Roger Senpai Gives Great Advice to Aspiring Cosplayers and Bloggers

Posted by Ashley Sturgis on

This is my interview with Roger Senpai. Read more of my blogs at Ashley's Cosplay Cache Blog or check out my site for the full experience on all of the blogs.

Hey Roger. Thank you for taking the time to let us get to know you through this interview. I’m looking forward to getting to know more about you.

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What is the farthest you have travelled to go to a con?

The furthest I’ve ever traveled for a convention was to Seattle, Washington for Sakura-Con, and according to Google, that’s over 4000 km! To be fair though, I flew over to the West Coast to visit my relatives in Vancouver, British Columbia and that’s about a 3 hour drive away from Seattle. 

For me, I try to go to big conventions outside of my hometown in places that are also worth visiting. I attended Anime Central in the Midwest because I love the city of Chicago. I’ve attended Holiday Matsuri because I wanted to visit Florida and Disney World! And for Sakura-Con, I was able to see my relatives and visit Vancouver and Seattle at the same time. It’s definitely not cheap compared to a local convention, but being able to do more than just attend a con makes the trip worth it.

I certainly would love to attend some conventions in Europe and definitely ones in Asia. I heard the ones in Asia are even larger than the North American ones, although there’s no nightlife like the ones in North America.

Have you met anyone who cosplays for a living or do you?

Personally? The only one I know who potentially earns a full-time living with cosplay is Vickybunnyangel. She’s an amazing cosplayer who I personally know and got to meet. As a professional cosplayer from Toronto, I think she represents our community so well!

I can’t say I’ve been able to meet too many professional cosplayers in-person. For my website, I’m planning to do some more interviews with professional cosplayers and getting to know them and their story, so stay tuned for that!

As for myself, I do not cosplay for a living. But as you can tell from my website and the cosplay events I’ve hosted, I feel like I contribute to the cosplay community and it’s truly fulfilling when someone enjoys the events I host, or finds one of my articles helpful to them.

Where were you born and raised and what is your heritage?

I was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. My parents came from Vietnam as immigrants and worked very hard to earn a living in Canada and eventually raised me and my older siblings. 

Since Toronto is the biggest city in Canada and being relatively close to Montreal, I’ve had the opportunity to attend many cosplay conventions in both cities!

Much like the cosplay community, I was born in a city that’s tolerant and diverse, so jumping into the community was very easy for me.

Click the following link to read Rogers' Blog.

roger senpai

It’s always amazing to me when people have the inner drive to leave their home country and everything they know for a better life for their future generations.

I have always wondered if it is cold in Canada year round? You guys are so far north and I live in Mississippi so just curious.

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Oh yes it is freaking cold in the winter! Apparently Toronto is one of the “warmer” cities in Canada, and yet temperatures can drop down to as low as -30C (I believe that’s -22 in Fahrenheit). We might be much further north from Mississippi but it’s not too far to be honest; a plane ride from Toronto to Orlando is only a few hours. Yet the climate is completely different, which I find crazy!

On the other hand, it can get pretty hot in Toronto as well in the summer. Temperatures can get regularly into the 30’s (40’s with the humidex). I generally don’t like the weather in Toronto; too cold in the winter, too hot in the summer. The good news is that many of our conventions here are indoors, so we got some nice heating or air conditioning.

I don’t think I could handle those super cold winters. I already don’t even wear a jacket unless it is below 20 degrees. LOL

The pic of you at the top of the mountain in South Korea is breathtaking. How high up were you and were you there with friends, family or for a con?

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I’m glad you liked my photo from Busan, South Korea! I actually wasn’t up on a big mountain, but a hill. Me and this other person walked up a huge hill to get to that spot. Even though it wasn’t a full mountain hike, it was pretty tiring to get up there. But the views were totally worth it.  I recommend anyone to visit Busan, it’s a beautiful city.

Me visiting South Korea was part of a long trip I planned a long time ago. I visited Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and then to the U.S. But funny enough, I actually did attend a con at the end of my trip – Anime Weekend Atlanta. I don’t recommend fitting a cosplay convention on a long travel journey. I’ve done it twice already so I can’t help it. But it is pretty annoying to carry a cosplay and wig with you around; it takes a lot of luggage space, I can tell you that.

When did you start cosplaying, what inspired you, and what was your first cosplay?

I started cosplaying back in 2010. My first cosplay was Sora from Kingdom Hearts. Haha it was so bad, but as cosplayers, we always cringe when we look at our first cosplay and I’m certainly no different. 

After attending conventions for a couple of years dressed in normal clothes, I wanted to experience what it’s like to be an actual cosplayer. So for Fan Expo (Toronto’s largest convention), I cosplayed the Keyblade master. And even though it wasn’t the greatest cosplay I’m proud of, so many people loved it anyways. People asked for my photos, had a bunch of KH fans I got to meet and overall it’s just super fun to cosplay!

And I haven’t looked back since. Nothing can replicate the feeling of when someone asks for your cosplay photo. Cosplay and attending cons is incredibly fun.

What is the most money you have spent on a costume, the con, the travel, food, all for one event and break it down, please.

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Oh man where I do start! 

I always tell my readers that cosplaying and attending conventions can be incredibly expensive if you’re not careful. It doesn’t have to be, but if you’re not watching your budget, then costs can quickly add up. 

