Ai Kinugawa, the “beautiful track and field athlete” who dramatically transformed herself into a cosplayer, experienced despair: “I want to be a completely different person. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Ai Kinugawa, the “beautiful track and field athlete” who dramatically transformed herself into a cosplayer, experienced despair: “I want to be a completely different person.

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Aiming for the World in Athletics and Cosplay

Ai Kinugawa, 34, a former member of the World Athletics Team, is a “beautiful athlete” who was plagued by repeated injuries and intractable diseases while achieving high school and junior high school results that caught everyone’s attention. Following the article ” Part 1: The Hellish Days of Ai Kinugawa’s Career as a Top Cosplayer, ” which introduced her struggles and suffering as an athlete, we would like to reveal the reason for her dramatic transformation into a top cosplayer and her third life, in her own words.

I was aiming for the London Olympics in August ’12, but once again I suffered from an Achilles tendon injury. I had surgery, but it was difficult to run as I should have. When I was not selected for the national team, I lost my goal and became very depressed.

I am a competitive and moody person. I want to win more than anyone else. However, if I can no longer be the best in the world due to injury, I have no choice. I felt like, ‘I’m done with track and field. It was March 2003 when I resigned from Mizuno, the sporting goods manufacturer to which I belonged.

Kinugawa was relieved of the pressure of stepping away from track and field, but she gradually lost sight of herself. He did not know what to do with his second life.

I have only done track and field since junior high school. I don’t even know how to buy a train ticket. I thought about getting a part-time job, but I don’t know how to write a resume. I spent about six months to a year wondering what I was going to do.”

All about athletes: ……

Becoming a character from the anime “Wimpy Pedal

Even away from track and field, the people I meet are always talking about being an athlete. Even though I’m not a professional track and field athlete anymore,……. Kinugawa was not happy to be seen only as an athlete, so she moved away from the public eye.

He says, “Every once in a while, when I am featured in the media, I am introduced as ‘the genius who disappeared. At the time, I was in despair over my situation as a nobody. I wanted to turn away from the painful reality. I was seriously thinking every day that I wanted to become someone completely different from what I had been.”

The world of anime and manga was in Kinugawa’s mind. As a child, he was hooked on Disney, and half of his suitcase was filled with comic books during track and field competition expeditions.

I read every genre of manga,” he says, “including ‘Shinkage no Kyojin’ and ‘Yowamushi Pedal. Manga was my only hobby outside of track and field. In fact, from around 2002, when I was a member of “Mizuno,” I started cosplaying as a fan of anime and manga characters. I was saved by manga. After I left track and field, I vowed to become a different person, so I dressed up as a man and started working as a cosplayer in earnest.

My name as a cosplayer is Renya.’ For two consecutive years since 2009, he has won the Best Costumer award from the renowned magazine “Cosplay Mode. Uploading various cosplay appearances on X (formerly Twitter), he quickly gained over 20,000 followers. But …….

She looks good in men’s clothes.

I hid the fact that Renya = Ai Kinugawa for about 10 years. When I first started cosplaying, I was prejudiced and worried …… that I would be slandered. However, times have changed. Diversity is now accepted, and the public’s view of anime otaku has changed drastically. Renya and Kinugawa Ai are both me. There is no need to hide them anymore. That’s how I made up my mind and confessed Renya’s identity.”

Kinugawa announced in the May 7 edition of “Sports Hochi” that Renya was herself.

The reaction was huge. In the cosplay world, it was taboo to reveal one’s real name and true face. I was happy that fans were surprised, but warmly ……. From now on, I am going to start my third life.

Only I can make the most of my profile as an athlete and work as a cosplayer. I want to be the one and only cosplayer that everyone knows. I want to aim for the world in both cosplay and athletics. I have sealed off track and field for 10 years, so I will start by running citizen marathons and the like to get used to running on my shoulders in order to regain the feeling of Kinugawa Ai.”

So far, Kinugawa has made about 100 cosplay costumes for herself, and currently runs 10 km two to three times a week. The two-faced life of the “beautiful track and field athlete” has begun in earnest.


Megumi Kin ugawa was born on August 7, 1989. Born in Takasaki City, Gunma Prefecture. A track and field athlete who has attracted attention since her days at Sendai Ikuei High School. She has participated in the World Championships in Athletics twice. Her cheerful character attracts many fans. She is also active as a cosplayer under the name Renya.

  • PHOTO Hiroyuki Komatsu

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