January 19, 2017

Throwback Thursday: Byakuya cosplay from InuYasha!

Hello everybody!

Last Thursday I started a new Throwback Thursday themed blog series on which I'll go through some of my early cosplays. In case you missed the first post I wrote about my Ichigo Kurosaki (Bleach) cosplay I mentioned there that, even though I started making Ichigo first, he actually wasn't the first cosplay that I was seen wearing at a convention – and that cosplay, my debut one, is what today's post will be all about!

Ever since I found some really old cosplay WIP photos in the deep dark corners of my laptop I've been wanting to do something with them – like, for example, show them to the world because we all started somewhere. Yes, I totally took progress photos before I even started cosplay blogging. 
This means that, once a week, on Thursdays (because it's called Throwback Thursday for a reason), I will invite you all to experience a 'blast of the past' with me featuring old cosplay photos, WIPs and stories ranging from late 2009 to 2011. Fasten your seatbelts, we're gonna be riding the time machine and you'll get to backtrack into my cosplay history and see some never-published-before photos on this here blog!  
Be warned that this, naturally, means a lot of (potential) embarrassment for me and highly varying photo quality for you. ;) I only had a crummy compact camera back then and didn't even notice if a photo was blurry or not...


Byakuya. InuYasha.
Byakuya, I did him before it was cool. Or well, it was never really cool to cosplay him (he's a rare character to see done) but what I mean is that I did him way before the Final Act anime came out and when he had only recently shown up in the Finnish release of the InuYasha manga. This means that when I originally did this cosplay, back in mid 2010, I had really limited references to go by and only one or two colored images (manga cover/back), if even that. This means that back then I didn't really know what his lower legs and shoes looked like and thus it's a bit inaccurate; I couldn't even find another Byakuya cosplayer to check how they had done things, lol.

I had started working on Ichigo when I suddenly, around midway, decided on a spur of the moment that I wanted to do an InuYasha cosplay for the upcoming Uppcon in Sweden. Back then Uppcon was Sweden's biggest convention, sadly it doesn't exist anymore – the last one was held in 2012, R.I.P. ;_; But yeah, I'm not sure why exactly I suddenly wanted to start another cosplay project while I had an unfinished one still in the works; the only possible reasoning that I can think of is that the tenth Uppcon (2010) was to be my first big convention (I had only been to Kemi's manga days and possibly one Kitacon before) and I might have wanted to cosplay from my first manga, as if to honor it. Now, InuYasha wasn't technically the first manga that I ever read but it was the first one that I got into and the first one that I started collecting. I own every single volume in Finnish. InuYasha will thus always have a soft spot in my heart.

I'm not even sure if I had any specific reasons for wanting to do Byakuya of all possible characters. The only ones I can think of is that he intrigued me (and he was a new character) and had a pretty design I guess I wanted to be a little hipster as well. I remember that originally I wanted to start with Sesshoumaru and, well, I can only say one thing to my old self – THANK THE HEAVENS THAT I DIDN'T. Sesshoumaru is a really precious character to me and his outfit is quite complicated and, well, I wouId have ruined my husbando had I done him back then. I'm so fucking relieved that I decided on saving him for a later time, heck, even today I feel like I'm still not skilled enough to do him justice... :'D But yeah, Byakuya's not the easiest cosplay to pick either, especially as a cosplay beginner, but thankfully I already knew how to sew and make swords out of wood; I've always been creative with my hands and Byakuya's costume required me to think to figure out some of the problems that it presented once I started working on it. 

I don't remember of I started sewing or making the sword first. I remember that back when I made the sword it hadn't been revealed in the manga yet that, in actuality, Byakuya's sword doesn't even have a blade until he uses it. I couldn't have known this back then and thus I made the sword with an ordinary blade... and not even a katana-style one but more of a western one. Not like it matters anyway because when I cosplayed him I never drew the sword, mostly because it hadn't been revealed yet what it looked like and thus I kept it sheathed at all times, for the sake of accuracy. Good thing I did. xD

Old photo of the finished sword.
Close-up of the handle.
It's made completely out of wood, all self-made. That golden paint that I used on the tsuba sucked elephant dong and I remember that even back then I hated it because it looked fugly and, no matter what one did, it didn't apply neatly. Sadly it was the only gold paint that I found in all the local shops back then and so I had no other choice... >_> 

A recent photo showing the sword in its sheath, all props attached.
I made a gourd for him. The dents are damage it took during Uppcon.
The sheath is made of some kind of thicker fabric, the kind that is water-resistant, has an obvious texture and is synthetic. It's not the best but it's easy to do and it fills its function. Luckily with Byakuya the floppiness, if I took the sword out, wasn't a problem because I didn't have to unsheathe it at the con. I used a violet textile cord to carry the sword over my shoulders.
The brown gourd I made by taking two styrofoam balls, carving out the bottom of one with a knife and then gluing them together. I used some red bias tape as decoration and to hide the attachment spot (and to fasten it to the sheath). The little 'mouth' of the gourd is actually a cork from a wine bottle. x) Recycling for the win!

