March 28, 2016

Childhood nostalgy & dream cosplays!

Good day everyone! o(^◇^)o

For a while now I've been itching to make some kind of post about characters that I really liked as a kid and that, nowadays, have a sort of "childhood dream/nostalgy cosplay" status to them! Even though I feel like I can't call many of my cosplays 'dream cosplays' I guess some of these child favorites of mine do come rather close to it. :) Many of these served as childhood heroes and as characters that I related to, admired or just simply really loved when growing up. 
Okay so, even though these characters listed below might be more or less vastly different from one another, they all still have something in common and that's that they were dear to me during my childhood and that also includes early & mid teenage years. Wow, that makes me sound so old.

What are we waiting for, let's gooooo ~ 

Series: Digimon
Character: Angemon

Oh man, good ol' original Digimon Adventure. As a kid I was one of those few (?) who loved Pokémon and Digimon equally, aka I never really understood the "war of copies" comparisons between them that other kids made and thus picked sides saying that you could only like one or the other, not both. I always thought that even though both had some similarities they also had a lot of differences too!
 Patamon was always my favorite of the main Digimons because he was just so damn cute! I have at least two different Patamon plush dolls lying around somewhere. I remember watching the show as a kid for the first time and when Patamon finally evolved into Angemon I was so excited – he was so freakin' cool! *o* But yeah, everyone who watched Digimon knows what happens after that and yeah, the feels are real with this one. *gross sobbing*
Angemon seriously stayed as one of my all-time favorite Digital Monsters (Takeru/T.K was my favorite of the original children too!) and now that I'm into cosplay I really want to do him. I can't live with myself if I don't cosplay Angemon one day. It needs to happen, period.
Friendly note: I know that Angemon is quite heavily inspired by Christianity but, honestly, the religious aspects of his character have nothing to do with why I like, nor want to cosplay, him. 

Series: Digimon Adventure 02
Character: Ken Ichijouji

I want to cosplay at least one of the early DigiDestined (aka Chosen Children in the Japanese version) and I remember really liking Ken when I was young; I had some sort of early mancrush on him, lol. I never saw the complete second season but I rewatched it last year and when Ken finally snapped and hugged Wormmon I had a hard time keeping the tears in check – he's so precious. ;A; I hadn't seen that part of the anime before, so I had no idea that he'd actually revert back to being a good guy and, oh boy, did that dig him up from my childhood memories as one of my human favorites from Digimon!
I really want to cosplay him but I'm not 100% sure of which version I'd do; I am currently leaning towards his gray school uniform though. It's pretty dang iconic.

Series: Beyblade
Character: Ray Kon (Rei Kon in Japan)

I don't remember exactly when it was, but I guess around my early teenage years I suddenly got into a Beyblade craze. The original series aired on television and I saw some random episodes during a summer vacation at dad's; I later asked dad for money and went and bought some Beyblades to play with from the local toy store. xD I remember originally liking Kai more than Ray but afterwards I started digging Ray a lot and even more so when, last year, the wonderful Satu and Päivi from Leikkipuisto encouraged me to do him!
I never really told my friends that I used to like Beyblade but several toys, a GBA game and Beyblade bed covers speak for themselves, haha. I should really watch the original series properly one day. #closetfan

Series: Beyblade
Character: Kai Hiwatari

What should I say? xD We share the same name, I can relate to him in some ways and I must admit that I had a tiny mancrush for him too. :'D I just really liked him as a kid, okay? I dig his design surprisingly much too but I think one of his selling points to me was that his Bit-Beast was based on a phoenix and, well, I always had a huge fascination with birds. I also like his color scheme and I'm itching to tackle that wig because holy crud, that's gonna be one heck of a challenge!

Series: InuYasha
Character: Sesshoumaru

My first and original husbando, not gonna lie. I loved him so much and I still do!!
InuYasha was the first manga I started collecting/reading and I own every single manga volume (in Finnish) of it; it has a special place in my heart. InuYasha is what really hooked me into manga and anime for good and it's one of those series that made me realize that I had been into anime & manga *coughpokémoncough* long before I knew what it was. :D So yeah, aside from being one of my long-term favorite mangas I can say that InuYasha is very likely one of the series that also led me into finding out about cosplay. I honestly plan to cosplay a lot more characters from it but Sesshoumaru is the number one choice, by miles. I just feel like I must do him someday and I'm really relieved that I didn't decide on him as my first cosplay, lol. xD I'll do him when I feel that I can do him justice, haha. He's such a dear character to me, I don't want to mess it up.

