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It is a truth universally acknowledged that the corona scoundrel, Covid-19, sucks.
This pandemic is a fatally dangerous scum, an accursed pox upon all aspects of our lives and loves.
It is especially so, if you are of the extroverted-inclination, who demands social interactions to survive, be it in terms of economy or the arts.
However, survival is often achieved through the combined efforts of adaptation and overcoming – here’s how 3 of our local cosplayers did their best to keep their cosplay passion alive, in spite of all the conventions and events being delayed or cancelled.
Like many other careers or jobs, cosplayers too have turned to the Internet, to join online events, or to organise their own, via streaming.
This 26-year-old has converted her home into her cosplay streamer’s playpen since the movement control order (MCO) restrictions were announced in March 2020.
Initially, she started streaming cosplay on Facebook just to cheer people up but then found that it was potentially lucrative too.
“My whole house has 3 rooms. The master bedroom is my normal bedroom. I turned one of the rooms into my “Cosplay room” where I keep my costumes, wigs, and makeup; and another room just for streaming where I have my pc, figurines, and most of my stationaries.
I started streaming because I had nothing to do when I stayed at home. If it wasn’t for the pandemic, there’s a big chance that I wouldn’t have began streaming at all.”
Before the pandemic, Angel’s life would have been attending more events for work, such as for photoshoots and Comic Fiesta.
“I used to make around RM3-6k per month depending on how much work and offers I had.
“It’s freelance, so there are better months than others. Now that I’m streaming on several platforms and selling simple merchandise online, it could go up to a 5 digit salary a month,” she said.
Angel streams on Facebook and BIGO and makes money by selling polaroids of her OOTD and other merchandise.
“Making content and interacting with people are things that I enjoy and if I can spend just 1 or 2 hours a day to make some people’s day better, why not?
I did feel burnt out several times from having to find new topics every day. I’m no gamer, so my streams were all about sharing stories, experiences, and knowledge.
” Soon I invested in a PC to improve my streams and I haven’t stopped ever since.”
“A girl’s gotta eat,” Angel said matter-of-factly. “Of course, there’s the occasional stress on hitting monthly targets, but the good outweighs the bad.”
“When I look back at my work, I had already made a name for myself, and my career was building this whole time without even realizing it.”
“We all know that we can’t stream or cosplay forever. I’ve accepted that as a fact a long time ago, but I don’t plan to retire as long as I can still keep it going.
“When cosplaying as a hobby, there’s more freedom to it – you can do anything you want whenever you want. Cosplaying to earn an income requires being more committed and disciplined to produce quality content, watch your speech and appearance and learn how to market yourself to gain support and investment.
“Our hobbies keep us alive, we do it because it’s our passion and we love it. Happiness is key to a healthy life,” says Angel.
Miyu Hanamori started her cosplay hobby in 2015 after discovering Thailand cosplayer Yuegene Fay from a Comic Fiesta YouTube video.
“I knew cosplay had existed way before that but I did not have the chance to try it out.
“Turning cosplay into a career was also not something I considered seriously until three years ago, after getting invited to a small event as a guest.
Miyu initially felt at a loss when the MCO was announced as she had to cancel a string of photoshoots that was intended to build her portfolio and grow her social media presence.
Luckily, she found good advice and support from friends with similar interests, who guided her towards keeping her cosplay hobby and career alive.
“At first, I was just curious, I downloaded the BIGO app just to support my good friend, King Angel. She probably knew I was feeling aimless at that time, so she asked me to join BIGO to stream, as something to fill in the time at that moment.
“I was hesitant and didn’t take it seriously because I am quite introverted but after a few months, and thanks to guidance from seniors, I got used to it and went full time on BIGO. Now I stream almost daily on BIGO, with one day off on weekdays.”
Miyu however said that it’s not rainbows and sunshine, as the nature of cosplay, which used to be more about going out and interacting with people has turned into a fully virtual one.
This means that she needed to maintain a constant social media presence by posting pictures and updates online.
She says, on average she makes a few hundred ringgit by selling.
“It’s not much for someone who just started to grow their community from nothing but in terms of streaming, I can only say we make an average of 2k per month depending on how creative you are with your content.
“Many who do cosplay nowadays are just get into the new trends and to earn some fast cash.
“While there is nothing wrong with that because everyone needs money to live, it does give the wrong impression when they are unable to explain the characters they are cosplaying.
Miyu said she herself picked up the hobby to create meaning and add spark to her life.
“I do cosplay for the sake of appreciating the characters I love. I will do things at my own pace, and I will continue doing it even after we regain normalcy.
On the other hand, Fyra Zaidi, who has been cosplaying for 8 years, is getting comfortable online by combining her love for cosplay and e-sports.
She was a Taobao agent who turned into a cosplay talent and now works as a “shoutcaster”, which is a commentator in e-sports.
She also runs a cosplay-related business to create props and accessories, at JK Creative.
“I am a full-time caster and shoutcasting from home. I am into mobile gaming, so I took my passion for gaming into a career path and made my small mark in the Mobile Legends: Bang Bang and eSport scene.
Before the pandemic, Fyra’s cosplaying hobby had managed to flourish as a career, earning between RM300 to RM500 per day as a talent guest at events.
“My mother and friend sponsored me with my very first costume. It was a character called Oichi from the PlayStation2 game ‘Basara 2’.
“After 4 years of cosplaying as a hobby later, I was able to make it a career.”
Since the pandemic, however, Fyra has had to improvise by re-using her old cosplay to jazz up her casting from home gigs.
“Nowadays, I work in the esports industry where I do take cosplay jobs from clients sometimes during my casting or for the promotional issue.
“I do cosplay for work but I don’t cosplay in my free time as much as I used to before.
She also continues to manage JK Creative as a one-stop solution for cosplay needs.
“During the pandemic, we stopped taking private orders from the community as they were no events but we did make costumes and cosplay for companies.
“While I do miss my friends and going out to events, I think we should normalise streaming and in-house production!
“I had never made an in-house production before the pandemic but now, I am actively making content,” said Fyra.
She said although she had struggled financially at first, casting helped to keep her afloat, to the point that she was able to buy some new cosplay costumes.
I also found some decent second-hand ones that can help me save money.” Fyra shared.
Cover image by Fyra Zaidi, King Angel, and Miyu Hanamori.