Full interview with Pikachan Cosplay!

In this episode of Senpai Spotlight we have Pikachan Cosplay! All the way from Egypt, she has been cosplaying for over 5 years in her area.

In this interview, Pikachan tells me what it’s like to be cosplayer in Egypt; it’s completely different compared to how it is here in North America. Some of these issues include most people in her country don’t know what cosplay still is (she’s been called a devil worshiper for cosplaying), watching what she has to dress like for her safety, and getting all the attention at a convention for cosplaying a very popular female character (she’s got people following her).

At the same time, the cosplay community in Egypt is very tight-knit and looks out for each other, which is another reason why she loves the community and the hobby in general.

Here’s where to find her on social media:

Senpai: Welcome to the Senpai Spotlight, where you get to experience the cosplay community from a different perspective. And today we have Maggie AKA Pikachan Cosplay. She is all the way in Egypt! Tell us a little bit more about yourself.

Pikachan: Sure. My name is Maggie. I’m from Cairo, Egypt. I’m 27. I have been cosplaying for the past 5 years here in Egypt. I began going international this year. I went to Saudi Arabia and maybe I will go to Dubai this year. And that’s it!

Senpai: Cool. Is there an actual cosplay community in Egypt?

Pikachan: We’re not that big. Everyone knows who is who. We’re all a big family. If you ever come here to Egypt, you’ll really enjoy our community here because we all go together everywhere.

Senpai: Ah, so I’m assuming it’s a really small, really close-knit community?

Pikachan: We have like 50 (regular) cosplayers in the (Egyptian) community.

Senpai: Wow that is tiny! That definitely would make things interesting…

Pikachan: Yeah because if someone made a cosplay, this cosplay will go around a lot. If someone did Hinata, this girl is gonna be this year’s Hinata, another girl will be Hinata with the same cosplay, and stuff like that. I did Rem (from RE: Zero), and I sold it to someone and this girl’s wearing it. And now this girl sold it to someone else, so (now) she’s wearing my Rem. And my Rem is going around the community! “Oh hi this is my cosplay! Good for you!”

Senpai: Well that must be the nice thing about cosplaying in Egypt – if you do a certain cosplay, everyone will know who you are. Whereas back here, you’re kind of like the small fish in a really big pond.

Pikachan: In Saudi Arabia, they have really big cosplayers. They are huge man. This guy made a full Reingar cosplay (from League of Legends) which is a really big cosplay. The lights and everything…I’m like I’m getting screwed in Egypt. We don’t have these skills here!

We still don’t know how everything is done. I myself watch a lot of tutorials. And now I teach people how to…”if you wanna do this, you gotta do that.”

Also, we don’t have Worbla here in Egypt. If you got Worbla here, it would just melt all over the place. We only have EVA foam and fabrics.

Senpai: Does the climate in Egypt affect what you can or cannot cosplay?

Pikachan: Well it affects me. I usually cosplay really heavy duty cosplays in the winter and in the summer, easy breezy cosplays.

We asked a couple of professional cosplayers that we need to incorporate Worbla into our cosplay community. And they said, “You guys, if we got it to you then it melts really really fast. With your weather it will just melt all over you. As our advice, we don’t recommend but we can send over some sheets!”

So I said we’ll just stick to our EVA foam and we’re fine.

Senpai: I mean if you’re indoors, it shouldn’t be an issue right?

Pikachan: We have only 1 event that goes indoors.

Senpai: Oh man that is crazy! I don’t even like being outside at conventions in the summer. It’s so hot!

Pikachan: Exactly! We have 2 main events in Egypt: one big event is called Insomnia. It’s like Comic Con. And we have another event that’s called Egy Con that happens once in the summer and once in the winter.

Senpai: I’d definitely love to come visit (Egypt). I would have to come in the winter though, cause I’m sure your summers are crazy hot…for me as a Canadian. If it’s like past 25 degrees, I don’t even like being outside!

