Home > 2010 United States WCQ, Championships > Costume Profile: Emily Nelsen’s Akiza Costume

Costume Profile: Emily Nelsen’s Akiza Costume

July 11th, 2010

As the Yu-Gi-Oh! Championship Series and tournaments like this weekend’s WCQ keep growing, more and more Yu-Gi-Oh! fans are becoming part of these big-event experiences. One part of that trend is costumes – Duelists dressing like their favorite Yu-Gi-Oh! characters. It’s not a common sight yet, but little by little, dedicated costumed Duelists are beginning to appear at the biggest tournaments.

Emily Nelsen is one example. She first turned heads at YCS Chicago when she appeared in her full Akiza costume. She reprised that role this weekend, wowing 5D’s fans and competitive Duelists alike. Naturally we had to talk to her, and she graciously obliged.

Emily Nelsen

Ask Nelsen when she started with the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG, and she’ll cheerily tell you she’s been Dueling “Since the dawn of time!” She’s been involved with the game on varying levels since the release of Legend of Blue-Eyes White Dragon in 2002. “I think I was a junior in higsh chool when I first started. We kind of putzed around with it, I took a break when I went to college, and then I came back with Force of the Breaker. I’ve been playing for pretty much the last three years solid.”

Don’t let the costume and the charming demeanor fool you: this Black Rose Witch is no wilting lily. Nelsen was here this weekend competing in the main event of the US WCQ, having qualified to compete at two events over the last year. “I made Top 8 at a Regional in Peoria, and I top 4’d in Milwaukee in May.” She’s widely recognized by Duelists from her home state of Wisconsin, both for her on-table skills and her contributions as a Judge. She earned both of her 2010 WCQ invites with Lightsworn, but was competing here today with Herald of Perfection.

So what makes somebody decide to dress like a Yu-Gi-Oh! character and start showing up to events? “I like doing it!” she grinned. “I don’t know, there’s just something fun about dressing up. [YCS Chicago] was actually the first time I wore the Aki costume. I stayed up until midnight to get that costume ready.”

Why did she choose Akiza as her costume? “Aki was a doable costume,” she laughed. “So many costumes in Yu-Gi-Oh! involve armor and all this crazy stuff, but she had an outfit that was realistic. The only part that was kind of troublesome was the corset, which I decided to leave to a professional while I did the rest myself. Screwing up corsetry can be painful, so I bought that part.” She mused for a moment, before recalling a further detail: “I actually bought the corset independently. I used to go to renaissance fairs, so when I got this one I realized, ‘Hey, I can use this for an Akiza costume!”

So how long did the costume take to make? “I put it together in about three weeks, while working a full-time job. It really only left four hours a night at most. I probably put in about thirty hours total.” It has a lot of detailed touches, right down to Akiza’s hairpiece, which Nelsen recreated out of polymer clay. “I was going to straighten my hair,” she explained, “But I didn’t have time. We had to playtest our Decks.”

We asked what the most difficult part of the costume was, drawing a smile from Nelsen: “Jokingly? Keeping my cats off the fabric!” She gave another laugh. “They love my fabric layout. But really, the hardest part was getting the design of the jacket down. I had a pattern that was close, but not quite right – it needed the tails. So I had to draft a new pattern based off another one, getting the creases right, and getting it to fall the right way – that was the toughest. Actually sewing it is time consuming, but not challenging. The pattern didn’t have the pleats right here in the front, so I wound up with three times the fabric of the original pattern.”

So what kind of reactions does Nelsen get when she’s in costume? “I get a lot of pictures! A lot of ‘I like your costume’. I had three people today say they were disappointed I wasn’t playing Plants. This is just my second time wearing it – we didn’t have a Regional in the time between YCS Chicago and this weekend.”

Since  Yu-Gi-Oh! began, Duelists have put their own personal style on their Dueling, from Deck names and catch phrases to Dueling Glove and Duel Disks. Emily Nelsen clearly has her priorities in order as a competitive Duelist, but that hasn’t stopped her from carving out a unique place in the Dueling community that she has a lot of fun with.

Do you have a personal style? Let us know the next time you play at a big event!