By Rizwan Merchant

Editor Note: Bejitaballz Cosplay was chosen as the Representative Team at Katsucon to represent the Eastern region of The United States at the 2014 U.S. World Cosplay Summit Finals at Anime Central 2014. Bejitaballz Cosplay is comprised of two California Cosplayers Badman and Binkx. The winner of this competition will travel to Japan for the International World Cosplay Summit and compete for America against representatives of the other countries involved in the WCS.

All photos featured are copyright to their respective owners. 


Introductions

Kisuke & Momohime from Muramasa The Demon Blade Photograph by Jessie Proudmore

On the west coast, Mike and Diana are a team called Bejitaballz Cosplay. They cosplay under the names Badman and Binkx. These are their interview answers. (dun dun!)

When did you start Cosplaying?


We’ve been cosplaying together for about 10 years now but both of us have been in the hobby since before 2000.

What got you into Cosplaying?

Mike obviously does it to attract the ladies, while Diana does it to also attract the ladies.

Just kidding.

We enjoy anime and manga, and when we saw how much fun people had dressing up as the characters they loved we attempted to do the same, sometimes even successfully!

What is your favorite Cosplay that you’ve made (or worn)?

Mike: Probably Kuno with Phoenix Chick from Ranma 1/2 or Gai Sensei from Naruto.
Diana: I really enjoyed being fabulous bad ninja Yurimaru for our Ninja Scroll group. But I also am very happy with my recent Sophitia costume.

How do you determine what characters you Cosplay?
When it’s for WCS we tend to go for costumes that compliment each other, or sometimes one of us will pick something and the other will be good enough to wear it. We do have quite a lot of friends we enjoy dressing up with- like SK Cosplay. We tend to have similar tastes so we don’t really fight over what we make so much as trying to make the time to wear them together. Sometimes our schedules don’t match up.

cosplayWhy do you enjoy Cosplaying?
It’s a great way of displaying your fandom and a pretty unique hobby. We’ve made so many good friends from cosplay, including each other, so we keep doing it.

Do you have any dream costumes you want to make or wear?

Mike: Probably some incredibly well-scaled something from Warhammer.
Diana: Ifurita from El Hazard has always been a dream costume for me.

Out of all of your costumes, which was the hardest to fabricate?

So many of our costumes range in scale and complexity that we don’t think it’s fair to say one is harder than the other. We could say that as we grow in costuming we hold ourselves to different standards, so the techniques and execution change. Some things that look quite easy may have extra steps involved for whatever they are being used for- a masquerade, judging, or just wearing around the convention. That being said, all of our WCS costumes so far have been particularly challenging. (Utena and Akio from Utena, Solid Snake and Cyborg Ninja from Metal Gear Solid, and Nightmare and Sophitia from Soul Calibur 2)

What are some Cosplays you are currently working on?

Diana is really into the movie Frozen so she’s been amassing materials to make Anna in her winter costume. Most of our efforts right now will be focused on taking our feedback from the WCS Prelim we recently competed in and adapting that to what we plan on taking to the finals.

Utena Tenjou & Akio Ohtori from Revolutionary Girl UtenaWhich costume are you most looking forward to wearing in the future?

We both really like the character designs for Van and Hitomi from Escaflowne: A Girl in Gaea and plan to re-work those in the near future, but we do also have Androids 17 and 18 from Dragon Ball Z which we have yet to wear at a convention together so probably those as well.

Do you think you will ever retire from Cosplaying?
Maybe from competitive cosplay, but we’ll probably keep dressing up until we’re tired of the hobby.

Have you ever considered wearing costumes outside of conventions, for your day-to-day life?
No. Costuming is a hobby for us. We do enjoy Dapper Day at Disneyland, though! It’s kind of like getting dolled up but some people go all out with themed clothing or make their outfits themselves.

Do you tend to fabricate/make your own costumes or buy them?

We make our own costumes, though sometimes we do use ‘found items’- meaning, sometimes you don’t need to make a pair of black slacks, so you purchase them and combine them with other things or alter them to make a costume. An example of this are our Fate/Zero costumes- we changed the buttons and fit on several pieces of clothing to make the outfits.

In the World of Cosplaying

Bejitaballz Zoro-NamiWhat experiences in your life have changed the way you Cosplay?
Time. Time and how much we have of it and when it is convenient to do so tends to dictate our Cosplay together. Sometimes our schedules don’t line up so we’ll have a backlog of costumes we have yet to wear. But mostly we like to adventure and again, we have lots of friends we met through cosplay that we do lots of other things with besides cosplay.

What kind of reactions do you receive for any alterations and reinventions of character designs and attire?
Well, we tend to enjoy adapting the costume closely from the source material but sometimes you can go a little bit eccentric. With our Soul Calibur 2 costumes we wanted something that was a bit more grand than the initial designs so we embellished quite a lot. This distinguished our versions of the costumes from previous cosplayers but also gave us the opportunity to try new techniques like beading, sequins, and heavily painted and weathered materials.
You can’t please everyone; some people like your costume to look like it walked out of the source but it really is about your interpretation since it’s your costume and your effort.

