First of all, thank you for asking me for an interview! Most of my cosplays are from anime and Japanese games, and as I currently live (and cosplay) in Japan I'm not usually featured in overseas sites so it really means a lot to me!

My cosplay handle is Clow and I'm a cosplayer from Spain: although I also cosplayed in my country, since I came to Japan 6 years ago I made many cosplayer friends here! Thanks to them I learned a lot and I was able to improve the quality of my photoshoots, my make-up, and all my cosplay skills in general, I think!


grape Japan (gJ): What motivated you to begin cosplaying?

Clow: Well, at first I just started cosplaying to have fun at conventions with friends in Spain. I used to participate in cosplay contests such as the World Cosplay Summit, and I tried to challenge myself to create more and more difficult projects. However, the more I cosplayed, the more I realized that I had the most fun when I tried to recreate scenes of the series and games I love (in photoshoots and recently in videos as well). So right now my biggest motivation as a cosplayer is focusing on being able to "recreate" the works I love as faithfully as possible in the real world: crafting and sewing the costumes, then performing as the character as best as I can, and of course, cooperating with the photographers and videographers as a sort of "director". 

gJ: What was your first cosplay and how was the experience?

Clow: My first cosplay was less of a cosplay and more similar to a Halloween costume in terms of quality (laughs) but it was Luffy from One Piece. Meeting many people who also liked One Piece and talking about our mutual love for the series showed me that cosplay is an amazing communication tool. I had a similar experience when I first came to Japan, actually: I went to an event dedicated only to visual novels from Key, and I cosplayed Kyousuke (Little Busters!). There, I made my first Japanese friends so I'm really glad I went and did that!

gJ: Why do you cosplay?

Clow: Many years passed since I first started cosplaying, and as I previously said, at first it was a way to meet more people that liked the same games and animes as I did. I love some obscure series such as Kiseki (Trails) series and also quite a few non-mainstream anime, so when someone recognizes the character you're cosplay that really makes your day (laughs), that has not changed! Nowadays, I also participate in big events such as Comiket and even create my own cosplay photobooks, so although it's still a hobby I also try to enjoy it in a more "professional" way. Thanks to that, I had the chance to work as a professional cosplayer in events and promotional campaigns in Japan.

gJ: Do you have a particularly memorable cosplay experience?

Clow: I have many fond memories as a cosplayer, but probably the most amazing thing was I was able to accomplish was participating in a "CLAMP only" cosplay contest in Japan Expo 2009 (France), where I participated with other great Spanish cosplayers. We didn't care about winning: for us the biggest and most incredible prize was meeting CLAMP personally. I love them as artists and their works have inspired me so much. 

gJ: Where do you get your cosplay outfits from? Do you make your own, buy premade or have them made for you?

Clow: This changed a lot with the years! At first, I didn't know how to sew, so I just modified premade stuff while learning the basics. However, once you start working full-time and want to dedicate time to other hobbies, or try to find a balance between creating new cosplays, editing photos, and upload them in social media, it's impossible to do all that by yourself! (laughs). So nowadays I usually make 50% of my cosplays from scratch and I buy the other 50% (usually uniforms or very simple costumes). I usually fix the bought ones so that they fit me better or just improve the quality of certain bits, though.

gJ: Do all the characters you portray have something in common? If so, what is it?

Clow: When it's not for work, I only cosplay characters I love! I usually cosplay main characters and cool JRPG "heroes" I look up to, and for a single day I try my best to act as cool as they are!

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

Clow: I always try to take care of small details (the kodawari, as we say in Japanese) that appear in the original work, such as props. For example, when I cosplayed Cloud I made three Materia, two for the Buster Sword and another one to have it in my hand and pose with it. It’s always cool when you plan to do a photo shoot, since it adds more posing possibilities! And also in conventions: if you have a prop only fans will recognize and you bring it when they ask you for a photo, everyone is surprised and happy! Apart from that, I think wig styling and make-up are some of the parts I always try to pay attention to. And of course, acting and posing as the character is the most important part, for characterization, I think! I always do my best to look the closest to every character no matter if they are completely different to me. When people tell me "wow, you ARE the character! you don’t look like you!", it makes me very happy (laughs).

gJ: Have you participated in cosplay events in Spain and if so, what are some of the differences between them and Japanese events?

