AVO Blog interview with Zel and Hoshi

This post is also available in: Dutch

Yesterday Formula Cosplay Europe announced that cosplay couple Zel and Hoshi will be special guests during the second edition of Formula Cosplay Europe, next to Lei Sakuragi. AVO is a partner of this event and to promote Formula Cosplay Europe it was decided to interview Zel and Hoshi. It has become a very extensive mail interview, so please grab some snacks and drinks and meet Zel and Hoshi!

AVO Blog: As this is the first interview we have with you two, please introduce yourself!
Zel and Hoshi: Hello, We’re Zel and Hoshi, a married couple of cosplayers native of Italy, currently living in The Netherlands for work reasons. We know that it sounds strange, but we started this hobby around 19 years ago, this cos the cosplay was already in Italy since half of ’90.

In all these years we never stopped to make costumes and take part in the competitions, and today we can say that the cosplay is an important part of our life and that maybe we’ll never stop to practise it, since we believe that there are costumes for all ages, you just need to look for them.

AVO Blog: You have been cosplaying for almost 20 years, Hoshi started in 1998 and Zel started a year later. When did you first get in touch with cosplay and why did you start cosplaying and what was the reason that you started as a cosplay duo?
Hoshi: Well, my first contact with cosplay was when I studied at the International Comic School of Florence. In 1997, a my schoolmate visited the autumn edition of the convention Lucca Comics & Games and she noticed 3 girls cosplaying some characters from the anime/novel Slayers. Since Slayers is my favorite anime (thanks to it I met also my husband—>Zel), my school friend came to me saying what she saw and after some minutes looking at my friends I said: “Hey Gals, why don’t we make the same for next Lucca Comics edition?”. My friends agreed with me and we started this project. Since I had red hair in those years and my behavior was pretty impulsive the choice of the character was pretty clear. I had to wear the costume of Lina Inverse, that even if she is a character that I like very much, I admit I would always dreamed to wear that of Amelia Wil Tesla Seyruun (my real favorite female character and if you know the series, reading the nick of my husband you could imagine the reason XD), but my best friend was shorter than me with black hair so it was pretty obvious that the character of Amelia was for her.

I and my friends started to work on the costumes, splitting the tasks; the sewing part was mainly mine (my mom was a tailor so I learned from her to sew), and in a couple of months we finished our dresses.

At those time the wigs and other materials were poor, so please don’t think to a really nice work, I can consider them acceptable for those years but not good. Anyway finally the convention arrived and I wore the Lina Inverse costume, my first official cosplay, I say official cos in 1992 I made for a carnival the armor of Shiryu from Saint Seiya, but since I don’t consider the carnival as a cosplay event, I think that my real debut in the cosplay world was in 1998 with Lina.

I remember the shocked eyes of the old ladies, when I put my foot inside the train, proud of my costume. I was only 20 and still, I didn’t have the smartness to change the dress in the convention…maybe cos there weren’t changing rooms or maybe that, really I was happy to wear the dress of one of my favorite characters and show the love that I had for that series to the whole world.

I was also so happy when inside the convention someone ran in my direction asking for a picture calling me with the name of the character that I cosplayed. I think that in that moment I understood that it was the life that I wanted: for a day to be some other person and live in a sort of dream.

Zel: I started the year after Hoshi and only cos she asked it to me. I wasn’t really sure about the cosplay since I’m an introvert person, but I accepted anyway since she was really persuasive when she wanted. At the time we were just friends met on a Slayers Mailing list, practically we didn’t know each other in real life, so the idea of cosplay group didn’t sound so great for me. But in the end, I took part to it, but I don’t consider it my real debut in the cosplay world since the costume wasn’t made by me, but just borrowed.

My official debut was in the same year and always thanks to Hoshi. She asked me to make a couple cosplay from the anime Lost Universe. So the first costume that I wore was that of Kane Blueriver making couple with Hoshi that was in cosplay of Canal Vorfeed.

