Nerd Caliber
Nerd Lifestyle Magazine


Cosplay & Style

August 10, 2012

Interview with Yuji Susaki – Author of “Cosplay: Made In Japan” (NSFW)

cosplayinjapan

WARNING: IMAGES IN THIS ARTICLE MAY NOT BE SAFE FOR WORK

Yuji Susaki is an accomplished photographer in Japan and now author of Cosplay: Made in Japan. The book, currently only available overseas, is now in the midst of finding a distributor in America. I have always been fascinated of how the culture of cosplay has been progressing all around the world, and Yuji Susaki was gracious enough to answer a few questions about his book and the Japanese cosplay perspective.

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Let’s talk about how the ideas of the book, Cosplay: Made in Japan, were originated. Can you share with us how you first became involved with cosplay?

When I saw cosplayers for the first time, 14 years ago, I thought they were marvelous as well as somewhat pensive.

While they looked amazing, they retained a sense of mystery within this underground culture. They were unique and charming. They longed to be somebody else other than themselves. In them, I found the teenager within myself. When I was younger, I always earnest in my endeavors to do something different. Although I was an unstable, immature, and clumsy boy, I was full of energy. I could not cope with being deeply absorbed in doing various mundane things. I was obsessed with the idea of changing and transforming myself. My book is a reconstruction and visualization of my inner world employing “cosplay” as a method, focusing on my adolescent years during the 1970’s. The cosplay displayed in my book doesn’t reference other animated or literary works as cosplay is known to do. I hope my work reflects an adventurous spirit that I acquired in my youth.

Cosplay: Made In Japan is a statement about why people dress up. In cosplay, there is a desire to pretend and change. There is what’s on the surface, and then there is the real us. Wearing the same clothes allows us to identify with others, and creates a comfort that is easy to come by. But by losing your individuality, personally I feel I’ve lost an understanding of who I am.

We are all struggling to discover the real us. There has always been a strange mix to our existence: the facade and the reality… nudity and clothing. What are we trying to dress up? Are we really enjoying dressing up? Well, I think I am enjoying it. It is human nature to enjoy the duality of the facade and that what lies beneath it.

Share with us your personal belief about beauty and art.

I like beautiful things basically. However, in my perspective, there is always opposition. I felt since childhood that yin and yang, light and shadow are living inside me faithfully. Only there at the presence of each other that both light and shadow stand out. Works of art appears to be beautiful for one moment. However, when contrasted with other things in life, it will either emerge to be more beautiful or ugly. A perfect world is not an interesting world. The complete is set off by the incomplete. Sometimes by destroying, you’ll see more clearly. My heart is drawn to a delicate balance and unbalance.

What parts of your book do you think American audiences will enjoy most?

I think American audiences will enjoy my originality. Cosplay: Made In Japan does not use characters from any anime or video games. These characters are created by my imagination and wild fancy. It may be said that Cosplay: Made In Japan is creating a new genre.

What pictures were the most challenging to take?

The most challenging pictures in my work were the Gulliver and the Patissier. For the Patissier, I used fake Japanese cakes, an apron, and all types of napkins. It created a strong impact and was a lot of fun to shoot. For Gulliver, I wish I had found a way to shrink myself. It was so hard to shoot while changing the pose and angles I was shooting from. Thinking back on it, it was quite funny.

Can you tell us a bit about the models in Cosplay: Made In Japan?

The models I used for this project are gravure idols, fashion models and live idols. Gravure idols and live idols are Japan-specific. These models are very Japanese and very attuned to Japanese culture. If you are more curious as to what gravure models and live idols are, you can find more information here.

What more can you tell us about the characters your models cosplay as in Cosplay: Made In Japan?

In this book, there are cosplays that seem similar to anime character costumes, however I didn’t use any anime and game character. I used cosplays that would symbolize characters from fairy tales I made or was inspired by when I was younger. I have made the costumes and characters myself. 

Is cosplay accepted in Japanese society? How popular is it in Japan?

Cosplaying culture  was accepted mostly with just other cosplayers until recently. We are seeing more and more cosplay in television, commercials, and even in our fashion. I think cosplay culture  has fairly penetrated deep into the general public. Even the Japanese government has been promoting cosplayers recently.

Why do you think Japanese cosplayers love cosplay so much?

In Japan, I think we always had a strong love for drama, anime and the ideas of transformation. We didn’t lose this strong desire when we grew from children to adults. Also, we have seen these type of things before in Japanese culture, like kabuki which is very close to costume play.

 

What would you say are the differences between American cosplay and Japanese cosplay?

I think cosplaying in the United States and in Japan isn’t that different basically, although, because cosplay is now fashionable in Japan, we are now wearing cosplay more casually without anyone thinking it’s wrong. Cosplay did not get accepted as art in the old days. However, Japanese people recently are much more open to it. That makes me happy.

What do Japanese cosplayers think of American cosplay?

I think most of Japanese anime characters were designed to look like westerners, and when they “transform,” they look like the real deal. It’s very cool. It seems like when westerners cosplay, they do so with much happiness, and it’s great that cosplayers in Japan will know that in America there are groups of people that share their at passion.

When will Cosplay: Made In Japan be available in America?

Currently, we are looking for a distributor in America. However, you are in the United States and want to buy my book now, you can go here:

Amazon Japan http://amzn.to/KQN8YP

CD Japan http://www.cdjapan.co.jp/detailview.html?KEY=NEOBK-1292302

I think it can be easily purchased, because you can change to the English display.

 

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If you would like to check out more info about Cosplay: Made In Japan, check out the links below!

http://www.cosplays.org/

http://www.facebook.com/Cosplay.made.in.Japan

http://amzn.to/KQN8YP

http://www.cdjapan.co.jp/detailview.html?KEY=NEOBK-1292302



About the Author

E. Ortiz
E. Ortiz has been working as a freelance journalist, videographer and editor for almost ten years for many different organizations: from MoCCA to FUSE Music Television. Nowadays Mr. Ortiz is the brains behind Nerd Caliber and sometimes you can see him leading his team at conventions.




 
 

 
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