Aqua Nanami is on a mission to promote cosplay culture to the world and she has the skills to make it happen. A vivacious, multi-talented entertainer, she is active as a cosplayer with remarkable range, an MC and personality on television shows and a singer with experience performing in Japan and abroad. She's also conversant in English, Chinese, and currently learning more languages. Her passion for cosplay has not only motivated her, she firmly believes it has transformed her and uplifted her spirits, which comes through in almost every photo she's in.


Interview

grape Japan (gJ): When did you start cosplaying and what inspired you to begin?

Aqua Nanami (AN): There was a Christmas party at my elementary school, for which I designed an original idol outfit and danced together with my friends. That was my first cosplay.

gJ: What motivates you to cosplay?

AN: To begin with, I wasn’t the type of girl who liked talking to people. I was the manga anime otaku type who didn’t like to put herself on show for others. For that reason, I sometimes got bullied. Cosplay was the magic which allowed me to transform that girl I didn’t want to be into a lovely heroine!

gJ: Out of all the characters you have cosplayed, is there a particularly memorable one? If so, what is it?

AN: I love the Macross Frontier series. To re-create the anime and the movie, I handmade outfits for every possible scene and organized cosplay photo shoots for each one! It was such a memorable experience that I’ll never forget it.

With permission from © Aqua Nanami

With permission from © Aqua Nanami

With permission from © Aqua Nanami

gJ: Do you make your own cosplay outfits?

AN: When I got started, there weren’t too many cosplay outfits available commercially. People had no choice but make their own, so I made many many outfits by hand. Recently, the environment has changed so that you can quickly get a premade outfit for any character you want to cosplay. I sometimes buy those, but I never just wear it as it is. I always arrange it to suit me and to get as close as I can to the character I’m cosplaying.

gJ: Is there something that all the characters you cosplay have in common? If so, what is it?

AN: My character attribute is “magical transforming heroine” (lol). I love girls who transform and fight! Even if they’re normal girls, when they transform, they can become heroines who fight for justice! Maybe that’s what lifted the spirits of this shy girl who longed for change.

With permission from © Aqua Nanami

With permission from © Aqua Nanami

gJ: Is there anything you particularly pay attention to when you cosplay?

AN: I gain weight very easily, but there aren’t too many chubby heroines in anime or manga. So… When I find myself putting on weight, I make efforts to cut down on sweets. As long as I’m cosplaying, I think it’s something I just do without thinking (lol).

gJ: You both composed the lyrics and sang vocals on LINTONA’s single "AjiMajiMagic." Could you talk about this project and how it came about? Also, do you plan on continuing composing lyrics or being involved with music in the future?

AN: A noodle maker in my hometown contacted me about their idea for a new product. They wanted to make a theme song and a theme character as well. That’s where I came in. Then, through the contacts I made, I got to know [musician] Rui Nagai and the project got started! Before, I used to perform at live music clubs in Japan but nowadays, I only sing at live music venues when I’m a guest at events abroad. I no longer engage in musical activities in Japan.

With permission from © Aqua Nanami

gJ: You’re also active in media, such as your regular spot on the internet show “Moe na anguru! onTV!” What kind of show is this and what do you enjoy most about it?

AN: Seven years ago, when I wasn’t as fully aware as I am today of my desire to tell the world about cosplay, I approached Unamaru, who was working in a talent agency in Tokyo, with an idea for an internet TV show. It would be mainly hosted by cosplayers and would be a long-running show rivaling anything terrestrial broadcasts could offer. That was how it got started. Our past guests have included manga creators, voice actors, musical artists and many others. I’ve never worn the same outfit twice on the show (lol). I think that’s what makes it fun to watch and I hope you’ll enjoy it too :)

gJ: You’re born and raised in Shizuoka Prefecture. Apart from the Mount Fuji Cosplay World Conference, do you regularly participate in other events within Shizuoka Prefecture?

AN: The first time I participated in a cosplay event, it was in Tokyo. Since then, Tokyo has accounted for over 90% of all the events I’ve participated in. So, to tell you the truth, I’ve hardly participated in any other events in Shizuoka Prefecture. That’s why getting a chance to be involved with the Mount Fuji Cosplay World Conference and have some way of communicating cosplay culture to my beloved home of Shizuoka fills my heart with joy.

