We had the chance to interview Jack Dosai during the Singapore Toy Games and Comics convention that was held in September and left the interview with so much respect and admiration for this guy.
Jacky-san is the epitome representation of someone who follows his passion and puts the benefit of the community above his own. A Do-er who is constantly thinking of new ways to improve the Cosplay climate.
Brace yourself, insanely long interview ahead xD!
Q: What do you like about Singapore?
As usual I like Singapore as a whole. The people are nice here, the food is nice here, the streets are clean. This time round, it is different from the last time (I visited Singapore), in that I am staying at Marina Bay Sands Hotel. My real occupation is cosplay.com’s vice-president, and the company itself is situated in Las Vegas. So when you talk about having fun in Las Vegas, it will be about hotels and casinos, and at MBS you have all that compressed into one place, so being there alone makes me excited!
Q: What do you think about the cosplay community in Singapore?
My impression of it hasn’t changed from last year’s. I think it is one of the main points/location in the Asian cosplay community… I think it is the only melting pot where you see both the Japan-originated Asian cosplay culture and the American /Western cosplay culture blend. For example, take Street Fighter’s character, in Japan he is known as Gouki, and in America he is known as Akuma, and the country that is aware that there are these differences is Singapore. So I mean to say that, from some time ago I thought that there are people here who have an in-depth understanding of the titles/series. For me, I also have work involvements in the Cosplay Summit, and I look at the stage performances of the Singaporean representatives every year. The image I get from Singaporean’s stage performances is that they have a deep understanding towards the title that they are cosplaying.
Regarding this year’s event, well it has just started, and the cosplayers have yet to arrive/change at the event hall; I still haven’t seen with my own eyes how they are this year, so I can’t say for sure how the cosplay scene here has changed since last year. My guess is that it’s going to be the same and everyone will be enjoying themselves in their own ways.
Q: how do you keep a balance between your work and cosplay?
How should I say this. It is indeed very difficult. Regardless of whichever country you are in, making your hobby you job can make it quite troubling for yourself sometimes. For example, just because you made your hobby your job, there is a possibility that you may grow to hate it. A job is something which you have to earn money out of, and along the way you start to make your hobby a tool for money-making. In my case, truthfully speaking, I’m not profiting at all. My real job is being an employee at cosplay.com, and how that company earns money is through selling wigs. The sale of the wigs…. Hmmm, for example the wig I’m wearing now. If we are to sell it as a Wild Tiger model, because it is unofficial, we actually become copyright thieves. So in order not to run into such problems/issues, what we are dealing with are only plain wigs.
So apart from this, I am doing all the rest on a volunteer basis. I’m not receiving any money from cosmode, and I don’t get anything from WCS too. So up till now I’m doing all this because I like cosplay. I have seniors in the cosplay scene, and what I am doing is merely taking over my seniors who created this scene, and trying to make it an easier scene for people of the next generation to have fun in. So I’m actually volunteering with this thought in mind, and it doesn’t really make it too taxing for me, and I can strike a balance somehow.
Basically, I like being in the field of business. But, I do not necessarily need high profits high returns. As long as everybody is having fun, I am contented. This is how I strike a balance and live with things/life (lol).
Q: How do you choose your characters? Is it based on the popularity of the character or series?
I do not bother myself with the popularity of the characters. I just do what I like to. But, for example, there is a series I like, there is this character I like, and I will start to think, what can I do as a cosplayer for this character? In fact, today I’m cosplaying Kotetsu, but I’m actually a huge fan of Barnaby Brooks Jr. With my looks, it is quite hard for me to do Barnaby. Since that is the case, I will take up the role of Kotetsu, in fact I myself is already an ojisan so it’s quite a perfect fit, I become Kotetsu, and I try play the role that brings out more in other cosplayers who can play Barnaby better than myself.
Kotetsu by Tadaaki Jacky Dosai
Barnaby Brooks Jr. by @elffi
Photographer: Yutaka Nakamura
Barnaby Brooks Jr. by @elffi
Photographer: Yutaka Nakamura
Last year I did Ozma from Macross Frontier but I am actually a huge fan of Ranka. I did Ozma because I like Ranka. So I’m the kind who is ok with not cosplaying characters that I like. In that sense, I may be a bit different from the other cosplayers.
Q: Why don’t you do Ranka then?
Mmmmm but it will be disgusting! I don’t want to see myself as her haha.
* He started to show us picture of how he “supported” a Barnaby cosplayer in Paris. The cosplayer is from Finland, name is Elffi. *
So in order to make Barnaby stand out more, as Kotetsu I stood in the background and I had more fun that way because of how nice the picture turned out.
Q: What is your hope for the future of the cosplay community not just for Singapore but for the world?
