Thursday, August 27, 2015

ICDS 2015: Diva's Interview with Special Guest, Cosplayer Jin (BehindInfinity)!

This year's International Cosplay Day Singapore (ICDS) was held on 21 and 22 August at SCAPE.

The annual event is a lively celebration of cosplay and friendship, with a cosplay competition, a small range of exhibitor booths, a doujin market, panels, cosplay chess, quizzes and even exciting lightsabre fight displays on stage, courtesy of the performance group called FightSabre.

Internationally popular cosplayer Jin Joson (behindinfinity) is this year's Guest-of-Honor. Jin is well-known for her incredibly realistic versions of Naruto, Kenshin Himura from Rurouni Kenshin, and more recently, the loveable Hiro Hamada from Disney's animated movie "Big Hero 6". (For insights as to how she and her friends pulled off the almost unbelievable "Big Hero 6" cosplay, read her blog post here.)

Just before doors opened for ICDS attendees at 10AM, Red Dot Diva arrived at SCAPE, eager to meet Jin in person. Jin was already backstage, dressed in her cosplay as the wizard Howl Jenkins Pendragon from Studio Ghibli's "How's Moving Castle".

There was still spare time before her meet-and-greet with the fans, which made it the most appropriate opportunity for Red Dot Diva to find out more about Jin and her adventures in the cosplay community.

Red Dot Diva: For those who are not familiar with you yet, please give us a short introduction about yourself.
Jin: Hi, I'm Jin. I'm from the Philippines and I've been cosplaying for maybe 10 years now? And ever since I can remember, I've been in contact with a lot of Singapore cosplayers so it's really nice here as a guest for ICDS.

Red Dot Diva: Is this the first time you have been here in Singapore?
Jin: Second time for a cosplay event. The first time was just a regular attendee. I was at AFA, supporting one of my friends who was representing the Philippines for the regionals at the con.

Red Dot Diva: When did you get interested in cosplay?
Jin: I was just browsing the net with my friends and then, we saw some pictures of a Final Fantasy cosplay. And we went what was that? Were they making a movie? We didn't know anything about cosplay at the time. Then, we saw that it was something anyone could do, we thought wowwwww, that is so cool, let's try it. And then, we never stopped!

Red Dot Diva: So what was the first costume that you did, and how did it go?
Jin: Oh! I did Gogo Yubari from "Kill Bill". It was quite fun. My parents were really supportive and my Dad even did the weapon with metal because he wanted me to have a cool prop. I even got to meet Quentin Tarantino, the director, when I was wearing the outfit.
Red Dot Diva: Cool!
Jin: He was in the Philippines for a film festival, and I went to the screening of "Kill Bill" wearing the costume and he went, 'Oh, you made a terrific costume!"

Red Dot Diva: Is he as animated in person??
Jin: Yes, he is. And he's really tall, and jolly.

Red Dot Diva: When you were a kid, were you one of those who love taking photos?
Jin: Not taking photos but dressing up for Halloween. The photo-taking came during college. Since we were in art school, I see my friends messing with their cameras and then, we would do random shoots in school.

Red Dot Diva: In the number of years that you have been in the cosplay world, what do you think has changed the most?
Jin: There's definitely more awareness about what we do now. Especially, when media is covering cosplay events, especially in my country. And, you know, these comic book movies coming out and everyone's getting into the right mindset for the hobby. It's cool, because before, there was a lot of hesitation from people about hobby. 'Oh, people might think you're weird'. I think they still do that now but there is a lot more acceptance now, and a lot more resources available. Before, there were so little places to get wigs and contacts and stuff. And now, companies have seen a lot of interest, they have started to provide us with all these things which gives us more opportunities.

Red Dot Diva: What is your most favourite cosplay?
Jin: That's haaaardddddd. (Both Red Dot Diva and Jin laugh). Maybe the one that made me like the bravest to try more stuff, which is Naruto. A lot of people know me by that costume, which I was really surprised. The only reason I cosplay Naruto before was because my friends wanted to do all these characters. I wanted to be Sasuke, but one of my friends was already Sasuke. We didn't have a Naruto so it wouldn't make sense to do a shoot with 2 Sasukes and no Naruto so I was like... OKayyyyy... I'll try. But as Naruto grew up, I got to like him more and he became my favourite. Before it was like, 'awww man... I don't wanna be the noisy one!'

Red Dot Diva: What was the most challenging costume to do?
Jin: In terms of skills, it would most probably by my Big Hero 6 one. The one in the purple armour. My friend and I tried to do a lot of new things with that cosplay, like using Bondo to make the helmet. We made mechanical gloves for it, so it was oversized but I could move it. We didn't know if we could pull it off. But then, we try our best and some how pushed through.

