite or a character that you consider to be your “signature?”
AS: My favorite characters to cosplay is anything Sailor Moon related since it’s what started me on anime and cosplay. But a lot of people remember me from wearing my plugsuit version of Asuka Langley. People approach me and ask if I’m AkaneSaotome from cosplay.com. It’s a bit weird to be recognized in such a large community.
GLA: A large percentage of your costumes seem to come from the world of Anime, is that your preferred genre? Why do obscure Japanese manga/anime characters seem to dominate the cosplaying landscape?
AS: I wouldn’t say it’s my preferred but rather it just ended up that way. I watch more anime than I do Sci-Fi and Fantasy. I think it’s the fact that I like to create costumes from sketches too see what it’d be like in real life, rather than copying something that was already made with the fabrics and pre-made patterns. When most people hear the term cosplay they automatically think of costumes from Japanese animation, but really it depends on the environment. I mean if you go to an anime convention, there will be more anime cosplays. Same goes for Sci-fi or comic book conventions. The number of anime conventions just seem to outweigh other genres.
GLA: We’re huge Venture Brothers fans here at The Geek League. Tell us a bit about your Dr. Mrs. The Monarch costume, and what went into the design.
AS: I love the Venture Brothers. I was drawn to the design of Dr. Mrs. the Monarch when it was first revealed. The V in the front was the most interesting. I wanted to be accurate with the plunge, so there’s actually a piece of fishing line across my chest holding my “dirty pillows” in. All in all I’m pretty happy with how it came out, especially seeing as how I had to make the gloves and boots myself too. I plan to still remake it someday, though. Recently I made a Queen Etheria cosplay too, but that won’t debut until later in the year.
GLA: What are some of your favorite geek movies, comic books, TV shows, video games, etc.?
AS: Well I love all the Harry Potter books and movies, and the Pirates of the Caribbean Movies. But I’m in love with the movie Galaxy Quest, I must have watched it over 50 times. Strange I haven’t cosplayed from it yet. For TV, I watch cartoons, like Chowder, and Spongebob because they make me smile, but I also watch things like NCIS and Warehouse 13. When it comes to games, I’m definitely more of a hand-held gamer. I love Kingdom Hearts, and really any RPG along with puzzle games and fighting games.
GLA: Obviously, part of the cosplay hobby is having your photo taken constantly. Have you ever run into a rude photographer or just had someone try to photograph you at an inconvenient moment?
AS: I’ve never had a rude photographer, but I have had some creepy ones. There’s actually a lot more out there than you think (laughs). But as for inconvenient, it never fails. Every time I sit down, try to eat, or take off a piece of my costume, someone just has to ask for a picture. And what makes it worse is they normally don’t wait for you to pose or get ready before snapping it. There’s probably a lot of candid pictures out there of me.
GLA: What is the most challenging cosplay you have ever attempted?
AS: I really pushed my skills with my Margaret Moonlight cosplay from No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle. I drafted over 90% of the patterns which made for a lot of trial and error. Also, Cage Skirt was my own design using boning and copper wire with a bias tape cover that was handmade out of suede. On top of that, everything is lined and serged, and the make-up was all done in airbrush and regular make-up. The boots were the most killer part; they make me weak in the ankles so I have to wear braces. I can’t wear it for more than a couple hours, max. The props were made by my friend Lionel. It actually received the “Best of Weekend” award recently at AnimeNext 2011 for craftsmanship.
GLA: You’ve got a small Internet business selling custom-made wigs for cosplayers, tell us about that, and how it’s going for you.
AS: My business is named BlackMoon Cosplay, (yes it’s one word). I do wig commissions as you mentioned before, but I also can do -depending on the difficulty – small accessories. I also sell some pre-made merchandise on my site, too. Business has been booming, its tripled in the last year. Which is strange in this day because new cosplayers just want cheap cosplays from eBay, cosplaymagic, etc. But as the saying goes, you get what you pay for, especially in wig commissions. I’ve had customers coming to me in a frenzy in need of a quick commission just because they went with another cheaper commissioner, but hated the end result.
GLA: Have you ever experienced any catastrophes or “wardrobe malfunctions” while cosplaying? Broken props, ripped tights, busted zippers, etc.? Any funny stories?
AS: The most recent issue I had was with my Juri cosplay. The spike bracelets that I painted became all sticky and the paint decided to rub off on everything. It was all over my gloves, pants, and even my stomach. I wanted to cry at the time. I had to remake the pieces before wearing it again. I also solved the problem with the spikes, thankfully. I’ve never had a “wardrobe malfunction,” though many of my other friends have. I have spilled food on myself plenty of times, so I make sure I change before going to eat now. As for funny stories, I can’t think of one. I’ve been going to cons for almost 10 years, and every one of them have their own stories.
GLA: We like to ask this every month…what’s your opinion of “Poseur” Geek girls? Individuals who cosplay perhaps only because their boyfriends are into it, or actresses that go on talk shows and try to attract the nerd market by falsifying some interest in Star Wars or comic books, etc.?
AS: Honestly, I don’t really have an opinion on it. It doesn’t bother me personally so I just ignore it. For the most part geek girls can tell their own kind just by talking to them, or by actions. I’ll admit, I’ve done cosplays just because my boyfriend liked them, but I refuse to do it if I don’t like the character or outfit myself.
GLA: Lastly, What do you have in mind for future con visits and cosplays?
Well, you can expect to see me at AnimeUSA later this year and then at Katsucon starting of my con season for next year. Plus many others throughout the year. Cosplays include many Sailor Moon related ones, of course. Also favorites from Super Street Fighter, Fushigi Yuugi, Neon Genisis Evangelion, Venture Bros, and more. You can follow me on my cosplay facebook if you wanted to keep up with my shenanigans.
For more of AkaneSaotome’s absolutely stunning cosplay photography, be sure to check out her out at the following links: