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March Feature - Sarah Hall

Sarah Hall, also known as Miss Relena, is the Vice Chairwoman of Fannatiku Fest and has some splendid cosplays and tips to share. She grew up on "Japanimation," before it was called Anime, and enjoyed shows like "Kimba the White Lion" and "Robo Tech." Sarah Hall has hand-stitched, appliqued, and sewn simple cosplays to the incredibly complex "Trinity Blood" art book versions.

Sarah Hall as Vivaldi: Alice in the Country of Hearts
Photo by Hillary Gowers
Links for Anime Fannatiku and Miss Relena:
Miss Relena on Deviantart
Anime Fannatiku Forums

Fun Fact: This picture was taken at Fannatiku Fest 2013. The dress is actually missing its hoops skirt so Sarah is wearing SEVEN petticoats! She is also wearing two corsets. That is a lot of fabric and boning!

Interview with Sarah Hall

What/who introduced you to anime and what is it about anime that you like?

I have loved Anime before Anime was called Anime here in the United States!  When I was a kid (many moons ago when dirt was new & dinosaurs roamed the earth) it was called Japanimation.  I grew up watching "Kimba the White Lion", "Robotech", and the "Unico" movies.  Yup, I'm old!  "Sailor Moon" came out here when I was in high school and I used to watch it with the little girl next door that I babysat because she didn't make fun of me for liking Shojo Sparkles.  It's been a life-long love for me.

I enjoy Anime for the epic story lines.  And by epic, I mean it takes more than one episode to complete the story -- in fact, sometimes it takes more than one SEASON to tell the tale.  I love the in depth characterizations and intricate plot lines that this form grants. I also like the diversity that Anime has.  There is something for everyone to love.  Pirates? Check.  Sports? You got it.   Giant Robots? Taking over Shinjuku as we speak.  Sparkly Rich Boys with random rose petals? Absolutely!   Magical Girl transformations?  Pick a planet, any planet!  There is silly, dramatic, melodramatic, cute, fierce, sweet, corny, and heart wrenching.  I love it!  

Ouran Queen from
Ouran High School Host Club
Photo by "Mr. Muggles."

Fun Fact (picture on right): Length of train - 4 1/2 feet. Length of hat train - 6 feet. Sarah perfected a foot-sweep maneuver so she could avoid having people step on her train!

The purple top of the hat is a plastic CD spindle cover with fabric layered over it. It was cheap and easy!

When did you start cosplaying and why?

I think the first actual cosplay I ever did (not knowing that cosplay even exsisted) was the charater Cutter Kinseeker from book 3 of the Elfquest graphic novels clear back in eighth grade for Halloween. (1992)  After that, I focused on sewing for theater, including a stint as a stitcher and run crew for the Utah Shakespearean Festival for several seasons.  After that, my friend Natchan asked me to help her with a costume for San Diego Comic Con.  It was Miss Relena from Gundam Wing.  As soon as I started working on it, I was hooked!!!  I loved dressing up, and I loved Anime - what could be a better combination for me? 

My first costume for the sake of cosplaying at a convention was Kaoru from Rurouni Kenshin.  It wasn't the greatest, but it was a ton of fun to wear!  Since then I've done costumes that speak to me - everything from the Yellow Cupcake dresses that the girls wear in Ouran High School Host Club to the Art Book Versions of NINE Trinity Blood costumes. (Never again!)  It doesn't matter if the costume is easy or hard.  If I love it, that's enough for me!

Gundam Seed: Lonely Captain
Photo by Sarah Covington

Fun Fact (picture on left): "I love the Gundam Seed cosplay mostly because it requires no corset or petticoat! I can also use my own hair [and it is] comfy too. Now if only I could shoot whomever decided that women in combat situations should wear pencil skirts! What were they thinking?!" - Sarah Hall.

What is your favorite part about the Anime Fannatiku Club?
Interacting with the club members!  They are the best!  We have members as young as seven and as old as. . . Well I'll be nice and just say they're older than me.  It's fun to see everyone relax and enjoy being a part of a group that has similar likes and interests as everyone else.  They are such a welcoming group, too!  I love 'em!

What are some challenges you and Natchan, the head of Fannatiku Fest,  have run into while working with the Fest?

Where to start?!  Finances are always an issue, but everyone knows that.  Finding enough volunteers is tough, too.  Everyone wants to just attend the con and have fun.  I don't blame them!  But the volunteers that we do have are priceless!  They are the unsung heroes of our convention.  We also have had troubles finding each other when things come up during the convention.  This year we bought walkie-talkies for the staff and they were WONDERFUL!!!  (Even if I did look funny as Sister Esther with a black antenna sticking out of my belt-pouch.)

It's also tough to get vendors to come to a tiny convention.  They don't like to travel if they know they aren't going to make mega-bucks.  Some vendors also have contracts with industry companies that limits them to only attending large conventions.  But we like being a tiny con, so we do our best to find a wide variety of stores willing to come and sell their wares to our attendees.

What has been the hardest cosplay you have created and what so tough about it?

Art book Esther from Trinity Blood
Photo taken in the Anime Los Angeles green room.

Won "Most Attention to Detail" and "Most Beautiful." (2011)
All the blue edging is hand sewn!

Single Cosplay: Vivaldi, the Queen of Hearts from "Heart no Kuni no Alice" (Alice in the Country of Hearts.)  It was tough for many reasons.  First, she has four or five different colors of red that she wears at the same time, and they all blend well to make a really cool whole that doesn't overwhelm the viewer with any one particular shade.  Finding that many reds that worked together in the type of fabrics I wanted was daunting.  Then all of her hearts and pleated trim variegates from green to purple and back to green.  They don't make sparkly fabric that does that -- at least not that I could find in Southern Utah. I double-layered it all with transparent iridescent fabric. 

The pattern went: purple on purple, purple on green, green on purple, green on green, green on purple, purple on green - over and over ad nausium. Then I had to applique on all those hearts.  Can I tell you how tired I am of pinning and sewing hearts?

Group Cosplay: The art book versions of Trinity Blood.  Blingfest! Trimfest! Handsewing as far as the eye can see! Aaaaahhhhhhhh!!!
[VFire loves that Sarah has done hand-stitching and sewing! It is such a fun thing, but very tedious!]

 Do you have any advice for new cosplayers?

Don't kill yourself right out of the gate.  Be reasonable.  If I had attempted Trinity Blood or the Queen of Hearts as one of my first projects, I would have hated the whole thing and quit cosplay before I ever got very far.  Cosplay is supposed to be fun, not something that destroys any self-confidence you have.  Challenge yourself - don't kill yourself!


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