Series: Pokémon
Character: Tracey Sketchit

Who remembers this guy?
I've been a hardcore Pokémon fan since the first games and TCG came out (I was around six years old I think) and my whole childhood centered around Pokémon, not gonna lie. x) I was one of those mildly obsessed kids and I'm still going strong about it, even though nowadays I don't require my birthday cake to be a big marzipan Pikachu, lol. Pokémon is what got me into manga and anime to begin with Pokémon is what made me who I am today.
Okay so, I honestly don't remember all that much about this guy but I remember liking him and that's mainly because he was an artist and so were I! His design is simple, nostalgic and very typical of early Pokémon and so I thought "why not"? :D Besides, he gives me a legit reason to bring along a drawing pad to conventions and actually practice sketching Pokémons... which I haven't done for years, even though as a child that was almost the only thing I drew, lol. Aaaah, memories... ~

Series: Pokémon
Character: James

Well, contrary to Tracey, James hardly needs an introduction! He's from the infamous Team Rocket duo who always tries to steal Ash's Pikachu or do some other mischievous shenanigans to mess up their day. The thing is that whatever they do and no matter how idiot-proof their idea might have been they will always end up... blasting off again.
I remember that even as a kid I thought that Team Rocket were way too predictable and annoying because you knew they'd always fail! But nevertheless I liked their silly tries and even sillier costumes they'd wear to try to fool Ash and his gang; sometimes they went to great lengths just to get that damn Pikachu and it just makes me wonder why they even bother when Pikachu is not even a rare Pokémon to begin with, lol.
But yeah, even though I did find Team Rocket mildly annoying I still always, somehow, liked James. Something about him that I can't put my finger on was interesting – maybe because he could be so goofy and fabulous at the same time. It was hard to dislike him!
So yeah, expect me to cosplay James someday, although probably not in that gorgeous af Moltres suit... xD


Series: Rölli
Character: Rölli

In honor because it's my dad's birthday today I have to uncover this secret dream!
My dad got me into Rölli when I was really really young and this funny little troll (although it has been said officially that he's not actually a troll) stayed with me all my life I still listen to the songs and I own the movies! The movies actually make me cry, no regrets.
Non-Finnish readers probably have no idea what I'm going on about because Rölli is an old Finnish classic television program aimed for children (read more about it here) but it's so quirky and entertaining that even adults love it, including my dad. The show does teach you a lot about important matters and in a funny way too, so that even kids can understand and relate to more adult problems etc. Dad always called me "rölli" as a kid and he still does it, lol.
The character Rölli himself is just so lovable (even though he'd say 'yuck'!) and I would love to cosplay him someday since he has been a sort of childhood hero and model for me albeit a quite different one, haha. :') I'm unsure about which costume version I want to do of Rölli since there exists quite a few; I really liked the movie version pictured above because of those big fantasy helmets and all but yeah, the original Rölli has its charms too. Decisions, decisions...


Please note that this list only includes characters with a humanoid appearance, even though I would have plenty of Digimon and Pokémon gijinkas to list. I'll save those for another time! ;)

Okay so, I think these are plenty enough to give you an idea of what my childhood was like. I am probably forgetting some characters, series or video games *cougharea88cough* but I'll just leave those for another time! Besides, it might be fun to keep some complete secrets, huehuehue ~

Thanks for checking out this post and please leave a comment if any of these characters interested you or anything! I'd love to hear about your childhood characters too and hey, I'm totally up for doing cosplay groups! *hinthint* 

~ Shiro Samurai out.

March 21, 2016

[Sponsored] Lens review: EOS New Adult Green

Hello and welcome to my review, people of all genders!

I am ultra excited to announce that I've recently partnered up with CirclelensesEurope, also known as Cirkellinser for the Swedish market! I decided to contact them for a collaboration offer and they took interest in me and here I am, spreading the good word about their awesome business! ╰( ・ ᗜ ・ )╯ wiee ~

The lenses I'm reviewing in this post were kindly sponsored by CirclelensesEurope, aka Cirkellinser. Feel safe knowing that all my reviews are 100% my honest opinion, no matter what!

I am so so sooo happy to get to work with this company and I hope you will enjoy this review as much as I enjoyed writing it. O(≧∇≦)O I will be reviewing the popular EOS New Adult Green circle lenses, also sometimes known as Blytheye Green. Let's go ~

The discount code "SHIRO" gives you 10% off on any order placed on both CircleLensesEurope and Cirkellinser – feel free to use it! ♥

Base curve: 8.6 mm
Diameter: 14.0 mm
Water content: 38%
Life span: 1 year (I recommend 6 months)

Note: To all my Swedish readers, please scroll to the end of this post for a summary in Swedish. // Till alla mina svenska läsare, bläddra gärna till slutet av detta inlägg för en sammanfattning på svenska. :)

Before I start with the actual review of the lenses I want to tell you, all lovely peeps out there, a little about my new sponsor CirclelensesEurope, also known as Cirkellinser. You might wonder why I'm mentioning two stores but the catch is that it's actually the same store, just for two different markets – CirclelensesEurope is for the European market in general while Cirkellinser is catering especially for Sweden. Both sites have the same people behind it, the same products for sale etc so yeah, the only difference is basically that the other one is for the Swedish customers. Neither of them is a copycat or a scam site so no worries there. :)

I want to mention that I found them by chance, aka advertisement on Facebook. My first thought when I took a closer look was "oh wow, a circle lens store in Sweden that sells authentic GEO lenses and more! *_*". I was seriously super excited because I live in Sweden myself and I instantly made the connection in my head that the next time I needed to buy lenses, on a very short notice, I'd know exactly where to go! I'd also know where to refer other Swedes who were iffy with ordering lenses from outside Europe for safety and/or trusting reasons – which is understandable if you are not an avid online shopper or looking to buy your first colored contact lenses etc.