Fortunately for me, I always save up my money for large conventions so I never actually go into debt or anything like that. Nevertheless, some cons are more expensive than others.

I’d say I easily spend over $2000 USD whenever I attend conventions in the United States. It’s not even the plane ride to/from the US that’s expensive; I can get tickets for under $400 USD if I book in advance. But it’s usually the hotel accommodation in America that’s expensive. 

One time I spent $200 USD/night at a convention hotel, and that really ate into my budget. Normally you’d get roommates to help split the cost, but unfortunately I can only do this at a local convention. My friends don’t travel abroad as much as I do, so a lot of the times I end up using a hotel room for myself. I know some cosplayers/convention attendees will invite strangers to split the room. But I had a really bad experience one time when I did this, so I don’t do it anymore. I just budget and save so I can afford my own hotel room.

As for food: normally when I travel, I stay in a place with a kitchen so I can make my own food and eat healthier. But at a cosplay convention, this isn’t really an option (unless there’s a hostel or Airbnb nearby). I usually just eat at a restaurant near or in the convention, and that’s usually $5-10 a meal. I feel like food doesn’t take up too much of a convention budget. I love going to the US and enjoying all the amazing food down there!

I’d say my most expensive cosplay is my Marth cosplay. I spent about $400 USD in total on all of it and I got it specially designed by Cosplay Station (a cosplay store based in Toronto). It was totally worth the money. I got it about 7 years ago and it’s still in great shape to this day.

Overall, I spend a lot more money for American conventions than Canadian ones. But it’s honestly worth the extra money. The 24 hour programming (pre-pandemic), the large scale of activities, the people, the whole experience makes it totally worth it.

PS you might be interested in this post: Differences in U.S. and Canada’s Cons.

I read this article and it is very informative. I guess Americans just always go harder in every way. Anytime I hear anyone outside of America talk about us they say we are loud and extreme. Guess it is true. LOL

I love the post for LINKEDIN FACEBOOK, TINDER, and IG. That is so funny. Tell me about it.

Oh, haha I totally forgot about that. It was one of those viral cosplay memes that was going around back in the day. I saw a bunch of cosplayers on Instagram, so I decided to do the same thing. Sebastian Michaelis is one hell of a butler, so it’s only fitting that my Sebastian cosplay gets the Tinder pic.

I would agree, I always thought they drew him well. Hee Hee

Your instagram is definitely different than most. You ask questions for the follower to respond too. That makes your instagram more likable in my opinion. Do you get to read all of the comments?

Yes, I always read my comments and respond to them. I always try to engage my followers because I want them to be part of my cosplay life and journey. Not only do I ask questions and try to engage my followers in my posts, but also in my stories. I’m always doing polls and questions in my stories, because I try to relate to cosplayers and their everyday lives.

I always take the time to respond back to questions that I ask in my stories, even the response is dumb! Because my viewer took the time to write a reply to me, so I think it’s only fair to give them a response.

Have you had any costume mishaps and you weren’t that might have been embarrassing?

Other than a few times that someone accidentally picked up my prop and broke it, I don’t really have any cosplay malfunction stories. Perhaps I’m too careful with my cosplays, so they don’t break as often as usual.

I am grateful for cosplay emergency stations at conventions, as the tools inside those rooms help you fix your cosplay in a pinch.

Cosplay peeks and lows…. And go

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As a cosplayer, blogger and event organizer, it can be tough dealing with difficult people in the community. You’re never going to please everybody. And holding a cosplay event can be frustrating with all the rules you need to follow.

But what keeps me going is the fulfillment aspect of this hobby. Whether it’s people emailing me saying how much they appreciate my blog posts. Or seeing people happy at my cosplay events, it makes me feel good too.

In terms of dressing up in cosplaying, there are times when wearing a costume can be uncomfortable. I remember going to Otakuthon in Montreal during the hot summer with my Marth cosplay. As soon as I stepped outside, I was immediately sweating, especially with the wig on. It was not a fun experience. Fortunately, the convention was mostly indoors so I could cool off in the A/C. 

What would you say to someone who wants to be a cosplayer or a cosplay blogger and they have some fear about it?

For beginner cosplayers: It’s okay to start off slow! I feel like there’s a lot of pressure on beginner or aspiring cosplayers to look as good as professional cosplayers, and that’s just not realistic for most people when they’re starting out. You shouldn’t expect to look as fancy as the professional cosplayers for your first time, nor do you need to spend the money to. You can wear a casual cosplay to your first convention if you want; there’s no expectation at all. In the end, cosplay is supposed to be fun, so you decide how you want to go about it. 

If they want more information on how to get started, they should check out my beginner’s guide:

roger senpai ashleys cosplay cache cosplayer blog

For aspiring cosplay bloggers: It’s great to see someone start a cosplay blog and share their thoughts and experiences. I’d love to see more cosplay bloggers out there personally; we need more cosplayers sharing their thoughts and wisdom!  There are quite a few platforms where you can start a blog for free. 

I’d also say to be careful what you say online and before you publish a post, ask yourself, “Will my post hurt or offend anyone?” It’s important to consider the perspectives of everyone in the community and respect them.

I agree. As a blogger I think about things like that and wonder if some of my questions may offend someone and that actually pushes me to the point of being a little afraid to ask some of them.

Thank you so much for doing this with me. I really appreciate it and I enjoyed learning more about you and reading some of your blog.

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