How Stephanie Yanez Became an Akihabara Cosplay Idol
Can you explain what Otagei is?
Idol singers in Japan are cute, sometimes very young, Japanese girls that sing more fast-paced dancey music. The otagei is a dance form where they're expressing kind of what she's singing. When she gets more into the song, that's when they get more into it, they start bending and moving their arms and their legs.
I guess the best way to explain the dance is showing your love for the idol and getting so into the music that you're almost a part of it. When I was there, I felt like we were all part of the show and we were all in it together.
Is a cosplay cafe like a maid cafe?
Yeah, it's like a maid cafe, except that they highlight the waitresses with singing. A night there would be like you walk past the cafe and you see this really cute girl with cat ears and then all of sudden she's on stage performing anime songs and maybe a song of hers. They'll have a special guest that night who's a known Akiba idol. There are anime singer girls who are popular in the idol independent scene.
The second floor is interesting because that's a bar set up and the waitresses dress up as very handsome, beautiful guys and they serve everybody. They have a TV up there so you can watch the show from the first floor.
You've played a lot of anime conventions in the States. Did that prepare you?
Definitely. We're all the same. We all love anime and we're really passionate about it and we really show it. You'll know when you see someone that they really like anime. Sometimes you can hide it, pretend to be cool, but then all of a sudden, you sing an anime tune and they're all into it. It definitely prepared me because the anime fans I have are the same as in Akihabara, very passionate and will go that extra mile to have you out, help promote you, which is really neat.
Akihabara was a little different because it was a more heightened level of that passion. If you live in Akihabara, it's basically anime passion every day. Maybe because they live it, they go all out. Maybe it's the alcohol. It's heightened.
Why play the closing theme from K-On?
I really love K-On right now. I haven't been into anime in a pretty long time. When I watched K-On, it really reminded me of Azumanga Daioh, funny girls, off the wall characters. I really like anime with girls that are weird because I'm weird, so I can relate. Another cool thing about it is that they're in a band and there's music involved, so I knew I had to do it.
Then, I kept on hearing online about how well it was doing over there and I thought, I'm sure that they would love it. I had a feeling that they would go really crazy and love it.
When I got to Akihabara, I was looking around and there were tons of bulletins and K-On stuff. There's so much merchandise and I thought, wow, this is a really good time to perform this song.