I’ll just come out and say right now that I didn’t make anything in my Kaori cosplay. I bought everything. So this’ll be less of a step-by-step process and more just background on the cosplay and dropping links for other Kaori cosplayers!
What I Bought
- School uniform from RoleCosplay.com
- Wig from ArdaWigs (Ferrari in Pale Blonde)
- Blue melodica from Guitar Center
- Gray pleated skirt from Amazon
- Black ribbon (1/8″) from Amazon
- Black ribbon (5/8″) from Amazon
- Fabric glue from Amazon
What I Already Had
- A violin (I think we bought it via rent-to-own from Brook Mayes a long, long time ago.)
What I Modified
After receiving the RoleCosplay uniform in the mail, I was sad to say that I did not order the correct size. Both the shirt and skirt were too small. I couldn’t zip up the skirt all the way and, while I could button up the shirt all the way, it was very snug and uncomfortable. Thankfully, I already had a blue button-down I could use. The skirt, however, was not salvageable.
I ended up ordering a pleated gray skirt off Amazon, as well as two black ribbons (1/8″ and 5/8″ wide), and some fabric glue. I stitched on the 5/8″ ribbon onto the skirt horizontally, then painstakingly glued the 1/8″ ribbon vertically.
Why I Wanted to Cosplay Kaori
I watched “Your Lie in April” for the first time last year on Netflix. I picked it up solely because I had remembered seeing Malinda-chan’s Kaori cosplay. A cosplay I typically would’ve forgotten because of my unfamiliarity with the franchise, were it not for one element: Malinda-chan’s violin.
In 2016, Malinda-chan had a chance to do a cosplay review for Kaori’s uniform (found here) and had taken photos with her violin. Being a violinist myself—granted, a very out-of-practice one—the image stuck with me. But apparently not enough to pick up “Your Lie in April” just yet. Nope, it wouldn’t be until three years later in 2019 while casually surfing through Netflix that I would see the thumbnail for the anime and think “That’s the one Malinda-chan cosplayed. It must be good, then.” I started the show and finished it within a week. I’m pretty sure I cried through the entirety of the last three episodes.
The anime has breathtakingly beautiful visuals and powerful music. It’s got dark beats and uplifting melodies. It’s especially poignant for any musician. (Content warning for the show: The protagonist Kousei suffers from physical and psychological abuse at the hands of his mother. So I’d suggest steering clear of it if that kind of content is triggering for you.) I felt myself so inspired to pick music back up again after watching this anime.
My Musical Background That No One Asked For But I’m Gonna Write It Anyway Cause I’m Feeling Nostalgic
I don’t remember my exact age but I remember falling in love with the violin after my parents got into Yanni. We had his “Live at the Acropolis” album and listened to it all the time. We even managed to catch him when he was in town for the tour when I was in first grade. I remember watching from far away in the general admission section in the grass. I fell in love with the violin after the amazing solo violinist—who I only knew as Lady in Red but Google now tells me is Karen Briggs—completely rocked the show. She had this amazing energy and passion behind everything she played. It was at that moment I decided I wanted to learn violin.
But then I couldn’t. My mom signed me up for lessons and we learned upon my first one that I simply was too small. Even the smallest violin was too big for my tiny little body. My brother at the time had picked up piano, so I thought I’d pick it up, too, with the goal of eventually circling back to violin once I was big enough. All this had to have happened around 1st or 2nd grade, so ages 6-7.
Not What I Expected
In 4th grade, I finally got to play violin. But learning violin wasn’t nearly as fun as learning piano for some reason. Practicing violin felt like so much more of a chore. Maybe it was because piano came much more easily for me than violin or maybe it was because holding the violin itself isn’t a very comfortable or natural position to be in. With that, I started losing interest. I “practiced” violin in my room but really just kinda plucked around on it and didn’t really do much. I had the basics down, but that was about it. Because of this indifference to practicing, I would never grow past a basic or even intermediate level of violin. All the while, I was still taking piano lessons and excelling tremendously at it. (If I do say so myself.)
High School & College
Then, freshman year of high school, I joined orchestra as a violinist. Now why would I join orchestra if I had lost interest in violin? Well, it was an easy art credit and my brother played piano in it (a senior when I was a freshman), so I thought why not. Orchestra actually help reignite my passion for playing violin. Being a part of an ensemble and getting to hear all the instruments’ voices come together helped remind me why I fell in love with violin in the first place. I never got good enough to play at an advanced level (always Violin II, never Violin I until senior year where I felt woefully unprepared for the part.) But being part of orchestra helped me feel like even my beginner-level violin could help contribute to something beautiful.
In college, I picked up guitar! I brought my dad’s guitar with me and taught myself basic chords. Even attempted some very melodramatic song-writing junior year when I was single. (Oh god.) His guitar was giant for me and my parents, noticing my new interest in guitar, got me a guitar in a more suitable size for me one Christmas!
With no keyboard, I couldn’t practice piano. And with dorm-living, I couldn’t practice violin because of embarrassment and not wanting to disturb my dorm neighbors. But I felt pretty good about guitar!
After graduating college, I got into the bluegrass band the Punch Brothers. They’re a 5-part ensemble consisting of mandolin, guitar, fiddle, banjo, and bass. Listening to them reminded me how much I loved listening to string instruments. Seeing them live at multiple concerts (and meeting them!) reignited my violin passion, but only briefly.
What followed was a pretty long hiatus from any music. I didn’t touch my keyboard (which I had bought for myself in 2012 when I lived alone), violin, or guitar for a very long time. I picked it up in spurts and once had a streak of a couple months of writing music for both piano and guitar. But nothing really stuck.
Then Along Came Anime
Then along came “Your Lie in April” as well as “Carole and Tuesday,” two beautiful animes with wonderful (and very different) soundtracks. Both made me want to pick up their respective instruments again. (Violin and piano for “Your Lie in April” and Guitar for “Carole and Tuesday”) “Your Lie in April” also got me into melodica, which was hands down the easiest instrument to pick up and master.
My passion when it comes to music comes and goes but I like being able to learn new songs inspired from the recent animes I’ve watched. I know I don’t have to dedicated myself to music; I can pick it up whenever the feeling strikes. And that’s okay. The funny thing is that music got me back into cosplay during Covid. I didn’t really have many big builds I felt passionate about doing, but I was feeling passionate about music. So I bought the aforementioned “Your Lie in April” school uniform. (And also bought Tuesday’s dress from “Carole and Tuesday.” Still waiting on that one in the mail.)
In conclusion, this blog post tricked you into reading me ramble about my musical past and how anime of all things got me back into it. And how music got me back into cosplay. It’s this weird Ouroboros of inspiration cycle between cosplay-music-anime.
Funnily enough, Malinda-chan’s cosplay review is what started this whole thing all those years ago, but I didn’t even buy from that store; I would happen upon the review and thus the store only just now when sourcing her Kaori photos for this post! I probably should’ve used that store instead because the only part that worked out for me from the RoleCosplay costume was the blazer. The tie fits but I don’t like how the stripes are clearly just glued on. But I guess that’s also what you get for that kind of pricing. C’est la vie.