Cosplay starlet Aza Miyuko: 'Don't think of popularity. Just feel it.'

The writer with cosplayer Aza Miyuko.

The writer with cosplayer Aza Miyuko.

Looking like a living doll – or sexy maid, depending on what you like – it's easy to see why South Korean costume player Aza Miyuko has fans everywhere.

One doesn't get to rub shoulders with South Korean costume player Aza Miyuko every day. So when she retuned to Malaysia in June – two years after her visit for the 2012 Anime Festival Asia Malaysia – it was a real thrill. About 600 fans turned up at the mall in One City SkyPark, Subang Jaya, Selangor to meet and greet the cosplayer, who was in town for a fan session organised by Malaysia Cosplay Toshokhan. 

Miyuko, whose real name is Kang Yun Jin, arrived dressed as Sonoda Umi, a 16-year-old high school student who's fronts the pop band Lily White from the multimedia anime series Love Live!, about a group of schoolgirls who become pop idols to save their school from shutting down. Looking like a living doll – or a sexy maid, depending on how you see it – it's easy to see why Miyuko has fans all over the world. 

In a lucky draw, one fan at the meet-and-greet won his chance to take a selfie with Miyuko. Meanwhile, everyone else who bought her photo books, AZA001 and AZA002, or any of her three posters were allowed to get her autograph and take photos of her. Despite the long line of fans, some in costumes themselves, Miyuko signed and posed for every one of them without losing her smile.

At dinner that evening, at the Charlie Chaplin café, other fans had the opportunity to mingle with Miyuko. So we took the moment to ask the pint-sized starlet a few questions.

Spot the difference: Sonoda Umi (L), Miyuko Cosplay (R) and the real Aza Miyuko (below). 
Miyuko (top, 2nd from R) poses with finalists from the Tokyo Game Show 2014 Cosplay Representative Selection in Malaysia. (Below) Miyuko with TGS runner-up Venus Lim. – The Star/ZAINUDIN AHAD

What got you into cosplay?

I have always liked Japanese anime a lot and I’ve always wondered what it would be like wearing the same clothes the characters wore, so I started cosplaying.

What challenges did you face when you started?

My first cosplay character was Ichimaru Gin from Bleach. The first time it was really hard posing and shooting, but nowadays I’m much better at it; it’s much easier to do.

With many years of experience in cosplay, what have you learned?

After cosplaying for eight years, I have learned much about posing, shooting, making costumes and making lots of friends.

When preparing for a cosplay project, what procedures do you go through?

I pick a character that I really like, then choose the outfit that I think would be suitable and then start working on it. Once a costume is ready, I book a studio and do the shoot.

You make all your costumes yourself. Did you study fashion?

I studied fashion from high school to university and I continue to learn even now.

Do you have any advice for those just starting out at cosplay?

Don’t think about the popularity. Just feel it and enjoy the hobby.

Which of your cosplay is the most special?

Kuroneko (also known as Ruri Gokou) from My Little Sister Can’t Be This Cute (also known as Oreimo).

What are your plans for the future?

I really like making costumes, so I would like to do fashion or costume design someday.

> Miyuko also appeared at the CosPlay League Vol. 1 in Straits Quay, Penang, in June as part of her Malaysian tour. For more Miyuko Cosplayer, join her Facebook fan page