As the official Sailor Moon writer for nerdslant, I take pride in representing as a megafan. That being said, I had the pleasure of talking with Sara Dostal, someone who understands Sailor Moon fandom as much as I do, after she came across some of my shared articles. Sara’s the definition of a megafan, right down to her excellent cosplay work.
So, to start off, why don’t you introduce yourself and tell us where you’re from.
SD: Sara Dostal, but I also go by various cosplay alias names such as Chii, Usachan, and Haruka. I live in White Rock, British Columbia, Canada with my husband and our twenty-month-old daughter. I share the bottom suite portion of the house while my parents occupy the upper half of the house.
And how long have you loved Sailor Moon?
SD: I have been a Sailor Moon fanatic for twenty-one years around the same time when DIC Sailor Moon English Version first came onto television on a Canadian network called YTV (a.k.a. Youth Television) in August of 1995.
Was that when you first became acquainted with Sailor Moon, or was it in an earlier form like the manga?
SD: I became acquainted with Sailor Moon as an anime around the beginning of September of 1995 when it was pretty new to Canadian TV. At the time, I made friends with a girl who was also into the series. We formed a friendship rather quickly watching the series together. We spent most of our time after school watching an episode or two while doing homework and live role played many of the characters. A year later in 1996 we began going to a local anime store to take out recorded VHS tapes of the Sailor Moon series straight from Japan.
By that time, I was already watching the 3rd (Sailor Moon S), 4th (Super S), and 5th season (Sailor Stars). I became familiar with the Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon manga that same year and throughout much of 1997. Although I couldn’t understand much of Japanese, I still collected the manga along with Sailor V at the time.
Who are your favorite Inner and Outer Senshi, and why?
SD: My favorite Inner Senshi is Sailor Mercury. I admired her intelligence and her strategies to analyze a problem rather than hand-to-hand combat. She’s also sweet, caring and a darling girl whom loved to study and read. That was her contributions to the group of Sailor Senshi and how she became a close friend of Usagi’s. I easily related to her because of her obsession with knowledge. I was often a bookworm and still am to this day. I love to research and use common sense to figure out problems, and how to do things in everyday life. I also love the color blue and computers like she does.
My favorite Outer Senshi are Sailor Uranus and Neptune. I love them because they’re confident and cunning. Haruka gave me inspiration to be strong and beautiful but not to be snobby or rude about it. Though she can be very blunt, and to the point she certainly has good intentions. Like Haruka, I relate to having weaknesses but still put everything I have on the line. Another thing I enjoy about Haruka is her flirtatiousness with men and women whom catch her eye. With Michiru I love her fashion sense, and it has shown me to love many styles of clothing and accessories.
I love putting various colors together in my outfits. Lately I thoroughly enjoy collecting different makeup products. More recently I love cosplaying her because of her elegance and flair. She comes off as a confident young woman but also shies away at times. Her main concern is to protect those she loves and cares for such as her partner, Haruka. It’s that sacrifice and purity I love.
How long have you been cosplaying, and what made you decided to start doing it in the first place?
SD: I started to cosplay after my second year attending a local anime convention in my city where I saw many other people doing it. Chii from Chobits was my first cosplay along with Mitsukuni Haninozuka (a.k.a. Honey) from Ouran High School Host Club. I believe I started back in 2006 and have cosplayed for ten years altogether.
Ten years means you must have a lot of practice and experience when it comes to cosplaying. Could you describe your process, from deciding whom you’ll be cosplaying as to putting the outfit together and finally getting to show it off?
SD: I didn’t start putting together cosplay from scratch immediately. I was still new to the world of ordering pieces such as wigs and accessories. I’d also find clothing online or through eBay. It wasn’t until 2008 I started to actually study and bring along a book that had photos of the characters when I went into local thrift shops. I learned through thrift shops, craft and dollar stores about how simple it is to use different materials or articles of clothing to combine them.
Since I have minimal sewing experience I found using second hand stores, goodwill shops and even some retail stores were useful. It’s always surprising what reminded me of a character I’d recognize or need for my own cosplays. Plus, I felt I had truly accomplished something special by doing this because it worked well and garnered some attention for me. I always tried to present cosplays that are as accurate to my abilities. But of course I also made mistakes, and failed along the way.
