January 12, 2017

Throwback Thursday: Ichigo Kurosaki cosplay from Bleach!

Hello guys!

I will start this year by doing something that I haven't done before but have had in my thoughts since forever – namely a number of themed posts all dedicated to my first few cosplays! :'D 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. So yeah, 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 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...

I must admit that I originally wanted to use a more creative/original name for this blog post series (TBT is so mainstream, lol) but yeah, I couldn't come up with anything short, funny and something that everyone would instantly know that it means flashback time. So yeah, it became Throwback Thursday anyway. xD


Ichigo Kurosaki, shinigami version. Bleach.
Oh, haven't we all done at least one Naruto or Bleach cosplay back in the days? *nostalgic*
Ichigo Kurosaki from Bleach was actually the very first costume I started sewing when I 'officially' started cosplaying back in late 2009 – November, to be exact. But if we count that I made a couple OC outfits way back in school's sewing class, before I even knew what cosplay was (I had seen cosplayers on internet but didn't know that it was a thing), then that would mean that I started cosplaying in, err, somewhere around 2004-2006 or some such, yikes! Regarding those OC costumes I never made other parts except the clothes themselves, I didn't know about wigs or anything (I wanted white hair thou) and I had never heard of the word 'cosplay' either, hence why I often consider that 2009 is my official cosplay debut year because at least then I knew that cosplay was a hobby that anyone could do, I got all the parts needed for my costumes and debuted them etc.

I don't think that Ichigo as a character needs any introductions he's the main character from the popular shounen series Bleach and is also a really typical shounen lead. The reason I picked Ichigo was simply because I had recently started reading the Bleach manga and I liked it. Back then many characters hadn't been introduced yet (I think I was on volume 2-5 or such, lol) and I chose Ichigo on a whim, thinking that it'd be easy to do and really recognizable – which meant that I'd possibly get new friends at conventions. Yes, I had almost no friends before I started cosplaying and thus picking a well-known character/series to cosplay was sort of important. My reasons were simple. 
I also remember thinking that if I started with Ichigo I could easily use the same main outfit (the shihakusho, aka shinigami outfit) for cosplaying almost anyone from the cast later, which I did.

Sadly I have no actual progress photos of this cosplay, only shots of the finished product.

Finished Bleach shinigami kimonos.
(note: this is a new photo but the outfit is the same)
It's worth mentioning that I knew how to sew before I started this geeky hobby. I also knew about fabrics (thanks to my mom having had her own fabric store for a majority of my life) and thus I'm not actually cringing when I look back at my old sewing work... :D Of course I've improved since then but I can still easily reuse my first cosplays without feeling a need to burn them, at least not the clothes. Needless to say that I conveniently avoided the common mistakes that a lot of first-time cosplayers do: shining satin monsters, "bedsheet cosplays", poorly hemmed or outright raw/untreated edges, random threads hanging, wrong fabric choices etc. But of course I had my Experience Zero™ zones too, namely I didn't know nor care jackshit about makeup and was bad at posing as well as doing facial expressions. Facing the camera and staring into the distance, anyone? I also didn't style wigs early on and that ended up with a lot of fibers blocking my eyes etc...

I want to mention in the same go a bit about my top robes and what they look like and this is simply because, over the years, I've had surprisingly many people contacting me especially to ask how I made mine because "it looks accurate" and/or "you seem knowledgeable". Think of this as a bonus mini tutorial/guide for Bleach shinigami cosplays! Truth is that because of these multiple requests I've been wanting to make a post about my shinigami outfit already earlier but now, with this Throwback Thursday nostalgy series, I got a fitting post to bake it into ~

When I made the shihakusho robes (yes, there's a top and an inner one) I did a lot of extensive research to figure out what it was supposed to look like. I had seen so many cosplayers doing it in different ways and when you add horribly inconsistent anime/manga references then the following confusion starts hurting your head. I ultimately ended up picking out some selected images from the manga and sticking with them, which I'm glad I did. The images I used showed that the whole front of the sleeve was open, likewise the back; there was also an arm opening like those seen on real kimono and from which the white under kimono could be seen peeking through. Tite Kubo either had no clue what he was doing when he designed the shinigami outfits or he simply decided that "screw the rules" was the way to go.
It's worth mentioning that during the time when I made this cosplay I had no idea about how kimono were traditionally constructed and thus this costume has shoulder seams, no okumi panel and the like. Yes, if anything then that's a reason if I ever wanted to remake this thing. Then again, considering all the inaccuracies of shinigami outfits anyway (at least when compared to proper kimono) then it's not a big deal anymore, lol. I mean, why does both male and female characters have the underarm slits and open back sleeves? That's reserved for women only. *rolls eyes*

Fully open sleeve mouth.
(note: this is a new photo but the outfit is the same)
The sleeves of the white under kimono/gi/kosode/whatnot I made a few centimeters longer than on the outer black one, so that it would stick out like it does on all characters in the series. Even this little detail strays from general kimono kitsuke ideals. The white and black robes are identical otherwise, except for that I sewed the white one shut under the arm and the back of the sleeve is closed as well. No idea if this is accurate to the series or not (lol) but that's what I did because I didn't want to potentially flash my may-or-may-not-be-there armpit hairs to other congoers...

