Introducing our WCS 2023 USA Team: Karmaluna Cosplay!

Photo Credit Belongs to: Artisticaise Photography

Meet the WCS USA 2023 Team- Luna Lady of Light and Karmada Cosplay of Karmaluna Cosplay. Karmaluna was chosen at the WCS USA 2022 Finals for their portrayal of Katsu Eiraku and Tei-Kuu from the series Thunderbolt Fantasy. Karmaluna consists of Emily (Luna Lady of Light) and Conner (Karmada). Emily has been cosplaying since 2007 and Conner has been cosplaying since 2001. After meeting in 2012, these two became best friends. After winning their first World Cosplay Summit USA preliminary in 2013 the pair has been inseparable. They have now been cosplaying together for ten years! Karmaluna holds over 30 awards for craftsmanship and performance.

We interviewed Karmaluna Cosplay about everything cosplay! – From their cosplay journey to their cosplay senpai to their upcoming competition at World Cosplay Summit 2023!

  • What was your first cosplay and what is your dream cosplay?

Emily: In 6th grade, I begged my mom to make me a Dark Lady costume from Sailor Moon for Halloween. I styled a terrible Party City Lady Godiva wig and used colored hairspray to make it pink. That was my first anime costume. However, my first official cosplay was Super Sailor Moon from the Sailor Moon SuperS manga, which was worn at Anime Central 2007. My dream cosplay is Elisabeth’s Winterhalter painting gown from the German language musical Elisabeth das Musical.

Conner: My very first cosplay (that I officially considered cosplay) was Anthy from Revolutionary Girl Utena (I made it in 2001)! I made about 1/3 of it and my great aunt who was really good at sewing finished up the rest. I studied what she did off that costume and applied it to so many more – it really got me started!

I feel like my dream cosplay is every costume I make? I always get so excited to make each outfit I can’t really pick just one – there’s always something new and exciting about each one.

  • What was your favorite cosplay and which one did you want to redo the most?

Emily: My favorite cosplay is Demon Homura from Madoka Magica Rebellion. I made my first iteration in 2015 for the US WCS preliminaries where I came in 2nd. Coincidentally it is also the one I wanted to remake the most. I completely remade the costume in 2019 for the GICOF preliminary. In the remake, I realized my dream of mechanical wings by building a pair of 9-foot articulating wings.

Conner: Favorite? Oh no it’s like picking a favorite child! If I had to I would say likely my Super Smash Bros Princess Peach – she’s always such a big hit with the crowd and gets such fun reactions from kids.

As for one to redo… probably my Weaver lv 50 outfit from Final Fantasy XIV, I always love making those outfits and want to really really make it high quality (HQ, if you catch my drift).

  • What is the biggest lesson you learned from cosplay?

Emily: Cosplay has taught me how to analyze a problem from all sides, and by taking it in small sections, I can more easily solve it without causing my executive dysfunction to take over.

Conner: Time. Time is your biggest factor and your worst enemy. Always double the amount of time you think you’ll need, and even when crunching, work slow. Working hastily only causes errors! Measure twice (thrice?), cut once!

  • What is something you want new cosplayers to know that you wish you learned starting out?

Emily: Don’t take yourself too seriously. In the end we are all nerds in costume. If you want to take the craft seriously, do so, but do not hold that over anyone else and be respectful to others in the green room. You do not need to go to every con with a new costume, that is stressful and expensive. Trying to please everyone is futile. Some people will not like you. It is much less stressful to be the best me I can, and the people that are important will see that.

Conner: Read the pattern instructions if you’re making your costume. It will save you time and hardship, ahaha – proper seam allowances make for better fitting outfits and less stress on you! AND it’s okay if you don’t have something new each convention. It’s OKAY.

  • Who was your cosplay senpai/inspired you the most to continue cosplaying?

Emily: My first cosplay senpai was Jia Crens. I was always amazed by the amazing things she could create. The other one would be the orange sparkle queen herself, Tristen Citrine aka Char.

Conner: Oh gosh, I still have “And Sewing Is Half the Battle” as my Cosplay Senpais – they inspired me so much (and still do). I went to all their panels to learn as much as I could and they really gave me the courage to just get out there and try to make ANYTHING! (I still go to their panels because hey, we’re all still learning new things!)

  • What’s your most cherished cosplay related memory?

Emily: My most cherished cosplay memory is my first group cosplay shoot. My friends Totally Toasty Teeny, Totally Toasty Ari, Lexi, Miyuka, Mike, and I did a big group shoot at Ohayocon 2009 with our FFX-2 Costumes. It was the first time I had planned costumes with a group. We had Yuna, Rikku, Paine, Lenne, Leblanc, and Gippal. My friend Doug (TheRealLink) shot our photos. The photo of all of us ladies holding Gippal is probably my favorite group photo of all time. Another one is sharing these international experiences with my best friend Connor. I have the photo of us winning at AX up in my cubicle at work. Our smiles are so big. It really is a dream come true.

Conner: Well, I have been cosplaying for quite some time, so I feel like I have way too many! I can’t really decide between when I accidentally almost lost my costume on stage while performing (but still got a judges’ choice award – my first ever!), my favorite interactions with other cosplayers acting in character that cracked me up (the Hughes from FMA with the wallet of photos will live rent-free in the brain forever), the fun of interacting with the crowd as Princess Peach (when a kid asked me if I actually could float), meeting my future husband through building a cosplay to surprise a friend (which was to great success), to amazing experiences such as going to the Netherlands or South Korea and doing amazing things on stage (which honestly is such a thrilling thing!).