Ok, I will be frank with you. Because I’m your friend I will tell you this honestly ok! You know, I HATE contests/competitions. Cosplay is what people are doing because they like it, and a hobby is not to be judged or given placing. It is my dream to create a world, that even without competitions, stage performances can become an item on its own, and there will be people who are motivated enough to aim to perform, as well as leave behind good photos etc. A world where everyone is just enjoying themselves, and fans can amongst themselves praise each other for what they are doing. This year’s cosplay runway is one step towards this dream.
At the same time, starting from next year, I will be organizing a new championship in Japan. The name has not been officially decided upon yet, but it will be something like Cosplay Japan Cup, and for this, we will not give rankings, but instead rate/grade the performances. It is something similar to the band competitions we have in Japan, the judges award every team with Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum grade. And that’s what I am aiming towards. For example, contestants are given three minutes to perform on stage. For example, we have a bronze grade team, we will have people who really know the series and stage performance well to give comments on what was good, what can be improved. So if they can improve and score a silver the next year, the happiness they will feel? That is what I want them to experience over a long time. So for this to happen, I will start such a contest in Japan from next year on.
I don’t think this contest concept of mine will spread throughout the world 100%. At the end of the day, when an organizer includes cosplay into an event, the desire to include cosplay competitions is expected of how humans usually think. If they can take a look at the sample contest that I hold, and make shifts/changes to the current competition scene (over a period of 3 years?), in 5 years’ times maybe the world’s cosplay competition mindset would have changed in this direction.
When I first saw the competition idea in America about 12-13 years ago, while I thought it was interesting, I felt like I don’t want to rank cosplayers and their hobbies. But due to the need of a global standard, the Cosplay Summit is set up. It’s in it’s 10th year now. The next step is, while trying not to destroy this Summit, we want to try and shift the style of the Summit to another form. So please, give us your support in this area.
Q: He has been talking a lot about Cosplay skit and performance. Does he agree that Cosplay should go beyond just static photographs?
I feel that both is crucial and good in their own ways. For those who want to enjoy the hobby in the form of photographs, there is actually a lot of know-how involved in photography and such, and for those who want to enjoy it on stage through performances, that in itself is another way of enjoying the hobby.
What is important is, how a cosplayer shows/portrays/displays his feelings towards the series or character or title. The tool to accomplishing that, can be stage or photography, or even just walking around the event halls in their cosplays. As long as the cosplayer is enjoying him/herself, it doesn’t really matter what form he/she choses to do it by. With that said, if new ways of enjoying the hobby does pop up, that will be quite interesting too. Maybe even bands?
As long as the respect and love towards the series is present, anything goes.
Q: Even riding the train with costumes?
How is it in Singapore, is it OK to do it or not?
*everyone gave an agreeable response*
Then isn't it ok? In Japan we are told that we can’t do it, and I personally hate that “common sense” of Japan. Isn't it ok to wear from home, since it’s so troublesome to bring and change?! You can enjoy the event with less baggage what!
Q: What is the difference of Cosplay Culture in Japan and other countries?
The biggest difference would be, in Japan, where there is an event, there isn’t always a stage. Other than that it’s more or less the same. The feelings of the cosplayers are the same.
Q: You are the first ever chief editor in Cosmode.net etc. How did all these started?
I’m originally a cosplayer. I went to America in 1999, and I felt that that Japan’s cosplay scene cannot remain as it is. That was the trigger that started me off on various activities, like holiday trips where I bring about 50 cosplayers from Japan to America’s conventions. At that time I didn't have the power of media in my hands, I was merely doing all these as a cosplayer. As I continued doing and trying all these, I felt that I can’t continue going on like this single-handedly.
At 29 when I married, I thought I would just give it all up. In actuality, I quit and entered a web company then. One day, my boss came to me and said “Hey you seem to know a lot about cosplay huh”, and when I asked him why, he said that his university friend was going to publish a book on cosplay, and was asked to produce a website for that. And that guy, was the editor of Cosmode. Then I thought this must be fated, and I came back into the scene again.
With the title of Cosmode under my belt, when I go to different countries, they asked/allowed me to be a judge at their competitions, or sometimes get invites to speak as a guest. As these went on, I had a chance to know America’s Cosplay.com’s president. At that time I had already quit my web company job and was in my first year at COSPA. Then I got head-hunted by cosplay.com, and I switched my job to that company. With that I got to attend conventions here and there, the next happening was I met WCS’ producer in a long time. During that time I hated WCS a lot because I thought people who didn’t understand cosplay were running it. But as the scale of WCS got bigger and bigger, they needed more people and know-how, so that was how I was asked to help them in running WCS, and that was about 4 years ago.
Q: Profile and you're placed in places where you have the authority. Being in that position statute has it's pros and cons?
