King Kitsu is a black trans man making a name for himself in the cosplay world and having a good time doing it. From amazing suit builds, to mashups, to fun videos with other cosplay friends and even a highly praised live performance, Kitsu represents the best part of what cosplay, and the cosplay community, is, a place to find freedom, expression, and acceptance. In today’s world of professional cosplayers, Kitsu delivers professional level work but does it for the fun of it. As a trans woman and a newcomer to the world of cosplay, I was blown away as I learned more and more about him.
Do you remember the first character you wanted to cosplay?
I was super into EDM and I ended up doing Deadmau5 in high school after I saw a friend of mine make one out of a hamster ball and some fabric. We ended up going to a con and I was hooked.
Please explain the origin of your cosplay name
I’m a Kingdom Hearts and Disney nerd, and King Mickey is the most badass thing I’ve ever seen.
Where did Grandpa Kitsu come from?
A lot of people who’ve met me have called me old, cause I’ve experienced a lot and been through a lot. Despite me being a goofball 98% of the time there are things I can speak on and things I can do that come from my experiences. I also go to bed early, have bad hips, a bad back, and complain about kids being loud.
What was the moment where cosplay became more than just a hobby for you?
It’s still a hobby honestly. I speak on things as much as I do because this isn’t my profession or career. It’s my creative outlet. I do it for fun and to make good memories with my friends.
3 Breakfast Essentials?
I only just recently started actually eating breakfast so right now it’s just Starbucks.
When did you take up building? Were those skills you had before becoming a cosplayer?
My first was Deadmau5 and I’m still not sure how I did it. I don’t understand how I was so confident and not paranoid like I usually am. I had no experience before that, but my dad’s an engineer so maybe that has something to do with it.
What steps do you take when you’re deciding who to cosplay?
Normally I’ll just think about it when I see a nice design. if I’m watching the show and I like a specific character I’ll be like “nice outfit, mind if I look up some references?” Sometimes I’ll talk to some of my friends about certain characters and we’ll decide to do a group cosplay.
Either Wisdom Form Sora, Xehanort, Xemnas, and to revamp my Vanitas. Zack from Final Fantasy is a big one as well.
What’s your big goal or dream?
Being financially stable probably. I’d love to become a dressmaker for award shows, possibly movies. My dreams change often but it’s always within the world of costuming
Yikes, I want to say Naruto but I haven’t finished it yet. I’d probably have to say My Hero Academia. I love that they dive into every character. Both of these shows have motivated me to become a better person and helped me with my transition.
Kingdom Hearts 2
Do you think you’d be safer as a normal person living in the Marvel Universe or the DC universe?
Maybe Marvel, if I lived in the woods by myself.
I can see from your incredible Vanitus cosplay that you’re a kingdom hearts fan. Favorite game? Favorite keyblade warrior?
Kingdom Hearts 2
If your life was being turned into a manga would it be an ecchi, a shonen, a slice of life, or something else entirely?
One of those fourth wall breaking comedies like One Punch Man, with some slice of life and seriousness.
The apocalypse has come and you can assemble a squad to keep you alive. Only 1 immortal/god tier character allowed. What 2 video game and 2 anime characters do you pick?
Escanor from Seven Deadly Sins
Zack from FFVII
Dabi from My Hero Academia
When did you realize you were trans?
It wasn’t a realization, more like a build up. Going to a Christian white school and realizing I like girls, and then realizing I like presenting masculine, then realizing it’s ok to be genderfluid and test out pronouns, and then finally realizing I was trans. I kind of tiptoed into it.
Top songs on your playlist right now?
Focus by Charli XCX
Someone that you love by Jarreau Vandal
WestWorld by Evan Gia
The Getaway by OddKidOut
To The Moon by Tokyo
Free Fall by Pool Club
Enough by The Endorphins
Being a poc cosplayer is putting yourself in the crosshairs for racist comments disguised as “purists” nonstop. Being trans on top of that is even more difficult, what gets you through it?
I’ve gotten so used to negativity and backlash that I address it and move on pretty quickly. It still gets to me but at the end of the day, I can’t make people change. The best I can do is speak up and speak the truth. Support is nice but I’d prefer people spread proper information than just tell me I’m right all the time.
A number of people don’t actually transition, what were your thoughts going into it?
It was a no at first, the negative thoughts were pretty much inescapable, but eventually, I just said: “fuck it, I’m confident in myself that I can become the person I want to become.” It was definitely the right choice for me.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to transition, but is absolutely terrified?
Go to therapy and talk about everything. I tried to accept myself as female, tried to be the baddest bitch I can be, and I was feeling myself, but that wasn’t who I wanted to be. It was like a trial and error run. Figure out what you need to do to love yourself.
When I asked my final question “do you know how dope you are” Kitsu replied with a silent shake of the head, and I burst out laughing. We live in a time where most of us have turned our interests/outlets into jobs. We love it, but it’s draining and takes a toll, sometimes leaving us jaded. Most of all it changes how we interact with everyone around us who does what we do. I’m grateful to wonderful people like Kitsu, who remind us why we started doing this kinda stuff in the first place.
Follow his instagram @kingkitsu