AFA 2022 saw many of Southeast Asia’s biggest talent return for panels and events, and one of these guests was Malaysian cosplayer Hakken who was kind enough to answer some questions of ours in an email interview.
Hakken Ryou is a popular cosplayer from Sarawak, Malaysia. Since starting their career they’ve accumulated over 3.8 Million followers on Instagram and is considered “royalty” among anime enthusiasts for their beautiful, highly detailed cosplays as handsome male characters. Since the end of the MCO period this year, Hakken has made appearances as a guest at Anime Fest, and AFA 2022, to the delight of fans across the region.
In this interview, Hakken spoke to us more about cosplay and offered some advice for those attempting to get into the hobby.
AFA and The Pandemic
We were able to catch Hakken at their AFA Panel where they spoke more about cosplaying in general. We decided to start the interview by asking them how it felt to return to conventions and cosplaying in public after the pandemic. As you can imagine they said they were pretty happy to see people in person once again.
“It’s really exciting to be able to attend events again, especially seeing my fans and interacting with them face to face gives me the joy and motivation that I haven’t felt in a long time since the pandemic. I would say it is hard to accommodate everyone at a convention now, so I’m hoping to have more events where I can interact with my fans more”.
To expand more on why it is “hard to accommodate everyone at a convention”, many cons have been notably more crowded this year, with tickets selling out more quickly. Everyone wants to return to conventions now that the MCO is over. The good side of this however is that cons seem to be springing up more regularly with the higher demand so there should be plenty for Hakken (and everyone else) to attend in the future.
Choosing a character
The first big step in cosplay is simply choosing a character to make a costume as. With so many well-designed characters from numerous anime, games, and movies, it’s not an easy task. Hakken told us more about what it is about a character that catches their eye and makes them want to cosplay.
“I like powerful characters with a dominating but elegant vibe. Not sure how to describe it better but I guess you see the pattern from the characters I really like such as Sephiroth, Madara, Zhongli, SilverAsh, etc. Other than that I like realistic, vivid, and well-rounded characters, I care a lot about character lore. These are the most important factors that motivate me to cosplay a character”.
The lines you cannot cross
Coming off our last question, we wondered if there was any line in cosplay that Hakken believed a persona should not cross when starting up in cosplay. This could be anything from a costume that could be deemed inappropriate or certain behavior that a cosplayer should not partake in while they’re in character.
Hakken replied “I won’t say I have set a line for myself” however they also said that “if something doesn’t sit right with me when preparing a cosplay, I would let go of the project or find another way to approach it”.
It’s pretty solid advice. There are no set rules about how one should go about cosplaying however if something doesn’t sit right or makes you uncomfortable, there’s no harm in looking towards a different idea.
The end of the MCO has seen new life in various communities and sub-cultures as people leave their homes to invest in new projects and events. Hakken is the same as they told us they have a number of upcoming cosplay projects, many of which involve going overseas.
“I want to travel more for photoshoots and also meet my fans, there are definitely a lot of exciting plans coming up”.
Hakken has done a number of cosplay shoots outside of Malaysia. One of the more notable of these is their series of photos as Bruno Bucciarati from Jojo’s Bizzare Adventure, taken in the character’s native homeland of Italy.
Advice For Aspiring Cosplayers
For our final question of the interview, we asked Hakken for any advice they had for aspiring cosplayers, particularly on the financial side. Cosplaying can be an expensive hobby, so we thought it’d be good to hear what advice an experienced cosplayer has with budgeting and choosing materials and makeup. Hakken’s advice was short but to the point:
“I think most people would know to do what’s within their financial ability, while I also see people that are struggling. If I have to give advice, it’s that your life and health come first before cosplay”.
We’d like to thank Hakken for taking the time to answer our questions for this interview. Cosplay can be a challenging hobby but also incredibly rewarding. It gives you the ability to bring your favorite characters to life and unite fans and followers across the world. We wish Hakken the best of luck with their future travels and projects.