The Real Face of Cosplayers Vol.6 Mari Kurea: I Want to Cosplay with Enthusiasm

コスプレイヤーの素顔 vol.6 紅亜まりさん ~好きの力でコスプレしたい~
| INTERVIEW | Posted
The Real Face of Cosplayers Vol.6 Mari Kurea: I Want to Cosplay with Enthusiasm

Working as a portrait model, Mari Kurea sometimes displays her impressive cosplay work. Half Filipino and half Japanese, she sat down with us to talk about spending her youth in the Philippines, about her views on life and being an otaku, as well as her views on cosplay.

Her first time cosplaying was while working at an arcade!?

Mari Kurea: I lived in the Philippines from 5th grade elementary school to the middle of university, and as part of my job working at an arcade after returning to Japan, I did (was asked to do) a cosplay of Boa Hancock from “One Piece”, which was my first cosplay.
Following that I cosplayed Miku Hatsune, but my love for cosplay hadn’t been awakened yet, and it was much later that I really got into it.

― Were you originally an otaku?

I was. From a young age I’d always liked watching anime at home with my sister, and then before I knew it I had become an otaku. I liked “Sailor Moon”, “Card Captor Sakura”, “Prince of Tennis”, and Weekly Shōnen Jump works like “Shaman King”. I went to a Japanese school in Manila, and I would borrow and read comics from my classmates.

I learned how to make a web site at school when I was in the 5th grade, and there I uploaded a dream novel based on different comics. (laugh)
Also, my grandmother in Japan would send me light novels which I also read a lot of. I liked “Kino’s Journey” and stuff like that. I went through a phase where I was really into BL, too.

Getting obsessed with collecting goods, and how she got into “Love Live!”

During my time in high school my otaku phase had cooled down, but upon returning to Japan and working at the arcade, it came back in full force. After all, I’ve always been an otaku at heart.

As I mentioned in the beginning, I had the chance to cosplay while working at the arcade, but I wasn’t into it, and had pretty much begun collecting figures and goods of my favorite animes and games.

I had over 100 figures and was really into trying to complete my goods collections.
Things got really serious when “Sailor Moon” and “Card Captor Sakura” started selling goods for grown-ups. (laugh)

At the time I was really into “Love Live!”. This was because I became the person in charge of “Love Live!” at the arcade. I had to watch the anime to make all the decorations and signs.
Honestly I’d never been into idols, but as I gradually came to love the characters of the show, found myself rooting for them.
After making this discovery, I bought CDs, downloaded music, and had mail order goods sent to my house. (laugh)
Since the smart phone app was a thing then, I was always going after the URs (ultra rare cards). By the way, my favorite character is Maki Nishikino.

This was about the time I began doing portrait modeling, and started seeing a lot of “Love Live!” cosplay images retweeted by a cameraman acquaintance of mine on Twitter.
From there I became interested in cosplayers, and then I became a big fan of cosplayers like Yaya, and through going to her events and following her on Twitter, I began wanting to do cosplay myself.

Mari Kurea_cosplay_2018_018

Cosplay debut, despite not knowing how to organize a line!

In general I liked boys’ comics and male characters, but the first time I started liking female characters was with Haruhi from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.
So, for my debut, I thought Haruhi would be a good choice and bought a costume.
Since the only cosplay events I really knew were Comiket, inevitably that’s where I made my debut. Of course, I was by myself. (laugh)

After looking up a bunch of stuff, I found out that cosplayers were allowed earlier admission. So I got in early, and after changing into my Haruhi costume, I went to buy a “Love Live!” doujinshi by Noizi Ito (an illustrator in charge of the Haruhi Suzumiya series, etc.) and my dreams came true.

After that, as I was leaving the venue, someone asked to take my picture, and after casually saying OK, a line formed to take pictures of me. Since it was my first time I had no idea how to organize the line, and in the end just ended up taking pictures until the event staff came over to make me stop when it was time for the event to wrap up. (laugh)
I don’t remember anything other than being tired. (laugh)

Mari Kurea_cosplay_2018_019

Her hands shook as she shaved her eyebrows!?

Even though I was exhausted after Comiket, since I’d cosplayed for the first time, I’d made it past the initial hurdle.
Following that, even though I had no specific cosplay plans lined up, I got a “Card Captor Sakura” costume.
One outfit was made by my friend, and another I had bought myself.
It was then that I was invited by someone to go and take pictures at a studio, and did my first 1-on-1 photo shoot.

Then, from there, I gradually started wanting to do this character and that character, and I bought a costume for my favorite “Love Live!” character, Maki Nishikino.
I did this cosplay at an event that took place at the TFT (Tokyo Fashion Town) building.
I had a great time prepping and wearing it, but when I looked at the photos that had been uploaded from the event, I thought the quality was low.

