< C3AFA Singapore 2017 group photo >
Thank you very much for your time today, Mr. Chin!
You are organizing the biggest anime event in Southeast Asia, AFA (Anime Festival Asia). So let’s get started with your childhood? Any siblings?
- I’m from Singapore and I have a younger sister. My father is a Japanese university graduate, so when I was young, I had a lot of exposure to Japanese culture. I was very lucky that my father went to Japan a lot and he bought me gifts.
How were you like when you were a kid?
- Probably annoying (chuckles).
- Actually, I was a very quiet kid I guess. I always liked pop culture in general. So keeping quiet to enjoy entertainment since a young age.
Japanese pop culture or just in general?
In general. But, Japanese pop culture has always stood out to me. There is always something about Japanese storytelling and character development that is fantastic and uniquely Japanese.
So what was the first anime you ever watched?
- I don’t know, maybe Doraemon as a child.
Did you watch it in English or Japanese?
- I think I watched it in Chinese in Singapore. In the early days when I was growing up, all the anime and Japanese contents were dubbed in Chinese.
Was it on TV?
- Yes! It was on TV. But I think Doraemon was when I was really really young. But what really attracted me to anime was Gatchaman. It was one of my favorites.
Gatcha Man! What attracted you about Gatchaman?
- Gatchaman has really cool characters, nice gadgets and it was very sci-fi.
Did you want to become like him?
- Yeah. I collected them. There are five characters, and I bought toys and collected them when I was young.
Was that on TV too?
- Yes, that was on TV too and back then there was no other way to watch anime besides TV.
That’s true. There wasn’t much internet access like now. No Netflix or Crunchyroll yet.
- Yeah, it’s not like now. Another anime I liked when I was young was Space Battleship Yamato. I was born in 1973 and that’s around when they first aired it.
I’m surprised they aired so much anime.
- Yeah they started showing anime in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Of course one anime that has made a deep impression on me since my childhood is the Gundam series.
So are there any other entertainment contents you liked besides anime?
- Yes, of course. Other than anime I was watching American sitcoms. They had a lot of sci-fi stuff too. One of my favorite was called Knight Rider. That was in the early 80’s. Singapore is a really unique place. We get lots of influences from many different countries.
That’s true! Your main language is English right?
- Yes, everybody here speaks English. I’m ethnically Chinese so I had to learn Chinese as a second language. Other ethnicities for example, if you were Malaysian, you had to learn Malay. If you’re Indian, chances are you also learned Tamil. It depends on your ethnicity, but everybody speaks English. So definitely American content has a natural advantage and was very big when I was growing up.
How about Chinese music?
- Of course, C-pop was also quite popular too. And have large followings in Chinese dominant markets like Singapore.
So you’re exposed to all kinds of pop culture from all over the world?
- Yes, in fact Singapore is a good melting pot. As for myself, when I was 13, my parents sent me overseas to Australia. That’s where I grew up from when I was 13 to 24 years old.
You were living there by yourself!?
- I wasn’t there with my family but with my cousins. Actually, my parents both graduated from Australia. My father also graduated college in Japan and got his masters in Australia and that’s where they met. I have lots of family. My mother has 11 brothers and sisters, so I wasn’t alone.
Oh wow! You do have a lot of cousins (laugh).
- Yeah, it wasn’t like I was alone. I had relatives. So I was ok. I studied there and after I finished school, I worked there for a few years. After that I came back to Singapore to work.
How was that like? Did you like it there?
- Yeah! Australia is a nice place. Just go to school and no work (laugh).
Were you watching Japanese anime in Australia?
- I remember when I was living in Australia, Dragon Ball was popular. But it wasn’t shown on TV so I had to borrow some video tapes. You had to rent video tapes back then and not everything is translated depending on where you rent or buy them. I still remember there was a Japanese store that had it, but there were no subtitles (laugh).
How did you watch it? Did you understand Japanese?
- Not really. I just watched it and tried to figure it out. Also I remember borrowing some Gundam series and when I went to Japan I bought some LaserDiscs.
< Recent family photo in Tokyo >
What’s your impression on anime songs when you first heard it?
- As a kid, I thought it was very exciting and different from everything else. I didn’t really think of it as something from Japan. Just thought it was very nice. Music played a big part in my life when I was young.
What’s your favorite Japanese song during your childhood or now?
- In my younger days, when I was studying in Singapore, there was a big J-pop craze. Those days Checkers were really popular. I was also into idols when I was younger. Like Akina Nakamori and Seiko Matsuda. I was really into their songs. As for anime songs, I knew Gundam and iconic themes. Those were the days when I started getting into Japanese music. Japanese music was very strong that time.
Japanese music in general?
- Yeah in general. It was big in the late 90’s and then it became all K-pop until anime songs came back again recently.
Interviewed and Written by Selena Higa
Next: Shawn Chin Interview #2 - How He Created the Huge Event Platform
"Anime Festival Asia" and Its Future Visions
It will be published on February 16, 2018!
SHAWN CHIN PROFILE
Shawn Chin is the Founder and Managing Director of SOZO. SOZO currently runs and manages the Anime Festival Asia event platform. He has over 25 years of experience in Management, Marketing and Creative Services. Previously, Shawn worked as a business director for 7 years in Dentsu Singapore, and before that was in Event Management, System Integration and Media Publishing businesses. Shawn enjoys eating, watching anime and spending time with his family on his free time. Based in Singapore and born in 1973, Shawn is currently 45 years old, and is married with one child.