Tomoyo-Chan aka Jen B. is a rising star in the world of cosplay. She has grown to become one of the premier Latina cosplayers in Southern California with her wonderful renditions of Sailor Jupiter, Shana, Rise, Luka and many more. I have had the pleasure of doing many photo shoots with her since we became friends several years ago. Here is a transcript of our three part interview that covers a variety of broad subjects, from the origins of her love of the hobby to how she deals with future cosplay.
In Part 1 she went over the anime that got her into the hobby and her thoughts of the decline of the manga market in the USA. In this segment she talks about her experiences in anime conventions and her favorite cosplay.
Interview Part II
Kris: A perfect segway to the next segment, anime conventions. Can you tell me about your first anime convention?
Tomoyo-chan: Yup - Anime expo 2009. It was a date, my boyfriend took me, I had no idea this con existed, I had just moved back from Guate like a year before
Kris: Oh wow, so your first big event from coming back from Guatemala was an anime convention?
Tomoyo-chan: Yup!! I was so excited because while growing up in Guate we didn’t have that
Kris: Why did he decide to bring you to an Anime Convention for a Date?
Tomoyo-chan: He knew how much I loved Anime and we lived so close, so it was convenient. We only went one day and it was enough to get me hooked, just one day. I said: "I HAVE to go back next year" and I did, all 4 days
Kris: Wow, that is wonderful. What popped in your mind when you first saw cosplayers?
Tomoyo-chan: I was like WOW! "I'M HOME!" Finally a place where people could understand my geeky tendencies
Kris: That is so cool. So when was the first year you started cosplaying?
Tomoyo-chan: I want to say 2010, but I only wore like a school girl uniform
Kris: What motivated you to start cosplaying?
Tomoyo-chan: Seeing other people in cosplay and how much fun they were having
Kris: So a part of it had to do with wanting to join the fun.
Tomoyo-chan: Yup, definitely
Kris: I remember that at first you had some apprehension about cosplaying, what was that final push to motivate you?
Tomoyo-chan: Yeah - well, me being Latina I felt like I would not be able to pull of the look, and I have always been very self-conscious about my body image, too tall - not too thin enough. I dunno - silly girl worries, but I really wanted to join the fun and make new friends so I just jumped and did it and when I did cosplay with a full on wig and everything people were taking my picture, and I was like: "WOW! Maybe I do look ok after all."
Kris: That's wonderful! A desire to join in on the festivities got you to get over your initial apprehension.
Tomoyo-chan: Yup, cosplay has helped me feel better about myself, it has given me more courage to do things I would have never done before.
Kris: Did you ever imagine that you would become as popular as you have become in the Southern California cosplay circuit?
Tomoyo-chan: NOOOOOOOOOO. not at all, I feel very honored and privileged.
Kris: That's awesome, your humility definitely makes you a huge favorite. Out of all the cosplay you have done, what are your favorites?
Kris: Nice! So let's go over your two favorites. With Sailor Jupiter, do you have any favorite moments in that cosplay?
Tomoyo-chan: I am going to have to say my fave moments were my photoshoot with you and how many times people stopped me to take my pic. OH! And the Sailormoon Gathering at AX. it was my first time going to a cosplay gathering
Kris: Yes, I had quite a blast with that cosplay. Your accuracy with the character was amazing. You also commanded the poses and her mannerisms perfectly.
Tomoyo-chan: Thank you!
Kris: So what is your secret with Sailor Jupiter?
Tomoyo-chan: I just love her so much!
Kris: Was it hours upon hours of practice?
Tomoyo-chan: Nope, I just love her! So I guess it helps when you're a hardcore fan.
Kris: That's true, you mentioned how when you were little you played Sailor Jupiter with your friends. So in effect you have been playing her for many many years before the official cosplay.
Tomoyo-chan: yup, I was about to mention that! It sure helped that I watched her so many times when I was younger too
Kris: Very true, so you observed her movements and how she was on screen.
Tomoyo-chan: Yup yup!!!
Kris: Let's go over Rise from Persona 4. So why do you like Rise so much?
Tomoyo-chan: I did Rise as a cosplay request, my friends wanted to have a Persona 4 group, so I joined them. I watched the series because I hadn’t played the game and I fell in love with her.
Kris: I see…
Tomoyo-chan: Her personality is very similar to mine
Kris: Rise is an interesting character, she was a former idol who went back to her hometown to live a regular life.
Tomoyo-chan: Yup yup, you see - I sing. Shhhhh!!! Don't tell anyone. I can identify with her singing
Kris: Ha ha ha, I will keep that in mind.
Tomoyo-chan: Naaaaa you can disclose it. I used to be in talent shows all the time singing. I love singing so that helped.
Kris: Speaking of Rise, you recently won some awards during the Riverside Lunar Festival.
Tomoyo-chan: I did - I couldn't believe it!
Kris: Can you describe the work that went in for your performance at the Talent Show?
Tomoyo-chan: Sure! Not only do I love singing, but I love dancing as well. I am in love with the jpop igol group Perfume. I love their songs and choreographies, so I wanted to showcase my dancing, but I didn't know what cosplay to use. Then I figured Hey! Rise or Risette was once an idol she sung and dance
Kris: Yes, it was quite a perfect coincidence.
Tomoyo-chan: Yup, so I put together an outfit from my closet that Risette could use in a concert and I practiced the choreography and voila!
Kris: That was very creative on your part, so you played the character back when she was an idol, using your knowledge of her during the events laid out during Persona 4.
Tomoyo-chan: Yeah, I didn't know how people were going to react, but they really liked it. I was so happy!
Kris: It was very well thought out.
On Part III of the interview, Tomoyo-chan discusses the creation of Infotakus. What is this group and will they expand past Los Angeles County? She talks about her favorite photographer and her thoughts on the upcoming reboot of the Sailor Moon anime.
Interview Part I
Interview Part III