[Cosplayer: Kazuhiro Yoda] In the End, Chat Over Drinks!!



A Surprising Road to Cosplay

Is it just an especially unusual/unique set of experiences? Mr. Yoda is a former Self-Defense Force (SDF) officer turned actor cosplayer. Ordinary people couldn’t even begin to imagine that his experience would lead him on the path to becoming a cosplayer. 


“Life is a matter of survival. For example… Is it an experience tied to sustenance? What kind of prep can a disaster-stricken area do and when there is nothing to eat, what does one put in their stomach?… In your opinion you’d probably come to a conclusion akin to if it’s okay for animals to eat then it’s fine for you to eat as well, right?” 


Wait… Was I just suddenly smacked with a heavy story cloaked in levity!! In his days as a Self-Defense Forces Officer, Ms. Yoda seemed to have trained in such an extreme  way that even the officers around him were surprised; so surprised that they had to laugh when they heard the stories.


Mr. Yoda blending into the ground. Is this what’s called the sniper’s eye…?


“After leaving the Self-Defense Force, I made use of my experience and went into work as a consultant in disaster prevention. During that time, part of my role naturally was public speaking, but I had huge social anxiety. To combat that, I started working as an extra.”


He never thought that this would be his turning point in becoming a cosplayer. 


“Because I had experience as a Self-Defense Force officer, I was asked if I would consider doing military cosplay at an event. Around then, there was an anime where their version of the SDF was called “GATE” and they were front and centre.I immediately said yes; I had to do it! If what I had to do was dress up as a SDF officer and wear camouflage, then I would do my absolute best.” 


Regaling me with his eventful journey.




Drilling in the Strength to Survive

At that time, Mr. Yoda was under the tutelage of experienced cosplayers he knew, but gradually started to take cosplay into his own hands.


“There was a character that I knew from a free game that wore an old military uniform. As soon as I saw him, I thought that the character design was pretty cool, and the game was pretty interesting too. I knew that was the first cosplay I wanted to do and I think it really worked well for me that it was an obscure game which wasn’t very well-known.”


 Mike Zakarias from Attack on Titan (Photography: COZY / Twitter: @cozy1215)


But as we know, obscure cosplay costumes are quite hard to come by. That being said, even here his experience as an SDF officer came in handy. 


“At work, I used to use sewing machines and irons, and so I was already able to sew. So for this, I ordered a military uniform that resembled the characters then modified it. However, I had no clue about makeup… I didn’t know what to buy, and I was a bit embarrassed to go to a cosmetics counter.”




A Changeroom Mixup!? The First Cosplay Experience 

Still, it seems like his very first experience at a cosplay event was burned in his brain. 


“I had entered a dimly lit changing room first… I was dying to check my makeup to see if it was on properly or not, but when I looked beside me, I saw a beautiful woman in nothing but their underwear. I thought, “Huh!? What the-?! Wasn’t this the men’s room?? Did I get it wrong??” But when I took a closer look at the figure it wasn’t a woman at all but a man… I was thoroughly confused (laughs).”


As Mr. Yoda gained more and more experience, he became more comfortable (in the cosplay world). Even the range of characters he chooses has branched out. 


“At the time, my focus was on characters that I liked. Gradually, I thought more about characters and works that may suit my body type and features. Amongst those characters, I tend to sway more toward the minor ones. It’s a combination that I find very complimentary.” 


Renji Yomo from Tokyo Ghoul (Photography: CrossFive)


Sanji from ONE PIECE (Photography: IKURA/ Twitter: @came_19ra)




Have the Courage to Take the First Step!!

Mr. Yoda doesn’t really know what exactly pushed him to make his cosplay debut, but he says that no matter how small the steps you take, it’s important to move towards your goal. 


“In the beginning, don’t worry about how good the quality of your cosplay is. You’ll find that in taking that step forward, putting on a costume, makeup and colour contacts, the whole world changes. If you gather your courage and go to an event, you’ll find the people there will connect with you as your character and you’ll feel so much joy. Also, when you do make your debut, it’s important to really give yourself a pat on the back. Take it one step at a time!”


Wow! Such inspiring words. With the same sense encouragement, Mr. Yoda has been able to bring numerous others into the cosplay fold. 


“Everyone enjoys it, but female cosplayers especially have to have their wits about them in many situations in the cosplay world. They love the characters, they work hard to diet and to keep up their skin care. That being said, there are more than a few men who look at them with ulterior motives…. I think we have to help guard against them (females) being preyed upon.”


The fact that Mr. Yoda was a former SDF officer makes his words that much more inspirational.


Ryoji Kaji from Neon Genesis Evangelion (Photography: Yumeka Sakai / Twitter: @kei_yumekawa)




Toriaezunama is Universal

Mr. Yoda’s leadership in cosplay activities extends to doujinshi conventions like the Comic Market. His objective is… (to connect with) foreign patrons. 


“If you think about all the work they put into coming all the way to a comic market here in Japan from overseas, you have to admit that the love they have for it is amazing! They must really love the work and the culture! And since they made the effort to come all the way here, I like to show them some Japanese hospitality… Meaning nominication (Eng. ‘Talking over drinks’)! That’s very necessary at the global level, right? We get to know each other at Comiket, I invite them straight from there to a Japanese izakaya (Eng. ‘bar’) and I teach them the word “Toriaezunama” (Eng. ‘Let’s start with a beer’)


And… no one… misunderstands that???


Putting nominication and toriaezunama aside… Mr. Yoda’s love for the work is just as he said. It’s practicing cross cultural exchange through one culture. I hope that more people practice this and the idea spreads more and more. 


The Sister in Arakawa Under the Bridge (Photography: YUKIHIRO TAMAKI/Twitter:@abios_2004)




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Shiro Sato

Having started an advertising production company in 2010 whose main business partner is a mail order company, he specialises in direct response advertising.


Rhiannon Charles

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