Regarding the sword I feel a need to mention that it broke into three pieces after Uppcon, thanks to Arlanda airport's (Stockholm) carelessness. I flew to Uppcon with my brother and mom (I was underage and Uppcon was really big) from Kallax aiport, in Luleå, and there they were kind enough to have the aircraft workers personally taking it into the aircraft, to assure that it wouldn't break during transit. Please note that my sword was only stored in a sword-carrying bag and thus would likely have broken if, for example, a heavy suitcase was placed on top of it. Kallax special luggage service was amazing, I can't complain because they went out of their way to make sure that my prop would get to Stockholm intact. The same I can't say about Arlanda, they told me it would be fine at the special luggage counter and then just proceeded to flung it into the same space as all the other passengers (heavy) stuff. I think I might even have paid extra for special treatment. I even saw from the window, later on in the terminal, when they shoved all kinds of luggage into the plane, including trolleys and bigass sport bags... and then I saw my puny sword bag and got a clump in the throat. Back at Kallax when I went to claim my prop from the conveyor-belt I could see already from a distance that it was broken. It was disheartening and frustrating at the same time. I went to complain and the woman I talked to gave me a number and told me to call it and ask for a compensation for a broken hand-made item. I tried calling it later and never got anywhere and yeah, I'm still kinda annoyed by it all because they gave me a number that wasn't even up to date...

I sadly, once again, don't have any progress photos – only pics of the finished product. All of these costume detail photos ahead are recent. For Byakuya I didn't originally take any outfit photos (just like with Ichigo), save for those first two sword photos and the one farther down that shows the fake flower that I got for him.

Byakuya's kimono and haori. Front view.
Back view.
Just like with Ichigo I made Byakuya during the time when I either didn't know everything about accurate kimono construction or, alternatively, didn't think (nor care) that seam placement was that important. *smacks former self* :) Luckily because the haori is so dark in color one doesn't immediately notice that it has shoulder seams –and the yellow applique covers a part of it– and the haori itself, in turn, always covers the light blue kimono's shoulder seams. Phew. Otherwise I might just have been pulling my hairs right now.

I hand-painted the flames with fabric paint.
I'm sorry that the whole outfit (and especially the sleeves) are so wrinkly – this cosplay has been untouched and in storage ever since 2010. I quickly took it out to take these photos before the sun went down. Hello kaamos my old friend ~

Side-ish view of the haori.
As I mentioned above those yellow parts are appliqued on. I originally cut them out as complete wobbly oval-ish shapes with those 'inner lines' but, as I started sewing them on, they started to misalign/shift themselves because of the big size of the applique and the large area that I was sewing them on to. Of course this only started happening once I had already partly sewn on the yellow details and the only thing to do, to keep the original intended placement, was to cut the design into pieces at specific areas, align/replace them and sew them on – this created seams around the design.

Close-up photo of the seams of the yellow design, aka
where I had to cut it to get it to align properly.
Sewing on the yellow shapes to the haori was by far the most tedious and hardest part of the whole costume. It took a really long time and a fair share of patience and carefulness.
On the back of the haori I made a slit, lined it with bias tape for a neat finish and I also added that little ribbon at the top, which sometimes was visible on Byakuya in the manga. A cute little detail.

Showing the back slit and the little ribbon.
(this is a flash photo, hence the color difference)
The kimono and the haori are made of cotton fabric, the yellow parts are perhaps a cotton blend (I'm not sure) and same thing for the wannabe-hakama pants.
Speaking of which, I'm still not sure what the fudge I was thinking when I made these pants. :'D I mean, I did know what hakama looked like (I was practicing kendo for fuck's sake!) but still I decided to not make these in a proper way and instead made them.... hakama inspired. *dun dun duuuun* Just let me cringe for a moment. No but really, I decided to completely skip the side openings and the koshiita. I could have made a more proper tattsuke hakama but no, I didn't. I'm still not sure if it was just pure laziness, a weird expectation that real hakama would be sooooo hard to make or a case of "the sides will never show because of the long haori so I can't be bothered to go the extra mile". I was horrible. :)) So yeah, while these atrocious pants have five pleats in the front and two in the back, just like regular hakama, that's pretty much the only thing they have in common. The ties on these start from the sides and the legs have elastics in them. The sides are sewn close like on regular pants.

