© Yuria Fujino

Cosplayers to Watch: Yuria Fujino (Photos and Interview)

Yuria Fujino is a proud otaku who is not only passionate about cosplaying, she has made efforts ever since her middle school days to reach out beyond Japan, in particular, to France, where her experiences meeting and interacting with local anime and manga fans were so inspirational that she made otaku culture in France her university thesis. In addition to cosplay and photo book production, Yuria also does some conventional model work. If you're lucky, you might find her at sake bar Katsurada in Shinjuku where she has occasional part-time shifts.

Interview

  • grape Japan (gJ): Since when have you been cosplaying?
  • Yuria Fujino (YF): Since around ten years ago. In high school, I tried it on a whim when my friend invited me to cosplay Haruhi Suzumiya. There were periods when I didn’t cosplay at all because I was too busy studying or preparing for college entrance exams. As for making cosplay photo books, I started about six years ago. I began learning photography in college and it was easier to use myself as a model.
  • gJ: Why do you cosplay?
  • YF: At first, it was just because I was happy to be able to become my favorite characters (lol). In my college days, it was part of my studies and I included it in my fieldwork for my graduation thesis. Nowadays, I cosplay for a change of pace and to enjoy it as an expression of representational art.
    In my everyday life, I work for a company dealing with automobile and airplane parts, so it’s a world far removed from cosplaying. If you saw me dressed in my usual business suit, you could never imagine how I look when I cosplay. For some reason, I like to see myself looking so differently like that. Also, since I can’t create works all alone, I collaborate with others and we promote our creations together, which is a lot of fun.
  • gJ: Do you have a particularly memorable cosplay experience?
  • YF: I could mention the first costume I made by hand, which was Super Sonico bondage version, or Shimakaze from Kantai Collection for which I specially ordered enamel fabric, or Rory Mercury from GATE, for which I had the halberd made at the factory where I previously worked. All of these were memorable cosplay experiences for me.

With permission from © Yuria Fujino / @y_fujino01

With permission from © Yuria Fujino / @y_fujino01

With permission from © Yuria Fujino / @y_fujino01

  • gJ: Do you make your own cosplay outfits?
  • YF: Very rarely, I’ll make an outfit completely from scratch, but I usually modify premade outfits.
  • gJ: Do all the characters you cosplay have something in common? If so, what is it?
  • YF: Hmm… Without makeup, my features are already quite defined, so I often cosplay characters who have faces with clear-cut features. I actually like cute characters with drooping eyes, but they don’t suit me :(
  • gJ: Is there anything you particularly pay attention to when you cosplay?
  • YF: I make sure I don’t forget anything, and I review the original work beforehand! lol
  • gJ: You can speak French. Where did you learn it?
  • YF: This might take a while to explain…
    I began to dabble in French in middle school because I wanted to become a pâtissière (French pastry maker). Then, in high school, I chose French as my second foreign language. I went on a school trip to Paris during which I was enrolled in a French high school. However, after seeing a report on Japan Expo on a local TV show, I became fascinated with France’s otaku culture. I imagined it was possible to find artistic value in otaku culture the same way it had been realized in France’s bande dessinée (graphic novels). “Such amazing things are happening in Paris,” I said to myself. It was a revelation for me.
    I had been planning on entering a technical college, but I suddenly changed paths and found myself, in my junior year of high school, frantically studying for university entrance exams. I couldn’t get into a high-level university, but I managed to enroll in an academic program where I could major in French and art. After that, I had opportunities to seriously study several academic fields such as language and art (photography, cinema, and anime…). Officially, I was specializing in impressionism, Japonisme, surrealism and photography.
    Since I needed to interact with local otakus and translate bande dessinée and anime for my thesis, my studies were very difficult. I also went back to Paris to study. As a result, I was introduced on the now-defunct French TV network Nolife as a Japanese cosplayer who was learning French, an experience I ended up including as part of my fieldwork in my graduating thesis: “Japanese Otaku Culture in France.” Of course, I was able to make many friends among French otakus! I’m still friends with them now.
    While writing my thesis, I suffered from a stress-induced stroke (subarachnoid hemorrhage). Although I couldn’t write a perfect graduation thesis, it’s an experience I’m proud of, even now that I’ve graduated. Moreover, thanks to the French I learned, I was able to find translation work subcontracted from French companies.
  • gJ: You went to Japan Expo this year. How was it?
  • YF: French otakus were even more passionate than I imagined. I had the impression that their individuality is accepted in society and that they’re able to take a strong stand. I couldn’t feel any sense of shame, only a positive attitude as they enjoy their hobbies and remain true to themselves as otakus. A great number of them began learning Japanese thanks to anime and manga. They all spoke at least a few phrases to me in Japanese, so I was very happy. There were surprisingly many Japanese among the exhibitors but few Japanese cosplayers, so I stood out from the crowd. Some people even approached me with: “Are you Japanese? I’m going to Tokyo in August!”
    Another impression I had was while the event’s name remains Japan Expo, I couldn’t deny that there were other Asian cultures mixed in. I made the painful realization that, just as Japanese people often have a hard time telling Europeans apart, it’s the same for us Asians.
    The attendees were of all ages and, unlike Comic Market in Japan, there were many families with kids. Dragonball and My Hero Academia fans came out in huge numbers. Also, Touken Ranbu was incredibly popular.