Both or their sites are fresh, inviting and easy to use. There might not be as many circle lenses to choose from as on other more well-known stores but what CirclelensesEurope has going for them is that they sell genuine and safe lenses, have cheap shipping (only 3€ for anywhere in Europe!) and, also, that they are based in Sweden and thus have very fast shipping. This is a very good trump card for them –that sets them apart from the myriad of Asia-based lens stores– because CirclelensesEurope will be the number one store where your prayers will go if you ever need to buy circle lenses urgently in, say, one weeks notice. *coughcosplayerscough* They will surely save your costume when all other lens shops would require you to use expensive shipping methods to maaaaybe make it on time....

Regarding the shipping and handling time of my experiences I want to say a few words and that's that I was utterly amazed and surprised by how quick and efficient their service was! They honestly told me on 27th February, a Saturday, that they would ship the lenses on the coming week (they actually shipped on Sunday) and I received my package already on 29th Feb, which is the following Monday. Can you believe it?? (๑>ᴗ<๑) Even though it was domestic shipping (aka within Sweden) it's still crazy fast! 
I actually asked about their delivery times and they said that shipping to Sweden is 1-2 days and to the rest of Europe it's 3-7 days so yeah, if you ever needed to order circle lenses in a pinch then CirclelensesEurope is here to save you with their racing-fast service! o/ They really prioritize quick handling and speedy shipping and that's amazing! I honestly swear by them; their shipping is faster than a bullet train powered by Super Saiyans!

If you wonder to what European countries (note: they do NOT ship outside of Europe!!) they ship to then this is what it says on their site:
We deliver to following countries: Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Switzerland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, United Kingdom and Austria.
Regarding customer service they seem to always answer within 24 hours, even during weekends. :) Customer service is also really kind and easy to approach while still having that professional air to it. All in all CirclelensesEurope is very easy and smooth to deal with, safe to buy from and I would warmly recommend them to all fellow European (and Swedish) cosplayers and circle lens fans! Go and give them your love and support. ♥ They are amazeballs!

 ~***~ Lens review continues ~***~

The lenses arrived in a small bubblewrap envelope. Lately the post has been rough on my packages and so was the case with this shipment too – there was a tear on the envelope but thankfully nothing had fallen out. When I opened the envelope I was surprised to see that the lenses were inside a small cute drawstring bag! With the order also came a free lens case and a business card with a hand-written thank you note on the back – I felt really appreciated! ;u;

This is what came with the order!
You might notice that the business card has some wear/damage on one side and that's because it happened to be on the spot where the envelope was torn so yeah, normally it wouldn't be like that. ^^; That paper with a lot of text (in Swedish) is a "thanks for ordering" note with information about their guarantees, as well as how to wear circle lenses – a really thoughtful addition to all the first-timers!


I put the lenses to soak overnight, as is recommended before wearing. On my first wearing of the lenses I noticed that it took my eyes a couple minutes to get used to them and I could feel them in my eyes, which made me rub my eyes to try to get rid of the discomfort, although it was minimal; it's just that I dislike feeling that I have something in my eyes, even if it doesn't hurt. The "lens in my eye" feeling disappeared mostly after some minutes and I didn't have to take them out and put them back in; I do that quite easily if I don't like how the lenses feel as soon as I put them in, in hopes that they'd feel better on the second try.
During my first run with the lenses they felt dry very fast and I managed to wear them for a bit past 3 hours before taking them off – please note though that during the whole time I was wearing the contacts I was staring at a computer screen watching anime and, also, that my eyes had been incredibly tired and dry all day.
On my second run my eyes were feeling better but the lenses still felt dry just as fast – although I didn't get the "something's in my eye" feeling, except for maybe 10 seconds at first. I can wear them for a bit past 3 hours at most and that's about it, unless I use eyedrops of course. I find it a bit weird that these New Adult lenses are dry to me when my brother had the exact same lenses but in blue and yeah, they were godly in terms of comfort for him. :S Are our eyes that different even though we're supposed to be identical twins? lol

One lens in. Notice enlargement effect.
Honestly, my first thought when I had these lenses in my eyes was "cosplay lenses! :D". They are vivid and colorful and definitely give a cartoony look to your eyes but without it being overwhelming. They actually feel surprisingly natural-ish for their design. The green color is not a pure green but it's lovely nonetheless.

