Cosplay is a contraction of the words costume play. It encompasses different stage and off-stage activities that mainly revolve around role-playing while wearing costumes inspired by anime, manga, video games, live action movies, cartoons and comic books.
Originally emerging in Japan under the name kosupure, cosplay is becoming increasingly popular all around the world, so much so that it is often seen as a pop-culture phenomenon or even a subculture. There are numerous conventions, competitions and social media platforms dedicated to cosplay.
Keep scrolling to check out some of the hottest models who dabble in this hobby which is taking over the world!
The term was coined by Nobuyuki Takahashi while attending the 1984 World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) in Los Angeles. He reported from the event for Japanese magazine My Anime and was impressed by the venue and the costumed fans.
There are many different types of cosplay. Costumes can be self-made or bought and characters can be already existing ones or totally made up.
In addition to the clothes, various props are frequently used to accentuate the costumes.
This hobby is usually divided in basic cosplay and masquerade. Basic cosplay means to look like a particular character, while masquerade involves attempting to act like the character would behave.
Another fun activity is LARP, which stands for Live Action Role Play; here, one has to create, dress and act out a character instead of using a pre-made one.
The rising popularity of cosplay means many conventions have made cosplay competitions their focal point. The main contest event globally is the World Cosplay Summit, selecting cosplayers from 20 countries to compete in the final round in Nagoya, Japan.
Some other international events include the European Cosplay Gathering at the Japan Expo in Paris, France, EuroCosplay at the London MCM Expo, and the Nordic Cosplay Championship at the NärCon in Linköping, Sweden.
The most common criteria on judging a costume and a performance usually fall into these four categories: accuracy, craftsmanship, presentation and audience impact.
Men portraying female characters and vice-versa is quite common in this subculture world. Portraying a character of the opposite sex is called crossplay. The practicality of crossplay and cross-dress stems in part from the abundance in manga of male characters with delicate and somewhat androgynous features.
The most popular and influential magazines are Cosmode (コスモード) and Dengeki Layers (電撃Layers) in Japan, Cosplay Culture and CosplayZine in the United States and CosplayGen which is aimed at a broader, worldwide audience.
For a number of years, cosplay’s extraordinary popularity in Japan made it to be seen as an exclusively Japanese or Asian hobby in the west. With Asian animation becoming increasingly popular in western countries during the 2000s, this perception started to change.
This also led to the word cosplay becoming the dominant term in English-speaking countries, instead of the previously used costuming.
The main difference in this hobby as performed in Asia and the west is the inclination towards manga and anime in Asian countries, opposed to the western preference for television and film characters.
It is not uncommon for cosplayers to immerse themselves in their hobby to the point where they learn a particular craft such as fashion design, woodworking, sculpture or sewing in order to be able to create better and more authentic costumes.