Interview with Himezawa

HimezawaP8A9712(IanB)“I made friends in Germany who introduced me to cosplay,” says Himezawa on how she got into cosplay. “It all developed within a few years.”

Describing herself as a cosplayer, model, dancer, actress and author, Himezawa does a little bit of everything. She started cosplaying in 2009 and soon took part in the German Cosplay Championship in 2011. She then took part in the European Cosplay Gathering in 2013. She has been featured in NEO Magazine, won an award for her participation in Cosmates Video Contest and was a finalist in the Cosplay Idol contest by Otakuhouse.

She started uploading dance covers in 2013, performed in the play Tendrillar (a co-production with East London Dance and the Royal Opera House) and has also performed at numerous conventions around the UK, including the MCM London Comic Con. Amid this she has been writing the cell phone novel Honey Moon Marmalade, while her sci-fi and fantasy novel Staubmädchen (Dusk Girl) will be released in Germany this winter, with an English translation to follow in 2015. Having recently achieved (and surpassed) her Kickstarter goal to work in Japan, September will see her travelling there as a guest at an event. From interviewing Himezawa, not only did she reveal more about what she would be doing in Japan, but she also spoke about her most challenging cosplay, performing dance covers and why sausage rolls can roll into hell.

 

How did the name Himezawa come about?

When I was just about 16 years old, I participated in the German Cosplay Championship, therefore I needed a unique username on the main cosplay page in Germany. I was just starting to learn my first few words in Japanese, and stumbled across ‘hime’ which means ‘princess’, and ‘zawa’ which is a ending for demon names. I liked the contrast of ‘demon princess’ or ‘wild princess’. Later I learned other meanings of it. It’s still a unique name, but also a rare Japanese surname.

I take it you will be travelling to Japan soon. Are you able to reveal more about what you will be doing there?

Sure, I will be at the “Moshi Moshi Nippon Festival” at the Tokyo Taiikukan for my Japan debut in September. Artists like Dempagumi Inc. and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu are coming as well, so I feel honoured to be there!

How did your interest in Japanese culture start?

In third grade I went to the library and read my first ever manga there, Kaitou Jeanne by Arina Tanemura – I haven’t stopped since.

What made you want to upload your dance covers to YouTube?

About a year ago, I became a huge fan of dancers on NicoNicoDouga and YouTube, including Beckii Cruel, Kelsey Ellison, and Abi-Pop. I was learning dances before, but was too shy to do anything with it, so I didn’t film them until I got invited to a London convention one summer. I filmed my first dance cover in front of Buckingham Palace and later that day I got to meet Kelsey and Abi at the convention.

When I started I was hoping that people from the UK would watch it (I was still living in Germany at that time), because I wanted to dance and sing at conventions. Of course I was dreaming about going to Japan like Beckii, but it seemed really out of reach for me.

You’ve joined an upcoming J-pop group called Furi Furi. What can you tell us about this group and what can we expect? Also, because you were previously part of a dance group (Colorful Idols), would you say that joining Furi Furi is part of trying recapture the same feelings and fun when performing as a group?

I always loved group performances, that’s why I joined ELD (East London Dance) for a production at the Royal Opera House in May, and that’s also why I joined Colorful Idols back in time. I have danced before, but it’s special in group formations, trying to be synchronised dancers, but also individuals at the same time. It’s difficult, but it’s a really fun challenge to make new friends and work towards a common goal.

Colorful Idols was only a cover group for Idolmaster songs and dances, while Furi Furi is independent. Furi Furi we are not only dancing, but also singing, which is a tough challenge for me. It’s a whole lot more about our own music and own voices than about reinterpreting already finished songs and dances.

What are the top three songs are you currently listening to at the moment?

“Spending All My Time” by Perfume
“Shape My Story” by Anna Yano
“Sungoi Aura” by Kyary Pamyu Pamyu

Himezawa - Elisabeth von Wettin cosplay (Christoph Gerlach)You’ve said that your favourite cosplay is your Elisabeth von Wettin costume from Sound Horizon (Ido e Itaru Mori e Itaru Ido / Haritsuke no Seijou / Marchen). What is it about this character/cosplay that resonates with you?

Actually, a friend recommended that character to me. Until then I never even heard of Sound Horizon, and when I got into it I immediately fell for her. I loved the music, as I’m a huge musical fan (hence why I study drama), and her sad story.

I really enjoyed making it, as it was the first time I was working completely by myself on a costume – it was for a contest, so I wasn’t allowed to take any help from others. It took a lot of money, time and effort to finish it, and it’s my best costume so far; maybe that’s why it’s my favourite.

