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

Name: Michael Hirst
(a.k.a. Shenny)

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

I started cosplaying in 2006, as Uruhara Kiske from Bleach, so I've been cosplaying for just under three years. 

Q: What attracts you cosplay?

The people.  I wanted to cosplay so that I could be part of a community that felt as passionately about something as I did and over the years it just felt right to be cosplaying.  For me it's part of everyday life now.

Q:  What has been your favourite cosplay?

So far it's a toss up between Gino Weinberg from Code Geass R2 and Rufus Shinra from Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children.  I'm a sucker for white suits.

Q: Most memorable moment whilst cosplaying?

Ha.  I've not told my friends this but a couple of years ago a friend and I dressed up as Sailor Moon and Sailor Mars (both from Sailor Moon - ed.) and went on pub crawl on a busy summer day in London.  Towards the end of the night we ended up in a gay bar.  Turned out they were hosting a drag queen event and we won!  We were well chuffed.

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

Oh yes.  My most recent cosplay mishap was with my Batman of the Future cosplay at the MCM London Expo.  In the morning the zip broke on the mask which couldn't really be fixed unless I unstitched the top of it and my 'Batbelt' kept falling apart, so we had to rebuild it in the masquerade queue.  Luckily my friend Mart used his superior brain and managed to fix both problems without much effort. 

Q:  Have you ever regretted cosplaying?

I honestly have.  It's weird to start a hobby only to be filled with self-doubt, whether it's about your costumes or your physique.  There's a level of showmanship and professionalism that I didn't feel I could match, but after aking these concerns to my friends they simply told me that cosplay is meant to be fun.  I've taken their advice and not looked back since.

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

I can't really say that I've been in a big group before, I've always done characters as a pair. 

When I did Gino for the Amecon ball in 2008 I had my friend cosplay Suzaku in the same uniform and recently at the MCM Expo my friend Mart cosplayed as Nightwing to accompany my Batman.  Although I believe Ayacon will be a learning curve for big group cosplays as I'm part of the Guilty Gear group that the Bristol Animé Club guys have been planning for what must be six years now.  Last time I checked I'm part of a 30+ Sailor Moon group too. 

Q:  What cosplays are you planning?

Big elaborate ones.  I'm making five cosplays between now and the end of year, Ky Kiske (Guilty Gear 2: Overture), Ali / Allen / Eiru (Sailor Moon), Freakazoid, France (Hetalia: Axis Powers) and Gamma (Zombie Powder).  All of which pose new challenges for me, apart from maybe Freakazoid as I'm just going to be hot gluing things to my torso again.

Q:  Do you have a dream cosplay?

Oh yes and boy it's going to be a challenge.  I hope to cosplay The Lich King from World of Warcraft.  I would ideally like to enter it into a competition, which means that to stand a chance against some of the more competitive cosplayers it will need to be detailed and my god does this suit of armour have detail. 

I think if I started slowly I think it'll take me a full year to complete if I neglected any future cosplays.  To quote George Broussard “It'll be done when it's done.” 

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

Start small.  I had a big issue with choosing cosplays that will blow peoples socks off which left me with a conundrum, as I have the costume making skills of a crippled gnat.  Although that's slowly improving as I bug my friends to share advice and learning as I go.

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

I'm on various animé/convetion forums and Cosplay Island as Shenny, Livejournal as Zaros and of course the dreaded Facebook as myself. 

(click any picture for a larger image)

Michael as Batman from Batman Of The Future - photo by Nert of Many Lemons