In the process I definitely gained insight by listening to feedback from others about what to do next time. I felt the most proud simply to know I found my niche and can share it with those whom I would not have known otherwise.
How often do you get to show off your cosplays at conventions, and have you ever taken it a step further by, say, entering a cosplay competition at one?
SD: Before I had my baby daughter, I was attending two anime conventions a year, sometimes three if my husband and I had made plans to attend. I’ve never entered a cosplay contest due to my severe anxiety. I’m happy to cheer and congratulate other who do this without hesitation, but for me it’s not something I’m comfortable with. This is due to being awkward, shy and introverted all my life. I do like talking to people around the convention hall about my cosplays and that makes my anxiety more manageable.
Granted, cosplay has always helped me get comfortable with being dressed in costume for hours and talking to those within a convention. I think if you’re comfortable with yourself as a person, then you can do whatever cosplay you want. I continue to let cosplay lead me and I know I have a lot to choose from, and would like to learn more along the way. A goal of mine would be to show off something I make with my own hands at an event, but at this moment I’m unsure.
As it’s abundantly clear that you’re a megafan, what does Sailor Moon mean to you personally?
SD: Sailor Moon for me is a cult classic that everyone at some point knows or is very fond of. It continues to enrich most people’s lives relating to characters and their emotions through connections lost or gained. They see Sailor Moon as a symbol of being a cutesy character whom struggles with her identity and her life as a Sailor Senshi. For some that might mean they struggle or hold a certain uncertainty of their grades in school, are boy crazy or defend what is right by sacrificing things for friends and family. In my opinion the fans can either make or break a fandom.
On one hand, I’m quite eccentric but passionate for all things Sailor Moon from stories to characters but fans want to see much more. Sometimes fans get too obsessed or crazy with nit picking apart a series and it can get out of control. Sailor Moon has brought me to meeting and forming many friendships that are long lasting and some that are from social media sites like Facebook. I saw Sailor Moon as somebody who strives and has the drive to take out evil with a stroke of love and justice. She also struggles and constantly cries but it is to remind us it’s alright to make a mistake. No one is perfect and we are all human at the end of the day.
When Sailor Moon first came out, this was a series I knew I was going to love right away. I was satisfied with the development and personality of the characters as the story progressed. I’d also enjoy daydreaming or imagining myself as her. Sailor Moon was my first magical girl (a.k.a Shoujo) series and I went merchandise crazy for stickers, books and sometimes even dolls or food items that came out in the mid 90’s. You name it I collected them all. Sailor Moon gave me hope, love and a twinkle of confidence to keep trying and never give up! To never fear standing up for what is right, and right the wrongs when you can. I related to Sailor Moon and in some ways applied it to my personal experiences with broken friendships or family issues.
You mentioned before that when you’re in cosplay it feels like your social anxiety and introverted nature become more manageable. When those sorts of things are out of the way, what does that feel like?
SD: There’s a constant delight to cosplay characters I like because I can either make my voice sound close to the character or be someone different for a whole weekend. I’ve spent a lot of my convention weekends talking and entertaining people about my cosplays and offering tricks and tips of the character I’m in. In many ways cosplay is ideal as it is vastly fun to be creative with a character or putting together something of my own. I’m also aware that I might not please everyone.
However, rather than focus on people who tease, bully or insult others (online and offline), I will continue to have a thick skin, and let them say what they want. Putting together the best cosplay of my abilities makes me feel quite special. To me happiness is important as a cosplayer, and I’m very happy to surround myself with those who feel the same way. I want to inspire others just as they do me.
Sara’s definitely an inspiration to me for ignoring her doubts and moving forward with her cosplays because it’s something she enjoys. I’m sure others in the Sailor Moon fandom feel the same way, speaking from my own personal experience doing cosplaying. Hopefully, one day, we’ll be able to meet up in person as a convention and represent that fandom together. Until then, may we continue to do the Champion of Justice proud in the moonlight.