After some months I and Hoshi became a couple in the life and since she continued to do cosplay, I started to enjoy it in particular in the props creation. Only recently I discovered also the passion for the cosplay photography, so today I like not only wearing the dresses of my favorite characters but also taking pictures of my wife and other cosplayers inside the conventions and events.

AVO Blog: What was your first cosplay and which cosplay are you most proud of?
Hoshi: As said before my first cosplay was Lina Inverse from Slayers. About the cosplay that made me more proud I have some of them. I can remember Sura, Archbishop, Aliot and Allysia from Ragnarok Online, Rikku from Final Fantasy X-2, MEIKO(Banica Conchita and Momiji version ) from Vocaloid and among crossplay costumes I can say for sure Edward Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist, and also Zelgadis Greywords from Slayers that I’m remaking right now with new techniques (it was an old costume made in 1999, but being my favorite male Slayers Character I thought that I had to fix it and take some decent pictures).

Zel: Of course it was Kane Blueriver. Among the costumes I’m most proud of: Kiel-D-01 from Ragnarok Online, Auron from Final Fantasy X and Alphonse Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist.

AVO Blog Which cosplay outfit did you work the longest on and how long did it take?
Zel and Hoshi: Kiel-D-01 from Ragnarok Online, that was our longest costume, it took almost a year. I was a really hard work since we made it huge, so huge that also we had problem at Japan Expo 2010 to bring it on the stage.^^;;;

AVO Blog: How many cosplay outfits have you made in total?
Zel and Hoshi: To be honest we don’t remember the exact number, but they could be around 200 including original or middle age costume and also the variant of the same character, for example of Edward Elric I(Hoshi) made six different version, since he has various dresses during the series.

AVO Blog: What is the most important thing you have learned from cosplaying?
Zel and Hoshi: There are several things that we learned from cosplay, first of all we can say working various materials, I (Hoshi) worked already in art and restoration field, so I was used with material such as wood, metal and etc. but recently the cosplay world is changed and inside started to appear new materials and we could learn about them and open our minds to this new way to make props. While from the emotional side, well, thanks to cosplay we learned to keep calm also in front of some bad situation; staying on the stage keeping cool and fight against the shyness is one of this. In particular, in the case of Zel, it was a positive thing since made him stronger also in the normal situation on the work and in the day life. Also, we have learned the teamwork, in the past, we took part also to some group, and really if you want to make it good you need to cooperate with all other people. Another important thing that the cosplay taught us is to have care of your physical appearance. We mean, it helps us to keep following a diet and start to do sport, in particular, my case (Hoshi), I had several issues in a leg in 2011~2012, making me a bit marshmallow since I couldn’t walk, if I didn’t have the cosplay, surely after that bad event I wouldn’t have had the force to start a strong diet together with sport (I love to do boxing and CrossFit) and come back to my weight, but the wish to wear my old costumes and make new ones gave to me the strength to do it. So we’re thankful for the cosplay to have helped us to keep a good body shape also at our age.

Last thing but not less important than the others, at our age we arrived to understand that you need to make this hobby only for fun or for your personal pleasure, competing helps you to do the thing better, but to be angry at the jury is useless. Every person has a different point of view, so even if sometimes the jury can make some mistake, it’s important to respect their decision even if you don’t agree. So we could say that we learned also this, respect the point of view of other people.

AVO Blog: What advice do you want to give to people who want to start cosplaying or have just started cosplaying?
Zel and Hoshi: The first thing that we would say to the people that want to start this hobby or that are at the first steps of their cosplayer career, is: take the cosplay as a fun, not as a fight. Unluckily we come from a situation where the people fought really to win, in the years that we lived in Italy (more than 10 years ago, the things today are different) the people were really competitive, and even if this helped to make better costumes, from the other side ruined the relations between the persons. For this reason, we think that the most important thing that the new cosplayers should learn is: take it as a hobby, as something that you can enjoy alone or with your friends, or something that you do to show the love that you have for the characters you’re fond of. You can do it also professionally, but continue to enjoy cosplay with happiness as the first time that you wore a costume. Doing cosplay, at least for us is this, and we would like that also the people that start this hobby can understand this feeling. Please never stop dreaming.

