Cosplay (コスプレ kosupure?), a contraction (or portmanteau) of the English words "costume" and "play", is a Japanese subculture centered on Japanes Teenagers dressing as characters from manga, anime, tokusatsu, and video games, and, Japanees Teenagers less commonly, Japanese live action television shows, fantasy movies, or Japanese pop music Japnese Teenagers bands. However, in some Jappanese Teenagers circles, "cosplay" has been expanded to mean simply wearing a costume.
In Japan, "cosplay" as a hobby is usually an end Japanse Teenagers unto itself. Likeminded people gather to see Japannese Teenagers others' costumes, show off their own elaborate handmade creations, take lots of pictures, and possibly participate in best Japanee Teenagers costume contests.
The most specific anecdote Apanese Teenagers about the origin of the word "cosplay" was that Nov Takahashi (from a Japaese Teenagers Japanese studio called Studio Hard) coined the term "cosplay" as a contraction of the English-language words "costume play" while he was Japamese Teenagers attending the 1984 Los Angeles Science Fiction Worldcon. He was so impressed by the hall and masquerade costuming Japanesee Teenagers there that he reported about it Japnaese Teenagers frequently in Japanese science fiction magazines. This point is debatable, however, Jpanese Teenagers as the word fits in with a common Japanese method of abbreviation: combining the first two syllables of one word with the first two syllables of a second word (or, more precisely, the first two moras of each). Other examples of this include Pokémon (ポケモン? short for ポケットモンスター, or "Pocket Monsters") and puroresu (プロレス? short for プロレスリング, or "professional wrestling").
- 1 Cosplay venues
- 2 Cosplay trends
- 3 Cosplay and the sex industry
- 4 International cosplay
- 5 Cosplay in North America
- 6 Cosplay by notable persons
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Bridge of Harajuku, Tokyo, a famous place for cosplayers
Cosplay can be seen at public events such as video game shows, as well as at dedicated cosplay parties at nightclubs or amusement parks. It is not unusual for Japanese teenagers to gather with like-minded friends in places like Tokyo's Harajuku district to engage in cosplay. Since 1998, Tokyo's Akihabara district has contained a large number of cosplay cafés, catering to devoted anime and cosplay fans. The waitresses at such cafés dress as game or anime characters; maid costumes are particularly popular.
Possibly the single largest and most famous event attended by cosplayers is the semiannual dojinshi market, Comiket. This event, held in summer and winter, attracts hundreds of thousands of manga otaku and many thousands of cosplayers who congregate on the roof of the exhibition center, often in unbearably hot or cold conditions.
Cosplayers in Japan refer to themselves as reyazu; pronounced layers (by writing the word cosplayers in Katakana, it is possible to shorten it in this way, although it makes no sense in English). Those who photograph players are called cameko, short for "Camera Kozo" or "Camera Boy". The cameko give prints of their photos to the players as gifts. Tensions between players and cameko have increased due to perceived stalker-like behaviour among some obsessive males who push female cosplayers to exchange personal email addresses or do private photo sessions. One result of this has been a tightening of restrictions on photography at events such as Comiket.
A recent trend at Japanese cosplay events is an increase in the popularity of non-Japanese fantasy and science fiction movie characters, perhaps due to the international success of such films as The Matrix, Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. Characters from the Harry Potter films have a particularly high number of female fans in Japan, with female cosplayers playing either male or female characters, Draco Malfoy being an extremely popular choice.
The act of cosplaying as characters of the opposite sex is called "crossplay" (cross-dressing cosplay). A small niche group in this field are dollers, a subset of kigurumi cosplayers; usually male, they wear bodysuits and masks to fully transform into female characters.
Another recent trend in cosplay is a blurring of the distinction between costumes based on characters from games and anime, and "original" costumes based upon a general theme or existing fashions. In particular, the Tokyo teen-fashion trend of Gothic Lolita has attracted some cosplayers who might not have the inclination (or possibly courage) to wear such distinctive clothes around town, but who would like to dress in such a manner on some occasions.