Mush all those feelings together and THAT is my favorite memory.

Anime Expo, LA Convention Center, 7/3/22.
© Axel Koester Photography, All Rights Reserved, 2022.

  • What was your first cosplay contest/masquerade and when did you begin competing to represent the US for WCS?

Emily: My first cosplay masquerade was Anime Central 2007. I did not compete; I was there as moral support for a friend who did not want to be alone onstage. In 2012 I attended Katsucon and sat in the audience during the WCS preliminary I loved seeing all the costumes and the skits made my theater-kid heart so happy. I knew I had to try! Connor and I formed Karmaluna in 2012. We competed at Katsucon 2013 in our first WCS preliminary (where we won!) and went on to the USA finals at Anime Matsuri. The 2013 group of finalists was top notch. Every entry would have been an amazing Team USA. It pushed us to keep building bigger and better things. Our second go was in 2014. We won the Anime St. Louis preliminary and competed in the finals at Anime Central 2014. I tried again in 2015 with a different partner and was awarded runner up to Team USA at Midwest Media Expo. In 2021 Connor and I entered the WCS Video contest together for AX Lite. Then, knowing Connor was close to competitive retirement, we pulled out all the stops for AX 2022.

Conner: My first official contest was in 2004 (technically before that, but they were more “crowd popularity contests”, in 2004 there were actual criteria used if I’m recalling?) at JAFAX back at Grand Valley State University before it moved downtown. We began to compete in WCS in 2013 after meeting up in 2012 after a masquerade! We ended up winning the first prelim we went to and got to participate in the finals that year – we kept trying ever since!

  • How did you select your cosplay for WCS 2023?

Emily: I happened to be a huge fan of Thunderbolt Fantasy since the show starting showing on Crunchyroll. We had been discussing our options for AX 2020 and we wanted to do somewhere where Connor could be the villain. The costumes were very different than anything we had done before and showed a variety of techniques and skills. When I told Connor he would get to murder me onstage he was very excited to be “all spoopy.”

Conner: We were considering ideas for the next try at WCS and Emily introduced me to the show Thunderbolt she had been watching and the characters and a few various ideas for performances. I really liked the idea of making a costume where I could get to be the villain (like a real villainy villain! I get to do the stabbing!) AND I got to do all sorts of “spoopy” looking makeup and weathering and such. The costumes had quite a bit of details to them, which really appealed to us for competition level costumes.

  • What are you most looking forward to when you attend WCS 2023?

Emily: I am look forward to stepping onstage at the Aichi arts center and seeing that beautiful theater in person. I am also looking forward to connecting with the other teams, some I already know, and many I will be meeting for the first time.

Conner: The spectacle of it all! I want to see the stage, and all the different teams, and the performances and the general energy of the whole event. From all the footage I’ve seen it feels very much like an “Olympics for cosplay” type of event and it just looks like such an exciting and thrilling experience overall.

  • How are you preparing for the upcoming WCS 2023 in Japan?

Emily: We are working with alumni friends to fine tune our performance and costume for Japan. We have planned all our extra costumes around the heat: lot of cottons and breathable fabrics. We don’t want to melt under the hot summer sun in Nagoya.

Conner: We are perfecting the performance and costumes, and planning on our extra costumes to be able to handle the heat. I hear it is really HOT that time of year so I’m trying to build up my stamina of walking and handling temperature so I don’t have too many issues. And…also researching cooling implements like vests and fans.

  • How do you feel about competing overseas again?

Emily: I am excited! Our first international contest was in 2016 when we competed in the Netherlands. I returned to the Netherlands in 2018 as a USA rep for Clara Cow’s Cosplay Cup. GICOF in 2022 was our second time competing overseas as Karmaluna. It can be difficult and rather expensive to take all the set items overseas. Last year we mailed a bunch of things home after GICOF and we plan to do the same after WCS. That way we will have more room in our luggage for souvenirs.

Conner: I’m really excited! I mean, I am not a huge fan of flying and long plane flights BUT the experience of travel and performing definitely outweighs that! Getting to perform in front of large crowds is something I really enjoy and I love the whole experience of conventions and such – it’s fun to see what those are like in other countries now. (Also, not going to lie, the food is SO GOOD)

  • If we only know one thing about the Karmaluna Cosplay duo, what should it be?

Emily: We’re a couple of goofs dedicated to uplifting cosplayers in the global cosplay community.

Conner: I agree with Emily – we’re basically a couple of goofs who love to have fun on stage and we really just want to help uplift all cosplayers and show them that it’s just about having fun!

  • Besides your cosplay and props, what is something you always bring with you when you compete?

Emily: I always bring my Bluetooth speaker so we can find an empty hallway to practice our performance.

Conner: I always bring my headphones, because I like to listen to our performance soundtrack backstage before performing because it helps calm my stage jitters. Just because I’ve been competing for almost 20 years doesn’t mean I don’t get scared to go on stage!

World Cosplay Summit USA 2023 Submission Launch Date is TBD