Psst, my real eye color is a blue-gray (more blue though, fyi) with an occasional greenish tint, depending on the light and time of day. I also have a golden ring closest to the pupil. :) I think these lenses look awesome on light eyes!

Lens photos batches ahead!
All photos are taken by me during a March morning with a clear sky. All close-up photos are free from filters, color edits etc and that's so that the colors would be as true to real life as possible.

Facing window in my apartment, sun side.
Standing under a (weak) lamp in my apartment.
Bathroom light.
Flash photo.
Facing the window in the corridor, non-sun side.
White corridor light.
Yellow corridor light.
Yellow light in the staircase.
Indoors in a storage room. (natural light)
As you can see the color appears very different in different lights – in some lights it takes on a grayish hue and in others it looks a bit turquoise! Most times it's still rather easily distinguished as some sort of green though, so it's okay! I can tell though that these lenses seem to appear as their true color in clear non-tinted lights, like sunlight etc.

Outdoor close-up photos!

Indirect sunlight. I'm standing under the shadow/roof.
Facing sun at a 3/4 angle.
Facing sun directly. My eyes hurt so much.
Back against sun, aka facing wall.
The design is, err... semi-natural I'd say? The vibrancy of the color is far from natural but I think that the print itself is not too "out there", so to say. The black limbal ring is thin and I feel like it helps to bring attention to my eyes because of how it kinda frames them in.

I must say that I love the color these have, it's such a beautiful shade that has a lot of variation depending on the light! These are definitely cosplay lenses and I can understand why they are popular with cosplayers – they do give the anime eye look without being too moe. Works great for male characters and those kinds of characters that you don't want huge doll eyes for!

Facing a window in the staircase.
Same as above. ^
Okay so, I'd highly recommend the EOS New Adult line for cosplayers and people who love colorful lenses that aren't too enlarging, because these are quite small for being circle lenses. These lenses are really versatile and can be used for more daily looks as well as some really funky fashion looks!

Distance photos! Enjoy ~

Want to see more New Adult reviews?
I gotcha! Gray

I want to mention in the end that the only slightly disappointing thing with CircleLensesEurope and its Swedish counterpart is that they don't carry prescription lenses – at least not currently. I don't know if they plan to start selling those anytime soon but I hope so since yeah, a lot of people don't have perfect vision and no prescription lenses is a deal breaker for many. Personally my vision defects are so minor (-0,50 on my weaker eye) that I'm perfectly fine with plano lenses but if you can't wear lenses without power I'm so sorry to say that, sadly, CircleLensesEurope might not be the shop for you. :(

Remember, if you make a purchase at CircleLensesEurope or Cirkellinser you can get 10% off any order if you use the discount code "SHIRO" during checkout – enjoy! ♡

Short summary:

Color: 10/10 
Really beautiful green color that shows up well and takes on many different shades depending on where you are!
Design: 9/10 
Semi-natural design that is perfect for cosplay!
Opacity: 9/10
These cover my real eye color well. Nothing to complain about.
Enlargement: 5/10 
Feels quite small, but it's definitely not a bad thing.
Comfort: 6/10 
They are kinda average in comfort for me. They don't hurt my eyes in any way nor hinder my vision but they start to feel dry already after 1 hour. I can stand wearing these for maximum 3,5 to 4 hours without wanting to take them off or use eyedrops.
Naturalness: 3/10 
Natural-ish in terms of size, but the color is something that will never pass for your real eyes, haha.

• Sammanfattning på svenska

Vad är cirkellinser? 

Cirkellinser är kosmetiska linser som till en början mest användes i Asien av idoler, modeller etc men som har, på sistone, blivit alltmer populära i västvärlden – särskilt bland ungdomar som har ett intresse för japansk populärkultur. :)  Det som skiljer cirkellinser från vanliga färgade linser är att dom kommer i otroligt många olika designs och färger (även onaturliga färger så som röd, rosa och lila etc) samt att dom får dina ögon att se större och vackrare ut! Cirkellinser finns att köpa både med och utan styrka. Cirkellinser används mest av unga kvinnor världen över men även män, transpersoner, ickebinära och andra har insett hur roligt det kan vara att byta ögonfärg lite nu och då för att få en helt ny och fräsch look!


Jag blev kontaktad av Cirkellinser här ganska nyligen och dom frågade ifall jag ville samarbeta med dem, vilket jag självklart tackade ja till!
Cirkellinser är en svensk online-affär –högst troligtvis den första och enda i vårt avlånga land som säljer äkta "circle lenses", känd på svenska som cirkellinser.
Dock så, tyvärr, säljer inte Cirkellinser linser med styrka i nuläget
– själv så har jag så pass svagt synfel att plano linser (aka utan styrka) inte stör mig alls. :)

Jag valde att recensera ett par linser som heter EOS New Adult Green (bilder finns ovanför!) då jag länge velat testa dessa och då jag, helt ärligt, är överförtjust i just gröna linser, av någon anledning. 
Linserna kom i ett litet vadderat kuvert redan på måndag, fast de hade skickats med söndagsposten! I kuvertet fanns även ett visitkort med en handskriven hälsning på baksidan, ett gratis linsetui samt linserna själv som var förpackade i en söt liten snörpåse.

