Conversation Interview: Milky Bunny x TOM Special Creator COGA

Conversation Interview: Milky Bunny x TOM Special Creator COGA 20

On May 1, Tsubasa Masuwaka aka Milky Bunny will release her single "Crazy Diamond.” Within Japan, Milky Bunny and her sexy cosplay outfits have induced quite the response. In this interview, we had Milky Bunny speak with COGA, the TOM Special Creator responsible for the cover illustration on her latest single. We had each of these two different artists talk about their music and illustrations, various thoughts on their craft, as well as their favorite manga and anime.

The Coquettish World of Milky Bunny

COGA (C): Last November, I went to the last day of your solo concert in Nagoya. It was a lot of fun! Your performance was great, of course, but the way you conversed with the crowd was also so funny; you had me laughing the whole time.

Milky Bunny (M): Thank you! (laughs) In the beginning, some thought it might be better for me not to MC the show at all, in order to maintain my image as a music artist. They thought that my variety show side would come out if I talked too much (She often makes guest appearances on TV variety programs in Japan.). But I really wanted to communicate with my fans, so I decided to MC my own shows.

C: And you had fans come up on stage with you as well.

M: That’s right. In my Milky Bunny live shows i really try and create a close relationship with the fans. Of course I do this through the musical performances, but I thought, what else can I do that other bands can’t? So I decided to incorporate parts of the show in which audience members can participate, kind of like a school pep rally. Even people who come to my live show for the first time are really into it and eager to participate.

C: I was yelling with the rest of them. Just doing my part as a “Milky Girl” (laughs).

M: I’m glad you enjoyed yourself. Which did you like best, the uptempo songs or the ballads?

C: The uptempo ones. The last part of the show, with all of the uptempo songs one after the other – that was the best.

M: I specifically chose only uptempo songs for the last half of that live show. One of the reasons I asked you to draw the cover illustration for my latest single, “Crazy Diamond,” is because I thought its uptempo sound matched your style of illustration.

Also, when I thought about what an animated version of Milky Bunny would look like, after reviewing various illustrator’s works, I liked your illustrations the most, so I chose you, COGA.

C: Thank you for choosing me.

M: Milky Bunny’s image is part gothic, childish yet refined, coquettish and sexy. That comes through in the maid outfit that I wore onstage. Even so, I still try to be fashionable enough so that women can relate to it.

In terms of animation, I’ve liked looking at illustrations for quite a while, and still follow the work of various artists. I pay particular attention to the clothes. When I saw your work, COGA, I thought “This person has got to be into fashion.” The illustration for "Crazy Diamond" also resembled me so much, I was surprised.

C: Milky Bunny has a lot of defining characteristics, the eyes especially, so it was easy to draw her.

M: It’s really spot on! Thanks for adjusting the cheek color and eyebrows according to my specifications. It really matches Milky Bunny’s sexy and cute image perfectly. It’s just fantastic.

Milky Bunny and COGA’s Shared American Sensibilities

M: Have you always been interested in fashion, makeup, and hair?

C: I have been interested in it, but rather than wearing particular clothes or doing makeup on myself, I enjoy expressing different styles through my illustrations.

M: What type of illustrations do you like most?

C: I like American rock. For example, this latest CD jacket illustration I originally drew is of a girl working at an American diner. With a hamburger at her elbow and what not.

M: What was your inspiration for this work?

C: The original was called "Maggy the Butcher.” I just really wanted to try drawing some delicious meat, so I did.

M: Hahaha. That’s great. One Piece and Dragon Ball and other famous anime always seem to have meat that looks really delicious. Spirited Away is another example. In this, it gives the impression of a strong, “carnivorous girl.” I feel like the contrast between the cute fashion and a sadistic kind of arrogance also matches well with the Milky Bunny concept.

C: At first, I started drawing her because I wanted a main character for my website. I gave her a two-tone hairstyle and an eyepatch, and made the whole thing a little catchy.

M: Wow. In the music video for my first single, “Bunny Days,” I also worn American diner inspired fashion. The song “Nee Kamatte” also used similar imagery. Only when I want to emphasize gothic elements do I use England-inspired style choices. Generally, I strive for a maid-type of atmosphere.

When I had you draw up a preliminary illustration for the jacket and the idea came up that it would be interesting to have me, as Milky Bunny, wear the same outfit, I just knew I had to do that. I told my stylist in advance that I would like to wear something like the illustration, so they prepared it for me. I think that by wearing the same outfit as your illustration gave COGA fans something different to enjoy as well. It’s like our 2D and 3D worlds combined.

C: Yeah! And to have Milky Bunny wear something that I drew…I was so happy!

M: I even added piercings to match the ones in the illustration. I wanted them to be the same. As far as my hair color goes, I tend to change it a lot depending on my mood. So I had to have you switch the color for me (laughs).

