Passion To Profession: The Inspiring Story Of Nagaland's 'The Cosplay Monster' - Eastern Mirror
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Passion to Profession: The inspiring story of Nagaland’s ‘The Cosplay Monster’

By Moakala T Aier Updated: Oct 17, 2023 7:04 pm
Samurai cosplay by The Cosplay Monster
Photo by Vilu Movi

DIMAPUR — In the vibrant world of cosplay, where creativity knows no bounds, 22-year-old Pelevinuo Achumi, known by her stage name, ‘The Cosplay Monster,’ stands out as a rising star. What began as a mere hobby crafting costumes has transformed into a thriving profession for this young entrepreneur.

Proudly hailing from Nagaland, India, Pelevinuo not only defies societal stereotypes but also manages to carve her niche in the cosplay community, one meticulously crafted costume at a time.

Pelevinuo’s journey into the world of cosplay wasn’t without its challenges. The biggest hurdle she faced was convincing her parents, initially sceptical about cosplay, to understand and appreciate her passion. However, as her craftsmanship started translating into a viable source of income, contributing to the family finances, the walls of misunderstanding gradually crumbled.

From her online store, ‘_tcm____,’ Pelevinuo actively designs and creates costumes that resonate with cosplayers across India.

Lisa from Genshin Impact cosplay by The Cosplay Monster
Source: The Cosplay Monster on Instagram.

From Hobby to Profession

Pelevinuo was first introduced to cosplay in 2015 through a news article, where she read about a cosfest event held in Kohima. She admits she started watching anime earlier in 2009 but had not heard or seen people dressing up as anime characters. So, when she came across the article, she was quite intrigued, and her curiosity led her to research more about it.

Actively cosplaying for a year now, the 22-year-old says, “Cosplay to me is a way to express my creativity and to bring my artistic skills to life. It is not only about playing the character but making the costume from scratch and wearing one’s piece of work gives a different sense of pride and joy.”

“I tutored in order to finance my education, but during my gap year, I started hand-sewing some of my clothes. This was when people started to show a lot of love and interest in my handmade works, and I started receiving commissions. So I thought to myself to give designing a chance.”

She believes that wearing costumes and dressing up as the character makes her feel as though she has developed a closer relationship with the character.

For her first-ever cosplay, she dressed up as ‘Crazy Nurse’ – a character from a horror game called ‘Silent Hill‘ at an event. When asked why she chose this particular character, she replied, “I wanted to look different and stand out from the crowd, so I picked a character which people wouldn’t normally choose due to its scary visuals.”

Crazy nurse cosplay by The Cosplay Monster
Source: The Cosplay Monster on Instagram.

According to Pelevinuo, the process of designing and making costumes demands a great deal of one’s creativity and original techniques, as most of the time tutorials are not available online. In such instances, she said, “Basically, what I do is collect many pictures of the character’s costume for references, come up with patterns, cut the fabrics according to the patterns, and apply my techniques alongside while sewing.”

“I receive around 15-18 commissions per month. The commissions come from various parts of India and even internationally, but the majority of my clients are from the Northeast region.”

There are two major issues that Pelevinuo often faces while working on a project: The lack of materials in Nagaland fabric stores and unstable electricity issues in Kohima, thereby hindering her work process.

Her favourite cosplay, she says, is Uchiha Itachi, which she cosplayed in the past. “Itachi is one of the supporting characters and an anti-villain in the anime ‘Naruto’. His intelligence is unmatched, and his calmness during battles is also phenomenal, making him a formidable foe. To protect the village, he was willing to lay down his life, paint himself as a villain, and live in disgrace, and that is exactly why cosplaying him was very special to me. I connected with Itachi because his personality of being selfless very much resonates with me,” adds the 22-year-old cosplayer.

Uchiha Itachi Cosplay by The Cosplay Monster
Source: The Cosplay Monster on Instagram.

Misconceptions from Society

Pelevinuo points out that there are numerous misconceptions about cosplay culture in Nagaland. She highlights some common misconceptions, including the assumption that cosplay is equivalent to being ‘anti-Christ,’ leading to the labelling of cosplayers as ‘Satanists.’