With permission from © Aqua Nanami

With permission from © Aqua Nanami

With permission from © Aqua Nanami

gJ: You can also speak Chinese and English fluently. How did you learn them?

AN: In my teenage years, I wanted to learn English, so I traveled to Australia on a study abroad program. As a result, I picked up enough English to get by in daily conversation, and I can still manage today. As for Chinese, my teammates playing the PC-based online game I was into happened to be from Taiwan (lol). We would chat everyday while playing and I studied the basics of Chinese on my own… Doing this for about two years, I got to the point where I could get by in daily conversation. I’m studying another language now, and I hope to get to conversational level one day!

gJ: Could you tell us how you became an Indonesia Cultural Exchange Ambassador?

AN: It started when an organization which puts on events in Indonesia contacted me with an offer to perform. I was able to sign a multi-year contract to be an ambassador, which meant being guest performer whenever their events were held. I was also invited to be a guest performer in an event held by another organization in Indonesia. Going forward, I may receive similar offers, so perhaps I’ll be performing in Indonesia in the future as well.

With permission from © Aqua Nanami

With permission from © Aqua Nanami

gJ: Your current handle name on your Twitter account is: “Aqua Nanami @ preparing for travel and study abroad.” What do you mean by this?

AN: I’ve always had this ambition to travel the globe and make friends with people around the world (lol). To make that happen, I want to learn how to at least greet people in their own language! This has been a dream of mine since I was a little girl, and I’ve never given up on it. I’ve decided to travel abroad and participate in short-term study abroad programs. That’s why I wrote that in my handle name (lol). I never want to have any regrets about my life! That’s the credo I live by.

gJ: What kind of foreign events have you participated in?

AN: I’ve participated in events in Indonesia several times now, but aside from that, I have quite a bit of experience with cosplay events in Taiwan. I’ve participated as member of a fan circle, worked as a promotional model and simply attended for my own enjoyment. I don’t get lost in Taiwan anymore (lol). I’m also determined to attend an event in another country next year! (lol)

With permission from © Aqua Nanami

gJ: Your profile on your Twitter account mentions League of Legends and e-sports. Are you currently active in e-sports?

AN: There’s this world-famous tower defense game called League of Legends (LoL). I began to like it about five years ago. At first, I played it on the US server, but then, when the Japan server opened, I moved there to continue playing. As a result, I’ve made friends with people from all over the world. As far as e-sports LoL is concerned, I’ve been invited as guest cosplayer for a competition in Japan. Also, since I wanted to see LoL competitions live as they happen abroad, I’ve been a few times to the Riot office in Taiwan to see competitions. I’m currently planning on going to a competition in Korea.

With permission from © Aqua Nanami

With permission from © Aqua Nanami

With permission from © Aqua Nanami

With permission from © Aqua Nanami

gJ: You’re already active in multiple fields. Is there a field of activity you haven’t explored yet but would like to do so in the future?

AN: I’d love to have the opportunity to make appearances in foreign television shows in Taiwan, the US or other countries. When that happens, I might even be able to do without an interpreter if my language skills are good enough.

gJ: Finally, would you like to say something to our grape Japan readers?

AN: I think it’s awesome that such an amazing special article series featuring cosplayers is read by people all over the world. If we can create opportunities to bring smiles to people’s faces through cosplay, anime and manga, that’s not only wonderful, it’s also the best thing a cosplayer could ask for. I hope you will continue to support my activities. LOVE ALL YOU GUYS!!!


Experience

Cosplay-Related

  • Promotional model for numerous PC game companies
  • Gravure model for COSMODE and other magazines
  • Official model for HIDE OUT
  • CURE COSPLAY COLLECTION
  • Tokyo Game Show 2011
  • World Cosplay Summit 2011
  • KAWAii MATSURI 2013
  • Takashi Murakami's cosplay performance "6HP"
  • Main guest cosplayer at Mount Fuji Cosplay World Conference

Television

  • Promotional segment for NHK Drama "Plastic Smile"
  • "Otomen" (Fuji TV)
  • MC on "Moe anguru! onTV!" (Ryukogakuen.tv)
  • MC at Ryukogakuen.tv

SNS

With permission from © Aqua Nanami


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By - Ben K.