Malaysia’s growing cosplay community: an inside perspective
A conversation with Malaysian cosplayers YingTze and Preston, the leading figures of the local cosplay community
WHEN she first started cosplaying as a teenager, Cheryl or more professionally known as YingTze, never expected that this passion of hers would lead to a career.
“I was already interested in anime and manga as a little girl. Cosplay came eventually and I would never have expected that it could turn into a career. Back then, cosplaying as a career was just unheard of. No one says, “when I grow up, I want to be a cosplayer. The choices were doctor or engineers.”
Despite making her start in 2005, her first paid gig as a cosplay model only came seven years later, in 2012. Her efforts were not in vain, as she is among the most popular cosplay figures in Malaysia now, with over 300,000 followers on social media.
Together with her partner and collaborator Preston, they were among the special guests at the AniManGaki x Tokyo Street Anniversary event held at Pavilion KL over the weekend.
As part of the special meet-and-greet session, they were excited to meet fans and other cosplay enthusiasts.
“I am honoured to have this opportunity. I was really happy when the organisers mentioned they wanted both of us involved, because Preston is quite new to cosplaying.
“To have AniManGaki recognise and feature him alongside me is a proud moment for me,” she said.
Preston, a professional photographer, first collaborated with YingTze on photoshoots putting more of her work on the internet and social media.
“I met him during the pandemic. When I started, I would rarely document and photograph the different costumes I made. I would attend events and people would take photographs of me, but I would rarely do photoshoots.
“After I met him, I could have someone to rely on, from making the mood boards and storyboards of the different concepts I have to bring my vision to life.” In an attempt to become a better collaborator, Preston decided to try cosplaying.
“I started cosplaying because of her. I tried to understand and fall in love with cosplaying so that when I shoot, I could feel the spirit of the scene. That slowly led to me attending events and finding joy in this work. I have been addicted since.”
Their professional relationship grew, and they have been partners for over two years.
“We have very different interests, from our taste of music to the kind of food we like to eat. Cosplay is what we share together, and we want to always learn from each other. I am able to match her lifestyle, and if I have questions about cosplaying, I could just ask her,” Preston added.
YingTze’s early interest in cosplaying led to her decision to study fashion design in college, and she used the skills she picked up to make better costumes. However, a lot has changed within the cosplay scene since she first started in 2005.
“When we started, a lot of people would actually wear handmade stuff. The people I idolised were all cosplayers who assembled and made their own costumes because of the craftsmanship that goes into it. It’s really not easy making a costume from scratch.
“A lot of the materials were not available, so items like hair wigs had to be bought and dyed separately. It is much easier to get into cosplay now as most costumes can be purchased online.”
The AniManGaki event has attracted thousands of people from all across Malaysia, sparking renewed interest in the art of Japanese anime and cosplay.
“It has been two years since I have participated in events. Prior to the pandemic, I used to attend events frequently overseas in places like Germany.
“When the pandemic happened, I really thought I would have to retire and that it would spell an end to my career as a cosplay model,” YingTze commented. Seems like cosplaying is here to stay.
source – The Vibes