Rather than being in the position to have the authority to talk about cosplay, I am actually in a position where I have no choice but to talk about cosplay .Cosplay is something that is easily misunderstood by normal people. It looks very cheap, sometimes it’s shot like porno, and I am somewhat the big brother who has to spread the message that no, that is not the case for the cosplay that we are doing. I may be a bit shameless to say this, but most of the cosplayers now are younger than me, so I feel I’m speaking up for them from a big bro-stature. So I have no choice but to speak for them because there is no one else. If there is please introduce to me!!
Rather than have some university professor who knows nothing give a lecture on cosplay, it is better for a cosplayer to speak up for others in the scene right?
(Kaika: I so agree !)
Q: How has Cosplay in Japan changed for the last 10 years?
10 years?! 10 years… it’s a bit hard to say something solid changed over the 10 years, but there has been significant change in the past 5 years. The most major change will be that cosplayers have started selling their cosplay CD-roms. That culture is the biggest I feel.
With regard to Japan, I feel that the cosplay stage performance culture will change in the next 3 years or so. With an increasing cosplay population, as well as collaborations between CURE and WCS, people are paying more attention to WCS. It should become more interesting over the next few years.
Q: Beside runway performances, does he have any other performance idea? Is he hoping to create a culture where people perform on stage like stage drama in cosplay?
I think that there is still a lot of outlets for cosplay performances. For example, the guys who won WCS this year? In order to execute and bring to the stage what they wanted for the fans, they spent about a year just on training. They did Hakuoki where they used katana to perform, and for one year they learnt how to use it and do an action skit from a tate-sensei.
It’s not to say everyone has to go that distance, but I very rarely see stage performances that are as dedicated as that globally. So I feel, when more performances of such standard surface, only then can we think of the next step. Maybe it’s still quite premature to thing about the next step.
But, this year, I plan to do something interesting, that is a situational skit. On the cosplay stage, we will give each about 1 minute, have the cosplayers come on stage as the characters, and provide them with a situation, like the period setting at all. In that one minute, we will ask them to perform what they think their character’s actions will be in that 1 minute. It’s just an idea right now though.
For example, we gather all the male characters, and get them to do a marriage proposal to the female characters that they like. Each character will differ in how they carry themselves, the choice of words they use, and this will depend a lot on the fan’s creativity, which will be very interesting to watch. Maybe it will be fun to rank cosplayers depending on whose was the funniest / most interesting.
Don’t you want to try doing it? So we will try this idea out first, and if we are successful, we will report about it. For more information, do check my twitter.
Q: Do you believe Cosplayers should be in character as long as they are in costume?
Nope I don’t think so! In Japan, it’s usually half in-character, half oneself. For example, I’m wearing Kotetsu’s clothes, but I’m speaking to you more as myself than as the character. Kotetsu usually rests his weight on the right side of his body, but when I do interviews I usually do this, so maybe I have been a bit conscious about it since a while back haha. But only about there. I just do what is most minimally expected from the character.
For example if you are doing a super kawaii cosplay, like K-on, you will try to avoid the public’s eyes when you smoke right? Just basic stuff like that. So there is no need to be in character 100% of the time. Can you imagine, if you are in-character 100% of the time….. isn’t it scary? Say there is a Magneto cosplayer, and he is exactly like the real character himself, you wouldn’t want to get near to him right?
The thing I often tell my juniors that it’s very easy, just don’t do anything that will embarrass your character or the series. For example, something unsightly. Actions at the con halls, like irresponsible disposal of rubbish and tobacco stubs, not letting up seats when there are people who need them more; I will not embarrass myself, but instead embarrass the character/series I’m cosplaying. I tell the young ones to do the bare minimum not to embarrass those, and usually things will work out.
Follow Jacky @ Twitter: https://twitter.com/RocktheFuture
*Phew* Wasn’t that a long long interview! The interview was only supposed to be 20 minutes but Jacky-san had so much to share the interview spanned for longer than 40 minutes! If you read my other STGCC entry, you’d know about how he gave us Sakura + Matcha KitKat for souvenirs! How nice! He is the first guest to give me a gift ;_; I’m usually only on the giving end LOL.
Special thanks to Reiko for helping me translate and transcript Jacky-san’s interview! You would notice that the English sounds a little ‘off’, that’s because to make this interview as authentic as possible, we decided to leave most of his answers as literal as possible.
I also want to extend my sincere gratitude and thanks to KY for graciously sharing the audio recording of this interview with me. If you follow me on TCC’s FB Page, you might know of how I lost my own audio recording of the interview. So I was definitely counting my blessings when I know there were other people in the same interview with me and even more thankful when KY was so ready to share his interview recordings with me. Thank you!!.