THE KUCHING PEEPS: Have You Met…. YUGANA SENSHI UON?
The Kuching Peeps series is about getting to know our home-grown inspiring individuals by asking them all sorts of questions, shuffling from the basics, the intense, the thought-provoking and the just plain random; all through an e-mail.
By Karen Chin @karenevachin
THE INCREDIBLY TALENTED Ann Louise Wong from Kuching is a well-recognised figure in the local cosplay scene. Known to the public as ‘Yugana Senshi Uon’, she has gained much admiration and respect with her many art projects, work – and lately, cosplay.
Alright, first of all, what is cosplay?
Cosplay is short for ‘costume play’. It is a form of art where the participants bring a specific character to life.
Tell us about how you started; how did you develop the interest?
I officially started cosplaying during the Anime Festival Asia (AFA) 2013 dressed up as Gender Bender Joker (Rule63).
My interest sparked when I attended my first cosplay event during my years as a university student. The effort that was invested by these cosplayers into their costumes and character just blew my mind! With those images imprinted in my head, I started dabbling into various arts and crafts such as makeup, sewing, oil painting, charcoal drawing, ectera; and that eventually led me to cosplay.
What do you love and hate most about cosplay?
The best experience for me is always the interaction with the crowd during an event. What I dislike the most would be the pain I feel on my feet after that! My record was walking, standing and posing in 14cm heels!
I am sure that cosplayers get a lot of stares and gawks. How do you deal with it?
I am actually comfortable with the stares, gawks and gasps. If I were in their shoes, and I see some all dressed up like that, it is just natural for me to turn and take a look. Many are just curious, or want a picture. Usually, I will explain to them that I am just cosplaying for an event.
Have you had any strange encounters with fans?
Well, I get many fans who want hugs. Depending on the situation, sometimes I do give them. However, I have had over-excited fans that grabbed me rather violently, or showed connotation of a perverse nature.
I always have a friend with me when I cosplay, and we have agreed on certain words that I would use to let them know to come to my rescue. As for those who want to be in contact inappropriately when they take pictures with me, I will use my prop to create a safe and comfortable distance.
What is your favourite costume you have done for yourself? I’ve seen on your Facebook page that you have done some impressive prosthetic scars. How is the process like creating your costumes?
The costume I love the most from my collection has to be my Steampunk Rule 63 Mad Hatter. Prosthetic scars are more technical. There are various methods that one can use to make them depending on the raw material available and also personal preferences. It is very difficult to find the right items that I want in one place. I have to source them from various places and platforms. So sometimes creating a costume can take a day, sometimes a few months.
So is cosplay an expensive hobby?
For me, yes it is.
What are your biggest achievements in cosplay?
My biggest achievement was when I was featured on SMOSH (an American web-based comedy duo). My proudest moment however, is when I receive compliments from the general public on my cosplay.
How have things changed for you since you started cosplaying?
I am finally comfortable being who I am rather than being who people expect me to be.
What did you take up in university and what is your occupation?
I was studying in Multimedia University and I majored in Film and Animation. As for my occupation, I previously worked as a visual merchandiser.
How would you advise someone who is searching for their vocation in life?
I would tell them to pause and review your life as a third party. Evaluate, prioritize, and then take the first step. Once you have taken the first step, keep moving forward and never look back! It is never too late to work towards achieving our dream.
Do you have any words of advice to those who are interested cosplay?
Have fun bringing to life the characters that you love, and never be put down by the negative whiplash from the general public.
What is the common misconception about cosplaying and how would you debunk that stereotype?
Well, the general public assumes that if one cosplays, they are confused about their own identity. Trust me, the majority knows the difference between their true self and the characters that they cosplay. It is quite similar to acting. The actors and actresses do know the difference between reality and fiction. Cosplay is a form of art.
Tell us what you do for fun, or what are your other hobbies?
My other hobbies are crafting, cooking, baking, drawing and painting. I walk the mall for fun.
How do you manage stress?
I would start experimenting with my makeup and come up with a new concept that expresses my current state of mind. Sometimes, I would whip up a big meal, bake something challenging, or just hit the stores for some retail therapy.
So, what is the most challenging thing you’ve baked?
Definitely kuih lapis.
So I see you’re a full-time mother now. What is motherhood like? Was it how you expected it to be?
Motherhood brings about a sense of belonging to me. At the end of the day, I can always be reassured that there is this little someone who views me as her world and perfect the way I am. It is definitely not what I expected it to be though. It is a 24/7 job. There is no rest. It is as if like, one fine day my whole life got hijacked and I am put into a completely different story. Although in all honesty it feels like that, it is all worth it and I am grateful that I have this little angel in my life.
What do you think of social media?
Social media is like a gun. It can be used for a good cause, or it can be abused by certain parties. Whatever I share online is public, but I still keep a good share of my life private.
How do we find you online?
Instagram – yuganasenshi
Ok, I am going to ask you some random questions for the readers to get to know you as a person. If you were a superhero, what super powers would you have?
Telepathy – to sense and comprehend the train of thoughts from other individuals. It is for me to gain a better understanding as to why some people are compelled to act in a certain manner.
What are your quirks?
I don’t usually eat fried rice. If I have to, I would have to segregate all the ingredients before I eat it.
Ok, let’s move on to the more serious matters. What do you think about feminists?
I hold strong to the belief that women should have equal rights in politics, economics and society. However, at the same time, there are also certain roles that each gender holds. Many have forgotten about the essence of being a proper lady or gentleman in the fight for gender equality.
What is your motto in life?
Never give up. I believe that nothing is impossible if we just put our mind into it, and move towards our dream with full conviction. If you cannot take big steps, take baby steps instead. With trials and tribulations, we will definitely gain many important lessons that we must use positively to propel us forward, closer to our dream.
Describe yourself ten years from now.
Consistently growing with unwavering resolve.
What do you love about Kuching?
The food. Just to name a few – terung dayak, bidin, umai, kacangma and dabai.