A cosplayer at Kawaii Kon dressed up as an Inkling Boy from the video game “Splatoon 3.” (Photo by Cameron Enomoto)

By Cameron Enomoto | Staff Writer

Cosplay at Kawaii Kon is never boring. Every year, people show up in extravagant costumes and do their best to look like various characters from anime, TV shows, and video games. Kawaii Kon took place from March 31 through April 2 at the Hawai‘i Convention Center with over 20,000 people in attendance. Between competitions and photo opportunities, cosplayers could show off their outfits and meet others from different fandoms.

At Kawaii Kon, staff writer Cameron Enomoto (left) cosplayed Kuki Shinobu from “Genshin Impact.” (Photo by Koy Yoshizumi)

When it comes to cosplay, everyone has their own reasons for choosing who they dress up as and why they decided to cosplay in the first place. I chose to cosplay as Kuki Shinobu from “Genshin Impact” because I relate to her character, and I admire her ability to wear so many hats at once. She’s a capable and reliable person who will always be there when someone needs help. Not to mention, Shinobu is a skilled ninja who sought a life of freedom despite the demands of her parents to conform to societal norms.

I ordered my costume from Cossky, an online store that sells cosplay costumes. While it was around $200 for a full costume including shoes, a wig, and additional accessories, it saved me a ton of time because I don’t have the technical skills needed to sew my own costume. I ended up ordering the mask from Etsy since I wanted my costume to look more authentic.

Thankfully, the costume fit me perfectly. The only difficult part was with the wig. I had to cut it shorter in places to match Shinobu’s style and I used multiple styling products like gel, hairspray, and curling iron to get the hair into place. By the end of the day, I noticed that a lot of the styling had come undone. For future cosplays, I plan to style the wig in advance and watch tutorials so that the style will last longer.

While at Kawaii Kon in my cosplay, it was amazing to see how many people recognized who I was. I had over 50 people ask to take photos with me, and I felt proud that my cosplay looked like the character I chose to dress up as. It truly felt as though I wasn’t myself for a day but in a good way. Interacting with other people in the “Genshin Impact” fandom made me feel like I belonged somewhere. Overall, it was a positive experience and my first time cosplaying, which is why I’ve decided to cosplay again next year.

Similar to myself, other cosplayers are motivated by their love for a certain character.

“I cosplay mainly because I like the characters I dress up as,” said Kylie Kwan, a 24-year-old who cosplayed Tengen Uzui from “Demon Slayer.” “After I watched season 2 of ‘Demon Slayer’ I knew that I wanted to go as Tengen. He is such a loveable character and I am inspired by him for his dedication to protect what he loves. Even though he’s canonically a male character, I don’t see a problem with going dressed as him even though I’m a woman.”

Kwan said that she enjoys the process of creating props for her cosplay, such as weapons or headpieces since it gives her a feel of getting into character. She previously cosplayed Mikasa Ackerman from “Attack on Titan” and Sawako Kuronuma from “Kimi ni Todoke.” While some cosplayers purchase their costumes from online shops like Etsy or other retailers, Kwan prefers to sew her own costumes from scratch.

“It’s a rewarding process I’d say,” said Kwan. “I feel better about my costume because I can make it fit me perfectly. I also get a lot of compliments on it which makes me happy.”

Aside from having an admiration for certain characters, other people choose to cosplay as a form of escapism.

“Let’s be honest, the real world sucks,” said Joseph Hilinger, a 36-year-old who cosplayed as Link from “The Legend of Zelda.” “A lot of the times, when I cosplay it’s just to forget about everything in real life. I’ve been playing video games since I was 10 and if I could live in the universe of some of the games I play I would totally do it.”

Hilinger said that cosplaying also helps him to connect to a larger community of people who also enjoy the same games he does. He credits finding many of his close friends through events like anime conventions and online forums.

“I guess some people think it’s weird,” said Hilinger. “That’s fine, but you know it means a lot to people like me and I just want to be happy and have no regrets. I will definitely be back next year and I’m excited to see what characters people decide to cosplay.”