Pikachan: Wow. For us it’s like 25 degrees right now and it’s like freezing as hell! Like I have to wear double coats to go outside.

Senpai: I find that so funny! How do you guys wear jackets when it’s 25 (degrees outside)? I’d be in a T-shirt and shorts!

Pikachan: I don’t know! It’s just cold for us! We have people that do wear shorts and shirts in that weather, but those are like weird (people) for us. Like no dude, we don’t do that here! It’s cold: wear a jacket, wear a nice cap, wear a scarf. Please be warm!

Senpai: A scarf in 30 degrees? Oh my goodness!

Pikachan: If it goes to like 16 degrees, my hand will be like really blue and I’m like, “Please let me go home!”

Violet Evergarden
Like many of us Weebs, Pikachan is a huge fan of Anime. That’s why she does cosplays such as Violet Evergarden! Photo by r9props.

Senpai: How did you first get into cosplay?

Pikachan: When I was a kid, I used to watch shows like Digimon and Yu-Gi-Oh! Then one day I went to a con event, and I saw people wearing stuff from Anime and from games. And I was like, “What’s that?” And they’re like, “That’s cosplay.” I saw people from outside of Egypt do that. I didn’t know we had (cosplay) here.

(Then I thought) next event I will be Pikachu! Then the next event I grabbed some ears and tail, and a yellow shirt and I was Pikachu.

I kept the whole event talking in a Pikachu voice. Anyone at the event who talked to me, I responded with “Pika Pika!

Senpai: You do a really good impression of Pikachu!

Pikachan: That’s where I got my name – Pikachan. Because of my (Pikachu) talent! Pikachan is really cute for me.

Senpai: I’m assuming that Pokemon is probably your favorite fandom?

Pikachan: It used to be when I was a child. But right now my favorite Anime is Blue Exorcist. I really love this Anime. I watch the mainstream stuff like Demon Slayer, Boku No Hero, Attack On Titan and those things. But I always go back to Blue Exorcist and watch it over and over again.

Senpai: When you watch Anime, is it dubbed in your language or subbed from Japanese?

Pikachan: I watch in the Japanese version and subbed in English. Because I don’t trust Arabic people with Japanese; I don’t think they translate it right.

(For example), Digimon was dubbed in our language. The guy with the dinosaur and the girl with the bird were supposed to be boyfriend and girlfriend. In the Arabic version they don’t do that; they’re just friends.

Here’s (another) good one – Detective Conan. He’s supposed to be Ran’s boyfriend. But in the Arabic version, he is her fiancé! Which is weird for us kids because he’s in high school! We didn’t understand why they did that and when we grew up and started watching the Japanese version, we understood that no, they’re boyfriend and girlfriend!

They censor a lot of things, so I don’t trust them (Arabic dubbing) anymore. If a girl is wearing a little bit revealing clothing in Anime or something, I think they ask Japan to censor some stuff.

Senpai: I wonder how they do Yuri and Yaoi series?

Pikachan: We don’t do that ever. That’s just not allowed.

Even when I was cosplaying in Saudi Arabia…here in Egypt we’re more open. It’s okay to wear revealing cosplays, just not too much. But in Saudi Arabia, no: your skirt has to be under your knee. Your arms shouldn’t be showing. You have to wear an undershirt under your cosplay. No chest area revealed. No stomach. Your hair should be not covered but under the wig.

There was a girl; she was Russian. She was wearing a bodysuit. They just sent her back with a scarf wrapped around her waist. Because some guy made a comment about one of her body parts. And they said (to her), “No, this is not acceptable.” So they sent her back in with a scarf wrapped around her waist and let her go.

I was off the hook most of the time because I was acting like a foreigner. But if they knew I am Arab or an Egyptian or from a Muslim country, I would go down by one of the rules. But I acted like I was a Russian and I just pass by!

Rem from RE: Zero
Her Rem cosplay was so popular that she had attendees following her around the convention! Photo by essamelbably.

Senpai: So you were able to pass off as a Russian! Is the dress code also strict in Egypt?