Clow: They are completely different! I had the chance to go to Spain two years ago to a convention after many years and I had a reverse cultural shock: conventions start and finish... so late! (laughs). In Japan, most conventions finish around 16:00 or 17:00, but in Spain, they finish around 20:00 or 21:00, so I think the biggest difference is the intensity. In Japan, you need to get up very early and go early because it will finish in the blink of an eye, but in Spain, you can be more relaxed. For us cosplayers, another one of the biggest differences is there are no "cosplay areas" where you can take photos as in Japan, so everyone just takes pictures anywhere. Also, when I meet friends or people cosplaying the same series as me in Japan, the first thing you do is ask for a selfie... in Spain almost no one took selfies and I was really shocked (laughs).

gJ: You're great at posing as well as creating dynamic shots. What advice do you have for cosplayers who are trying to improve themselves in these areas?

Clow: Oh, really? Thank you! Well, the most important thing is trying to do it without getting discouraged! First, visualize it. Then try it. Then look at the result and be critical with yourself. "This looks good... but I could improve this. If I move this hand this way, it would look cooler!". Don't go with something you're not fully convinced with. Something like that! Also, I think seeing other cosplayers and photographers works is very inspiring. I follow many amazing creators on my Twitter and usually see their pics and get lots of inspiration because they make really amazing stuff. I hope someday I'll be able to be as cool as they are and make more awesome dynamic shots, so I still have a long way myself!

gJ: You've been cosplaying for many years. How would you say your cosplay has changed over the years?

Clow: As I said before, for me, it was just a way to make friends, at first. Then I started improving my skills and reaching new heights. Over the years, I started to look at the "professional" cosplay world, and I think about cosplay as part of my life as a hobby, but also as something I want to share with the world. So, I decided to aim for the top, the biggest recognition. And for cosplayers, I think the biggest recognition is to be noticed by the original creators and be designated as the "official cosplayer" for a character. So one of my dreams as a cosplayer is to be the official cosplayer of a character I love! For that reason, I'm always trying to improve my quality and have more reach in social networks, something companies check very frequently... So, please support me if you like my work. It means a lot to me to reach my dream someday!

gJ: Do you have any hobbies aside from cosplaying?

Clow: Of course! I mean, I'm an otaku before being a cosplayer. I enjoy playing videogames (I love JRPGs!!) and watching anime, hanging out with friends in karaoke, and more! Recently, as many events, conventions and cosplay group plans were canceled due to the pandemic, I started streaming while playing video games in Twitch and started to edit some videos for Youtube too. So, well... I'm not bored at all (laughs).

gJ: Are there characters you want to cosplay in the future?

Clow: I want to cosplay a LOT of characters! I love the Kiseki/Trails series. I'm currently playing Hajimari no Kiseki, so I'd love to cosplay Rean-sensei (I cosplayed him already with Trails of Cold Steel II clothes). Also Amiguchi from the amazing game 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim, and more Final Fantasy VII Remake characters like Reno. In the end, I decide what to do sooner depending on what I'm hyped about at that time and also if I get some invitations from photographers or cosplayers to participate in groups together!

gJ: Looking forward, is there anything new you'd like to try (other than cosplay)?

Clow: As I said, I recently started a Spanish-language Youtube channel. I (really) hate editing videos, but talking to others about stuff that interests me and cosplay is very fun, so I would like to keep doing it. Maybe someday I'll make a Japanese-speaking channel too... but I don't have the time to edit that. If there's someone interested in collaborating with me in editing the videos, please contact me (laughs).

gJ: Would you like to say anything to grape Japan readers?

Clow: Japan is an amazing country. Even me, who came from Spain... I have blended in with Japanese anime fans and I'm enjoying the otaku life as a cosplayer. Right now everyone is living a very difficult time all around the world, but I hope you can also enjoy all the amazing stuff we experience every day in Japan thanks to the internet and grape Japan. I will also try my best to make Japan closer to my fans all around the world too, so don't hesitate to check my Instagram or Twitter where I post lots of stuff you may be interested in. Let's survive this together with a smile!

gJ: Thanks so much for your time!

Cosplay photos with comments from Clow

Todoroki Shoto (My Hero Academia)

Reproduced with permission from © Clow (司狼クロウ)

He's my favorite boy in MHA! I was personally moved by his origins and the harsh expectations his father had input into him. I wanted to add cool ice and fire effects to the photo afterwards, so I posed while taking that into account!

