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The Real Face of Creators Vol. 2: Kazari -Adding Color to Otaku, Art School, Self-Defense Force and Life

クリエイターの素顔 vol.2 かざりさん ~オタク、美大、自衛隊、人生に色を重ねていくクリエイター~
| INTERVIEW | Posted
The Real Face of Creators Vol. 2: Kazari -Adding Color to Otaku, Art School, Self-Defense Force and Life

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An art school graduate and former Japanese Self-Defense Force official. That was Kazari, a cosplayer famous for her weapons-carrying sparked an “armed JK(schoolgirl)”. With so many different faces to her, we were compelled to approach this intriguing person.


I love girls fighting with weapons works!
女の子が武器を持って戦う作品が好き!

Kazari: From young I always loved manga and anime, and drawing was my hobby. Although I loved Weekly Shōnen Jump works too, my favorite were works that featured girls fighting with weapons like “Ghost in the Shell”, “Black Lagoon” and “Gunslinger Girl”. Rather than the weapons themselves, what I love is the contrast of the slender, ephemeral females and the weapons they carry in combat. It’s a gap “Moe”.

In high school I became obsessed with “MUSICAL THE PRINCE OF TENNIS” and began to get into cosplay. This might be unexpected, but in the beginning I often cosplayed male costumes. Two of the characters I cosplayed the most were Seiichi Yukimura and Hikaru Zaizen. I was living in Mie Prefecture, so I would always go to Nagoya to participate in events.


Coming up to Tokyo to be a designer!
デザイナーを志して上京!

I loved illustrations and design, and studied that in high school. After graduating, I went up to Tokyo to be a designer and enrolled in Nihon University College of Art’s design faculty. I experienced many things after entering college, but even then it was Comiket that made the biggest impression on me.
When I wore my favorite mock military uniform at Comiket, I was surprised at how much attention in got online. So many people shared what I loved. It was something I’d never experienced before. At the same time my photos were being shared around the Internet…the sharing of information was so interesting to me.

By the way, I had interest in Lolita fashion from middle school to university. I didn’t want to be the same as everyone around me, or rather I wanted to do something different. During that time I read the magazines “KERA” and “Gothic & Lolita Bible”. I was also influenced by works like “Rozen Maiden”, “D.Gray-man” and “Touhou Project”.


Fateful Encounter with the Self-Defense Force
自衛隊との運命の出会い

To be honest, I had no interest in the Self-Defense Force before college. One day I just happened to have the chance to visit the JSDF garrison, and there it hooked my interest. They hold a festival at the garrison where their training drills and army vehicles are exhibited, and you can listen to talks by the military officials.

After having a friendly talk with the official my interest grew deeper and deeper, and I began going to the garrison more often. Again, more than the weapons themselves, it was the kind and straightforward character of the officials that drew me.

My grandfather had also been in the Self-Defense Force, and after talking to him about it my conviction to join the Force grew bigger. Rather than using the weapons I wanted to use my design skills in the Force’s public relations. I wanted to be known as a public relation officer, and of course to do that I had to enter the Force first.

People around me were surprised because I was the first design student they knew to enter the Force (laughs).
My desire to do something different had been a considerable factor after all.

My parents were against it initially. They didn’t understand why I wanted to enter the Force after coming all the way here to study design. But I persuaded them, telling them there was nothing I wanted except to join the Force. They eventually gave in (laughs).
I have very understanding parents. Now they’re the ones who’re so into the Self-Defense Force (laughs).
My grandfather was really happy.


The Self-Defense Force is a lively girls’ school!?
自衛隊は賑やかな女子校!?

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I applied to become an official at the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force with a fixed term, where I did an exam, an interview and physical checkup. Contrary to popular belief, the Self-Defense Force doesn’t do a fitness test during the examination. No matter how bad you are with exercise, you can improve your physical strength through the training curriculum once you enter the Force.
By the way, out of the 220,000 people in the Self-Defense Force, females make up 6% of the number at 16,000.

After entering the Force you become part of a team lifestyle. The first three months were packed with drills and lectures, and each day went by quickly. I was often being chased by time. My colleagues were people of all ages and personalities; there were people who is a Jock and people who loved staying indoors, and there were also housewives. My impression of it was that it was like being at a noisy girls’ school.

I retired from the Self-Defense Force after two years. I would’ve liked to continue longer, but I suffered a big injury. To become the public relations officer I’d always aimed to be I had to pass the advancement exam and rise in rank, but with my physical condition I didn’t think I could. It was a real shame, but I hoped I could one day be involved with public relations in the Force.


You can’t achieve a dream without saying you want to achieve it
やりたいと言わなければ夢は叶わない

Once the chief of the Kokubunji Recruiting Office reached out to me for my help in some PR work, and thus I became their support ambassador. After that I went on to model for their recruitment posters and work as a one-day garrison commander.
Being able to do publicity work even after leaving the Self-Defense Force, being welcomed by the PR team, and having my dreams come full circle made me realize how mysterious fate can be.
After retiring I had expressed my desire to keep working in public relations on social media, and it was a coincidence that the Kokubunji chief had come across that. With that experience, I saw the importance of expressing your desire to do something. You can’t achieve a dream without saying you want to achieve it.

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After I received many work opportunities that I’m grateful for. I was able to make use of my experiences and learn to work independently. Now as a talent who was a former Self-Defense Force official, I get noticed for my work involving military magazine covers and girls with arms.

