Annette as Mia Fey from Phoenix Wright - photo by Nert of ManyLemons

Cosplay interviews! A weekly feature on Animetion where we talk to UK cosplayers on what motivates them, plus a cool gallery showcasing their cosplays.  Here we talk to cosplayer:

Name:  Annette Wilkinson
(a.k.a. Odangochan)

Q: When did you start cosplaying and how long for?

Technically I have been cosplaying for over a decade now, which is a frightening thought.  I made my first costume (from adapted clothes) in 1999 and properly got into the hobby in 2001.  I started off attending sci-fi events, so I've made a lot of film and TV costumes, but I got into the anime and game scenes around 2005.  The variety of designs is so much greater and often more exciting.

Q: What attracts you cosplay?

I need a creative hobby or I'll go mad!  I also like portraying the characters I cosplay as I quite enjoy acting, but due to time and health restrictions can't take part in productions.  As well as those points, I've also found it a great ice-breaker when talking to others at a convention and I've made some great friends as a result.

Q:  What has been your favourite cosplay?

This question is a little like asking a mother who her favourite child is, as I honestly I love all my costumes for one reason or another!  If I have to break it down, though, it's between Mary Spencer (Trinity Blood) and Tira (Soul Calibur III), because I feel they're my most accurate and well-constructed costumes.

Q: Most memorable moment whilst cosplaying?

There's a couple that spring to mind - firstly, winning first place in the entertainment category at Expo for my Satine (Moulin Rouge!) costume was a proud moment for me.  I'd been working on the costume on and off for no less than five years and had ploughed a good deal of time, money and effort into it.  Memorable for the wrong reasons would be the advert that my friend Lex and I were filming for the Anime Network, when a heavy and dangerous light came crashing from the ceiling only feet away from us.  Cosplay is a risky hobby!

Q:  Have you had any cosplays go wrong/encountered problems whilst making cosplays?

Closer to the truth would be that I've never had a costume that DIDN'T go wrong somewhere along the line.  I've sewn things upside down, back-to-front, inside out, sewn them to myself, had accidents with paint (including the time my cat decided to walk all over the painted coat I had carefully lying on the desk when the paint was still wet, and I had to decide between cleaning paint off the cat or off the costume- the cat won), trouble finding suitable materials, etc. etc.  As a result, I often tell people that my cosplay technique tends to consist of getting things wrong in every possible way so that by a process of elimination it HAS to go right in the end!

The saddest time it's happened was when I was part-way through making an Illyria costume from the show Angel, and I came down with a severe ear infection before the convention and was unable to finish it in time.  It's the only costume I've ever given up on completely.  Normally, though, I soldier on and create something wearable, if not perfect!

Q:  Have you ever regretted cosplaying?

Not for a second.  I have made so many good friends through cosplay, and had such great times and such kind words from others, that I could never regret it.  Life's too short.

Q. Do your cosplay have a particular theme to them?

Not intentionally, but I do have a habit of choosing strong female characters because they tend to be the designs and personalities that I'm most attracted to.  I've done several costumes from Trinity Blood, because I love the series and am infatuated with the designs.

I also do a lot of Johnny Depp crossplay (cross-dressing cosplay - ed.) because the first time I was talked into it, people decided I bore a strong resemblance to him and should cosplay his characters as often as possible - I'm still not sure if that's flattering or not... 

Q:  Have you ever done group cosplay? If so how did you find that experience?

I do it as often as I can!  For me, there's nothing greater in cosplaying than getting to cosplay with a big group of your friends. For Amecon 07 we had a big group cosplaying from the King of Fighters, and I've rarely had so much fun, especially when we started play-fighting and taking silly photographs.

My main cosplay partners in crime are my boyfriend and the Yaldy cosplayers Angelphie and Ashe (www.yaldy.net), but I cosplay with most of my friends if I have the opportunity.

Q:  What cosplays are you planning?

I have a couple of really big projects lined up, difficult for different reasons.  I'm aiming to make Laughing Octopus (Metal Gear Solid 4) because it's a great design, different to anything I've made before, and presents some exciting new challenges.  I'm also planning an Astarosthe costume from Trinity Blood that's found in a particular artwork - a beautiful blue and white ballgown, with a lot of lace and a fabulous hat.  That'll involve some new techniques as well, which is part of what I love about cosplay as opposed to simple dressmaking; not only have I learned sewing techniques, but also prop making, wig styling, makeup, prosthetics, millinery, painting, cobbling and woodcarving!

Q:  Do you have a dream cosplay?

I have a habit of making, or at least attempting to make, my dream cosplays.  Satine was one, Laughing Octopus and Astarosthe are others.  Almost anything can be cosplayed with enough thought and ingenuity, although it's best to start small and work up!

I'm also finally fulfilling a cosplay dream and making the cat twins from Dominion Tank Police with my friend Amy-Lou, a costume I've wanted to do for several years but had trouble finding someone to do it with me.

Q:  Do you have one piece of advice that you would give to cosplay virgins?

Enjoy yourself, first and foremost.  When it comes down to it, cosplay is a hobby, nothing more, and getting involved in drama and bitchiness does nobody any good.

In terms of practical advice, I do suggest starting simple and working your way towards more complicated costumes.  A simple costume with lots of love and effort put in will always look better than a complicated costume that's been rushed and not given due attention.  Little touches can really elevate a costume, like a good wig or even coloured contact lenses.

Q:  Do you have an account with the website Cosplay island/other social networking sites?

Indeed, I was one of the first sign-ups for cosplayisland, and I use the username Odangochan everywhere that's cosplay-related.

(click any picture for a larger image)

Annette as Leona from King Of The FightersAnnette as Tira from Soul Calibur III - photo by Nert of ManyLemonsAnnette as Lehas from Magna Carta: Tears Of BloodAnnette as Sadine from Moulin Rouge!

Annette as Yuna from Final Fantasy XAnnette (bottom left) as Leona from King Of The FightersAnnette (right) as Mary Spencer from Trinity Blood

 Annette as Paine from Final Fantasy X-2Annette as Utena from Revolutionary Girl Utena
Annette as Paine from Final Fantasy X-2Annette as Karin Koenig from Shadow Hearts: Covenant - photo by Nert of ManyLemons

Annette as Beatrix from Final Fantasy IXAnnette as Emily from Corpse BrideAnnette as Leeloo from The Fifth ElementAnnette as Rei from Neon Genesis Evangelion

Annette (left) as Tripitaka from Monkey!Annette (right) as Mystique from X-MenAnnette (right) as Jack Sparrow from Pirates Of The Caribbean