How do you react to the attention your cosplays generate?

We tend to be in the moment for whatever it is we are doing. Usually we seek out people from the same series and enjoy the fandom. Obviously it’s really nice when people enjoy and acknowledge our costumes, but again, we tend to make things we really enjoy or as part of a group with friends. Sometimes there are people who don’t like what you have decided to wear or decide that you don’t deserve a prize or some kind of acknowledgment, but it’s up to you to determine if you really even want to engage people like that. It’s just as simple to ignore it and have a good time with your friends.

What are some of your favorite moments while cosplaying?
Mike: After having a very long Halloween with people not knowing what my costume was and continually calling it all manner of things, a large van full of cute girls swerved out of nowhere in the parking garage where we were walking. The door flies open and they all scream ‘Vash the Stampeede!!!!!’ and proceed to take pictures while I pose for them. It capped the night off in the best way.
soul caliburDiana: A couple years ago I made my first Disney costume (Snow White) and I went to a pumpkin patch to take pictures with a friend and we ended up hugging and chatting with all the kids that were there. It was really one of the best experiences ever to have kids enjoy your costumes as much as you do. Also, I totally could have walked off with, like, 10 cute babies that night.

Do you participate or have you participated in any cosplay contests (Convention, online, etc)?

Most of our competition stuff is focused on WCS or if we come up with something fun to do with friends (like our Ranma 1/2 performance in 2012) but we have competed and judged at a lot of conventions over the years.

Have you won any awards for your cosplay? If so, what kind and/or where did you win them?

Yes. Our favorite is probably Best in Show at Anime Expo in 2010. We were really excited for that one because it was our home convention, we had a very large group doing the anime classic Ninja Scroll,  and to win at the convention we grew up attending doing a series we loved so much and had never seen done before was really satisfying.

What was the first event/convention you went to?

Well…Diana’s was Anime Expo 1996 and Mike can’t remember but probably something within a couple years of that, most likely Fanime.

What is your stance on handmade vs store-bought cosplay?

Have fun with your cosplay, but don’t try to pass something off as your own if it’s against the rules of a competition. We judge masquerades a lot and we really hate when people lie about that kind of stuff. Besides that, have fun! Cosplay is a hobby, its supposed to be fun!

How do you feel about those who get into character while cosplaying? Do you get into character as well?

Again, this is a ‘fun’ thing. If people have fun getting into character and it makes the cosplay more enjoyable, go for it. When we do certain stuff (like Disney or over the top characters like Gai Sensei from Naruto or Kamina from Gurren Lagann) we can get a little more involved than just striking a pose for a picture, but usually we just enjoy being in the costume and having a good time.

Is there anyone you’ve always wanted to meet and have a photoshoot with?

We really like Omi Gibson from Japan, but we would probably enjoy hanging out with her more than doing a photoshoot.

Personal Experiences

solid snakeWhat would you say are the challenges of Cosplaying?

Time management, remembering it’s a hobby, and figuring out how to get your luggage under 50lbs.

How do you deal with the constructive criticisms that you receive on your Cosplays?

There is a difference between constructive criticism from your peers and cosplayers you respect versus someone having an opinion behind a keyboard. We take con-crit seriously to a point but we also don’t take someone ripping apart your costume because they feel entitled very seriously.

Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring Cosplayers?
We are not very wise people so we’re not sure if these are words of wisdom or not, but if you’re not having fun you’re not doing it right. Obviously there is effort and work that goes into cosplay, but over all you should be enjoying yourself.

Outside of Cosplaying

Do you have any hobbies other than cosplaying?
Wait, you’re allowed to have hobbies outside of cosplay??? Just kidding. We both like to think we’re creative people so we like making art, and since we live in California there is always something fun or interesting to do.

Do you have any helpers (pets) that often assist you?

We have Diana’s 103 year old grandfather, his two fat cats, and Mike’s twin. Those count, right?

Is there anything you do outside of Cosplaying that gives you ideas of what to do for a costume?

We like movies a lot and tend to go to special screenings and stuff like that if we get the opportunity. Also, going to the hardware store a lot tends to give us out-of-the-box ideas.

Final Words to the Readers

As far as events go, the WCS qualifiers have been a chance for us to meet and make friends with other cosplayers all around the country. We highly recommend it if you are interested in becoming Team USA or just want the experience of competing and meeting wonderful new people. Besides that, enjoy this hobby and the friends you make in it and be excellent to each other.

Facebook.com/Bejitaballzcosplay
Twitter: @binkxy
Twitter: @bejitaballz
ACP: http://www.acparadise.com/loves/binkx
ACP: http://www.acparadise.com/loves/badman