Just me trying to show what the armpit slits look like. Notice that the white
sleeve peeks out from the open back of the black kimono.
(note: this is a new photo but the outfit is the same)
The black kimono is made out of twill cotton and the white one is from some kind of bridal quality cotton blend that mom had a leftover roll of lying in the attic. A bit overkill perhaps, but it looked really nice. xD Oh and yeah, both the robes are mid-thigh in length (recommended minimum) and this is so that they'd cover up the side openings of the hakama, so to not have my bare skin showing.
Speaking of which – the hakama. I must admit that I lazied out on this and, because I practiced kendo at the time, I simply just decided to order a black budo (martial arts) hakama for the costume. This saved me a lot of fabric, time and effort and looks better. I used a heavy cotton aikido hakama but of course you can order some cheaper polyester ones too, or make it yourself if you're up for it. Just remember that if you decide to make your own hakama that it has 5 pleats in the front and 2 in the back.

My black aikido hakama (folded) that I use for Bleach cosplays.
(note: this is a new photo)
This hakama that I use is a lot sturdier and stiffer than your average synthetic samurai pants. What I do to get the iconic white sash/ties that the shinigami have is that I use a separate white sash, approximately 2 meters long (can be shorter, depends on your body and preferences), that I put under the koshiita (backboard), tie the hakama's own ties as I normally do and then I just turn or twist the white sash so that it covers as much of the black ties as possible and, finally, tie it in a loose ribbon knot at the front. It's a bit hard to explain, hope you can understand what I mean. ^^" Please note though that for this to work you need to prepare/set the white sash in place below the koshiita and the back ties before you secure and tie the back half to your body – the white sash is supposed to get 'stuck' and be kept in place by the hakama itself; it's only there for decoration/accuracy
Of course one could always do covers for the black ties or replace them altogether but yeah, I did it the easy way.

I also have some really old photos of the Shikai Zangetsu aka oversized bread knife back when I had just completed it. I did it completely by hand with a little sawing help from my stepfather (the curved thin part of the handle, if I recall right) back in mid 2010, I believe. It's about 150 cm long, made out of a block of solid wood and thus it's rather heavy. I planed it down towards the edge (to simulate the look of a cutting weapon), used masking tape to get a crisp line between the silver and the black paint and used silk ribbon for the handle. It was a really big project for being one of my first wooden cosplay props. I had actually done Sesshoumaru's (InuYasha) swords at woodwork class in school a few years before I tackled Ichigo's Zangetsu – again, before I knew what cosplay was.

Finished Shikai form Zangetsu.
Zangetsu close-up.
The white ribbon was actually only fastened by a few nails and not glued on, which meant that after a few conventions it started to loosen (because of shifting when held for long times) and currently it's lose to the point it's almost hanging/unraveling at some spots, showing the bare white-painted handle beneath. This doesn't look really good and I've come to wish I had done it another way; maybe I can still fix it or at least replace it.
I'm still mighty proud of this prop especially considering the quality and how long ago it was made but it's such a shame that the tip cracked at Kitacon in Luleå, at the end of 2010. It was a really small local con held for the first (and only) time; I let someone hold my sword because they thought it was hella cool and they then proceeded to strike a pose, struck it to the ground (too carelessly), tip down, and once I got it back I noticed that the tip had a horizontal split in it. I was too timid and meek to really say anything and just swallowed it and acted as if nothing happened. The tip hasn't broken off but it needs to be glued to prevent it from breaking and, well, since then I haven't cosplayed Ichigo. Lesson learned: don't let (over-excited) people handle your props.

I bought a short orange wig for this cosplay and used it straight out of the bag. I didn't know how to style wigs and the wig was, upon later realization, way too flat. I remember trying to constantly tease it during conventions to get it to be more spiky and fluffy but it always returned back into looking like a Kyo Sohma (Fruits Basket) wig instead. xD I tried to look for some really old cosplay photos to demonstrate but even though I lifted every nook and cranny of my computer I couldn't find a single one that I could use! The few (and I mean few) that I found either had another person on them blocking part of my costume, were a horrible red-eye-open-mouth-flash-photo candid shot or had an old non-blog watermark on them and the non-watermarked version was nowhere to be found. I might even have (accidentally) deleted all my Ichigo cosplay pics a few years ago when I stumbled upon them and acted on a spur of the moment... oops.