As I watched a lot of other cosplayers, I learned not only how to wear costumes, but how to shave my eyebrows and do make-up. I figured that if I was sinking all this money and time into cosplaying, I had to do my best to take better-looking pictures, and so I shaved my eyebrows! Since the Philippines tends to be pretty natural, shaving your eyebrows it’s really a thing. So with a shaky hand, I shaved them. This was my first time.

Then I started making cosplayer friends, gradually the number of followers I had on Twitter started to increase, and with each photo shoot I climbed the stairs to becoming a cosplayer.
I met a good photographer while working as a portrait model and gradually the quality of my pictures increased, too.
Then I was being introduced to photographers, and though not many people know, I released a Maki Nishikino photo collection book.

Mari Kurea_cosplay_2018_014

Inspiration from an urban legend to begin creating her own costumes

At some point, I got really into the smart phone game “Fate/Grande Order (FGO)”.
It was around the time that Scáthach was added, and I spent a bunch of money for Gacha (In a social game, players get characters, cards or other items in a lottery-like game called as ‘Gacha’). but I didn’t get her. Since I’d wasted so much money, I really felt like I was gonna puke. (laugh)

I heard an urban legend that if you cosplay the character you want, they’ll appear for you when you do the Gacha, so I thought about cosplaying her.

In the cosplay world now she’s a really popular FGO character, but at that time there wasn’t as much attention on her and they didn’t have any costumes of hers for sale.
But I definitely wanted to cosplay her so I decided to make the costume myself.

But, since I didn’t know how to sew then, and had no sewing tools or machine available to me, even if I were going to make the costume, I had no idea where to go from there.

I talked to my friend who had made my “Card Captor Sakura” costume before about it, and went through a lot of trial and error purchasing cloth. I pushed partway through before there was no use, and my friend came to my rescue and with her help I completed my first handmade costume. About 80 percent of the work was hers…

I was really excited about the shoot, and did it in a place where special effects could be used to create the blasting scene, because her character that a battle scene is cool.
Even though it was the middle of winter I was dressed in a full-body stocking and it was really rough. (laugh)

Mari Kurea’s top 3 cosplays

Scáthach (Fate/Grand Order)

After all the most favorite cosplay is Scáthach.
Because of the costume making and the harshness of the shoot, it remains my most impressive cosplay.

Haruhi Suzumiya (The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya)

She’s the character I made my cosplay debut with.
Even though the cosplay quality wasn’t good in the beginning, I brought her out again to redo at last winter’s Comiket.

Maki Nishikino (Love Live!)

I’ve collected a lot of her costumes.
Even when it’s cosplay, I’ve still got that inner desire to complete them all. (laugh)

In addition to these, I also typically cosplay characters from the “Monogatari” series like the “Bakemonogatari” and “Nisemonogatari” series, as well as “Kantai Collection”.

I want to cosplay with enthusiasm!

Mari Kurea_cosplay_2018_040

― Is there anything in particular you focus on when you cosplay?

That I absolutely love the character.
I’m not just earning a living from cosplay, and have my own private life, and in it I spend money and time on cosplay. So I can only invest in characters that I love.

There are also many instances where the cosplay I want to do isn’t currently trendy. So it’s not easy to join a group. So I’m like an individual cosplayer.
I don’t just want to do popular characters, I just want to do ones that I like, so it’s very slow work.

I’ll do different outfits for the same character, but since my cosplays are still so much fewer than other cosplayers, I still consider myself a newbie.
I still don’t have a lot of technical skill yet, but I want to cosplay with enthusiasm.

― What’s fun about cosplaying?

I think my favorite parts are when I’m thinking about what character, costume, or picture I want to do next, as well as when I become a favorite character.

To be honest, making costumes is hard work, and cosplaying itself is tiring.
But after I cosplay, it’s fun seeing all the good pictures that come out, especially when the picture really makes me look like that character!

Also, I’m glad that I’ve made friends and formed good relationships with other people through cosplay.

I want to cosplay in the Philippines!

I feel like my work is split between 70 percent portraits and 30 percent cosplay.
Many cosplayers make their cosplay work a priority over their real lives, but I want to keep the importance of my real life, too.

Recently I’ve become a fan of Keyakizaka46 through my work. My favorite in the group is Nanako Nagasawa. Naturally I want to collect all their CDs, goods, and raw photos. I’m a complete nerd in both the 2D and 3D world, it would seem. (laugh)

Since I spent my youth in the Philippines, all of my school friends are still there. Someday I’d like to cosplay there, too, if I have the chance.

Related Links

Mari Kurea Official Twitter:
Mari Kurea Official Instagram:
Online shopping site:

Translated by Jamie Koide


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

comments powered by Disqus