Pikachan: Yeah. At the end of the week, I was just talking to my friend from Egypt in Arabic. And everyone was like, “(GASP) you are not Russian!” You guys assumed I was Russian! I never said I was Russian!

In Egypt (dressing conservatively) is for your own safety, not because it’s forbidden.

I’m a cosplayer that doesn’t get dressed at a con. I get dressed at home and drive over to the con with my costume on me. If I’m wearing something too revealing, everyone on the street will be looking at me. And they’re not looking because I’m weird. They’re looking like she’s not wearing this part of the clothes (like a sex object). So in order to prevent this, I just wear modest clothing for my cosplays.

For example, an event like Egycon has like 5k people go there. So it’s pretty crowded for a small place. Maybe someone will not be a good person and he will start touching and grabbing me. So to prevent this from happening, I just have to be modest. Because if I’m not modest and this happened, the society will blame me for it.

Senpai: Wow, it’s so different over there. We deal with the same things; there’s definitely harassment and stuff at cons. But it’s totally unacceptable. Cosplayers here can wear whatever they want, whether it’s modest clothing or revealing clothing. And it’s pretty well known here that cosplay is not consent.

Pikachan: Yeah, I heard about it. There was a campaign last for cosplay is not consent and I really liked it. But here in Egypt, if I just said, “Cosplay is not consent”, everybody will be like “Uhhh, we don’t have anybody harassing here.” Like no, we do but girls don’t talk about it.

One time I was really scared for my safety because I was wearing Rem. And Rem was such a popular character in our Anime community; all the guys had a crush on her! So I just went out from the bathroom and the bathroom was on a higher ground. I was looking down to the people and I found like over 30 guys screaming, “REM REM REM!” And I just ran to the bathroom and said to myself, “I’m not going down there! I’m not going down there unless I get one of my big guy friends come over here and get me!”

(My friends) made a big bodyguard circle around me and they were just walking between the crowds. (They said to the crowd) “No no no, if you want a picture then just ask. If you’re not, then don’t talk to her.” And they just started pushing the guys over.

If you’re a famous character like Hinata, it’s a very hard character for a girl to do. Especially if she does it in a very right way. If she looks like the character exactly and just acted like her, the guys will be drooling over her.

But other than that, we’re cool. Nothing happened this serious.

NOTE: I asked a completely different question but we ended up talking about cosplayers as guests at Egyptian cons!

Pikachan: No, not yet. This year I’m trying to tell the cons that I have an audience that comes to cons to see me and have pictures with me. And I’m trying to get this over to them: I have 100k over this app (and) I have this amount of fans over this app.

I’m not asking to be treated in a special way. Because the owner of the con thought I was asking for special treatment. I’m not. I’m telling them I can you bring more audience if we did that (gave me a panel), which is a good thing for you. But they’re still saying “No.”

Senpai: Sounds like they don’t see that cosplay guests can bring a lot of people to a con.

Pikachan: Yeah, especially if they’re good cosplayers. A guy won an international competition and went over to Comic Con as his prize. He went there and he’s not that different from the professional cosplayers. He’s actually better than most of the cosplayers there!

We have very intense crafting skills here but nobody is noticing us because we’re hiding in the shadows.

Most of us (cosplayers) don’t import stuff from outside or foreign countries, so we rather do it ourselves. And if we don’t do ourselves we just go to tailors, especially for cosplay fabrics. When (cosplayers) buy fabric and go to the tailor, the tailor what the (cosplayer) wants. Then they have to lie, saying that they work for the circus or they work for a school play. Then the tailor gives the (low) quality of a school play; not that detailed.

Senpai: In North America, cosplay has become so mainstream that a tailor (or commissioner) would understand that a project would be for a cosplay, for a Comic Con or whatever. Whereas in Egypt, a tailor would be like, “What? What do you mean?”

Pikachan: You can’t say the word “cosplay” because the first part of the word is a curse word in Arabic! Then I have to explain that the word cosplay is “costume play.” Then they understand what I’m talking about. I show them my pictures and then they’re like, “Oh this is a thing?”

