From its release in July of this year, Fire Emblem: Three Houses has exploded into a smash hit game with a vibrant fan-base. A good number of members from the English cast are active on twitter, taking part in all the game’s praises, shenanigans, and fanfare. Even house leader Claude Von Reagan’s voice actor Joe Zeija has teased his upcoming cosplay, as influenced by avid fans. Whether you’ve chosen his meme-driven Golden Deer faction, the crimson crusade of Tara Platt‘s Black Eagles, or my personal favorite, the Blue Lions, headed by the delightful Chris Hackney, you’ll find a slew of fandom content ranging anywhere from Anime Impulse’s series of cast games, gorgeous fan art, and some of the most incredible cosplay I’ve ever laid eyes on.

2019 has been filled with great feats in entertainment from general publishers, artists, studios, and small creators. Consequently, I feel we ought to see more cosplayers having light shed on their fantastic craftsmanship and passion. I consider this community to be filled with hidden gems, some of which have graciously agreed to speak with me this month.

Bella (@mang0kitty) is a Washington-based cosplayer I discovered on Twitter. She, as an avid fan of Three Houses, took it upon herself to build not just the player character, Byleth, for herself, but also the future king Dimitri, black armor and all, for her fiancé, Shane (@_Gandr_). The two present as probably the most impressive independent builds I’ve seen to this day. To my delight (and surely that of others) Bella often shares the works in progress of her costumes on Twitter & Instagram. But I wanted to know more and dive into where it all started for her and what drew her to enact this particular labor of love…

Meg Fabbri: When did you start cosplaying? What really pulled you into that space?

Bella: I’ve been cosplaying nine years! A friend pulled me into a group and then promptly bailed and then I sorta got addicted from there. I met Shane right after that and we started doing a lot of stuff together and that kept me going and learning.

Fabbri: How long did your Byleth and Dimitri each take?

Bella: Dimitri took the biggest chunk of time just for how time-consuming armor is, but between the two from the middle of August to the beginning of November was when I worked on them. I’m full time at another job so I can’t bust out things as quickly as some others but that’s okay.
(For perspective, that’s less than than 4 months! All that and a full time job? Incredible!)

Fabbri: What was it like going to a con dressed to the nines like that together? Did other Three Houses cosplayers come up to you guys?

Bella: GOD I LOVE THE FIRE EMBLEM FANDOM especially in person, the meetups always end up being hilarious and fun and chill. We got stopped all weekend, but I blame Shane being tall and sexy! Hahaha!

Fabbri: What made you want to be Byleth? How did your partner take to being Dimitri?

Bella: I ship them hahaha that’s why I picked Byleth, I actually wasn’t fond of her outfit at first, but, surprisingly it ended up really comfortable? Shane was really into it especially after playing themselves. We end up having similar tastes a lot of the times even if we don’t always cosplay couples or the same series.

Fabbri: You’re clearly fond of Dimitri, the work you put into your partner’s look carries a great deal of admiration for cosplayer and character. Tell me about that.

Bella: Good god yeah I love him so much it’s really hard to find a character that resonates that well with these types of issues and it’s done in such a respectful way that it made me cry. Also Chris really carried the good writing too and I just. Gah. Dimitri is amazing!!!

Dimitri has received a lot of attention as a character dealing with heavy themes such as grief and psychosis. Not many go beyond survivor’s guilt and it’s not often you’re truly encouraged to take a hard look at the mental deterioration one can experience between war itself and post-traumatic stress.

Fabbri: Is there any location where you’d like to do a photoshoot of your costumes? That goes for just appropriate set pieces or cons.

Bella: I HAVE. So many dream shoots that are so far out of my price range but… sigh. Nero at the Colosseum, Sakizou at Butchardt Gardens (they don’t allow ANY costume photography period now though), an abandoned concrete factory for Nier, a mountainside in winter for Dimileth. Maybe someday. I just really love immersive photography for cosplay, where these characters just seem like natural parts of their environment rather than plopped down at random. It sells things so much more for me.