Additionally, cosplay is often viewed as something unproductive, impractical, and not conducive to a career. There’s also the misconception that every Naga cosplayer exclusively portrays Japanese and Korean characters because they are ashamed of their own cultural attires.

“Addressing such misconceptions in Naga society has not been easy so far,” Pelevinuo shared.

“No matter how many times I have explained or shown what we do in the cosplay community, Naga people’s perspective towards cosplay hardly alters. However, I have successfully changed some people’s perspectives.”

Street Outfit Reaction Videos in Kohima

“I started cosplaying and taking reaction videos on the streets to show people my costumes and to encourage those people who want to cosplay but are too afraid. I love showing people my outfits and costumes,” Pelevinuo said.

“I have been called ‘ugly, satanic, and repulsive,’ and passersby would laugh at my face whenever I cosplay in public. It did make me feel ugly and lowered my confidence but only for a moment. I keep reminding myself that not everyone is going to understand.”

“I don’t think about the negative comments that much, but there are times when some people’s comments get me. It is understandable that not everyone will appreciate cosplay, but I don’t understand why people throw so much hate on others. I have to remind myself that I do not owe anything to these trolls; they are not important and do not add any value to my life.”

Family Acceptance

Pelevinuo continues to receive support and encouragement widely from her online audience and adds, “Other than them, are my circle of friends, relatives, and mother.”

“My mother’s reaction in the beginning was quite terrible. She would ask me not to do such things (cosplay) and disliked it in every form because it was very different and not accepted in the social realm of Nagaland.”

“This sentiment was fueled by relatives and her friends who would convey false narratives about cosplay. Numerous arguments ensued between us, and it eventually demotivated me, leading to several breakdowns. However, I wasn’t ready to give up on my passion.”

“It was only when I started making money through cosplay that my mother’s perspectives began to change, as I was contributing to the finances at home.”

“Now, she helps me wash the costumes that I make, presses them, and even attends cosplay events with me.”

Pyramid head cosplay by The Cosplay Monster
Source: The Cosplay Monster on Instagram.

Overcoming Negativity

Pelevinuo aspires to break the misconceptions towards cosplay culture and says, “Cosplay means dressing up as a character from anime, comic, movie, historical and even biblical characters. A person dressing up as a 2D anime character or as Jesus from the Bible is practically called cosplay. They’re dressing up and playing the role of the character. If society calls cosplay antichrist, how is it ‘antichrist’ if a person is cosplaying as a historical person?”

“How is our Naga culture lost if someone cosplays? Are crafting and sewing not part of our culture? We celebrate different cultural festivals every month in Nagaland, so why does it bother the society if we hold something different like a cosplay event once a year?”

“As a cosplayer, I interact with a large number of cosplayers who are very skilled. I have met people who are extremely good at sewing and crafting and run very successful cosplay businesses. It is a very good career to pursue. Society can be very quick to judge anything they don’t know. Just because someone is cosplaying, that does not mean that they hate their culture or are Satanists. They may be cosplaying purely because they like the character or they like crafting.”

Inspiring Others

In conclusion, Pelevinuo says, “I would like to think that I have inspired people to not be afraid to try something new, to follow one’s passion and to work hard to achieve their dreams.”

“A message I want to share with readers is that cosplay is a beautiful art form where individuals of diverse body shapes, colours, and races come together to express their love for the characters they portray and the stunning costumes they create. Cosplay enables them to engage with the audience, boost their confidence, and feel a part of something beautiful. Therefore, don’t discourage young people or individuals of any age from trying cosplay or any other hobbies.”

Satoru Gojo cosplay by The Cosplay Monster
Source: The Cosplay Monster on Instagram.

“If you want to pursue it as a career, do your research, practice sewing/crafting, and engage/promote your business on various platforms or any other unconventional hobby – be dedicated, work smart, have patience and learn to enjoy the work process.”

“Making costumes is difficult and time-consuming. I spend hours working on it, and when it is complete, it gives me a great sense of pride. Sometimes I ask myself if I really made that. It is not everyone’s cup of tea, so it makes me feel proud and happy.”

Her future goals include opening a physical cosplay store in Kohima and organising cosplay events to provide platforms for Naga people to showcase their talents.

By Moakala T Aier Updated: Oct 17, 2023 7:04:01 pm
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