During that time, I wore a camouflage-patterned costume at Comiket and carried a replica of the Type 89 Assault Rifle I’d used during my military days. My “armed JK” cosplay went viral on social media. I discovered that when I expressed my body with my favorite things, I received many opportunities for work.

My biggest achievement recently was becoming the one-day commander at the Kodaira garrison! The Ground Self-Defense Force had changed their uniforms, so I was told I’d be the first person outside of the military to wear the new purple uniforms and it made me very happy to be the only one. My parents and friends from my hometown are always happy for my activities…it’s interesting how information spreads these days.

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Introducing Kazari’s cosplay!
かざりさんのコスプレ作品を紹介!

Armed JK

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I wore this when I went to Comiket for the first time after quitting the Self-Defense Force. My weapon-wielding pose was well-received.


Armed Maid (Damaged version)

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This was a year after the Armed JK cosplay. It was a tattered costume with a dog tag and great story potential.


Eru Hoshino (DRAGON PILOT: Hisone and Masotan)

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It’s a female military officer from a work I love. As a female officer myself, I was attracted to her who is competitive, straightforward character and wanted to cosplay her. I even cut my hair to further express those emotions.


The roots of “Kazari”
「かざり」のルーツって?

Cosplay is one of my favorite things. When I’m cosplaying or working I’m known as Kazari and not my real name. It’s not that I’m disguising myself. The me who is Kazari and the me with my real name are the same person. Although cosplay is about acting as your favorite characters, for me it’s about acting out my own character “Kazari”.

My name comes from a novel I read in high school, “ZOO” by Otsuichi. In the novel there are two characters named Kazari and Yoko, and I was attracted to the sorrowful character of Kazari. When a friend asked whether I wanted my handle name to be Kazari or Yoko, I chose Kazari.


A creator who designs myself
自分自身をデザインしていくクリエイター

The “Kazari” I play doesn’t have any particular traits. I just portray it naturally. I gather the things I love and convey them through kazari. You could say I design the image of myself. Rather than installing something onto myself, I feel like I’m creating new things. In that sense, perhaps I’m more a creator than I am a cosplayer.

If you ask me if I want to be a military idol, then the answer is no. I simply want to embody that gap I admire between weapons and girls and hope I can exude that fleetingness. I love unbalance. There is “Moe”. I like people who feel the same way. That’s why I don’t particularly desire to be the top in any special genre.

I loved works such as “Ghost in the Shell”, “Black Lagoon”, “Jormungand”, “Gunslinger Girl”, “Touhou Project”, “Dorohedoro”, “Phoenix” and “Black Jack”. As for recent works, I’m into “DRAGON PILOT: Hisone to Masaton” which is about the Air Self-Defense Force.

When I watch a works I enjoy examining and imagining it. I imagine a character and their perspective. One series that is complex in that scope is Ghost in the Shell. No matter how many times I read the manga, no matter how many times I watch the anime, I can’t understand everything. How do the people in this series live? I wonder if we’re going to end up like this in the near future. To me, Ghost in the Shell acts like an archive for the imagination. It’s like a dictionary for the imagination.


Making “Kazari”
「かざり」の作り方

From the beginning I either take out my favorite things, or I make a list of the things I want to do. From there I consider what I am able to do.

For example, I wrote: girl, short hair, weapons, uniform… I wrote all that down and eventually arrived at my Armed JK cosplay. The actual creation itself takes the same long process.

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It’s like an oil painting, where the colors are layered on one after another.
Rather than a collage, I’m stacking up the things I like and changing the colors as I go along. I’m curious to see what color my life will be on the last day. I never want to stop creating. In other words, living is an expression in itself. In the future I want to become an old grandmother who creates and expresses herself. To me, cosplaying and drawing don’t have a big difference.

Also, I want to remain at my own pace. I’ve only doing what I liked in life till now, and I don’t intend to do what I wouldn’t enjoy.


What’s the usual Kazari like?
普段のかざりさんは?

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I usually sleeping (laughs).
When I’m awake I’m in the shower and imagining ideas for the next work or project, and then I window shop online. Recently I haven’t been getting enough exercise so I’ve been taking walks. I’m often thinking about what I can create in my next project.

Recently I’ve been into brewing tea. I recommend Marco Polo. It was a sweet flowery fragrance and is delicious when you add honey in. I steam it properly. I’m sensitive to fragrances, and love good fragrances (laughs).

The military has an image of being covered with mud, but many people use fabric softener on their uniforms. I would walk behind a good-smelling senpai and sneak a sniff, and ask what fabric softener they were using (laughs).
It’s like a pervert (laughs).


I want to hold an exhibition!
展示会もやってみたい!

I also want to be a talent on television or radio, or an actor. I’ve been saying this since before I joined the Self-Defense force, but my dream is to be on the Force’s publicity magazine “MAMOR”.
Of course, I also want to draw. And I want to hold an exhibition, where I can display my own drawings, photos of me cosplaying as my own characters.

Be it cosplay or art or the military, they’re all part of me. That’s what I want to embody myself.


Related Links

Kazari Official Twitter: https://twitter.com/kazariri

Translated by Sharuru

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Author
Nessie
Nessie

A web producer who passionately loves Sake, Cosplay, and Idols.

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