Welcome to the very first Cosplayer’s Closet, where we feature exclusive Outerhaven interviews with cosplayers from around the web. Kicking off 2018 is our inaugural interview with Rizuki Ann, a longtime cosplayer who hosts panels and events on the east coast for the cosplay community. You may know her as the enthusiastic organizer for the 2017 Sailor Moon photoshoots at Otakon, NYCC, and Anime NYC.
Cosplay has a profound effect on many people. It teaches us a little bit about ourselves and introduces us to new people as we travel to conventions. In this interview, Rizuki shares with us some of her favorite cosplay moments, things she is doing to promote the community, and how the cosplay community is always expanding.
LIZ: Tell us a little bit about yourself!
Rizuki Ann: My name is Liz, but I am better known as Rizuki. It’s a nickname some friends of mine gave me over a decade ago. I’m a graphic designer and marketing director out on Long Island. Aside from cosplay, I really enjoy dance, yoga, playing video games, and crafting.
LIZ: When did you first get into cosplay and how?
Rizuki Ann: This question is hard to answer because I technically started back in 1999 — that’s when I cosplayed Sailor Moon for the first time, but I didn’t know “cosplay” was a thing. I didn’t know until 2002 when I attended my first convention, Big Apple Anime Fest. I learned about cosplay and met so many people in this new world I stumbled upon. I was in love. A family friend made three costumes for me and I attended a few local events here and there but didn’t jump back into cosplay or conventions until I started going to New York Comic Con in 2009. It’s been an interesting road since then. I would buy my costumes or commission family friends to make them, but I finally decided to learn how to make my own and figure things out on my own. And here we are!
LIZ: What is your favorite aspect of cosplay? Is it studying the character? Sewing? Meeting new people? Both?
Rizuki Ann: All! I really enjoy crafting a lot, and learning how to sew has been such an experience. I am still a beginner for sure and still have a lot to learn, but I am enjoying learning with every project I work on. I also adore being able to portray characters that I enjoy and that have meant something to me in part of my life. It’s so great to be able to take that character and bring them to life. As for meeting new people, it’s one of my favorite aspects of the entire cosplay world. I’ve met amazing people that have been so sweet, so fun, so supportive… I feel like I learn something from each person I meet, or am inspired by them all in some way.
LIZ: What are some of your favorite cosplays (worn by you)? Why?
Rizuki Ann: My absolute favorite is Eternal Sailor Venus. That one was made for me by a family friend and Sailor Venus is one of my favorite characters — that was the first time I got to dress up as her and it was amazing. On that note, the Sailor Venus cosplay is another favorite of mine. Yes, because Venus is wonderful, but also because it was the first Sailor Soldier costume I ever made. I keep editing it so it keeps evolving, and I love it for that as well.
LIZ: You have hosted panels at conventions. What are some of your most memorable experiences?
Rizuki Ann: I get very nervous each time, so to get the fan reaction at the end and have people come up to me to chat after is always so surreal — I love it! When I was growing up and first getting into anime and cosplay, it was nowhere near as mainstream as it is now. Barely anyone knew what you were talking about and it was impossible to find anything at all in regards to costumes and merchandise. You didn’t really have many resources for information and advice. Fast forward to today — I want to be able to help others in a way I didn’t have when I was younger. Whether that means helping someone break into the cosplay community, or helping them learn how to make their own costumes, or be a source of positive inspiration… that’s always been my goal.
The two experiences I won’t forget were when I hosted a panel at EmCon Anime Festival in East Meadow, New York. It was a Cosplay 101 panel and the room was packed. We went over all sorts of topics, and the audience was so interactive; they all had questions and wanted to share experiences and stories with me. When the panel ended, I had a huge group of people meet me after the panel and follow me back to my booth to talk; I will never forget that.
Then at Anime NYC, I hosted a Sailor Moon photoshoot where I expected maybe 10-20 attendees… I had way more than that. Way more. It actually reduced me to tears because I was so overwhelmed by the love and how sweet everyone was. When I see the pictures and videos of that shoot, I get overwhelmed all over again.
LIZ: What is your favorite part of attending a con?
Rizuki Ann: Bumping into old friends and meeting new ones. I enjoy every moment of it; it turns every convention into such a memorable experience.
LIZ: You recently hosted a fundraiser event for Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. What was that like?
Rizuki Ann: I have family in Puerto Rico and we hadn’t heard from them in days after the hurricane. I was upset because I wanted to help so much, I didn’t want to just sit here and let my family and the people of Puerto Rico suffer without having even attempted to help. So I figured that I could somehow work cosplay and the wonderful community together to help. It was such a fantastic event! We had a great turnout and raised over $500.00 for Hispanic Federation. We also collected a large cart filled with supplies that was sent over. I’m grateful to the community, to the cosplayers and friends that assisted me, to those that donated money and supplies, and to Game On in Smithtown for allowing us to host the event in their store. It was nerve-wracking because this event had a significant purpose to help others and I wanted it to be a success; I was very worried about it. I’ll absolutely do more charity events in the future.
LIZ: Do you find yourself learning things about yourself through cosplay?
Rizuki Ann: I do! I’m constantly learning how to do new things to create cosplays, which then teaches me what I can and can’t handle. My creativity is broader than I expected it to be. I also completely lost the fear of public speaking I had way back when I started. It’s surprising, but I find it so easy to spark up conversations and meet people now.
LIZ: Do you think it is possible to make the world a little better through the cosplay community?
Rizuki Ann: Absolutely — in two ways. One of my goals through my work is to push positivity and optimism throughout the community. To respect each other, support each other, and learn from each other. That can spread from one cosplayer to the next and help make the community a better and more welcoming place. Cosplay is also a great way to give back to others through charity and community events. Bringing that magic to children, helping raise awareness and money for good causes … I think we’re a stronger force than people are aware of with endless possibilities.
LIZ: What are some tips you would give to people new to cosplay?
Rizuki Ann: Don’t focus on what other people feel or think — focus on yourself. If you’re happy and comfortable and not hurting anyone, then keep it up. There’s no wrong way to start cosplaying, either. Whether you made the costume, bought it, put it together through items in your closet, commissioned it, or all of the above, it’s all cosplay. Anyone can cosplay. Run with it, go for it, do the thing!
LIZ: You can follow Rizuki Ann on the following social media platforms: