Just how do you break into the world of professional cosplay?

Last month, RocketNews24’s Japanese-language reporter Meg tried on the Sera Kore line of schoolgirl uniform-style loungewear. But as fetching as she looked, Meg is not, in fact, the official Sera Kore model. That honor goes to Ayato Nikukyu, one of the most popular and talked-about cosplayers in Japan right now.

Nikukyu took time out of her busy schedule to stop by RocketNews24 headquarters for an exclusive interview about how she got started in the cosplay scene, plus some of the highs and lows she’s experienced since.

RocketNews24: “So how did people react to seeing you as the Sera Kore model?”

Ayato Nikukyu: “The photos got picked up by a lot of online news sites, so I got attention even from people who aren’t usually into cosplay. The first person to send me an email about it was my mom.”


RN24: “Your mom knows you’re a cosplayer?”

Nikukyu: “Yeah, she does! My other relatives are really supportive too. They’re like, ‘Well, you should do what you love.’ My grandma even has a pin with a picture of me on her purse.”

RN24: “Your grandma sounds like she’s really young at heart! So do you do cosplay activities while also holding down a day job?”

Nikukyu: “I spend most days working a regular job, so I do photo shoots or appear at events like Comiket about two or three times a month.”


RN24: “How do you find offers to cosplay professionally?”

Nikukyu: “I think Twitter really opens up a lot of doors. If you cosplay and share pictures of yourself on Twitter, lots of different people can see them. Then they retweet them and your number of followers grows, and eventually people who work in the industry start to notice you. Then they get in touch with you, for jobs like photo shoots, working as a booth at event like Comiket, or at a restaurant for a day to help it get publicity.”

RN24: Right now, you have more than 68,000 followers on Twitter. Did you just get a ton of them all of a sudden?

Nikukyu: “My big break on Twitter came in May of last year, during the Sakae Cosplay Festival. At that event, I cosplayed as Kayo-chin (Hanako Koizumi) from Love Live!, wearing her summer uniform. Someone took a picture of me, and it got retweeted about 11,000 times.

“At first, I didn’t know that was happening, but when I got up the next morning, it had already been retweeted about 4,000 times. I was like, ‘What? What’s going on?’ Because of that, I ended up getting around 20,000 new followers over two days.”


RN24: So is that your most popular cosplay photo?

Nikukyu: “Yeah. It was the first time I’d ever had a photo get that much buzz online. Before that, I only had about 5,000 followers, but the other cosplayers and photographers I know were sending me LINE messages saying ‘This is really blowing up online!’

“After that was when I started getting job offers. Originally, I was just doing cosplay as a hobby.”

RN24: “What’s your favorite cosplay to do these days?”

Nikukyu: “Recently, rather than a specific character, I’ve been really into cosplaying as my own original characters who are really low-key or women who look pure but are really bitches.”

RN24: “’Someone who looks pure but is really a bitch.’ Are there patterns for the clothes those characters wear?”

Nikukyu: “It’s more about your mannerisms and facial expressions. When I first started doing cosplay, I didn’t put any thought into my pose or expression, but recently I’ve gotten more capable of doing that, and it’s really fun.”


RN24: “What anime character cosplay that you’ve done were you the most satisfied with?”

Nikukyu: “That’s a tough question. Kayo-chin was the most popular, but for me, I probably liked cosplaying as Miya Tachibana from Amagami the best.

RN24: “What makes you decide to cosplay as a certain character?”

Nikukyu: “There are a lot of different factors, but mostly it’s just a sense of something clicking about the character.”

RN24: “So it’s not really about the design of the character’s costume?”

Nikukyu: “Not really. But for something like Love Live!, where there are a lot of different costumes, I’ve made my decision because I thought ‘Oh, this outfit is cute!’”

RN24: “Is there any anime character from the spring TV season that you’re interested in?”

Nikukyu: “Actually, I’m so busy doing cosplay these days that I don’t have much time to watch anime. Until a little while ago, I used to keep up with about 20 different series. But recently I see a lot of pictures from that show with the twin girls with the pink and blue hair. Do you know which characters I’m talking about?”

RN24: “Rem and Ram, from Re: Zero!”

Nikukyu: “Ah, right, right! They’re so cute! It seems like they’re really popular, too.”

RN24: “I think you’d be a good cosplay fit for Rem.”

Nikukyu: ““Haha, then I guess I’ll have to check out the show. The character designs really are cute.”

RN24: “What’s your favorite anime that you’ve seen?”

Nikukyu: “Black Butler. That’s the show that made me an anime fan. I like Sebastian’s voice, his design…just everything about him. The manga is good too, and so is the anime’s vocal cast.

“I like LovePlus too. Actually, the hairstyle I have now is the same as Akira Yukino, from the LovePlus social game. I really like my hair this way, and I’ve had it like this since I was in junior high.”


RN24: “How did you go from being an anime fan to being a cosplayer?”

Nikukyu: “I was interested in cosplay from the start, and a friend invited me to go to the Nihonbashi Street Festa. Nekomu Otogi was there cosplaying as Yui Kotegawa from To Love-Ru, and I thought she was cute, so I decided to start cosplaying too. I was really amazed by the world of cosplay.”

“That year I went to the Winter Comiket for the first time, and did my first cosplay. I’m still a big fan of Nekomu Otogi. She’s like a god to me. I could look at her forever.”

RN24: Do you think cosplaying is difficult?

Nikukyu: “Well, it can be really expensive. The money it takes to put outfits together and travel to events is no joke. I usually go by bus, and it’s a long ride to Nagoya, let alone Osaka. The day before some photo shoots, I have to get like six outfits ready, so cosplay can be really physically demanding.”

RN24: “What part of cosplay makes you feel the happiest?”

Nikukyu: ““I’ve made a lot of friends doing cosplay, and so we often run into each other and have a lot of fun together. And when someone at an event tells me “I came here because I like you,” it makes me really happy. Having people who enjoy seeing me cosplay keeps me going with it .”


A big thanks to Ayato Nikukyu for taking to time to talk with us. If you’d like to see more of her, you can follow her on Twitter here. She’ll also be appearing on the second day of this year’s Summer Comiket at the Nikukyu Ayato Room booth in spot Sa 50a, where you can also purchase photos of her in her latest cosplay outfits.

Images ©RocketNews24
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