My horrible wannabe-hakama. :DD
This is mighty embarrassing to show...
Fun fact is that I think that the Hakama Gods™ saw what I was doing and took revenge on this blasphemy of a creation. You see, during one of the two cons that I wore Byakuya to, can't remember which one, one of the sides on which the ties were attached literally ripped. And no, I don't mean that the seam gave in, I mean that the actual fabric tore next to the seam – most likely because of too much strain. Ouch.
So yeah, the sin punishes itself it seems and, if anything, then that was the ultimate way of showing my older self that if you need to make hakama, make them right or your fake-ass pants will tear.
I can attest that ever since this failure I've never even considered lazying out if I had to sew a hakama. You learn from your mistakes and yada yada.
One iconic thing with Byakuya is that he's almost always holding a flower whenever he appears. A flower that, to my untrained eye, looks like a peony. I could be horribly wrong likely am but whatever the case I found a really suitable fake/plastic flower from a Finnish store called Tiimari back in the days. Tiimari has since then disappeared, which is a shame because it was a good mixed craft/hobby store for cosplayers... although it was expensive at times.

An old photo showing the prop flower.
I have no idea where this flower currently is. What I do know is that I've sold my original Byakuya wig though. It was a black Ivy from the old Cosworx, aka cosplay.com's own wig store. The thing is that the wig was good quality and all but I was a stupid sack of cucumbers who didn't know that you can't just simply by a long wig and expect to be able to pull it up into a high ponytail just like you do with real hair. :) Needless to say that at the con I only managed to keep the wig in a loose low ponytail and I was too scared and clueless to even cut the bangs into the right length.
So yeah, the costume itself might have been impressive but the wig and my face really made it crash and burn. Heck, this was during the times when I strictly refused to wear any kind of makeup, except for powder. *vomits profusely* The truth is that I didn't even know how to use makeup and, even though I could pull the man card, it's not really an excuse because even guys do use makeup for cosplay – everyone is recommended to use makeup for cosplay because it really does one hell of a difference.
You know what makes it even worse? I didn't even know that filling in your eyebrows was a thing and well, just imagine a black wig and my naturally light-colored eyebrows... :) Add to that a makeup-less face and... just no. Fucking no.

I managed to find some old photos of me wearing Byakuya at Uppcon 2010. This was the 10th Uppcon and it was held in Uppsala, Sweden, in a big building called Uppsala Konsert & Kongress. I have really fond memories of the con itself (we had an InuYasha cosplay group!) but I'm so goshdarn ashamed of how bad I was at doing facial expressions for photos and yeah, I just had to censor my face on these two images below as well. Even if I had some really basic posing knowledge I had no idea how to position myself and, especially, not what to do with my face. Half the time I was either staring into the camera or staring away from it in such a way that it looked like I had spaced out into the moon or something. A third variant was an unintended(?) killer glare. It was really that bad. Killer glare was almost like my neutral face for years, no wonder people were afraid to approach me.

Taken outside Uppcon's entrance. I cropped
out my brother.
I used to be proud of that photo above and now, whenever I see the uncensored version, I feel a violent urge to slam my face into a wall. :DD During the 7 years that I've been cosplaying I have, after all, improved quite much and it's really noticeable when I find this kind of old shit and compare them to the new stuff that I do. It's maybe not an astounding lot of improvement in terms of sewing but, even more so, in posing and using makeup.

Only back view photo that I have. Notice
the low ponytail and the props.
I'm not sure how noticeable it is on these two oldie pics but I actually bought high-quality pointy ears for this cosplay. I find it amusing how, back then, I could pay a lot of attention to some small details while I chose to ignore others – especially if I didn't consider them important enough for whatever reason.


So there you go, my debut cosplay. I'm still happy with it in general (except for a few things, lol) and I would definitely rewear it once I have remade the hakama, bought a new wig and fixed some other stuff. I want to have an updated photoshoot with this cosplay because I obviously don't have any presentable photos of it currently, thanks to it being of an embarrassing 2010 model and thus before I realized the importance of makeup. >.< Byakuya will definitely be seen at a future convention!

Current status of this cosplay: In need of repairs/update and a new wig.

Stay tuned for next Thursday's episode!


Josh said...

Have u ever thought of doing this costume again? I mean the whole costume and then maybe do the post where u show us which are the differences u made and ofc it would be awesome to see the improvement~

Shiro Samurai said...

Yes, I plan to rewear it once I do the necessary repairs and get a new wig. :) There won't be any notable differences on the actual costume itself, unless I remake the hakama of course. I honestly don't think that there would be enough changes/improvements to make another Byakuya post and have it be interesting enough. ^^" Of course whenever I get around to rewearing this cosplay I will, likely, have a photoshoot and then you can see what it will look like ~

I hope this answered your question. I'm sorry if I got something wrong, I was a bit confused with what you meant. ^^"

Josh said...

U answered enough~ I can't wait to see ur new Byakuya~

Lynoire said...

It looks quite good for a first cosplay, even if you knew how to sew^^ Man, it's so heartbreaking when your props brake though...