Jammie Go, cosplaying as G’raha Tia from “Final Fantasy XIV,” is a fan artist selling her prints at the Artist Alley of Kawaii Kon. (Photo by Shawna Takaki)
BY SHAWNA TAKAKI | STAFF WRITER
Cosplayers and fan artists were very important part of Kawaii Kon, the three-day anime convention that ran this past weekend. It took place at the Hawaiʻi Convention Center and is the sole anime and comic focused convention that takes place in Hawaiʻi.
Many people attended Kawaii Kon over the past weekend and many of these people went to the Artist Alley to buy art from seven rows of passionate fan artists.
An artist selling prints at the convention, Jammie Go, known as SleepyJay and found on Etsy, was inspired to start drawing as a child due to cartoons and anime she loved. She’s primarily a fanartist for “Monster Hunter,” “Pokemon,” “Final Fantasy XIV,” “Deltarune,” and many other games.
“I love how the community expresses themselves about their favorite things,” Go said. “I see so many artists who draw in their own style … and I can look at a piece of artwork and see this person really likes this fandom. … You can see where their heart goes.”
Geoff Pascual, a watercolor fan artist flew to Kawaii Kon from Santa Ana, California to sell his art. His art is a cross-fusion of traditional Asian influences and modern media and began to sell his artwork professionally over Etsy as a teenager, eventually creating the small art studio Pasucal Productions. His website can be found here.
“It’s pretty liberating. I love being my own boss, especially as a creative,” Pascual said, right before selling a watercolor print to a customer, “getting the freedom to paint what you want.”
Another fan artist, Loic Maltis, started drawing seriously 9 years ago and has since then grew the hobby into his job. He’s been to over 30 conventions and sells fan art as his profession. “Hunter x Hunter” is his favorite anime to draw for and he sells multiple prints of characters from the show.
“It doesn’t really have a schedule you can follow, so you have to be independent,” Maltis said.
Cosplayers, another type of fan who expresses themselves creatively, were very common amongst attendees of the convention and many took great pride in their cosplays.
Joseph Hoapili III cosplayed as a Mandalorian from “Star Wars” in a suit he built himself in 2010 and maintained to this day. It’s made of fabric, aluminum, and leather. With some blacksmithing and plastic work, he was able to create a high-quality cosplay. When creating cosplay suits, he spends a lot of time readjusting and slightly tampering with the fit continuously.
He gets the materials from many places.
“Either recycled materials from thrown out junk or just repurposed material from auto-motives and everything, pretty much anything,” Hoapili III said with a voice altered by a voice-changing mask, which added mechanical breathing noises.
A first-time cosplayer at Kawaii Kon was Aaron Wilson, who cosplayed his favorite character of all time, Morrigan Aensland from the video game series “Darkstalkers.” He bought most of his fabric on Amazon, his leggings on Etsy, and his wings from eBay, which he mixed and matched to create the look he was looking for.
“I wanted to give it a try and go all out with this,” Wilson said, gesturing to his outfit.
A striking cosplayer of Jotaro Kujo from “JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure” was Austin Camara from Kauaʻi, who has been cosplaying since 2014. Through the years, he learned many different aspects of cosplaying and how to present yourself and also grew as a person.
“I’ve met some friends through Instagram or by meeting them here,” Camara said on how he grew throughout the years. “We can see different sides of people too. Cosplay to a lot of people is like, okay, I can stop being ‘me’ and show this other side of me. I may not look like it but here I am in my cosplay.”
To prospective cosplayers, Camara wanted to encourage to give it a shot.
“What people say online about body image, gender, the color of your skin doesn’t matter,” Camara said. “Anybody can cosplay. Doesn’t matter who you are, what your cosplay is. Go for it.”
14-year old Halle-Ann Coyoso, who lives here in Oʻahu, was at Kawaii Kon for the first time and cosplayed “Ciel Phanthomhive” from “Black Butler.” She began to watch anime in March 2020 and began to cosplay in her room and post it on her TikTok.
“I think that engaging in fan communities has helped me grow as a person. I’ve met friends through cosplaying … and my self-confidence has grown,” Coyoso said with a smile.