Yuriko Tiger is an Italian cosplayer, promotional model, YouTuber, voice actress, Twitch streamer, actress, and idol based in Japan. She first started cosplaying and modeling in 2008 and her first character cosplay was Haruhi Suzumiya.
She moved to Japan in 2013 and her first modeling job was for the magazine Playboy Japan, where she worked as a Gravure Model for the first and only time. Her first television appearance was on the show Why Did You Come to Japan?, which features reporters interviewing people who had recently arrived in Japan at Narita Airport. She’s also worked as a model for Toyota, Lawson, and Sugoi Japan (2015). She has appeared on TV numerous times as a guest of honor, such as Baking, Nobunaga, Nyantere, and Akazukichan, and a semi-regular visitor and cosplayer on Tokoro-san Nippon No Deban (2015).
During the summer of 2016, she was the official cosplayer of Harley Quinn for the promotion of Suicide Squad on the red carpet, started her own Radio Program called Cool Japan, hosted numerous events for the promotion of Tekken 7 all around Japan, modeled for the publicity of the famous theme park J-World (Bandai Namco) and hosting lives on her Nico Nico Douga Channel sponsored by Kadokawa Games.
In 2017 she appeared on the red carpet as Wonder Woman to promote Justice League. She returned to singing with the release of “Haruka” as “Samurai Tiger (Samurai Apartment Love’s Yuriko Tiger)” in partnership with Samurai Apartment. She also worked as a model for Swallowtail, a wig and colored contact lens firm, and was the first cosplayer to appear in the drama “Prison Hotel,” which aired on BS Japan.
In 2018 she cosplayed the promotion of the new series of FLCL and the game Soul Calibur VI, cosplaying respectively as Haruko Haruhara and Ivy Valentine, both in Tokyo and Osaka. She was also a special cosplay guest at Otakuthon (Montreal, Canada) and Lucca Comics & Games (Lucca, Italy).
In 2019 she worked overseas as a special guest at IberAnime, a famous convention in Lisbon, Portugal. In the same year, Yuriko Tiger worked as a model to promote Beyond the Moon, a fashion brand by virtual YouTuber Kaguya Luna. In 2020 she played the role of Motoko Kusanagi for the promotion of the new series Ghost in The Shell SAC_2045. She acted as a Tinder model for the new Tinder Japan advertising campaign along with the popular model Kiko Mizuhara. After 7 years, she was contacted again by the television program “Why Did You Come to Japan?” to show how her life had changed.
Without further ado, let’s dive into the interview with Yuriko Tiger!
How have you been?
I was in the U.S. for 1 month and now I’m back in Japan!
What inspired the name Yuriko Tiger?
Yuriko was originally inspired by a character from the fighting game Bloody Roar.
The Kanji means “Children Of Lily,” and Tiger is from “Toradora .”
Something sweet and aggressive at the same time! I studied Japanese sounds and found that “YURIKO TAIGA” was something easy to remember, and the name sticks in your head.
This is your first time in Japan while it’s the year of the tiger and your name has tiger in it. How do you feel about it?
This is ironic because my Chinese Zodiac is the rooster 🐓 and my 2016 (year of the rooster) was TERRIBLE. The tiger year, I can say that luck is finally on my side. I had a terrible couple of years and decided to turn my life around for the better. I changed agencies, made better friendships, started to travel, and I’m working on a new project that makes me happy… It’s my year!
Can you tell us more about the Yuriko Tiger brand?
I changed so many times that I don’t remember who I am anymore. Yuriko was a name I came up with when I was 11 years old. A critical accident happened at school during this time, and my peers bullied me.
“Yuriko” Wasn’t just a name but an imaginary idol, something I could aspire to be when I felt alone. Everybody around me was financially well off and attractive; I thought I didn’t fit in. I would make a drawing of someone I wanted to become: a funny, strong, and sexy woman!
I changed many times for a lot of reasons. I think, in some way, I’ve grown tired of the image of Yuriko. It’s not enough for me. In Italy, people see me as very outgoing and faithful to who I am. But in Japan, I am often compared to another idol called “SHOKOTAN,” which I don’t mind, but I wish my Japanese audience could see me for who I am as an individual.
My big fear now is I’m already 29, and there is this stigma that I can’t do certain things anymore because of my age, like dressing cute or cosplaying certain things! I started gravure as a way to find myself and discover how I truly feel and what makes me happy.
You’re a massive fan of the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise. What Sonic game is your favorite?
Oh boy… I tried to hide for many years but I can’t anymore! My true love was Sonic Adventure 1 and 2, like most Sonic Fans. My dad played Sonic a lot, but I sucked at it. I started Sonic Adventure and Sonic Heroes and became a hardcore fan. I recently worked for SEGA in Japan and felt my life was complete after this.
What inspired you to start cosplaying?
I don’t have a direct inspiration! Back then, we didn’t have the internet or social media. When I studied at Manga School, we took a trip to Lucca Comics 2006, an annual comic book and gaming convention. I saw so many cosplayers, and they were dressed up as my childhood heroes. I wanted to be a cosplayer so I could become my own hero. I felt happy to see cosplayers around me, and I wanted to share the same feeling!
