anibee Features : Tadaaki "Jacky" Dosai!
The Singapore Toy Game and Comic Convention (STGCC) was truly a melting pot for lovers of all kinds of pop culture, Western and Eastern alike! One of the esteemed guests that we had the chance to speak to was Tadaaki "Jacky" Dosai - Vice President of Cosplay.com, Supervisor of COSMODE, and avid cosplayer!
anibee: Hi Jacky, welcome to Singapore! Or to be precise - welcome BACK to Singapore!
Jacky: Thanks, it's always good to BE back!
anibee: This is your 2nd time here as a guest in Singapore, what do you like about our country that keeps you coming back?
Jacky: I think I like everything about Singapore; the people are nice, the food is great and the city is beautiful! Staying at the Marina Bay Sands has also been an awesome experience - I love the sheer scale of this place, and just how slick it is!
anibee: What do you think of Singapore's cosplay scene, and has it changed in anyway since the last time you were here?
Jacky: In my opinion from what I've seen so far, the scene here hasn't changed too much from last year, which is a good thing.
What I've always loved about the scene in Singapore is how all these various cultures come together in one place. You have events like STGCC, where you have all sorts of cosplays in the same location, be it an anime or manga character, or a Western character.
Even things like the multiple naming conventions of characters (e.g. how Street Fighter's Gouki in Japan is called Akuma in the US) are all accepted and used interchangeably with no prejudice. It might seem like a small thing to some, but to me, I see this as an excellent example of Singapore's sheer versatility and diversity.
anibee: You are one of the few individuals to have truly made a career out of his passion and hobby, that can't be easy! How do you balance the two sides of your life out?
Jacky: You're right, it isn't! It'Â’s never easy trying to make a career out of your hobby, no matter what country you're in. This is especially the case for something like cosplay, which I'll admit, often gets tricky to make any kind of monetary gain from.
The work I do at Cosplay.com, COSMODE and WCS, for instance, never were guaranteed "meal tickets", but rather purely labours of love from me. You often have to do things that you might not like too much, or even dislike entirely, to keep things running, and that's the case for any kind of hobby-turned-career.
But in the end, it's about reminding yourself why you love the hobby in the first place, and focusing on the positive aspects that you do like. For me personally, I enjoy the business side of cosplay very much, and that's been a big factor in maintaining my drive to do the things I want to do.
anibee: How do you decide on a character to cosplay as? Do you just go for what interests you, or do factors like series-popularity play a part?
Jacky: I'm definitely the sort that purely cosplays characters whom I have a great interest in personally. I try to keep to this as much as possible, but there are times where it can prove difficult though.
For instance, I wouldn't cosplay characters that aren't suitable for me, even though I like them. In cases like these, I instead, do another character in the same series that *does* suit me, and then if possible, pair up with another cosplayer who can do the character I like more justice.
Take Tiger & Bunny for instance; I'm a fan of Barnaby, but he's the type of character I could never do confidently. However, Kotetsu/Wild Tiger does suit me much better in looks, physicality and personality wise. Thus, I went for Kotetsu instead, and was fortunate enough to find myself an excellent partner in Elffi from Finland, for Barnaby! We did our shoot in Paris, and it was totally awesome!
This has been my principle for a long time; I did it last year with my Ozma (from Macross Frontier) cosplay - even though I'm actually a Ranka fan!
anibee: So we won't get to see Ranka Lee - Jacky version then?
Jacky: Haha! Even *I* wouldn't want to see that!!
But back to the topic on-hand, it's also why I generally take longer to produce a cosplay than most people. It's a normal instinct to want to do a new character from a show you've just watched and ride the wave of excitement. But to me personally, I think to really do a good, proper cosplay, it's always better to sit through the entire show and do more extensive research on the character.
By doing this, I feel that it helps me get more in-depth into the character I'm doing, from the most obvious details, to even the subtle ones. It took me almost 6 months to do Ozma for instance, as I wanted to look up the significance of all his jacket details, and I wanted to familiarise myself with the culture and practices of airforce pilots. Likewise today for Kotetsu, aside from losing weight to better match his physique, I made it a habit to learn his manner of speaking, to the more relaxed, laid-back way he sits down.
anibee: How do you deal with people who misunderstand and/or oppose cosplay?
Jacky: Oh I get this a lot! It's understandable that some people would get a negative impression of cosplay due to the questionable actions of some people. However, it's also a hobby that's really a great platform for people, especially youngsters, to express themselves. I'm often regarded as an "older brother" in the scene, and it's something I take seriously. While I do get frustrated, I try to keep calm and remember my resposibilities, so I can try my best to be a good example and hope to bring up the image of cosplay to the general public.
If nothing else, it sure beats being a boring old person, right?
anibee: What is one thing you wish to see happen in the future of cosplay around the world?
Jacky: Just because I like you guys, I'll be honest here - I can't stand competitions! I understand that this might be weird coming from a guy who is part of WCS, and for an artform like cosplay, a competitive element is always necessary. But I personally dislike judging people in competitions, as it gives the impression that people are favouring one person's cosplay and discrediting the other, when in reality, it should be about everyone enjoying and expressing themselves.
I am intending to introduce a new kind of 'competition' dubbed the Japan Cosplay Club, where instead of competing for a sequential placing, cosplayers instead are individually graded on their performances (Gold, Silver, Bronze). This way, everyone gets the feedback they want, but every single participant's efforts are still celebrated.
I hope to be able to slowly introduce this format into all cosplay competitions, and that it promotes a greater sense of sharing and enjoyment for everyone. If you agree with this, please do support it!
Special thanks to STGCC for the invitation, and to Jacky Dosai for his time!