What is Cosplay?

Cosplay is a pormanteau of the words “costume” and “play” which encompass the essence of this type of performance art. The participants dress up as a specific character and try to imitate the facial expressions, movements and speech patterns so it’s also a type of role-playing.

Types of Characters
Most of the characters that are imitated from from Japanese manga or comics, video games and animated television series or anime. But that’s not all. Fans also include real-life performers and characters from fantasy and science fiction movies, J-pop and visual kei music, and novels. The cosplayers or the participants spend time, money and resources to accurately portray the characters as close as possible.

Cosplay Categories
There are two types of cosplaying often seen during conventions today. One is called masquerade. Its objective is to act like the character being imitated. They memorize lines often attributed to the character as well as plan short skits and performances on stage. It requires the cosplayer to be familiar about everything that has to do with the character. The second type is called the basic cosplay. The participant looks like the character he/she is trying to imitate but there is no emphasis on the accuracy of the portrayal in speech and action. Often, basic cosplayers do not join the stage performances and formal contests and are usually part of the audience.

Costume Categories
Some cosplay conventions even go on to classify participants in the contest into different categories. Some classify based on the genre or the type of costumes. The genre is usually divided into anime or manga, gaming, and comics or Western. For costume categories, the participants are sometimes divided into cloth and armor.

Cosplay Trends
While a majority of cosplayers still pick characters from anime and manga, more and more participants choose characters from non-Japanese video games and fandoms like Star Wars and Warcraft. Other participants aren’t also picky about the gender of the character. It isn’t uncommon for a female to cosplay as a male character and vice versa. Some would attend as a group cosplaying characters from the same fandom and even historical eras.

Costume Creation
Cosplaying isn’t a cheap hobby especially if you’re planning to join competitions. Most of the participants make their costumes themselves. Some manufacturers sell packaged outfits but this is usually frowned upon by most participants. Artists usually create everything from wigs, clothes, body paint, jewelry, armor, weapons, accessories, and even vehicles. There are participants who don’t cosplay but specialize in creating outfits. Others also benefit by posing exclusively for photographers or working as professional cosplayers to advertise products. Some participants also make money by renting out costumes they have made or acquired.