This is a cropped version of an old (already resized) photo.
It's just to show the red chain. Yeah I know, it's on the wrong side.
I want to make a special mention for the weird red chain, possible sword-carrier thingy, that Ichigo has going on. Fun fact is that I legit made it by taking a bicycle chain, taking off the grease and spray painting it red with car spray it worked wonders! I don't remember if it was originally my idea or my stepdad's but whatever the case it was genius. Sad part is that ever since I moved into my own apartment I have no idea where the heck this chain is...

[edit] A few days after I posted this (aka on 13-14 January) I went to my mom's and, while there, I took the chance to start up her old laptop and check in the image folders if there happened to be any of my old cosplay stuff in there because I remembered that I used to store photos in it back then – bingo! I found a lot of reaally embarrassing photos, including those from my very first Ichigo photoshoot. I must admit that most were a lot blurrier than I remembered and thus unusable but yeah, I found this one joke pic which, ironically enough, is one of the few that doesn't make me cringe badly. By this I mean that at least I'm not lowering my chin enough for my neck to completely disappear or any other hilariously bad posing shit. xD Actually the only reason I can show you guys this one without being ashamed to death is because at least I was clever enough I think it was unintentional originally to block out most of my (horrible) makeup-less face with the sword. 
So here ya go, a really shame-inducing cosplay photo from early 2010! :'DD

Ichigurr durr.
Just... don't ask me about the pose. It was some kind of out-of-character joke about Ichigo being shy or whatnot, lmao. At least it showcases the sword and yeah, I'm holding up the ribbon because otherwise it would have been dragging behind on the ground. You probably also noticed that I'm wearing zori and not waraji and that's simply because I was afraid of making/wearing waraji because I thought they'd be uncomfortable, a lot of work to make and would break easily. Oh and yeah, I'm cringing at that wig – I mean, it's good quality and all but oh lord, do I wish I had spiked it... [/edit]

I don't have so much more to say about this costume, especially since I only ever used it at two conventions and both were really small local ones. I have some nice memories of it (mostly other congoers gushing over how badass my sword was, which felt really nice since I was a lonely beginner xD) and I actually competed at both the conventions I wore Ichigo to and, funnily enough, I placed both times. Second place and shared second place, lolwut. It was my first time ever trying a cosplay competition and I was horrified and so nervous that I don't even want to think about how awkward I must have been on stage; I've never been good at standing in front of people and during my school days I avoided oral presentations like the plague itself because I started shaking so much. The competitions were both of the "pose in the middle when it's your turn and walk away" kind and there were a shortage of competitioners anyway, hence why I got asked to participate, lmao. This was still during the early days when there weren't any hardcore armor cosplays in even the smallest cons but just good ol' Narutos and closet cosplays – aka if you had a big cool-looking prop you were almost sure to win. No way I'd ever stand a chance if I had competed with Ichigo in today's standards, hahaha... no. :-DD

Oh and yeah, before I forget! I actually made a Substitute Shinigami Badge a long time ago as well but I never got around to using it, sadly. It's made of wood (the base) and craft foam for the details. I'm not sure if I'll ever get use of it but at least below is some photo proof that I have indeed made one. This was one of those spontaneous projects when I had scrap materials lying around, by the way.

Substitute Shinigami Badge.
Substitute Shinigami Badge.

So yeah, Ichigo Kurosaki was my first cosplay that I 'officially' started working on, back in November 2009, and although I started Ichigo first it's actually not my debut cosplay that I wore to a con – that would be Byakuya from InuYasha, which I'll talk about in another TBT post! 
My Ichigo cosplay will always have its place in my heart and even though I have no idea when, or if, I'll ever rewear him out to a convention again I still plan to at least have a photoshoot, to get photos that are up-to-date with my current standards.

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

Stay tuned for next Thursday's episode!


Lynoire said...

Hahha, did you know, that Bleach cosplays are considered simple? Simple my ass...I'm doing Byakuya and am kind of lost on the outfit...:)

Shiro Samurai said...

Well, I can understand why some people would say that (especially on a first glance) but if you aren't at least somewhat familiar with traditional Japanese clothing then it can be quite the challenge to figure out how to make a Bleach cosplay, especially if you actually want to do your research and make it as accurate as possible. Also, most of the Zanpakuto Bankai forms are quite advanced to do!

Byakuya! :D He was one of my favorites and I've actually cosplayed him a long time ago (early 2012) so yeah, thanks for reminding me! I maybe could do a TBT post about him as well, someday.
Feel free to contact me through email if you have any specific questions about the cosplay, maybe I can help! If you are stuck on the captain's haori though, just wait a few weeks and I'll upload a TBT post about my old Ukitake cosplay. ;)

Firith said...

This was very interesting post to read - already waiting for the next one! ^__^

Even though this is your first costume it still looks pretty good - your former experience with sewing, fabrics etc. does show!

("The oversixed bread knife", I don't even... xD)

Lynoire said...

Thanks, I'll be looking forward to it^^ You should definitely do a Byakuya TBT too! ;)

I'm kind of busy right now, so can't start on the cosplay yet, but I might take you up on that offer sometime. :)