AVO Blog: In the almost 20 years that you both are active as cosplayers you have been joining many competitions and won a lot of prices. What does winning cosplay competitions mean for you?
Zel and Hoshi: Well, mainly we took part in the competitions to show our costumes to the audience not for winning, except in some specific cases. Cosplay is an art and the art should be done for the others not only for yourself, so showing your dress, the love that you put into making it and that for the character that you’re cosplaying to the other persons, is the first thing that you should do. But winning is always a nice thing, the applause of the audience makes you understand that you worked well and you reached your goal, but the prize of the jury is just another confirmation of it. So for us, it’s more important to take part in the competition rather than win it; but a prize is always a prize so it makes you happier, I guess.

AVO Blog: You are special guests at the second edition of Formula Cosplay Europe. What do you hope to see and do at the convention, next to the fact that you will be jury during the competitions?
Zel and Hoshi: We’re happy to be special guests and in the jury at this nice event, and we thank the organization to have gave us the possibility to be there, we much appreciated.

We’re sure that we’ll see really nice cosplayers, of great performances and we’ll enjoy a happy time during the convention. When you don’t have to take part at some competition you’re more relaxed so you really can enjoy the event around you and we’re sure that we’ll do it. We also think that an event like this is great, something done for the cosplayers is always good, would be nice to have this kind of event also in Italy (unluckily in our native country even if there are tons of cosplayers there are also several people that dislike our category thinking that we ruin the conventions, for this reason, that we would like that also in Italy the cosplayers could enjoy events like this made especially for them).

AVO Blog: Which cosplay outfits will you two wear during Formula Cosplay Europe?
Zel and Hoshi: Sorcerer(Hoshi) and Shadow Chaser(Zel) from Ragnarok Online. We thought that these outfits could work well for the event. Then we’re not sure, maybe we could wear also something of more casual in the time that we walk around the convention. We have some ideas, but still, we aren’t sure about it. All depend on the time that we have to make them, otherwise, we’ll wear only Ragnarok Online costumes.

We would to open a note about this game. If we have so many costumes from it is because we’re veteran players, we started to play more than 12 years ago, and we worked also as volunteers for Gravity Interactive (the US company that manage the International server) in the role of quest writers and in the specific case of Hoshi also as NPC illustrator. Also today you can find some her quest/NPCs in game if you visit iRO. So you can understand that this game has an important part in our life and it has also affected our cosplay wardrobe. A similar thing happened with Final Fantasy series. In the past we managed a big site of Final Fantasy cosplay, so this is the reason why we have several costumes also from that series. We never do costumes randomly, if we make them it’s always with good reason, because we love them first of all.

AVO Blog: What do you want to say to the people who are coming to the second edition of Formula Cosplay Europe? Is there something you want to see or receive?
Zel and Hoshi: Please enjoy this event as much as you can, and show us your love for your costume, the character that you’re playing and your happiness to be there. We hope to meet a lot of other participants, receive some of their wisdom and be able to open our minds to new horizons, having a great time with them.

I want to thank Zel and Hoshi for their time to answer all these questions, Formula Cosplay Europe for the chance to interview Zel and Hoshi and Team AVO for their support to make this interview possible! Please follow  Zel en Hoshi through their website, Facebook and Twitter. You can meet up with Zel and Hoshi on May 6 2017, tickets can be bought through the website of Formula Cosplay Europe. 

Francisca Hagen

Started with AVO in 2003. Now active as writer, reporter, reviewer, promotor, photographer and tries to rule the world with a forum. Can be found regurarly at conventions and concerts in the Netherlands and sometimes Belgium. Big passion for Japan and music. You can follow me on Twitter: @Seraphinne

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