Linserna är relativt små för att vara just cirkellinser och de har en jättefin grön färg som täcker mina blågråa ögon väldigt bra! Dessa linser är perfekta för alla som sysslar med cosplay, fantasy-utklädnarer eller gillar japansk mode etc då dessa får ens ögon att se 'anime' ut!
För mig är dessa ganska medelmåttiga i bekvämlighet, men då jag har torra och/eller känsliga ögon så ta det med en nypa salt. ^^" Jag kan bära dessa som mest i ungefär 4 timmar, utan återfuktande ögondroppar. De börjar torka ut mina ögon efter ungefär en timme, vilket är en kort tid om man jämför med några andra cirkellinser jag haft. Men fast de blir torra fort så är de bekväma ändå då de inte annars känns obehagliga på något sätt (inget kliande, stickande eller röda ögon etc) och de hindrar inte min syn heller. :) Dessa är dessutom lätta att få i ögonen!
Jag kan helhjärtat rekommendera dessa linser, de är verkligen hur fina som helst!

Som sagt jag fick dessa från Cirkellinser, en professionell och pålitlig hemsida med kalasbra kundservice. De säljer endast äkta cirkellinser som är tillverkade i Korea! De har även en äkthetsgaranti samt öppet köp i 30 dagar – allt för att göra dig trygg! Beställningar som gjorts före klockan 14:00 skickas samma vardag och frakttiden inom Sverige ligger på ynka 1-2 dagar och kostar endast 19 kr snacka om service! Jag kan verkligen rekommendera dem starkt för alla!
 Om du dessutom använder rabattkoden "SHIRO" i kassan så får du 10% avdraget på vilken beställning som helst! Alla vi älskar ju att spara lite pengar på våra köp, inte sant?

Thanks for reading and I hope you found this review helpful. ^.-
A biiiiig thank you to CircleLensesEurope and Cirkellinser for sponsoring me!

~ Shiro Samurai says bye bye.

March 18, 2016

Hotaru's sword from Samurai Deeper Kyo!

Hi there everyone!

For a long time now I've wanted to cosplay Hotaru from Samurai Deeper Kyo and, as you may know, I've already got most of the cosplay done, yay! :D I think SDK is a pretty underrated series and even though I read it more than three years ago it's still one of my favorite shounen manga and the urge to cosplay from it hasn't withered away, which just further shows that I really enjoyed SDK and it left an impact on me. Some of my cosplay impulses come directly after I've finished a series but then they just die out in a couple months at best – but with SDK even after all these years I'm still super eager to finally get to start working on a cosplay from it! I just really enjoyed the story, all the characters, the art style...

This is the only official colored manga artwork that
I found that shows Hotaru's sword completely.
On 3rd September 2015 I started the making of the sword notice how long ago it is! I wrote on this post every time I did some progress during my "woodwork" class (aka 'redesign' and 'furniture renovation') in school, which I had approximately once per week, except during school breaks/vacations or when I was sick. Note: this is gonna be a rather lengthy post.

I was in my woodwork class in school and when I had to think up a project that I wanted to do Hotaru's sword quickly came into my mind. I saved some references on my cellphone, fetched a suitable plank from what school happened to have available, drafted the sword's shape onto the wood by using one of my unfinished other katana swords *coughmasamunecough* as a base. I left the sawing for next time as I didn't find the kind of saw in school that I had gotten used to and wanted to use; I went to borrow one from my stepdad on the Saturday that followed.

Back in class I cut out the sword from the plank; it didn't go quite as neatly as I had hoped. I hadn't used said saw in a couple years so I had forgotten how it was to use one of these. I didn't make any horrible mistakes but things just didn't end up as straight as I ideally would have wanted. I cut so gay! 
I took a file and started filing down the dagger end of the sword first. My arms were hurting so much after I was done sanding and filing for the day, hallelujah.
The next time I sanded and filed some more on the dagger and then I did the main blade part. Before I left class I put some filler putty on areas that had holes or cracks in them.

I apologize for the crummy cellphone-quality on most of the photos ahead; I didn't have my SLR camera with me in school during this project.