Cosplay and the sex industry
In Japanese, the term can also mean — and may originate from — the use of costumes for sexual purposes, in which case the "play" refers not to dressing up, but sexual play while dressed up. The term hence overlaps what would usually be known in English as sexual roleplaying or sexual fetishism: for example, wearing a schoolgirl uniform before or during sex would be known as seifuku cosplay (制服コスプレ?), and many Japanese love hotels offer costume rental services.
In the Japanese sex industry, sex clubs that specialize in sexual cosplay are known as image clubs. In addition to standard fetishistic standbys (schoolgirl, nurse, policewoman, etc), an increasing number, pioneered by the now defunct Wedding Bell chain, cater to otaku with staff dressing up as anime characters.
A cosplayer at the University of Hong Kong.
Most features of cosplay have spread first to the other parts of Asia, then around the globe, and finally fused with costuming at science fiction conventions in North America and Europe. It is also a common sight at anime conventions. Cosplayers at anime conventions in North America often find themselves on the receiving ends of glomps, a type of high-powered hug.
Cosplay in the United States and Europe differs from Japanese cosplay culture in some ways. Cosplay concerning Star Trek, Star Wars, other science fiction worlds, Renaissance-era characters, and historical re-enactments (e.g. Civil War battles), especially at science fiction conventions, are far more popular in the West than they are in Japan. Alternatively, some costumes that might be seen as in bad taste in America (such as Nazi uniforms from certain comics or games) may be seen at events in Japan.
Western cosplayers are stereotypically lampooned as being overweight or otherwise unsuited to the characters they attempt to portray. An issue with cosplaying anime and manga characters is that these characters generally do not have bodily proportions that can easily be mimicked by many typical cosplayers (e.g. incredibly long legs, huge muscles or giant breasts), and there is debate among fans about how important or not this element is when cosplaying.
In Mexico, cosplay is commonly seen inside conventions that can be video game, science fiction or anime themed. It is common that cosplayers will also organize their own reunions which can be themed or free for the sake of taking pictures together. Cosplay in Mexico is competitive in a healthy level, with well established representatives.
In Australia, the trend mirrors the American and European in that the subject costumes may be selected from sources other than manga or anime. Sources include western comics, computer games, science fiction/fantasy movies and TV shows, animation shorts or features, period drama, novels - any source that provides vivid and graphic inspiration of a character and their costume. Usually the term "cosplay" is not used to cover historical recreation as the focus is on representational accuracy, not historical accuracy. In general, Australian cosplay is most commonly seen in the larger population centres such as the capital cities and major regional centres, as these have the population base to support the diversity among fringe interests. The display of the costumes is not limited to conventions, although it is not unusual for dedicated cosplayers to travel extensively throughout Australia following the convention trail during the year. In addition to the social convening at conventions, many smaller social groupings exist, hosting their own local events.
Filipina cosplayer as a Priston Tale priestess.
Cosplay is rapidly entering the mainstream in the Philippines , where cosplay events are often held within an anime, manga, gaming, or sci-fi convention. More often than not, these conventions and events are sponsored, and debates have raged on whether or not judges' perspectives are influenced by the organizers of a cosplay event.
Cosplay is also common in Southeast Asian cities that are heavily influenced by Japanese culture, like Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan. Besides the comic festivals and events frequently organized in those cities, cosplayers also frequent districts popular with teenagers.