Red Dot Diva: So what was the tricky part that you faced using Bondo in that costume? (Note: having no idea what Bondo is, Red Dot Diva learnt that it is an auto body filler. Gotta learn something new each day! )
Jin: It's a bit difficult. It's mixing chemicals so you had to get the proportions right. We did it through trial and error. If you mixed it with too much hardener, it will dry right away and it will be too brittle to work with. And if you don't mix enough, it is not gonna dry. After you apply the Bondo, you have to sandpaper everything to get a smooth finish. And then, it was my first time working with an airbrush with a compressor. It wasn't the usual spray paint or acrylic paint that you just brush on.

Red Dot Diva: And what was the most challenging costume to wear?
Jin: That as well. I can't wear it by myself. I can put one glove on but once my hand is in one, I can't put the other one. Even bringing it here was a challenge. It was in three big boxes and at the airport, they were like, 'what's in the box?' And I said, 'it's just a costume!' 'Can we run it through the x-ray?' 'Sure!' And when they ran in through the x-ray, they asked me, 'Is that a robot?!' (Big laughs from Red Dot Diva at Jin's amusing re-telling of the experience, including the use of a gruff voice as the security officer). 'No, it's a costume!' 'Are you gonna wear it?' 'Yes'!

Red Dot Diva: I am sure you have accumulated many costumes as the years go by. What do you do with the older costumes that you longer use?
Jin: Some of them I donated to some charity auctions in my country. The others they are just home. I keep them as a collection because all of them have a specific set of memory so I find it very hard to part with them.

Red Dot Diva: What is the most rewarding thing you have learn from cosplay?
Jin: I didn't know that by doing this and just having fun that you could have a positive effect with people. It's really cool when I hear people say that 'I became braver to seek out more friends, and be myself', and things like that.

Red Dot Diva: So has there been a particular incident that was particularly memorable?
Jin: I remember there was one time in America, someone ran up to me and said, 'thank you for being you' and then ran away. I always remembered that.

Red Dot Diva: Is there a cosplay that you wish to do?
Jin: I want to do Legolas from Lord of the Rings. I'm gonna work my way toward that. There's a lot of preparation.
Red Dot Diva: I think that's a good choice!

Red Dot Diva: Besides cosplay, what are your other interests?
Jin: Ummm..... Food. 
Red Dot Diva: That's a dangerous interest to have in Singapore. Hahaha. 
Jin: And usually related things like experimenting with make-up and photography, and art in general.
Red Dot Diva: Do have any particular favourite photography subjects?
Jin: I like to compose things to look like a painting, sort of? Or illustrations. I stylize it because I have an illustration background as well, so I try to combine those two together.

Red Dot Diva: What is your favourite superhero movie?
Jin: I usually enjoy Spider-Man. I grew up watching Spider-Man costumes. Usually him or Batman. But of course, I'm not a billionaire playboy so I identify more with Peter Parker!
(Round of loud laughter by both Red Dot Diva and Jin)

Red Dot Diva: What is your most favourable fan moment?
Jin: Well of course, one of them was meeting Quentin Tarantino. And of course, the other was when the director of "Big Hero 6" noticed my cosplay and re-tweeted and shared my stuff.

Red Dot Diva: What has been the most touching moment that you've experienced from your fans?
Jin: There's a lot......
Red Dot Diva: Maybe the top... three?
Jin: Well, of course Masashi Kishimoto for Naruto. Just to thank you even though I can't speak Japanese. I'm sure he will have a translator. It is so hard to think of the others.
Red Dot Diva: I know, this is not really a fair question. I have many people I want to meet too!

Red Dot Diva: Is there a message you will like to say to your fans here in Singapore?
Jin: I am really looking forward to meet the fans in Singapore. I feel sad when I see messages on Facebook or Twitter that they say I saw you but I'm too shy to say hi. Please don't do that! Just come and say hi!

So, Red Dot Diva hopes the fans who attended ICDS last weekend did go up to the loveeble Jin and at least, got to say hi to her in person!

A photo posted by Red Dot Diva (@reddotdiva) on

Also, do feel free to share your pictures or positive fan experiences with Jin by tweeting both of us on Twitter (reddotdiva ; jin (behind infinity)) and share the warm cosplay vibes around the world! After all, that's what ICDS is all about.


Thanks to Jason and the Neo Tokyo Project team for the interview opportunity!

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