Cosplay is a global hobby and, thanks to the internet, it has rapidly expanded into hundreds of countries. In particular, cosplayers from Russia and Eastern Europe are beginning to build a reputation for themselves as exceptionally talented and passionate newcomers to the world of cosplay. One of the fastest rising stars is Konoe, an 18 year old student located in St. Petersburg, Russia. Fans of Anime Matsuri will likely recognize her from the convention’s advertisements featuring her Laughing Octopus costume. While JapanCinema has a weakness for featuring beautiful women (and Konoe is no exception), her costumes are impressive in their technical skill, accuracy, and showcased with stunning photography. She is also a member of the cosplay team LIFESTREAM, which will definitely be a group to watch in the future. While language barriers tend to make it difficult to get a look at cosplay in other countries, Konoe was gracious enough to sit down with us and share a bit about her cosplay experiences.
First, can you tell us about yourself; how old are you, what do you do, etc?
Konoe: Hi, I’m Konoe, you can call me Natasha. I’m 18, I’m a student and I’m going to be a graphic painter. Cosplay is my major hobby and I try to do my best at it. I love making costumes; I love to sew and craft. I love video games; my favourites are the Kingdom Hearts series, Soul Calibur series, compilations of FFVII, and Devil May Cry 3.
What interested you in cosplay and why did you start making costumes?
Konoe: It is so cool! You can bring to life characters and make them alive. And you can be what you want to be, even Lara Croft or Princess Aurora. Also, with the help of cosplay I learned a lot of things which I have never done before. This is a good creative hobby; you may develop yourself in different directions.
What is cosplay like in Russia? Do you think it is different from cosplay in America?
Konoe: Cosplay in Russia it’s a growing trend among young people. It’s not so developed as in America. We are lagging behind as usual [laughs]. But we have more and more festivals, conventions, competitions. Each year the interest to cosplay increases. It’s necessary to maintain the quality of cosplay to stay afloat.
You also cosplay with your boyfriend. Do you enjoy making costumes with him?
Konoe: Yes. We have many common interests in arts. Cosplay is one of our joint hobbies. We love to do everything together. We have our cosplay team named Lifestream. *FFVII fans detected* [laughs].
You are very beautiful and some of your costumes are very sexy. Does your boyfriend ever get jealous of the attention you get through cosplay?
Konoe: Frankly, in the very beginning we had difficulties in this regard. That time we didn’t cosplay in a couple. Now we are all doing and planning together and there is no cause for jealousy. But some sexy costumes I’ve done for him, and it was photographed under his supervision. In any case, he likes my photos.
What is the most difficult and challenging aspect of cosplay?
Konoe: The making of costumes is a very difficult process. But it’s not so bad when you like it, is it? The most difficult is a criticism of others. Sometimes it is very depressing. But It is impossible to please everyone, right?
Do you watch Japanese movies? What are your favorite Japanese or Asian movies?
Konoe: Unfortunately, I haven’t watched any Asian movie yet. Sorry.
What is your favorite costume? Why is it your favorite?
Konoe: All my costumes are my favorite, because I only cosplay my favorite characters. I love my Aerith and Yuffie costumes. I loves Aqua so much, she’s my favorite girl in KH series. I love my Lady and Reimi cosplays cause they are most difficult.
You mostly make costumes from videogames, in particular, Final Fantasy. What attracts you to a costume and makes you want to create it in real life?
Konoe: I’m a very sensitive person and I’m attracted by everything. I’m fond of the game’s story, gameplay, characters, etc. I want to bring to life my most favorite moments of the games. I want to believe that it’s possible in real life. I’ll work on this [laughs].
The photoshoot for your Laughing Octopus costume is great and has been featured in an advertisement for Anime Matsuri, are you going to that convention as a guest?
Konoe: I was invited to the Anime Matsuri indeed, but I’m afraid it will be difficult to arrive in USA. In Russia the legal age is 18, but it’s not enough by the American law. *sigh*
Do you have any future costumes or plans to share with us?
Konoe: I want to make more of Yuna’s costumes. I’m going to have new photoshoots of my favorite games like Kingdom Hearts, Devil May Cry, Crisis Core, Chrono Cross. Stay tuned and you’ll see a lot of cosplays from Lifestream team [laughs].
Want to keep tabs on Konoe’s future cosplay? Follow her cookie crumb trail below: