Ahri's Diary - First Time in Kig

  • Written by Ahri Lee

    I thought that I would journal and welcome you into the experience and adventure of costume play (otherwise known as cosplay) for the very first time. Many of these terms are new to me, so if you don't know what they mean either, that's ok - I'll try my best to define and describe the terms in my limited capacity. Cosplaying means that a person dresses up in a character from a movie, book and/or video game. I guess you can describe the people who dress in Disney characters at Disneyland are cosplaying. However, cosplay also extends into cultures like the Japanese who have Anime (which is a style of Japanese film or television animation).

    I must admit, when I first volunteered to help out at the Anime North 2015 KigurumiOnline booth sponsored by Ride the Pig Studios - I was a little naive. I honestly thought I was going to be in my street clothes handing out flyers or something. Then again, perhaps they were just trying to gently ease me into this whole creative world. Initially, I was informed that I'd be provided with a "school girl uniform" and that all I'd need to provide was a matching pair of shoes - piece of cake. Before long, I was told that my uniform had been "upgraded". In the final weeks leading up to the convention, I was finally informed that a mask was being made for me to wear. "Oh - I see" were my initial thoughts. When it finally dawned on me that perhaps I might be dressed in character for the show, I thought to myself - this is going to be harder than I thought.

    The show started on Friday and I decided that I'd just walk around and see what this convention was all about. I really had no idea the magnitude of this event. Apparently, Anime North is the 4th biggest Anime convention in North America, and it's held in my home town of Toronto, Canada in May. There are approximately 25,000 attendees. Some of these attendees attend wearing street clothing while others wear items that resemble attire of their favorite characters. There are a select few that completely dress and act as their favorite characters. I think that it is these select few attendees that truly make Anime North really memorable and impressive.

    After this brief initiation tour, it was my turn to cosplay on Saturday. I was assigned Ahri from League of Legends. The outfit was custom made to measure, so it really fit like a glove. I wasn't sure how to start posing, so this was ultimately for me the most intimidating element. I was also self-conscious because people could see my face under the wig. I kept thinking to myself; what will people think of me if they see me dressed up on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, etc.? What would I say to someone if they recognized me? That fear quickly slipped to the back of my mind as soon as attendees started walking up to me and referring to me as Ahri. They would ask to be in pictures with Ahri, or just take a picture on my character alone. Ok - I told myself, just smile and let complete strangers take pictures of Ahri from League of Legends. I guess when you are at an Anime convention, it's socially acceptable to go up to anyone that you don't know and ask to take pictures of them. This rite of passage was completed and Saturday passed quickly. It wasn't so bad.

    Sunday was the last day for Anime North, so I decided to dress in the complete Animegao Kigurumi ensemble. Essentially, Animegao means to don on an Anime face in Japan. Kigurumi means to be fully immersed in costumed cartoon characters in Japanese. They are sometimes referred to as Kigs as well. Although most of the attire was the same as what I had previously worn, the two key elements that were different were the addition of body suit and a mask. When one decides to wear the complete attire, the body suit covers your toes all the way up to and including the head. This body leotard is otherwise known as Zentai in Japanese. It is meant to be skin tight so that it mimics your character's real skin. This is the first garment that is worn before you put your costume on. Since this was my first time, it was really helpful to have someone tie bows and things for me as my fingers were also covered by the Zentai which made it difficult to do anything that required grip or fine motor skills. The last item to go on was the Kig mask. My Ahri mask happened to be made using a 3D printing process. Therefore, it was apparently lighter than others that are available on the market. It is well padded inside and thereby making it extremely difficult to hear as part of your ears are covered. Vision is also problematic because the masks are made proportionately to your body and character. Therefore, you end up having a lot of areas you cannot not see through the mask. I almost walked into a pole head on because the mask in between my eyes was so wide, that I actually couldn't see the pole unless I turned my head on an angle to walk. I guess this is why you normally see other individuals called "handlers" with individuals that are completely dressed in Animegao Kigurumi.

    When I was completely outfitted, I actually felt the most "psychologically" free. I could behave in whatever manner I wanted and no one would actually know that it was me. When people wanted pictures of me, I felt free to grab them for a photo, kiss them on the cheek, or act flirty. It was actually a whole lot of fun and this was the element that really surprised me. Many people were so excited to see my character, Ahri. They knew who she was and what she looked like, and they wanted to be close to her. Young kids all the way up to full grown men were equally mesmerized. It's fascinating to me how little effort it took on my part to make someone else smile and be happy for those brief few moments when they were in my character's presence. I couldn't talk to them, and could only hand gesture. Somehow, they still understood for the most part that I was open to being photographed with them.

    I would definitely be remised if I didn't mention my deepest appreciation to all the more senior Kig members at the booth. They gave me tips on posing, and made sure that I was feeling secure in the mask. They'd help put it on and take it off when I needed water and run to my aid when I need to talk about something. They were more than open to sharing information about this international community of cosplaying. I met individuals from Germany, Spain, France, USA, and other parts of Canada. If I ever get a chance to go to visit them, I will try and tote my Ahri ensemble with me to we can get a few more pictures together.

    I also want to give a HUGE shout out to Ride the Pig Studios for my awesome Ahri mask! Even though I don't know much about the mask making process, I know Ahri was made with a lot of tender loving care in her creator's hands. She is really special to me in so many different ways. I hope that I can do her justice whenever I wear her.

    I now have a new found appreciation of the art of Kigging. First, there are many esthetic components that go into ensuring that one is authentic as possible when they are portraying their chosen character. Secondly, it is a lot of fun to give back to others in a way I never anticipated. Would I do this again - absolutely hands down I would! Thank you for being part of my newbie journey and I can't wait to hear about yours.

    p.s. If you have any pictures of Ahri from the KigurumiOnline.org booth at Anime North 2015, please post them on this site or email them to [email protected].

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Comments 5

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    SheepButler -

    Really fun read! It's nice to get such detailed point of view from someone who is new to kigu! It all sounds like a fun time was had and the Ahri mask is so adorable! <3

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    Thejesster14 -

    Love it! This brought me right into the eyes of a first time cosplayer. And especially a Kigo cosplayer! This is a field I'm looking forward to pursuing myself to be completely honest and you did everything perfect to bring me into the thoughts and worries! I love this. Thanks for the in-depth analysis and hope to one day cosplay with you. ^^

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    Ahri -

    Thanks for the support and reads.. I'd love to hear more feedback about my blog posts or answer any more questions you might have..

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    MTOF-Rin -

    It's great to read things like this, it looks like Ahri had a great time kigging for the first time ^^

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    ichigo_kig -

    Glad to hear you enjoyed it and I hope to see you next year. Also I might be bringing along another 9 tailed fox to hang out with you :D