After I had started sanding the "dagger" side and put filler
on all the spots that needed it.
The next time I came to class I had a short panic moment – things had been moved to new places and I couldn't find my sword anywhere! For a moment I thought that someone might have thought that it was just a scrap plank and trashed it. D: Luckily I found it lying on the "coffee break table", lol. 
I started by sanding the filler putty smooth, wham! I then took a piece of plywood from the scrap pieces box. I drew the circular tsuba on it and two pieces the same size of the handle; I wanted to thicken the handle so that it wouldn't be the same thickness as the blades. I also wanted to thicken it for a better and more comfortable grip.
I sawed out the plywood pieces and glued one side of the handle pieces to the, well, handle. OH LORD THE SCHOOL'S GLUE BOTTLE. It's so stuck that I had to use all my force to squeeze minimal amounts out of it
– it was horrible lol. Took forever. ._. I swear it felt like over half of the glue had hardened inside the bottle...
Oh well, 10 minutes of glue squeezing later (and a red face and hurting hands) I had glued one side in place and put pressure clamps on. 

Glue added and pressure clamps on. Notice the tsuba on the table.
Next up I put some filler putty on the tsuba too; it had gotten a fair amount of "cracks" (aka the top layer of the plywood had peeled off while sawing) and I accidentally got a dent on the edge that had to be filled in too. I put plenty of putty on it and put it on a clamp to dry as well.

Tsuba put to dry after adding filler.
Next time I came to class I was horrified – everything had been moved again and a loooot of stuff was gone. I saw that my sword was lying on the table where I had left it but the tsuba and the other handle add-on piece were missing. My first instinct was to dig in the cardboard box on the table and in it I found a lot of sand paper and my handle piece. Thank God. I guess it helped that I had written my name on it before I left last time, otherwise someone might have thought that it was a random scrap piece... Now I just had to find the tsuba. I remembered that I had left it to dry on the clamp but when I cast a look at the clamp I noticed that it was open and nothing was in it. I went and asked the teacher if he had seen it and he thought that someone might have thought it was just a trash piece and thrown it away. We both started digging in the big box on the floor that was filled with scrap pieces of wood; we dug in it for several minutes before giving up. 
I looked around everywhere possible and didn't see a trace of the tsuba THE HORROR STRUCK ME. What is someone really had thought that it was just a random trash piece that no one used? D:
I went to ask this one older guy, who seems to be a "helper" but not an actual teacher. I got it implied that he was the one who had been moving stuff around and yeah, I described what my missing piece looked like to him. He looked at me for a few seconds and then his face did this kind of I-just-had-a-revelation-and-now-I-feel-guilty expression, as if he remembered seeing my tsuba and putting it in the most horrible of places. Yeah, probably there.

Guessed it?
Yep, dumpster diving time.

The trash hadn't been taken out and so we still had the hopes on our side or that's what he said. We probably spent like 10 minutes digging through all the trash bags before I finally hear a voice shout "hey you, boy, I found it!" and I look behind me and see this guy holding up my tsuba with a satisfied grin on his face and a trash can next to him. I thank him, he pulls some jokes and I go and sand down the filler areas with sand paper. After that I fetched the drill and made several holes in the middle; the rest of the class I spent carving, filing and sanding the tsuba hole so that I could thread it all the way down the blade, into place.

Tsuba with the hole fixed. I added some more putty to even out
some pressure marks from the clamp as well as cracks that appeared
while making the hole itself.
Oh, and I also sanded down the excess dried glue, on the handle, that had spread past its intended place. I then glued the second plywood piece on. It's not a problem to sand down dried glue with sandpaper!

This shows the glue spill from the first add-on handle piece before I sanded it down.
When both handle pieces were glued on and dry I took a file and started filing the corners of the handle, so that it would be more rounded and thus provide a more comfortable grip. I sanded them smooth after the rough file work.
Handle rounded (it barely shows on this photo) and testing tsuba fit.
After this I went home to buy the termoplastic holy grail of all cosplay prop makers – Worbla's Finest Art! Yes, now the time had finally come for me to try out this material that everyone has been gushing about for years! *u* It feels so good to finally get some studying money so that I can afford ordering Worbla from Germany...

Back at class I put gesso on the tsuba because I wanted to give it some extra base coatings; the rest was to be primed after I had done the worbla parts. So yeah, time to try out worbla for the first time ever! I must admit that I felt all kinds of "holy shit I hope this won't be hard" and a case of kuumotusta but yeah, once I had measured, drafted and cut out the pieces I needed I just turned on the power of my heat gun (borrowing from stepdad is da best!) and prayed to the cosplay gods that I wouldn't commit some disastrous nooblord maximus.

Worbla pieces added – success!
Thankfully this was a very simple and newbie-friendly first project for learning how to use worbla. I only had to wrap some approximately 2 cm wide strips around and blend in the seams. I didn't do any screw-ups and I'm quite satisfied with the results for being a first-time. :) After this first experience I already figured out a lot of how worbla works and now I'm even more excited to do some bigger projects!
Oh, and to blend in the seam/overlap so that it "disappeared" I thought for a while what to use and so I went to dig around the garage... and I found this little tool that proved to be mighty useful:

much clean. such wow.
It's for school use though, so what did you expect?
I used this metallic spatula thingy to make the seams (aka where the worbla overlaps with itself) flat, move and push the edges, flatten it out etc. It worked wonders!
Next I thought about ways to smoothen the worbla out; not like I mind the texture that much but I wanted to try to at least make it a little bit less noticeable. I took some really fine grit sand paper and sanded it carefully although I'm not sure if it actually made a difference...? Oh well.

