At some point in our lives in Japan, we’ve all asked ourselves an important question:
Could we take down a cosplayer in a 1-on-1 fight?
Fighting game, shoot-em-up, and RPG cosplayers: no chance in hell. Magical girls (and boys): depends on the magic type. Pokemon: if it’s not a Magikarp, we’re doomed.
Anyone brave enough to take on all comers in full costume’s a hero to us. Especially someone who’s highly trained in multiple martial arts.
Not a sockpuppet – more like ‘socked in the face’
Yuichiro Nagashima’s a Kansai local, born in Hyogo prefecture and repping Osaka in competition. He fights under the name Nagashima ‘Jienotsu’ Yuichiro (長島☆自演乙☆雄一郎).
The ‘Jienotsu’ bit’s Japanese internet slang: ‘jisaku jien otsukaresama’ (自作自演お疲れ様). ‘Self-made, self-performed, well done’ – a sarcastic reply to people using sockpuppet accounts to bump their own opinions.
And why’s Yuichiro got 2 stars in his name? He wanted to beat fellow fighter Hiro Tsunoda, who only uses 1.
Yuichiro started on the path to pro wrestling in his early teens, after seeing Swiss fighter Andy Hug on TV. He did judo in middle school, and karate club all through Japanese high school.
After switching to kickboxing around 2007, Yuichiro started competing in K-1 fights. In MMA matches, he’s also used the Nippon Kempo fighting style.
Shorts, gloves, mouth guard… and a wig
So when does the cosplay come into it? When Yuichiro comes into the arena, supported by a team of kawaii fangirl cheerleaders.
The ‘otaku kickboxer’ takes ‘making an entrance’ to a whole new level. Like this one when he fought that other famous kickboxing and MMA guy Japan worships, Bob Sapp.
Oh yeah, and Sachiel from Neon Genesis Evangelion.
The costume comes off before the fight starts. Ever tried kickboxing in a school uniform skirt? Not as effective. But you can spot Yuichiro in the ring by his hair – he keeps on dying it funky bright colours.
Yuichiro said in a 2015 interview that he was out to change how the world looks at otaku:
“I want to say, ‘You think that people who watch anime can’t do anything and are weak, but there are people like me out there. Don’t underestimate us.’ Otaku can be strong.”
But importantly, Yuichiro’s determined not to make otaku think that becoming a fighting weeb’s the only way forward. He wants them to live in their own way, with confidence.
His success and fame has also drawn more cosplay fans into the kickboxing world. Spot them in the crowd shots during a match, and see how many outfits you recognise.
Otsu! Otsu! Otsu! Otsu!
The music video’s got Yuichiro cosplaying as Haruko (in her world tour outfit) for the CD cover:
Isn’t it super kawaii? The right kind of peppy, ‘wota fan chant’ song you need to get pumped up for a fight.
These 2 Akiba-loving cosplay fans met at an Osaka anime festival in 2008, and decided to work together. They revealed the Jienotsu Song at a 2009 K-1 World Max event in Japan, where Haruko performed with the cosplay girls dance team to cheer Yuichiro on.
It worked, a year late – he won at the 2010 K-1 World Max 70kg Japan tournament instead. With 3 KOs.
This cosplay otaku’s still a fighter
If Wikipedia’s not lying to us, Yuichiro hasn’t won a pro fight since 2014. But that’s not stopping him from living the otaku kickboxer dream. Follow Yuichiro Jienotsu Nagashima on Twitter and Instagram – or on YouTube, where he’s still making vids almost every week.
Feeling inspired? You can use DEJAPAN’s proxy shopping service to buy cosplay outfits and accessories from Japanese websites. Or to make a start on a new career in kickboxing…