Which would you say has been your most challenging cosplay to create?

Elisabeth von Wettin. It took about six to eight weeks to finish it. I had to do everything from sewing wigs together and making a crinoline, to filing golden buttons and repainting them. I had to make a corset-shaped pattern with no experience in making patterns, and I was under constant pressure, because the performance day came closer and closer. Even putting it on takes about 20 minutes.

If money was no object, who would you most like to cosplay?

I have actually not thought about that much lately, I had to draw back from cosplay a lot in the past months. My plans for Japan came closer and I actually sold a lot of my older things that once were ‘dream cosplays’ to me. If I could make anything, it would be one of the artbook dresses from Shinshi Doumei Cross (The Gentlemen’s Alliance Cross). I am a huge Arina Tanemura fan, so definitely one of her creations.

You have an assortment of dresses, wigs, shoes, accessories… I’m sure people would want to know where you get most of them from. What are your favourite shopping outlets (on the high street and online)?

I am a huge eBay-a-holic. I got most of my wigs and accessories from there, but I can recommend some online shops like Bodyline, Cosmates, PixieBunny and SpreePicky for a start. Just watch out for the sizes, as they are usually much smaller than their European equivalent! (If you want to save more money on your purchase on SpreePicky, you can use the code ‘himezawa’ to get 10% off.)

If you can’t shop online, I recommend going to Chinatown in London. There are quite a few shops that sell cute things there, or you can try at UK conventions. There are a lot of independent artists over here that create amazing things, so it’s definitely worth walking around the artist aisles at MCM.

Himezawa - Maid (photo by QQ Studios) Himezawa - Kuriyama Mirai (photo by QQ Studios)

You say that you’re “not a big gamer”, but you started a second channel where you play games.

I once got a message that said I should try and make a reaction video to when I play games. Little did they know I actually didn’t play much at that time. I loved horror games when I was in school, so I thought I should pick them back up. Though I am into cute things, I like scary games and movies as well. For a favourite genre I’d say it’s horror, [like] Silent Hill, The Forest; and puzzle games [like] Portal that I enjoy the most.

I also am a huge fan of watching Let’s Play videos myself, and I thought it would be great to try myself at a different audience. Most people who watch videos on my main channel are either from Asia or into J-pop or K-pop music, so I thought it would be quite a nice change for people to see that I have interests in the western culture as well.

What do you have against sausage rolls?

Hah! When I got invited to a convention last year my plane landed really late and I couldn’t find anything but a 24-hour convenience store near the hotel, and I remember a friend from the UK recommending them to me. So I bought several rolls and some sweets to try them. I wish I filmed my reaction back then…

They got a really weird taste (coming from someone who likes Nattō) and being used to German sausages it was a nightmare trip for my tastebuds… (laughs). Not to say I went to bed hungry that night. I remember myself saying: “They can roll straight into hell!”

Himezawa at MCM London Comic Con May 2014 (photo by Sarah Tsang)You’ve performed at numerous conventions, including MCM London Comic Con. Are we likely to see you perform at MCM again in the future?

I really hope I can come back to MCM next year! Sadly I am performing somewhere else during that time in October. I enjoyed performing at MCM two times now and the audience is absolutely amazing! I am especially happy that so many people were watching me last October, when I was dancing for the first time (officially) in the UK!

Given what you’ve achieved, do you feel that you need to constantly better yourself, like with the next cosplay, the next dance cover, the next story…etc. Or do you take it all as a bit of fun?

Of course it’s hard work, and I always try to look back and say that I have improved, but I wouldn’t continue if it wasn’t fun for me. I enjoy what I do a lot, and I am so happy a lot of people support me in what I do!

Do you have any final words?

Yes of course! I hope my message reaches everyone who wants to live their dream at the moment. If there is something that bothers you or holds you back, try to work on it. Make plans and work hard to reach them, everyday! There is no shortcut at any point, but it’s your way, so you can decide where it starts and continues.

I want to thank everyone for their support in the Kickstarter project, donating as well as sharing, and everyone who came to see me dance, watch my videos or follow me on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. I am happy I can live my dream with all of you, and I am really thankful for your support!

 

Thank you to Himezawa for taking the time out for the interview. If you wish to know more about Himezawa you can view her videos on her YouTube channel and NicoNico Community, or you visit her Facebook page and follow her on Twitter.

Images by Ian B Photography, Christoph GerlachQQ Studios and Sarah Tsang.

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1 Comment

  1. Cerys Eatz Pocky says:

    One of my favourite cosplayers! <3

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