Saturday, April 20, 2024

Karina the cosplayer

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IF YOU DIDN’T KNOW, now you know that cosplay is a huge subculture in Barbados. Just ask the hundreds that turned out last weekend for the biggest AnimeKon Expo in the event’s five-year history.

From anime to TV superheroes and even villians, the art of dressing up in costumes of your favourite characters for a couple of days transported people to a different world.

EASY magazine did an on-the-spot interview with Karina Ramnath, who walked away with the well deserved Best In Show at the FLOW Fantopia AnimeKon last Sunday at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.

The overjoyed newbie to cosplay (this was her second year participating) was grateful that her hard work paid off.

For those who were there and saw her costume up close, you didn’t need to use a crystal ball to know she was in the winners circle. As chief judge Yaya Han commented: “It was incredible to see. The movements from her head to her feet was a graceful feat. She looked so amazing also.”

Karina said she picked the character because “she was beautiful. I love everything about her in terms of the costume design . . . . Her movements, her backstory and because it gave me the biggest challenge of my life because I didn’t know if I could really make it. It was a really amazing experience”.

The backstory in a nutshell is that Orianna Reveck from Piltovian wanted to be one of the champions of the League of Legends. After her tragic demise, her father Corin decided to build a replacement. What was created is the clockwork killing machine named after his daughter. Corin then made The Ball as her pet and protector.

Orianna and The Ball now fight as champions in the League of Legends. Since she is not human she never fits in and is just an exotic but soulless clockwork shell – but a deadly and dangerous one at that.

Karina was part of the group from Trinidad who took part in the five-year-old cosplay event. She wanted to stay in character so we didn’t get a look at her human face and she didn’t reveal her age.

Explaining the intricacies of the costume, Karina said it is because of cosplay that she has acquired a bunch of skills such as learning to manipulate materials to give a completely different effect, sewing, painting, crafting, and special effects make-up.

She said she had been eyeing the Orianna costume for a year.

“For a year I was debating if to do it and I finally worked up the nerve. I decided three months ago on it and it took me two months to make.”

In breaking down the costume, Karina explained it is made up of 90 per cent crafting foam, with the headpiece of a different material.

“The armour is craft foam that has been sealed, primed and painted to sort of appear like metal which was a huge challenge. I have been asked by many about The Ball, which is just two salad bowls mounted on top of each other. It is craft foam with other elements added to it and all the bolts are made of glue.”

Karina’s biggest hurdle was the wind-up key.

“The first one I made failed horribly. As people bumped into me it just fell off. It was a disaster,” she said, laughing. She went back to the drawing board, researching how to make a proper one that would stay when she moved.

Karina works full-time and it was hard to balance work and costume making: “I would rush home and shower and this is my child so I would craft late into the night.”

Last year was Karina’s first time doing cosplay and she made a huge impact by placing second in the annual Alias Entertainment Expo in Trinidad which is a multi-genre extravaganza along the lines of AnimeKon.

“Last year I was Blade Queen Lissandra (also from League of Legends) with a crazy headpiece and long skirt and lots of moving. It was a fun experience.”

Karina said cosplay has taken off in Trinidad, explaining that “recently the subculture has gained a lot of popularity and is spreading like wildfire. Everybody wants to be part of cosplay now.”

Because she had carted a delicate costume to Barbados, I asked how did she managed that.

“Packing to come to Barbados was nerve-racking. I was, like, please don’t break, please don’t break, as I saw them manhandling my suitcase. I was trying not to have a heart attack.”

Cosplayers know how delicate and fragile some costumes are, and Karina said the whole plane ride she was a nervous wreck.

“If I had opened my suitcase and it was a mess I would have died. I packed the costume gingerly, putting clothes in between it and stuff inside it so it wouldn’t move around. I think that helped to keep the pieces together.”

While winning Best In Show was special, the highlight for Karina was meeting world renown cosplayers Yaya Han and Kamui Cosplay.

“Kamui Cosplay is my idol. Her armour work is so amazing. To see where she came from to now is incredible, also Yaya Han too. So to get the compliments from them is an honour.”

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