Lelouch Vi Britannia (Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion)

Reproduced with permission from © Clow (司狼クロウ)

Reproduced with permission from © Clow (司狼クロウ)

Probably one of my most favorite characters ever. I was moved by all his hatred and the way he tries to save the dearest people to him with his own justice. One of my dearest cosplays (but I also want to cosplay school uniform Lelouch someday!).

Cloud Strife (Final Fantasy VII Remake)

Reproduced with permission from © Clow (司狼クロウ)

Reproduced with permission from © Clow (司狼クロウ)

FF7 was one of the titles that made me fall in love with Japanese games and that even made me decide my professional career. In fact, I was able to achieve other of my dreams thanks to that and cosplay Cloud in Japan with my current level. Cloud is my childhood hero and I'm so happy I was able to become him for a day!

Rin Matsuoka (Free!)

Reproduced with permission from © Clow (司狼クロウ)

Reproduced with permission from © Clow (司狼クロウ)

I was quite late to the party with Free! because I usually don't watch sports anime, but I love KyoAni so I tried and really loved it! Rin is an amazing character with the heart of a young boy and who never surrenders no matter how difficult the path in front of him is. He really inspires me a lot and I always wanted to do some pool and underwater photoshoot, so I'm glad I did!

Riku (Kingdom Hearts)

Reproduced with permission from © Clow (司狼クロウ)

Reproduced with permission from © Clow (司狼クロウ)

I love Riku since the first Kingdom Hearts game, but he was a quite small child there and I wasn't comfortable cosplaying him with my height of 1.78cm! However, he becomes more grown-up after Kingdom Hearts II so I was able to cosplay him in his KH3 clothes. Making this cosplay while waiting for the game made it very special to me!

Ren Amamiya (Persona 5)

Reproduced with permission from © Clow (司狼クロウ)

The Persona series is one of my latest obsessions and I cosplay a lot Persona 3, 4 and 5! I love the stylish look of Persona 5 and making so many photoshoots and a photobook was so much fun. He's probably the character I cosplayed most times in my life as I did many photoshoots and participated in many events with many of his clothes.

Leon S. Kennedy (Resident Evil)

Reproduced with permission from © Clow (司狼クロウ)

Reproduced with permission from © Clow (司狼クロウ)

Reproduced with permission from © Clow (司狼クロウ)

I love the Resident Evil series since I was a kid and Leon has always been my favorite character since then. He was a newbie in RE2 but he becomes cooler in the next installments, so I always try my best to show both sides of Leon in my pics when cosplaying RE2 Leon or Re4 Leon.

Sakamoto (Haven't You Heard? I'm Sakamoto)

Reproduced with permission from © Clow (司狼クロウ)

Reproduced with permission from © Clow (司狼クロウ)

I love this crazy and funny series so much since I read the manga and always tried to act cool while being stupid. I did a photoshoot a few years ago and it was totally worth it. I even went to Nishinomiya city where the story is based. I was featured in the Nishinomiya Sakamoto collaboration website and many of my pics were buzzed about on the internet too.


Clow Shirow (司狼クロウ)

Cosplayer born in Spain but living in Japan since 6 years ago. Participating in many conventions, events, and photoshoots around Tokyo and the surroundings. I especially love Japanese anime and videogames and cosplay a lot of JRPG main characters, always taking care of the smallest details. I've also worked as an official cosplayer sometimes. I would like to share my works outside Japan too and go to conventions worldwide once the current situation has calmed down! I hope you enjoy my work in the meantime on my social networks, so don't hesitate to follow me ;D


Upcoming events

I'm working right now on a new cosplay photobook of my Resident Evil Leon Kennedy pics. I want to show the newbie and cool sides of RE2 Leon and RE4 Leon, so I did many photoshoots and have around 100 incredible pics to share with the world. Many of them won't ever be posted to the public so if you're interested, don't forget to check it! I was planning to release it in Winter Comiket but it won't happen so I want to try to distribute it online and accept commissions from overseas too as I did with my previous photobooks. I hope to be able to finish and release it before the end of the year so stay tuned! Also, I plan to do more cosplay streaming. I want to try doing it in both English and Japanese if enough people are interested, so let me know!

By - Ben K.