How do you enjoy life in Japan?
I’m enjoying my life in Japan! After the pandemic, it was hard, but I didn’t dislike it. I love my job because I’m a freelancer/cosplayer! Without my job living here could bring some difficulties.
What do you miss the most about living in Italy?
I miss hugs, food, and an authentic pizza for 5€. That’s it.
If you’ve watched JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind, how did it feel to have your home country represented through an anime series?
I need to confess: I never liked JoJo’s before that series. I’m not from south Italy or Venice, sometimes I felt it was too exaggerated but I enjoyed it! Diavolo it’s my favorite.
What is your favorite Japanese food?
I love to eat everything. Maybe Katsudon and Tempura is my favorite!
What is your favorite Japanese word and why?
運命 UNMEI “destiny” with the Kanji of 運 = Luckiness and 命 “life.” So, in Japanese, your destiny is just Lucky to Live (for me). And it’s true!
You deeply care for your fans. What memory sticks out to you when you think about your fans?
I love most of my fans, but I’ve had some bad experiences. I think I CARE TOO MUCH. Maybe I’m not the right person to be famous because I get very sad easily when something bad happens.
I remember one time a cosplayer cosplayed as me! It was adorable. This was at a tiny event and she cried hard when she saw me. She also danced and sang my first original song, “YURI YURI KAKUMEI.” I felt very blessed that day. When I attended Napoli Comicon/Lucca, I met more than 600 fans. I never thought something like that could happen.
I LOVE FAN ART!!! I kept every single letter and art in my house in Italy and it would drive my mom crazy because we didn’t have enough space.
I love hugs, drinking, and talking with my fans. Of course, I’m delighted and grateful for fans to support me economically on my Patreon! I felt I had more support from my fans than from my old agency.
But sometimes I meet “fans” who act fake and throw out their “idols” like old toys and replace them with something else (Watch Toy Story for reference). This behavior is very common in Japan, especially when publicizing my old relationship. It makes many idols feel objectified and has become a dangerous part of Japanese idol society.
I read in your biography that you were one of the first students who attended the Manga Summer School from 2005 to 2008. Do you still draw manga? If so; can you show us some of your work?
I stopped drawing when I started cosplaying. My insecurities were too hard to overcome. I had a terrible habit of comparing my art with other people.
I think many people are like this too, and I would like to tell them: don’t stop doing what you love.
I hope to have more free time to start drawing again! I’m not that good at it anymore, but it’s one of the most relaxing things to do, along with sleeping.
I want to support many artists! Many of my fans officially worked with me when I saw their art. I know how it feels to be an artist, and I know how hard it can be.
I may already be supporting many artists under a different name! 😉
What do you do in your spare time?
Eat, sleep, and watch Netflix.
Do you enjoy anime or manga more?
What is your favorite anime and manga?
My favorite manga is Nana. I have a massive obsession with it!
I have many favorite anime, and it’s impossible to decide on just one.
I enjoy K-ON when I have free time, Ergo Proxy when I’m feeling down, and FLCL when I’m drunk.
I watched a LOT of anime. It’s hard to decide!
I’m a big fan of the Haruhi Suzumiya series and I’m a fan of your first cosplay, which happens to be Haruhi Suzumiya. Who is your favorite character and what did you think of endless eight?
I think I was 13 when I watched Haruhi! I loved Haruhi because I felt very similar to her. Now I realize it’s not a good sign HAHAHAHA. Endless eight was my favorite Arc of Haruhi, but it’s very controversial and strange! My mind melted after watching it. They made some adaptations from the light novel, but I never read it!
What made you decide on Haruhi Suzumiya as your first cosplay?
I was her in middle school. The story was great, but Haruhi Suzumiya’s character was incredibly mysterious to me while also having similarities. At that time, only true nerds knew Haruhi. I think I was one of the first cosplayers of Haruhi in Italy.
What are your upcoming plans for 2022? Is there anything your fans should look forward to?
I will be a guest at Lucca Comics & Games 2022, and I’m busy working on new projects! Expect new photobooks that will be on my official store! I have something new for September but I can’t reveal it yet! I am working towards becoming more international. I’m working hard to improve my English and travel more. I hope to be a guest and participate in convention panels around the world.
Thank you for taking the time to be interviewed. Do you have a message for the fans?
Thank you so much for asking me to participate in this interview. I feel a lot of people were affected by the pandemic, and I’m sorry if I couldn’t be more with them.
One thing I would like to share with my fans is not to put yourself down if you can’t reach your goal immediately. Everything has its own place and time. I’ve learned that the hard way.
You can always get better and improve yourself. Sometimes your goals might change along the way but that’s part of the experience. Do your best!
I’m Jake Caprino, who is more commonly known by the online alias Swaps4. I’m a business owner based in Japan. I enjoy writing about anime, video games, and bits & pieces of Japanese culture.