Permission from © Yuria Fujino and @masaki77/ Photo by @masaki77

Fans lined up for Yuria Fujino in front of Masaki's table on the fourth day of Japan Expo.

With permission from © Yuria Fujino / @y_fujino01

  • gJ: Aside from Japan Expo, have you attended other foreign events?
  • YF: Not yet, but I’d like to attend many events, mostly in Europe. In Asia, I’d like to attend Fancy Frontier in Taiwan and events in Hong Kong.
  • gJ: Do you have any non-Japanese fans? If so, how do you interact with them?
  • YF: Yes, I do. On Twitter and Facebook, I communicate in both French and Japanese. Many local otakus can understand Japanese, so I really respect them. When communicating with non-Francophones, I use English. I'm still far from fluent, but you could say I’m trilingual.
  • gJ: Please tell us if you have any cosplay events you recommend in Japan.
  • YF: I can’t avoid mentioning Comic Market but in recent years, the Halloween cosplay event in Ikebukuro is popular as well. You can see all kinds of cosplay, so I think it’s a lot of fun!

With permission from © Yuria Fujino / @y_fujino01

  • gJ: What do you think is your most attractive feature?
  • YF: I would say my large pupils, long eyelashes, well-defined double eyelids, and my hourglass figure (57 cm waist). Also, my face with its clearly defined features is another characteristic of mine.

With permission from © Yuria Fujino / @y_fujino01

  • gJ: Do you have any other hobbies aside from cosplaying?
  • YF: I like languages, making sweets, cooking in general, photography (my digital camera is a SONY α7II and my film camera is a Zeiss-Ikon Contax IIa), observing airplanes, taking vacations to hot springs, snorkeling, going to museums, drinking… I have many hobbies (lol). Of course, since I’m an otaku, I also love singing karaoke, watching anime and playing games!
  • gJ: What is your favorite food?
  • YF: Beef, lamb, duck, ramen, shiokara, salmon… Of course, I like French but I also like Southeast Asian, as well as Japanese cuisine. I don’t have too many dislikes.

With permission from © Yuria Fujino / @y_fujino01

  • gJ: Finally, would you like to say anything to grape Japan readers?
  • YF: Japan Expo keenly reminded me that if you share a passion for a common interest with others, you can communicate your feelings to them even if you can’t speak their language. To all you anime and game-loving otakus reading this article, I know it may take courage to travel to Japan, but please do make the trip! I want to extend a warm welcome to you all. I hope that otaku culture will continue to be something wonderful which will always be there for us to enjoy.

Yuria Fujino Information

Profile

  • Birthday: October 1st
  • Residence: Tokyo
  • Blood type: B
  • Proportions: B 86(F65) W 57 H 88 T 161

SNS

Upcoming appearances

  • 08/11: Cosholic 23, Dans la Cage (own circle), C-23
  • 08/11: Comic Market (Day 2): Hibi Shosho 日々照々 (commission) East Hall TA 21b

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By - Ben K.