(Originally Published April 3, 2019)
I have had the pleasure of conversing with many a cosplayer from the former Soviet Union. The quality of cosplayer and photographers there are unparalleled; very few places take thier cosplay as seriously. Yuna Kairi is one such bright facet from a far away gem.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Yuna Kairi.
You have so many different travel pictures in your Facebook page. I was wondering if you could tell us how you go to so many of these great places. Does it have something to do with your work, or do you simply travel out of pleasure? (A lot of cosplayers here are probably interested in this question, too. Traveling to different conventions can get expensive!
Most of the times I get to travel out of pleasure for vacations of to the cons as a contestant/judge. But sometimes skilled cosplayers DO get invitations from a con. It depends whether a con is willing to invite you. Some of the cons ask you out as a judge. Others also want you to hold a master class or a Q & A panel. As far as I know, it is possible even to apply to a con as a guest cosplayer, but I haven’t tried it out yet. The times I came a judge, I was invited
I’m pretty sure that you speak fluent English. Do most Russians speak English?
A lot of Russians speak normal English, and some part speaks fluently. I am a linguist and interpreter, so this is my major, and I started learning English since I was 5. Also, I am bilingual since birth; originally Ukrainian, but all of my family spoke Russian, so I just started talking in both languages.
I see from your pictures that you have been to many beautiful places. It must be extremely easy to visit many different countries on your continent. When you visit, do you also cosplay there?
Well, I would really love to travel more and be invited to other countries as a cosplay guest, but it didn’t happen to me a lot, unfortunately. But yes, I do cosplay there as well. I guess this year (2018 at the tiime of the interview) I have travelled to Montenegro on vacation, and luckily my fellow photographer went at the same place at the same time! So we made a photoshoot of my Serah Farron at the seaside; A dream came true!
You seem to do a lot of fantasy and magical girl cosplays. Are they your favorites?
My favorite ever is Final Fantasy game series, and there are a lot of magical creatures and fantasy folk there.
I also noticed quite a few pictures of you cosplaying with others. Do you have a regular crew that you like to cosplay with? If so, would you like to shout out to them?
Yep, it is more comfortable for me to cosplay with those I know. They are my team, my support and their cosplay is always at the highest level. Thank you, guys <3
You are one of many of the very skilled cosplayers in the Russian community. Why do you think there are so many great cosplayers in the former USSR?
Well, the level of competition is very high, and cosplay is closer to a professional level than to a hobby here. I would say we are all a bit of perfectionists.
How is it that cosplayers in the former USSR are able to have such great cosplay shots with such great backgrounds? You guys kill us on that!
Ahahaha, thank you! Sometimes we have to travel to rrrrrrreally distant areas to make awesome shots. It can take up to 6-12 hours only to get to the location. Plus we have pretty many awesome photo studios which you can rent to make a photo shooting. I am also really proud of Russian/Ukraiinan/Belsrusian photographers–these guys are so talented and develop their skills in unimaginable ways! However, all of this is not for free. The studios and some of the locations have an entrance fee, and almost all of our photographers do not work for free. It is a hard and exhausting work, so you have to earn pretty much to be a cosplayer.
I have a personal theory on why there are so many great cosplayers with vision from the former USSR: I think it comes from your culture that is filled with great stories. What do you think?
‘Not sure it is connected.
All of the former USSR‘s cosplayers are extremely beautiful, you included. Most of them go for extremely sexy cosplays and photo shoots at time. While you do have some sexy cosplays, I noticed that you are perhaps the most modest Russian cosplayer that I have seen. Is that on purpose?
I am just shy. Actually yes, our cosplayers go a lot into sexy cosplays, but before that, they spend a lot time in a gym…I consider it isn’t really aesthetic to make cosplay if I am not good enough. (my personal point of view)
What is the convention scene like in Russia? Have you ever been to any other country to compare? How about the USA?
I haven’t been to the USA, unfortunately (The ticket costs a fortune and so does the visa.), but I have been to Madrid and Berlin. Our conventions are of 2 types: old-fashioned, which are cozy, with less people and not a big scene; where you have plenty of nominations, starting with defile ( the usual contest for costume presentation: 1-2.30 min (depending on the quantity of cosplayers) walk on the stage, with no plot, and most often you need to show 3 static poses to get well seen and photographed) and photocosplay (You send 3-5 photos forthe preliminaries. Then they make an exhibition, and there are 2 nominations: Jury’s best choice and audience’s choice.), and ending with full time-stage performances (like mini live actions, up to 20 min), and huge expos like Russian Comic Con: about 100 000 people each day, which lasts 4 days and is mostly an exhibition. Plus we have preliminaries where the organizers estimate the quality and accuracy of costumes, and not every performance gets to the stage; usually about 1/3, depending on the nomination.
I did a little snooping and found out that you and the owner of All Cool Things™ have a mutual Facebook friend. I also found out that your boyfriend is also a cosplayer. Did cosplay bring you together? Could you ever see having a cosplay wedding?
If I ever decide to marry I would definitely pick up one of the cosplay dresses I had (probably from FF). Yes, cosplay brought us together. We met in 2017 on a huge Bleach performance: 43 people were involved!
Speaking of cosplay and loved ones, would you say that you have two families? ‘The one you were born with, and a cosplay family? If so, do they ever collide?
Yes, I definitely do! My parents aren’t really into cosplay, but my sis supports me a lot.
If you were going to go off into Outer Space with aliens, and you had to leave behind final thoughts for friends and loved ones, what would they be?
I would say that I am happy that cosplay helped me to get to know so many wonderful people, and to leave a kind of imprint; a small heritage in this world. I hope my works inspired some people and brought them happiness or just some aesthetic beauty to remember.