Cosplay (コスプレ kosupure), a contraction of the English words "costume" and "play", is a Japanese subculture centered on dressing as characters from manga, anime, and video games, and, less commonly, live action television shows, movies, or Japanese pop music bands.
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 to engage in cosplay. Since 1998, Tokyo's Akihabara district has contained a large number of cosplay cafes, catering to otaku – anime and cosplay fans. The waitresses at such cafes dress as game or anime characters; maid costumes are particularly popular.
Teens in Tokyo
gather for cosplay.
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 and Lord of the Rings. Characters from the Harry Potter films have a particularly high number of female fans in Japan.
Another growing trend at cosplay's largest event, the Tokyo Game Show, was "crossplay" (cross-dressing cosplay). One small niche group in this field are dollers, a subset of kigurumi cosplayers. They wear bodysuits and masks to fully transform into their characters.
At these events, cosplayers are often referred to as layers
. Those who photograph layers
are called cameko
, short for "Camera Kozo" or "Camera Boy". The cameko
give prints of their photos to the layers
as gifts. Tensions between layers
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 partial ban on photography at the largest dojinshi
event in Japan, Comiket
All aspects of cosplay have spread across the world, joining 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 contains a couple of unique elements. Cosplay as Star Trek or Renaissance-era characters, especially at science fiction conventions, are more popular than they are in Japan. Secondly, the age of cosplayers in Japan tends to start lower and range wider, with a great number of teen cosplayers dressing up as characters from currently popular weekly comics aimed at their age group, and older cosplayers often portraying "classic" characters.
Articles on cosplay
Cosplay community sites