Worbla gets a bit paler by sanding...?
Next up I went to buy some spray primer because heck yeah, why not? I would have preferred white but the store only had gray so that had to do. My school has discount prices to this one store so I get things a bit cheaper if I buy from there so, eh, who cares about the color in the end since it's just a primer? :DD I regret not knowing about the discount earlier because I bought paints from this store already last year...

Primer in a spray can!
I started painting my sword and, err, of course I'm not patient enough to do like a billion thin coats so I sprayed on a closer distance than recommended to get better coverage quicker. Am I the only one doing this all the time? I really shouldn't do this crap. Well, if anything I noticed that the excess paint was very easy to spread out with your fingers and it didn't leave any signs of where it had been before. Flawless blending, frick yeah! o/
I didn't get to finish priming though because out of nowhere I saw that a spot that had been just nice before now had the wooden grain sticking up. I just took the grain and ripped it off, added some filler putty and left it to dry. Damn you derp wood for prolonging this project now, why didn't you show yourself earlier? ._.
Oh, and guess what? The next day, when I had fixed that grain issue and continued spray priming, well, more surface derps showed themselves and I entered "fuck this shit"-mode and put filler all over the damn thing! I was really sick of having to constantly backtrack and delay my progress because uneven surfaces galore yeah, it happened many times during this project but I just didn't bother to mention it each and every time. It's annoying how much more noticeable those fuckers get once a coat of paint goes on; really sticks out like a sore thumb.

Filler added all over the place and put to dry. Priming incomplete.
(notice my mad balancing skills!)
So yeah, once more I had to pause the priming to put some filler putty to cover uneven/faulty areas. But because I put filler on both sides of the sword (except on the handle) at the same time I had to put it to dry in a way so that neither side was touching anything. This made me position the handle on a tip of a table and then put wooden blocks on it, to act as weights, so that the center of balance would change and fit my needs.
The next time I came to class the filler had of course dried so now I just had to sand it down. I was super careful to make sure that the filler blended into the wood so that it wouldn't be obvious, once the paint was on, where the filled in spots started and ended. But even though I triple-checked and everything there was still two small areas that I had missed when I once again resumed the priming work. Oh and guess what? I've almost used up the whole spray can just for this sword alone, goddammit! xD But yeah, those two misses were minor enough that I just drowned them in some extra coatings and then it was pretty okay, lol. I got lazy. I also noticed that putting filler putty on top of worbla (to even out bumps, overlaps etc) is a thing! :D

I had winter break and didn't get to work on my sword for a while. When I finally got back to school I had to go and buy some more silver spray paint because I noticed that my trusty can was pretty much empty, boo. Much to my dismay the brand I had been using had been changed and the newer replacement one, that the store now carried, seemed to be of a slightly darker shade. I thought that it couldn't be that different so I went ahead and bought it. Fuck me. :) Okay so, I started painting my sword as per usual, everything looked fine in the dim garage light when the paint had been freshly sprayed on. But guess what? When the paint had dried I noticed that it was way too dark and dull/matte to pass for a blade. FFFFFUUUUU--
Nothing to do than backtrack and go buy paint from another store and yeah, that totally means a store that doesn't give me the school discount price. Fuck my life. :) My other option was to pray that there happened to be any leftover spray paints at mom's from the days when I still lived there and did my early cosplay prop projects...

I found an almost empty can of silver paint at mom's which I took with me to school; I also took with me my own old silver spray paint just in case there was a little left (it sounded empty). All along I was praying that there would be enough spray left to allow me to be able to paint both blades on the sword. I started shaking the cans and first tried my luck with the seemingly-empty-one-from-home and there was enough left to cover one side of the dagger part. Ooooookay.
I stared at disbelief at the other can that I had picked up from mom's it barely felt like it contained much more than the one I had just used up. I pressed the nozzle down and........ nothing happened. It was as if the nozzle was stuck and wouldn't go down. Oh, great. ._.
I went and asked one of the teacher assistant guys and he proceeded to joke about sticking something sharp into the can again, to check if there was spray left, to which I responded "OH NO YOU DON'T" and then we both just laughed. In case someone doesn't know what I'm referring to then go and read about my foam explosion adventure here. x) But yeah, he totally did shove something sharp into the can and luckily nothing exploded this time – just a small burst of spray paint came out. :D But the problem was that the nozzle was still not working and yes, I had tried using all three nozzles from my other spray cans and neither of them worked on just this one can that I needed right now, urrgh.
I went to look around and found a spray can that belonged to someone else so yeah, because I'm a sneaky bastard I stole borrowed its nozzle and ermahglerb it worked! I was about to jump with joy because I could finally get to paint this damn thing!

