Like most cosplayers in the world, I started off as an observer. The moment I discovered what a cosplayer was, I knew I had to become one! Years later, there is still a tiny fangirl inside me that explodes in excitement at the sight of an AMAZING cosplayer, bringing one of my favorite characters to life. I'm the Sailor Venus running around the convention center with a camera, who will make you wait for a photo of me...because I want to take a photo of you!
On my never-ending quest to live the ultimate otaku life, I've stumbled upon amazing friendships that all started with a quick dash across a convention hall. I'm happy to introduce some of my favorite cosplayers in a new addition to my cosplay column - Cosplayer Spotlight.
Up first, a sweet girl from California, with longer eyelashes than the Queen of a Thousand Years herself...
Yo! My name is Kailee, but most people on the Internet know me as Don, or Don Kanonji. I live and work in the Bay Area of Northern California, and cosplay at most of the conventions in this state. I mostly cosplay from anime or manga, but I also cosplay from comics, video games, and cartoons. I’ve only just started cosplaying in the past few years, so I’m always looking for ways to improve and grow.
Favorite Anime: Space Pirate Captain Harlock
Favorite Manga: Naruto or Samurai Deeper Kyo
Favorite Videgame: Left 4 Dead 2
Favorite Music Genre / Band: Panic! at the Disco
Special Skill: I think I have quite a few. I’m very crafty and I have a TON of hobbies. I sew, knit, crochet, embroider, sculpt, and design. I also was a cheerleader in high-school and on top of that, I love to dance.
Victoria: Kailee, when did you first start your life as a cosplayer?
Kailee: I started cosplaying in my senior year of high-school, but only in the past two years have I really had the time and finances to really get into the hobby and give it my all. I’ve always been into things that I guess you could consider “nerdy”. I’ve been a huge sci-fi and fantasy fan since I was very young. Through things like that, I segued into anime and manga, and discovered the convention and cosplay scene.
Do your friends and family support your hobby?
My parents were a bit iffy on the whole cosplay scene until they saw that I could use it as an outlet for my various talents. They’ve also seen the amazing people I’ve met through cosplay, and that definitely helped sway them. Some of my best friends I’ve met through cosplay.
Actually, I have an aunt who used to watch anime with me when I was really young. She showed the original Space Pirate Captain Harlock (made in 1978) episodes to me a long time ago. I am proud to say that’s the first anime I ever watched!
Would you dare call yourself a Leiji Matsumoto Fangirl?
I would definitely say so! Captain Harlock is totally “mai husbando”. Come on, who wouldn’t fall for an awesome space pirate?
So, for your Yuki cosplay... How did you make your costume and how did other con-attendees react?
I actually was really sick before the convention that I was supposed to bring Yuki and two other cosplays to. So, I only finished Yuki. I didn’t even try on the full cosplay until about ten minutes before I was supposed to wear her to a cosplay chess event.
I absolutely HATED the cosplay at first. I’m very picky and obsessive over my cosplay, and she just didn’t really make the cut for me. But I had plans to do a shoot with a friend of mine, Rob, in his Count Mecha (from Galaxy Express 999
) cosplay, so I was determined to bring her, finished or not. I am really glad I did. SO MANY PEOPLE recognized the character and were so happy to see cosplay from an older series. It was absolutely astounding, the amount of recognition I got at such a small con. And on top of doing a shoot with my friend, I ran into a Queen Emeraldas cosplayer and got to shoot with her too!
All-in-all, prefect first-debut and I will definitely be cosplaying Yuki again!
What does "Cosplay" mean to you?
I think the dictionary definition really says it all in terms of what it officially is, but to me, I associate cosplay with the people who put their everything into hand making a costume, styling a wig, or really getting into the feeling of a character. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with buying a costume or anything like that, but I definitely look up to the people who put their lives into perfecting their cosplay. Those are the type of people that I aspire to join.