C: No problem. I quickly adjusted it in Photoshop (laughs).

Musical Aspirations

C: Compared to the jacket picture, Milky Bunny’s music is a bit more rock inspired and it has a light sound that I liked from the beginning.

M: I was pretty particular about the music videos, the sound, and using a live band.

C: When I went to your live show, I thought the depth of your sound was really impressive. The whole place was shaking with excited fans jumping up and down.

M: Really!? I’m so glad to hear that. People know me first and foremost as Tsubasa Masuwaka, the model, and because I often appear on TV people tend to think that I’m just trying to capitalize on my popularity. But the truth is, since middle school I’ve wanted to be a musician more than being a magazine model. So that’s why I started this project. Even though it might seem a little backwards, today I finally feel like I’ve reached my goal. In order to reinvent myself and start over from zero, I decided not to use the name “Tsubasa Masuwaka” and call myself Milky Bunny. All the other band members support me with their powerful sound. It seems like people find there’s a nice contrast between the jacket image, the CD sound, and the live shows. In the beginning, I played shows where there were only three men in the audience. But now about half of the audience seems to be men.

From this experience I’ve rediscovered just how amazing music is – how it has the power to move people regardless of gender or age.

C: You certainly have a diverse fanbase. I noticed a mix of younger and older fans at your show.

M: Yes, definitely. I’ve seen a few 5 years olds even. I think that’s what’s good about Milky Bunny. It's a catchy sound that everyone can enjoy regardless of age.

A Musical Future Abroad?

M: I am somewhat interested in going abroad. In 2013, I participated in the Japan Expo in France, and I still vividly remember the fans there. I was really impressed at just how many people were enjoying part of the culture of Japanese anime. At that time, I went as Tsubasa Masuwaka to promote some cosmetics. French people seemed to really love anime, and also live shows. If a song was associated with a particular anime, they seemed to like it even more.
I’ve now gone back there and performed as Milky Bunny, and played the song "I wish,” which is the theme for the anime Fairy Tail. It’s been received well, and even though I haven’t really promoted it, every time I go abroad fans will ask me “Aren’t you going to sing 'I wish’?” That experience makes me think, “Wow, anime culture is truly amazing." If I were lucky enough to make an anime with you, COGA, I think it would be received well abroad, and could be a chance to expand our fanbase abroad.

Fans will often tell me that they want a Milky Bunny figure, or that they think Milky Bunny could be in an anime. And the fact that I’ve personally wanted to try wearing anime character-inspired clothes as well helped make this project a reality. That’s why I’d like to try and reach out to anime fans abroad as well.

C: Of course. It would be a pleasure to do that with you.

Evangelion Buddies?

C: Do you have any favorite anime or manga?

M: In manga I like to look at the clothes the characters wear, so I used to read Neighborhood Story a lot. I think I learned a lot about fashion from Neighborhood Story, actually. There was a time when I wanted to be a stylist or a fashion designer. I wanted to be like Tsutomu (laughs). I also watched Sailor Moon and Doraemon. Sailor Moon might have influenced my preference for blonde hair. Come to think of it, I’ve probably been influenced by anime more than I realize.

C: Mika from Neighborhood Story is a blonde as well.

M: Oh yeah! That’s right! I must have dyed my hair after being influenced by those manga. What are your favorite anime and manga?

C: My tastes tend to be kind of dark. When it comes to manga, I like Ushijima the Loan Shark, and the Mahjong manga Akagi (laughs).

M: You’re tastes seems very masculine (laughs). Evangelion is another series that I like. I really like Kaworu in particular. But in reality, there’s nobody who’s that nice and can play the piano so well. Also, he’s supposed to be 16 years old (laughs).

C: There aren’t many people that mystical and dreamy in real life, huh? (laughs)

M: Unfortunately that’s true. I recently went to the Eva museum in Fujikyu and was able to get a picture with Kaworu! I was so nervous to get my picture with him! (laughs) In terms of Evangelion characters, I like Asuka as well. She’s got a certain sexiness about her. Ah, but I’m glad that you made me look so beautiful in your illustration as well!

Milky Bunny’s Official Site

Tsubasa Masuwaka’s Official Blog

COGA’s TOM Portfolio Page

COGA’s Official Site

This is a Tokyo Otaku Mode original article.

Final performance in Nagoya, December 2013.
Final performance in Nagoya, December 2013.
Maggy the Butcher
Maggy the Butcher
Illustration arranged for Milky Bunny's new song "Crazy Diamond."
Illustration arranged for Milky Bunny's new song "Crazy Diamond."
Conversation Interview: Milky Bunny x TOM Special Creator COGA 21
Conversation Interview: Milky Bunny x TOM Special Creator COGA 22

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