By Tamera “EON” Pillay, Staff Writer

Sailor Moon has planted a seed in all of us. Remember how pretty much everyone watched sailor moon? Remember being in love with the outfits and the interplanetary naming? For Christine “Eclipse” Diep, an alumna from Illinois State University, that seed flourished into an expansive lifestyle.

Christine Diep graduated college in 2006 with an accounting degree. These two facts would make anyone talking to her stricken with shock. One, even though Christine graduated college almost a decade ago, you would think she’s in her fresh 20s; you can sense her childlike spirit by the amount she laughs and the imagination she exudes. Two, she has created too many lavish designs and costumes to not have been some sort of designing major.

Christine Diep is a strong force in the “cosplay” world (cosplay is a combination of the words costumes and play). She squeezes in two to three events a month and at least one convention a month, traveling from California to Georgia and making the most out of her home state, Chicago. She’s gone to more conventions in the fifth grade than most go in their entire lifetime, if that number is zero.

Yes, her very first convention was when she was a wee child in fifth grade during 1996, one of the many bombs she casually drops. What is more interesting is that even on that very first convention, she made her own costume. That first convention was the inciting incident that changed her life. “Walking into the expo as opened up a new world, bom bom!” she animatedly exclaims.

She has made over 200 costumes, some of which were for commission, but very few. She makes all of her costumes, some of which take up to four months. One of those 200 costumes sparked a lot of attention in the C2E2 Crown Championship of Cosplay in April, the largest and most prestigious cosplay competition. She placed in the top 30 and earned a spot in the C2E2 magazine.

Even though she has little extravagant experience with sewing, she has gained other recognition in the cosplay world. In 2005 she won “Best Cosplay Group” at a convention in her home state. She said, “If you look closely you’ll see my sewing jobs aren’t that fancy, but I keep pushing to make more complex and creative costumes; moving to feats like armored plating and foam clay props.” Her woes with sewing started at a young age. At the age of about 6 (an even wee-wee-er age), she would help her mother sew athletic clothes for weight lifters using an industrial sewing machine. Her little hands were used to sew the cuffs and collars on. This acted as her foundational sewing experience.

Interested in cosplaying?

“If you’re interested, your budget does not matter, your size does not matter, it’s about a bunch of geeks geeking out,” Diep said. “If you love Batman, come out and dress like Batman. If you want to dress up as Ironman with a 20-dollar costume, do it! Join in on our geeky, nerdy family.”

And family it is. The cosplay community stretches out far and wide and it throws itself into other really awesome endeavors. Christine is currently highly involved in a charity group comprised of cosplayers, called Costumes with a Cause. One of their main activities is making costumes to give to children’s hospitals, as well as having members dress up in their superhero costumes and play with the children.

She is also a member of the Chicagoland Cosplay Club, a group that has more than 500 members, 100 of whom she considers herself very close with.

If you enjoy anime and are looking for a new one to pick up and want some ideas from someone who has been engulfed in it for the past 20 years, her current favorite animes are “Kill la Kill” and “Nudist Beach.” Her favorite television show is “The Walking Dead,” which inspired her all-time favorite cosplay design, a cel-shading, 2D costume designed to mimic the style of a comic worn at Walker Stalker Chicago.

It is a very common misconception that cosplaying is only for anime characters or Asians to take part in, but it has a deep history in western culture as well.

As of this week, Christine has just beaten the new “Batman: Arkham Knight” video game and watched “Jurassic World.” She is excited execute her ideas for cosplay very soon.

Here’s a look at some of Christine Diep’s work:

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Images: Christine “Eclipse” Diep