The blades are painted silver, the rest is untouched since priming.
Much to my surprise the can I brought with me from mom's actually contained enough spray for me to be able to paint both blades completely and even, almost, do two full coatings. So yeah, there was actually enough spray left and I thank the Cosplay Gods™ for that.

I took with me the sword home after the spray painting – now the only thing left to do was to paint the non-blade parts (handle, tsuba, habaki) by hand. But as per usual I had a ridiculously hard time trying to find some red glossy and/or metallic paint that wasn't spray paint! I found this weird really chunky-looking paint called Inka Gold in the color Lava Red (fitting!) in the bookstore shop in town and, even though it felt a bit overpriced, I decided to try it. I couldn't find anything else (unless I bought online but that would mean stupidly high shipping costs) and I noticed that it was a German brand so yeah, I thought that at least it can't be shitty because German stuff tends to be good quality.

Painting preparations done. The plastic spoon's other end
I used as a spatula, if anyone wonders what the heck it was for. :'D
Turns out that the super chunky paint is actually a water based metallic vax paste that you rub on by using either a sponge or a soft cloth! Fancy shit. I tore a piece of fabric from a worn-out bedsheet because I didn't have any sponges and yeah, it worked just fine. I had to use one of my stiff makeup brushes (lol but seriously, I had nothing else that would work) to paint some spots that needed pin-point precision or were impossible to reach with the clumsy crumpled fabric.
Good thing with the vax paint is that it dries really fast and that, because of its thickness, it will easily cover up flaws and uneven spots! The bad thing is that I noticed that, even after it has dried, that if I touched the painted areas the paint would rub off slightly and leave fingerprints. So yeah, now I needed to get something to seal it with too. Great.

Because I didn't have any sealer nor varnish at home I had to go fetch some as well. I first thought about seeing if the bookstore carried the specific varnish for the Inka Gold paints but they didn't so yeah, I had to get something else. I found some all-purpose glossy varnish in another store called Tokmanni (it's a mix-store selling dry foods, sodas, toys, clothes, power tools etc) that I decided to try. I've actually never used varnish before so yeah, I guess it's high time to start eh?

Glossy varnish that I used.
The varnish did the trick, wohoo! o/ Now I only needed to wrap the handle and I can finally call this project complete!
I had bought 1 meter of red fabric bias tape during early March 2016 and, luckily, it was just enough if I wrapped it a certain way. But when I was about to start wrapping the handle, with some help by Sacchan, I noticed that the trusty glue I've had since at least 2012 had dried out. :'( Damn it. So yeah, with no Karlssons klister to save me (that's the name of the glue) I had to go and ask to borrow stepdad's hot glue gun instead – which I got!
Sacchan came and visited again a few days later and we did some teamwork because I needed an extra set of hands for the gluing mission. We basically did it so that I was the one carefully wrapping the bias tape (had to wrap very specifically for it to be long enough) and giving Sacchan directions on where to apply the hot glue, little at a time. So yeah, I was the wrap master and she was the glue master. xD It took us a while to finish but at least it worked out well and nothing went wrong ~

Finished SDK Hotaru sword!
Sorry about the crummy final mirror photo, it doesn't really do it justice. :'c The tsuba and the habaki parts have a metallic shine but it just doesn't want to photograph well, lol. My sword also ends up looking overly neon red on some other test photos that I took after finishing it, ugh. I hope it will behave on cosplay photoshoots and con photos etc; it's not really flattering when it ends up looking way brighter than it actually is...

I can admit though that I'm not completely 100% satisfied with this sword. I did some early parts of it a bit too hastily (sanding and spray painting, mainly) and because of that it's not as neat as most of my other props – it's things that doesn't really show from a distance but I can easily spot them with my naked eye but, then again, I know where to look. *shrugs* Also, because of being impatient or non-observant I several times had to backtrack and add filler or sand something smoother etc; it was really annoying to have to go back and patch up stuff you either lazied out on (because you thought it was ready but it actually wasn't) or somehow missed. It sucks to have to sand down imperfections after you've already primed and started doing the final painting on something because you didn't notice them during the original sanding process... ughrrr. >_>

Note: I finished this sword and Rentarou's gun at the same time, but I decided to publish the gun post first even though this Hotaru post should, chronologically, have been published first. This is the reason why I in this post, for example, mention going to buy varnish even though in the gun post posted before this one I suddenly had varnish already (because I had already bought it while this post was still an unpublished draft). xD I'm mentioning this just to clear up any eventual confusion! Oh and yeah, Hotaru's sword was the first cosplay prop I used both worbla as well as varnish for.

Thanks for reading! Hotaru wig and makeup tests coming later!