Yhu Mei: The Filipino cosplayer as toy collector

Cosplay is not just about dressing up as your favorite character, but also building meaningful relationships.

Yhu Mei: The Filipino cosplayer as toy collector
Yhu Mei as Nahida from the video game Genshin Impact

Not only does Yhu Mei love cosplay and anime, but also she happens to be an avid toy collector.

"Since high school, I have been collecting stuffed toys, and my classmates were aware of my fondness for them. They would often gift me stuffed toys on special occasions. In 2018, I received my very first Nendoroid as a gift – it was Sakura Kinomoto. At the time, I never thought I would get into collecting Nendoroids because cosplay was already an expensive hobby for me, and I didn't want to take on another one. However, during the pandemic, when conventions and photoshoots were put on hold, I found myself drawn to collecting more Nendoroids and prize figures. Most of my collection features my favorite characters that I've already cosplayed, and I love having a mini version of myself in these figures," Yhu Mei told Digital Life Asia.

Beauty of cosplay

School girl cosplay

"As much as I enjoy collecting toys, however, I also have a fondness for anime magazines, school uniforms, and Lolita dresses. However, what I value the most are my family and loved ones. Despite having a vast collection of things, I prioritize my relationships above all else. It's a great feeling to have friends and family who support my hobbies, and I cherish them above any material possessions," she added.

How did Yhu Mei first discover cosplay? She said that she attended her first convention with her friends in 2010.

As Eyjafjalla from the mobile game Arknights

"Seeing all the amazing cosplays made me realize that I wanted to become a cosplayer myself. It was a turning point for me that opened up new possibilities and inspired me to pursue this hobby," she said.

It was in 2015, however, that she first started cosplaying – as Reverie Metherlence from Elemental Gelade.

Ayaka (Maid Version) from the video game Genshin Impact

"It was such an amazing experience that inspired me to continue with this hobby. Cosplay has helped me gain confidence and overcome my insecurities, and I'm grateful for the supportive community that has made me feel loved and appreciated. It's not just about dressing up as your favorite character. It's also about building meaningful relationships and connecting with others who share your passion," she said.

Favorite characters

As Rem (Crystal Version) from 'Re:Zero − Starting Life in Another World'

Who is Yhu Mei's favorite among the different characters she has cosplayed?

"When I first started cosplaying, I found it easier to portray characters with more youthful features that matched my own appearance. However, as I gained more experience over the years, I started exploring more diverse and challenging character portrayals that showcased different looks and personalities. When it comes to my favorite cosplay characters, I would say that Nahida from Genshin Impact, Rem from Re:Zero, and Ai Enma from Hell Girl are at the top of my list.

As Ai Enma from the anime series 'Hell Girl'

"Out of these three, Ai Enma is probably my personal favorite. She has a very distinct personality that is quite different from my own, and I find it challenging yet rewarding to portray her in my cosplays. I'm thrilled that my portrayals of her have been well received by the cosplay community, and I look forward to continuing to challenge myself with more characters like her in the future," she said.

According to Yhu Mei, her most memorable cosplay experience so far was when she and other Sakura Kinomoto cosplayers organized a group shoot in 2018. They wanted to capture amazing shots of their favorite character in different versions.

Sakura Kinomoto group cosplay

"Initially, we planned to have the shoot at a convention, but it turned out to be so successful that we decided to have another one at a different location to celebrate her birthday. The experience was truly amazing, and it was so heartwarming to see how much we all shared a common love for Sakura. We all had a great time seeing each other cosplay as different versions of Sakura and it was a lot of fun capturing those moments together," she said.

Anime lover and content creator

As Violet Evergarden from the anime of the same name

What is Yhu Mei's favorite anime of all time, or at least her Top 3?

"My Top 3 favorite anime series of all time are 'Cardcaptor Sakura', 'Violet Evergarden', and 'Neon Genesis Evangelion'. If I have to choose which one is the best for me, it will definitely be Violet Evergarden. This series touched me in a way that I never thought an anime could. The episodes mostly revolve around Violet writing letters for people, but what's amazing about it is that every story is close to reality and it's very meaningful. The sadness and emotions portrayed can make you cry, but it's never manipulative or forced. It's authentic and exists to show that pain and beauty are both part of life. I also enjoy watching it because the animation and music are so beautiful that I can say it's really a masterpiece and a must-watch for everyone," she said.

What kind of content does Yhu Mei like creating?

"As a content creator, I typically share content related to my hobbies, which are cosplay and toy collecting. For cosplay, I create videos showcasing the characters I portray and behind-the-scenes footage of our photoshoots, including preparing my costumes, applying makeup, and bringing the character to life. In my toy collection content, I often make unboxing videos or showcase my figures and Nendoroids while in cosplay of the same character. I personally edit my videos, and I have observed noticeable enhancements in my editing skills as I continue to create content," she said.

@yhumei With my cutie Yoshino collections 🤍💚 #cute #yoshino #cosplay ♬ Mio Mao la la la la la - 🦇

Asked to share her message for fans and aspiring cosplayers, Yhu Mei replied: "Do whatever makes you happy. Just make sure it doesn't hurt anyone. Cosplay is a really fun hobby that can be super satisfying. It might not be a career for everyone, but it's important to be smart with your money because it can get expensive. Cosplay might not make you rich, but it can definitely bring happiness into your life. So my advice is to just have fun with it and be responsible with your spending."

As Mona (Maid Version) from the video game Genshin Impact

As Yhu Mei's experience shows, cosplay is definitely worth it!