As part of our Queens Gaming Collective x Funimation collaboration for Women’s History Month, we spoke with some of the team’s incredible gamers and content creators to talk about their love for anime and what it’s like to work in the industry.
First up is Kiera Please, a prominent cosplayer with hundred of imaginative customs who is always looking to pay homage to comic books, animation and sci-fi/fantasy characters.
RELATED: Celebrate Women’s History Month With Queens Gaming Collective x Funimation
According to Afropunk: “Her presence in the Black Cosplayer community is inspiring for so many Black girls dying to express themselves through cosplay, even and especially when that means race-bending the character of your choosing.”
Check out the full interview below and stay tuned for even more celebrations of the incredible women of anime throughout the month of March, and beyond!
Tell us a bit about your anime journey. What has inspired you?
Kiera: My anime journey really began in-depth when I moved to Georgia with my extended family for a little. I didn’t know anyone in the town I was in, and going through a tough time with mental health, and just feeling like I didn’t belong.
I had a hard time acclimating to my new environment. At that time, I really dove into cosplaying different characters to help get my mind off of the worries I had. I would rummage through my aunt’s old clothes and drive all over to different thrift and fabric stores to see if there was anything I could salvage to make new outfits.
It helped that my uncle was a huge anime fan too [laughs]! He would, at times, give me ideas for my next projects and different characters and shows to explore and check out. That time really helped me get through that transition in my life and ultimately I met my first cosplay and anime friends.
You’re in the worlds of gaming and anime. How do you think those two work together?
Kiera: I think they both exist within each other’s world, and when those worlds collide, they create incredible outcomes and immersive stories and entertainment for us fans out there.
You’re able to become the characters you love in a different way and be challenged the way they’re challenged in the shows, but in an entirely different medium. Connecting to the characters through gaming helps in turn develop a deeper connection to the story and its characters.
Which anime characters do you vibe with the most? What’s special about them?
Kiera: I think the anime character I really connect with is Killua from Hunter x Hunter. Although I’m not apart of a family of assassins [laughs], I can relate to the angst he has and the internal battle with himself and his identity—as well as the shock of garnering friends like Gon actually, genuinely, becoming his friend.
I think Killua and I both struggle with imposter syndrome and not really feeling good enough or like our successes are successful or well-deserved. But eventually, our arc continues and we slowly but surely begin to overcome what we think we lack.
If you had to recommend an anime to gamers that want to get started with the medium, what would you start with?
Kiera: I say start with Hunter x Hunter! It’s one of my favorite anime and, I believe, easy to get into. There’s action, fantasy, comedy and a mixture of playfulness that I think transcends through the show, drawing new watchers in. You can’t go wrong, especially with the Phantom Troupe Arc.
Is there any anime that you and your friends or family have bonded over?
Kiera: My friends and I went on a Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure kick for awhile. Discussing what Stands we would have if we were part of the universe was always extremely liberating and fun.
The anime and gaming landscapes have changed a lot for women over the last few years. How have they changed for you?
Kiera: I think they’ve just become more and more immersive. The world-building has gotten more extensive, which I love. So much detail is being put in now that everything almost always feels as though it’s real. You’re able to forget reality for a moment and be in someone else’s.
Final question: If you had to build out a team or party for your favorite game using only anime characters, who would you choose?
Kiera: Oh, that’s a really hard question. I know I’m going to choose wrong because I’m just going to choose my favorites [laughs], but Killua, Kaneki, and Todoroki, and this already sounds like a team with a big attitude problem.
I’m going to have to get back to you on that one, [laughs] I need to build out a more diverse team.