Interview: Hanari, Hong Kong Cosplayer Recognized by Haachama

In this feature story, we put the spotlight on Hanari and asked her how she got into the VTuber rabbit hole, and what she felt after being recognized by one. We got her insight into VTuber cosplays as well.

The Otaku Expo Tanabata Festival 2022 was recently held on the weekend of August 20-21, and it brought special guest cosplayers Hanari and Toto to the Philippines. Hanari and Toto are members of Hong Kong-based subculture group V-Project whose interests include cosplay, dance and drama performances.

Hololive's Akai Haato (Haachama) has recognized Hanari's cosplay and attention to detail during one of her cosplay contest streams in November 2021 (Timestamp: 1:01:05), to the point of even following the cosplayer on Twitter.

Hanari has faithfully cosplayed several VTubers from Hololive as well as Nijisanji's Hyakumantenbara Salome. Toto, on the other hand, has also cosplayed as Hololive's Amane Kanata, Momosuzu Nene and Hakui Koyori.

In this feature story, we put the spotlight on Hanari and asked her how she got into the VTuber rabbit hole, and what she felt after being recognized by one. We got her insight into VTuber cosplays as well.

Hanari (as Akai Haato) and Toto (as Tsunomaki Watame) pose for the camera.
Hanari (as Akai Haato) and Toto (as Tsunomaki Watame) pose for the camera.

Adjustments were made in this feature story for clarity.

How Hanari Ended Up Cosplaying Haachama

Just like any other fan, Hanari started watching VTubers upon recommendation of her friends:

"I was recommended (VTubers) by my friends, and then I searched the name of the VTubers on YouTube. I saw the clips made by their fans, and then I got fully in-love with Haachama, Sakura Miko, Houshou Marine, and Usada Pekora from Hololive Production."

Hanari said Haachama's cooking streams are so funny, so much so that she tried cosplaying the VTuber herself. When Haachama opened submissions for the cosplay review stream, Hanari tweeted her cosplay submission. This is how she got recognized: "She retweeted my photos and followed me back. I'm so glad she showed my pictures on stream."

How does it feel to be recognized by Haachama? She recalled the time she screamed in excitement and glee as she was mentioned on stream. "I still remember that memorable moment. I'm so surprised because I've never been posted, tweeted or streamed by a VTuber in their live stream. I'm so proud of myself, and I'm glad I cosplayed her."

For portraying Akai Haato faithfully, the VTuber told everyone: "This is so perfect!" Haachama even used one of her cosplay photos as thumbnails for her streams. "One of my cosplay photos was made as a thumbnail for her stream, so I really feel proud of myself. I'm so happy, I can't control myself and I just screamed out. I also gave her a superchat after she recognized me."

Hanari Lures Friends Into the VTuber Rabbit Hole

Hanari (right) signing cosplay prints during Otaku Expo Tanabata Festival 2022.

Haachama is definitely Hanari's most favorite VTuber character to cosplay, but she also loves cosplaying shrine maiden Mikochi. We asked her how she'd recommend Haachama and Mikochi to others:

"Maybe I will send them photos of Haachama and Miko on a bed, I guess, lying beside each other. They're actually funny and they are close, showing that they're in the same boat. In conclusion, they are so cute together, so I'm trying to convince my friends to cosplay them. Maybe I can cosplay both characters myself."

For the record, she cosplayed as Miko as a gift for the VTuber's birthday. Also, she told us that she ships Haachama and Mikochi together.

"Recently, I love the couple of Sakura Miko and Haachama. The couple ship I love the most is Sakura Miko and Haachama. They are so funny, because Haachama always cheats on Sakura Miko. They do some interesting reactions together."

Toto as a Good Example of Hanari’s Convincing

If she was luring her friends into the VTuber rabbit hole, does it mean that she convinced Toto to cosplay the herbivore bard Tsunomaki Watame at the event?

"Yes, I convinced her to cosplay Watame with me, because I know Haachama and Watame are like a couple. In the very beginning when they entered Hololive, they met together and became friends, and we can see they are close. Their reactions are so fun."

Turns out, the convincing was effective for Toto: "I cosplayed Watame because I felt she's very, very cute, and her streams are crazy. I think I can be her, so I'm very happy (cosplaying as her)."

How Hanari Cosplays VTubers

Hanari has a busy cosplaying career, and we are curious how she cosplays VTubers. We went ahead and asked if she made her costumes by herself.

"Sometimes, I would do it for myself, like some swimsuits and some underwear, some lacy stuff, I can do it by myself, like these accessories—"

Left: Akai Haato's idol outfit (©2016 COVER Corp.) / Right: Hanari's accessory up-close

As she was cosplaying Haachama's idol outfit, she showed us the heart accessory she made.

"Because I had to cosplay so many costumes such as Haachama and other VTubers, I don't have much time to do a lot of cosplays, so I order from shops. I seldom make costumes myself, but I know how to sew too," she further elaborated.

We go back to the time when Hanari cosplayed as Haachama eating worms: "Maybe the easiest part is we always can see them in their YouTube channels, and we know how they behave, know their attitude or characteristics, so that we can act like them very well and do the stuff they do, such as Haachama eating worms. I can just buy some worms and act like eating it, so I can truly cosplay as Haachama."

According to Hanari, cosplaying as VTubers can be easy or difficult depending on their presence and popularity. "The difficult part is, maybe, there are many VTubers, so if the VTuber you love is not that famous, you may not get her costume at shops or buy it online. You may have to make it by yourself."

Established cosplayers such as Hanari give emphasis on costume detail and character portrayal, but on top of it all, it's the sense of enjoyment that matters. Here's her advice for others who want to start cosplaying VTubers:

"I think they should watch more clips to know more about the VTubers they love. Actually, it's easy to cosplay VTubers because there are many costumes to choose from, and there are many products or costumes they can buy at shops or online. Just have fun with your cosplay and don't worry, be proud of yourself and act like the VTuber you like."

Future VTuber Cosplay Plans

It is known that Hanari is really into Akai Haato and Sakura Miko, and when we asked about her future cosplay plans, she's keen on producing a Miko photobook: "Actually, I've been cosplaying Miko a few times, but I'm planning to do a Miko photo book this coming December. I'll sell my merchandise in Hong Kong. I really love her and I really want to present the best cosplay of her."

Thank you very much to Hanari as well as Toto for sharing their time with us. Special thanks to the organizers of Otaku Expo Tanabata Festival, the Ozine Team, for making this interview for NewsDrop possible.