Nikkari Aoe - Touken Ranbu [Kiwame]
Andy
Made In: 2023
Status: active
Notes
This was one of those deceptively simple costumes... The largest part is the jacket, which went together very quickly, but there are hours and hours of computer design work behind all of the details. This is probably the costume I have made the most design changes to, and to be honest, I really struggled to get it to the finish line, in part because while I like most of the design a lot, I really just don't care for the shoulder armor, and while I think I managed to achieve something that looks good in the end, I still just don't love it on a personal level.
Components
Jacket
The base coat was made using the men's coat pattern in The Hero's Closet by Gillian Conahan, with alterations made to the front, collar and cuffs, with tabs added at the shoulder to hold the epaulets. It's made of a medium weight cotton twill with a brushed surface finish. The collar and cuffs both were stenciled using a custom brush design in Clip Studio and cut out on the Silhouette Cameo. The braided trim is made from braided soutache and sewn in place. The white collar is a fake collar tacked into the main collar of the coat. This is both accurate to the original design and means it can be removed for cleaning if needed.
'Tabard'
I'm calling this bit the tabard for lack of a better term. It buttons to the front of the coat via the two sets of gold dome buttons that run down either side of the jacket, and a single snap at the neckline. This piece was made with heat transfer vinyl, which required painstakingly tracing out the pattern based on the small artbook design in Clip Studio, which took several hours to complete. It was then transferred to the Silhouette for cutting, divided up into several sections and ironed onto the fabric. The face fabric is just a quilting cotton, with an inner layer of medium weight cotton canvas and pre-made gold piping and fringe.
Belt & Boot Toppers
These were constructed in largely the same way, so I am grouping them together. I made a design decision to use black wedge heeled boots I already owned rather than attempting to make the over-the knee boots Nikkari is wearing in his kiwame design. This was mostly for practical purposes--I am not particularly tall, and if I were to go with this design, the details would end up lost under the coat and the proportions would not look right. Instead, I replicated the design details on the boots and belt by constructing them out of a lighter weight leather, with a double layer on the edges for the 'straps' and Chicago screws (binding posts) holding the chains in place. Most of the hardware for this costume was sourced from Tandy Leather. Both the boot covers and the belt close in the back with hook & loop, and the boot covers are held up at the top of the boots using clip-on earring backs, a trick I blatantly stole from Cocoa.
Epaulets
This is one of the componants of the costume I would like to make better in the future, if I can work out a better solution. The problem arises in the fact that they run the entire length of the top of the shoulder, and at least in the images, appear to be quite solid. This is a problem if you want to be able to raise your arm to any real degree. My solution (after much experimentation) was to use Pellon's Fuse-N-Shape medium weight interfacing inside the same gold stretch PVC I used for parts of Tsurumaru's costume. There is elastic on the underside for the coat tabs to slide through, and the whole thing is held together with more Chicago screws. The flowers on the ends are 3D prints, painted with Tamiya's 'gold leaf' acrylic.
Pins/clasps
The pin on the front of the coat depicting Nikkari's crest was modeled in Fusion 360 and then sent to Shapeways for printing to avoid having to do a lot of meticulous finishing work. It simply pins on with a bar style pin glued to the back. The fasteners for the cape are 3d prints printed on my home machine with small CZ gems glued in. They are fastened to some clips from Tandy leather with epoxy putty, which lets them clip on to d-rings which hang from the back of the epaulets. There is also a simple straight pin back which attaches them to the cape. I originally wanted to use magnets for this, but there's too much sheering force to hold it in place that way.
Armor
Easily the most frustrating part of this project. The armor as rendered in the images is not actually possible in 3D space, both because you would not be able to flex your arm without making the rings comically large, and because the shapes cannot really fit inside each other as depicted. I decided early on that I would be making the bicep portion only a semi-circle, and originally wanted to make it out of PVC board the way I did with Tsurumaru's armor. However, it was very hard to get these pieces to curve uniformly, so eventually, I switched to 3D printing the pieces and then drilling out the holes with a hand drill. The shoulder pieces are made from EVA foam, based on a heavily altered pauldron pattern I purchased. These velcro into the tops of the 3D printed pieces. All of this is held on to the jacket via a leather holster system that is essentially taken straight from the design of Nikkari's base outfit, where it loops through the end of the epaulets and is held down with button studs. The wrist armor is also based on a purchased pattern and altered so that it hinges open (the visible hinges are largely decorative, there's a piece of spandex serving as the actual functional hinge). There is wire glued into both the wrist and forearm end, held in place with kobracast, and the whole thing velcros shut. The hand armor is based on a traditional pattern, and is made from two layers of EVA foam sandwiched around a layer of kobra cast. It has elastic for the finger loops, wire at the wrist end to hold its shape, and is held on to the glove with fashion tape so it can be removed if need be.
Purchased Components
The pants for this outfit are just navy blue dress pants, no need to re-invent the wheel for something you barely see. The cape for this outfit is a summer-weight polyester juban. The actual garment Nikkari is wearing is a 'shiroshouzoku' which is a garment both worn in Shinto religious contexts, and would have been used traditionally to clothe the dead. As this isn't something I could either easily obtain, nor would want to use in a cosplay context, I selected a very light weight undergarment that would visually serve the same purpose. While I could have made my own, this costume has enough components already, and frankly I just didn't feel like sewing more kimono. The wig was a specific character wig I bought from an Asian brand quite a few years ago. The gloves came for a military supply store.