“I thought, ‘Futaba’s so underrated,’ and I really wanted to do her justice,” said Pixie Late. “I hope I have!”
To promote Sega’s release of Persona Dancing: Endless Night Collection for the PlayStation 4 (which includes the rhythm dancing games Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight, Persona 4: Dancing All Night (as a digital download), and Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight), Pixie Late was cosplaying Persona 5‘s Futaba Sakura on the weekend of MCM Birmingham Comic Con. Futaba is also featured in Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight. “I’m really excited about the special edition that Sega are coming out with,” said Pixie of the upcoming collection.
We met up at MCM Birmingham Comic Con and talked about why she decided to cosplay Futaba Sakura, as well as the work that went into her cosplay and reactions from other Persona fans.
Futaba Sakura is a complex character in Persona 5. You also said on Instagram that Futaba “reflects my inner self so much”. So what was it that made you decide to cosplay her? Was it the character or the cosplay that you were drawn to?
What I meant about “my inner self”, it’s more her personality and who she is. She’s a bit of an otaku and she likes collecting figures. I do that and I know some people might think that’s a bit strange, but I think if you’ve got a hobby and you’re really passionate about something, I’d like to defend it. Futaba is like that in the game as well. Even in the animation [Persona 5: The Animation], there’s a scene where she was defending her little niggles against Yusuke. I’m like that when it comes to my stuff as well. So if you’re in my room, touching all my stuff, I get a little nitpicky about where things are supposed to be. Things have their own places.
Futaba’s also an introvert. She doesn’t like socialising, she gets really awkward and nervous. Unlike what a lot of people think about me, because I think I can come across quite talkative when I have to be, I am very introverted. I like having my own time, I like being alone and I just feel more comfortable in my own space. That is what Futaba is. She is a complex, dark character. In the end, she comes out of her shell and that’s like me as well, in the way that I usually I have a big wall around me, but I open up when it comes to a person that I’m close to.
So when you were playing the game, and watching the animation as well, were there moments of, “This character…I can relate to that”?
Yeah. Like, “That’s what I do,” or, “That’s exactly how I feel.” So little moments like that make me relate to her a lot more than the rest of the characters. Even though I do like Ann Takamaki, one of the Phantom Thieves; she’s aesthetically really beautiful and usually I go for that kind of look for my cosplays. I like the pig-tails, I like her Persona when she goes into the red catsuit. So Futaba and Ann… they’re a tie. But I guess I can relate to a lot of Futaba’s personality traits.
They came through to you more than the look and costume of the character?
Yeah, just her personality as a character.
How long did it take you to work on Futaba Sakura?
So with this one, luckily enough I could find some pieces that were already available. The parka jacket, the boots and the over-the-knee socks, those things I could just purchase. But that doesn’t make it cheaper. With cosplay it’s always like that. If you can do it yourself then it’s better to do that because it can cut costs. Like the headphones; I could easily buy them and then paint the little bits around the cushion, but I decided to make it all from scratch because it won’t be so expensive. The top (t-shirt) is also a DIY job. So it took me about a week non-stop.
The video and tutorial I will be putting up on YouTube. I’m going to show people how to make the headphones, how to dye synthetic wigs, which is really useful for any type of cosplay if you don’t have the right colour. (Points to the wig she’s wearing) This colour is really hard to find (laughs).
What was the most difficult part of working on this cosplay?
I thought it was going to be the headphones, but it’s definitely the wig and getting it the right colour. I’ve had to do three different coats. This started off as a pure blonde wig, like really white blonde. Then I combined two different acrylic inks to create the first layer and it was too bright. So I did the second layer, and the third layer is basically this. I could still go darker if I wanted to have a more realistic take of Futaba, but I think for an anime look or a really eye-catching cosplay, this is alright. It works for her.
You mentioned in a Q&A video a while back how when it comes to cosplay you sometimes get “too bogged down in making things perfect” and that you “should just let it go.”
Do you still feel that way when working on your cosplays?
I do and I don’t. I do feel that it’s something that I can’t really get away from, but I’m good at stopping myself and tweaking everything to perfection. So if I see a little strand out of place when I’m sewing something, that’s fine, it’s not going to show anyway. I would just let it go like I said I would. I think in that sense I have grown as a cosplayer.
I want to do the best I can, but I wouldn’t want to spend too much time on one thing until I get really upset about it and just leave it. Sometimes I do that. I get really overwhelmed, like, “Oh my God, this is not going how it should be.” Then I would just leave it, start on a new project and you don’t get to see the finished project for one cosplay… which is a problem. I think every cosplay that I’ve done I can do something better with it. You always try to better yourself.
So, did you have this issue when working on the cosplay for Futaba?
No, because I think her cosplay is quite straightforward. The only niggle was the wig because I had to buy three different wigs at first; all different colours. That was the most frustrating part. Getting the wig, the cut, the colour and the quality, that isn’t a shiny costume shop type of wig.
At the end of the day, cosplay is for fun. But because I want to do her justice, I guess that’s what made that side of me want to try and get everything perfect. Like, “Oh no, this has to be this way.”
Is there also the feeling that someone may see your cosplay and say, “Oh, you’ve done this differently”?
As a cosplayer, you do interpret [the character] yourself sometimes. I do like it when I see creative takes on cosplays. So there are ones that are trying to be as perfect, as detailed as possible and very loyal to the character. There are others that want to make it even more twisted to their taste and their own design. Seeing those cosplayers and different types of cosplays, it makes me think, “Actually, it’s fine to have you in your own cosplay.” Because at the end of the day, you are the one that’s cosplaying this character. This is how you feel about it.
Junko Enoshima from Danganronpa was one of the first cosplays you made back in 2014…
It’s getting a bit blurry whether [she was the first]. Junko was definitely one of the first ones that I did. I also did a Pokémon Trainer, Serena. They’re quite close together.
Looking back and comparing those to where you are now with Futaba Sakura today, what would you say you’ve learnt the most from your time cosplaying?
I feel like now… I’m better at solving difficulties. Before I was pretty haphazard. There was a lot of pins involved, like a lot of pinning on the day. So I’m better prepared now with things that could go wrong. I would have in my bag things that could fix things if anything falls off. So for example, I know how to touch up my makeup, because back then I wouldn’t bring anything with me. I’d just bring a bag with my purse and that’s it.
I imagine this comes from experience where something has gone wrong?
Well, I don’t think I’ve ever had something that’s gone very wrong on the day. It’s mostly when I put the costume on again on the day, something moves, and you just think, “Okay, I need to have more pins!” So, things that could help me get through the day and actually cosplay this character that I’ve worked on. Other than that, I guess I’m more aware of what it takes on the day to do a certain cosplay. I suppose I’m just more ready. I say that, but I always tend to rush things as well (laughs). There’s always that last-minute rush of, “Oh, I have to get this finished.” I think all cosplayers do that. I feel like I’m not alone in this!
What kind of reactions have you had to your Futaba Sakura cosplay at MCM Birmingham today?
I’ve had a lot of Persona cosplayers come up and shout Futaba’s name at me. That surprised me because I never really see Futaba cosplayed.
I saw another one today.
Did you? Ah, so there’s another Futaba around! I’ll have to find her (laughs). Take a selfie together, twin Futabas!
But yeah, they like it. They know the character and they’re also cosplaying a Persona character and they want to take pictures with me.
So it’s, “Oh yeah, Futaba! I really like her. I really like Persona!”
“Yeah, me too!” It starts the conversation.
Thank you also to iphotouk for the photos.
Persona Dancing: Endless Night Collection is released for the PlayStation 4 worldwide on 4 December 2018.
Interview by Shalimar Sahota.