At the beginning of my (cosplayer) days, I went to a tailor and I asked him to do Noel Vermillion (from BlazBlue). The guy was standing in front of me (and said), “Are you the devil worshipper?” I was like, “No no no. I just want to be this character from this game.” Then I showed him and he was like, “Oh now I get it…uhh okay.” The guy just assumed I’m a devil worshipper, I’m a weird person, I’m a freak and this is not normal and I’m going to call the police on you!

Senpai: It sounds it’s difficult to be a cosplayer in Egypt. You got to deal with the culture contrast when it comes to cosplay. I applaud you for being a cosplayer in Egypt.

Pikachan: Yeah but we have each other’s back; we protect each other. Like if someone tries to start cyberbullying me, the whole community will attack him. I don’t even need to know who is attacking me; they will just go for it.

Senpai: I’ve noticed that you like to advocate for being different! Does that play into which cosplays you do?

Pikachan: Of course. If you want to be something, just be it. I always have a saying – If you have a crush on a character, just cosplay him. Especially male characters; if I have a really serious crush on him, I’ll just do it! If I can’t be with him, I want to be the guy!

Cosplay has no rules; that’s why it’s fun. If you start having rules for cosplay, then it’s going to be like a burden. I don’t want to do this (cosplay) anymore if it has strict rules. At the end of the day, everybody has their own job. They have their own life. They only get to be themselves for one day. So they can be whatever they want. That’s why I love cosplay so much. When people ask me why, I say it runs through my blood because it’s who I am.

I work as a banker and I have to put this serious face for like 9 hours a day. Then I go home and go to sleep or watch Anime and do whatever. But whenever I’m wearing my cosplay, it gives me the confidence of the character. For example, if I am wearing Todoroki, I have the power of fire and I have the power of ice and I can burn the hell out of you right now if I want to! That’s how I look at it.

Senpai: That totally makes sense in your case because of your professional job. After you’re done work, you can just be yourself!

Pikachan: For a certain time, my superiors wanted me to act a certain way. Because of the time I was a child running wild everywhere. So I looked at it like – my profession needs to be serious, so let’s act like I’m now wearing a suit and now I’m cosplaying as a banker. Just to make it fun for me!

Senpai: That’s a good way to look at it! So you’re always cosplaying in everyday life, not just in costume.

Pikachan: Yeah exactly because as a matter of fact, I really hate my job. It’s just a burden over me. So in order to make myself love it more and just be happy working for this institution. I just wake up every morning with a suit, because I have to wear a suit to my work. So today I will be like a serious banker. Or today I will be a helpful banker.

Senpai: I know you live on the other side of the world, so if there’s one con you could attend in the world, which one would it be and why?

Pikachan: I really really really really really want to attend Comic Con San Diego! I think it’s the top con to see everybody. Because when this con is happening, I follow all these cosplayers from around the world and everybody is there. Like everybody! If someone is not there, then I am worried.

I really want to go to Anime Expo too. I just want to see everybody before I die! I (also) just want to go to America and see Disney World.

Senpai: Last question! If someone is entering the cosplay community, what advice would you give them?

Pikachan: Just have fun, watch a lot of tutorials, and never be afraid to ask for help. I really like bringing more people to the community, so I’m adopting a lot of new talents now and that’s what I’m basically doing.

You want to watch this tutorial? Just watch it.

You want to improve your makeup skills? Okay, watch this channel.

If you want to go shop for materials, I’ll take you and let’s shop for materials and stuff like that.

If they love the character very much and they don’t mind the sleepless hours working 24/7 for a certain cosplay, just go for it. But if they’re gonna (be like), “No I’m tired or no I don’t want to do this.” Then they don’t have the passion for it.

They should start with something small and then grow up to it.

If you have any questions for Pikachan or suggestions for future Senpai Spotlights, let me know in the comments!

Senpai Cosplay Spotlight – Pikachan Cosplay
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