Cosplay in North America
Convention activity in the United States and Canada has become a much larger and much more popular trend in the 2000's. Larger conventions such as Anime Boston, Otakon and Sakuracon have become renowned internationally. With the added public attention coming from such popular animated cartoons imported from Japan (see anime) including Naruto, Fullmetal Alchemist, and now the popular Bleach, cosplayers and the anime world have peeked their heads into the world of mainstream pop-culture, on at least a relatively underground scale. More and more convention goers cosplay as their favorite characters from their favorite anime, and thus, the cosplay and anime subcultures have been able to have enough influence to further the creation of List of anime conventions to accommodate for the increasing number of cosplayers. Many cosplayers jokingly refer to Halloween as "National Cosplay Day", although many cosplayers spend so much of the year dressed up, they also like to take Halloween as a day off .
Conventions in America often include both cosplay and costume contests. The cosplay or "masque" (masquerade) is a skit contest done in cosplay costume. This can range from a single person quoting a character's famous line (e.g., Spike Spiegel from Cowboy Bebop: "Bang"), to a 10-member costumed cast singing and dancing to the theme of Sailor Moon, to actual comedic or dramatic one-act plays. The costume contest is often a test of skill, design, and audience reaction. The contestants are judged either before hand or on stage and then walk across said stage while the audience cheers. Judging is divided by two categories, craftsmanship and presentation. Craftsmanship is how well the costume is made, effort, originality and scope of the costume comes into play. Presentation accounts of how well the costume is presented. Regardless of how the costume is made, presentation is more about how the costume is used. ie. a costume consisting of t-shirt and jeans can easily defeat a 2,000 dollar Victorian style dress, simply by being in a comedy routine. Winners of both contests often receive prizes such as gift cards, trophies, and anime DVDs. The increased popularity of convention costuming has lead to the addition of several relatively new cosplay-based events, adding to the traditional masquerade and hall costume contests. Such events include the Anime Dating Game, and Cosplay Human Chess, where participating cosplayers act out their characters' role in the game accordingly.
Competition has led to the development of many cosplay groups that plan for conventions months in advance.
Non-competitive cosplay can often be seen at opening nights for science-fiction and fantasy movies, especially those with an established following. Even in small towns, some cosplayers wait in line for hours before showings of movies in franchises like Star Wars, Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. Even cult hits like Serenity have drawn opening night cosplay.
Cosplay by notable persons
- Forrest J Ackerman attended the 1st World Science Fiction Convention in 1939 where he wore the first "futuristicostume" (designed and created by Myrtle R. Douglas) which sparked fan costuming.
- Lee Teng-hui, former President of the Republic of China (Taiwan), dressed up as the fictional character Edajima Heihachi of the anime series Sakigake!! Otokojuku.
- Daisuke Enomoto, a Japanese entrepreneur, was set to be the 4th person to go into space with Space Adventures as a private individual in October, 2006. He intended to go into space wearing a Gundam costume of Char Aznable. He failed to pass physical examinations.
Australian notes sourced from: *Kirstin McLean (2004). . Retrieved October 20, 2005.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
- Gothic Lolita
- Society for Creative Anachronism
- Live action role-playing game
- ^ McLean, Kirstin. "Screaming Lord Byron resources", Screaming Lord Byron, 2004. Retrieved October 20, 2005.
- ^ Alarilla, Joey. "Cosplay away!", CNet, 2006. Retrieved July 25, 2006.
- ^ Consunji, Bianca. "Not just child's play", Philippine Daily Inquirer, 2006. Retrieved August 16, 2006.
- ^ See . See also 
- Dokoni.net: Link directory of cosplayers and commissioners, and anything cosplay related.
- CosplayLab: Cosplayers store images and information about different costumes they have done. They can also post requests for members in a skit.
- Cosplay at the Open Directory Project
|Subcultures: Bōsōzoku | Cosplay | Decora | Ero kawaii | Ganguro | Lolita fashion | Gyaru and Gyaru-oh | Kogal
|Cultural phenomena: FRUiTS Magazine| Gyaru-moji | Harajuku girl | Japanese fashion | Kawaii | Visual kei
Categories: Articles with unsourced statements | Anime and manga terminology | Cosplay | Costume design | Japanese subcultures | Otaku