Cosplay is a mishmash of the words costume and play, and you will find people participating in it from all over the world. It is not limited to people who love anime, comics and manga.

In Japan, you will find many people who are very enthusiastic about Cosplay especially in Nagoya and Tokyo. Every year the World of Cosplay Summit is held where people from all around the world gather to show off their incredible costumes. These are dedicated fans who are hardcore hobbyists of Cosplay. But what is Cosplay and how did it spread? Let’s find out!

Cosplay – what is it?

Many people consider Cosplay to be performance art. People tend to wear costumes and accessories that make them look like their favorite comic book or anime character. Lots of people also tend to dress as characters from their favourite TV series, video games etc.

It is the act of choosing a fictional character and then dressing up just like that. People who are hobbyists or like to do it frequently are referred to as cosplayers. However, cosplay involves more than just dressing up as the character of your choice; you also have to act just like them, copying their manners, the way they talk and more.

Origins of Cosplay
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Cosplay in Japan

The term ‘cosplay’ was coined by Nobuyuki Takahashi who worked for Studio Hard. The term was made after the World Science Fiction Convention in 1984 (held in Los Angeles). Nowadays, thousands of people dress up in costumes and attend different conventions.

Cosplay has now become a big business in Japan. You will find many stores dedicated to the selling costumes. It has been such a hit that it has gained a lot of popularity on an international level. The hobby is considered to be very adaptable – from simple masks to intricately designed costumes. It can take a few minutes or many hours to put on a costume and makeup to achieve the full look.

There are rules for taking part in the costume competition; the costumes need to be handmade from scratch. Many people tend to add colorful contact lenses, tattoos, wigs, and other accessories to achieve the look. It is the only time you can display a tattoo in public in Japan. Needless to say, it is quite an important activity which people of different ages enjoy together.

Cosplay in Japan
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Western origins of Cosplay

People mostly give credit to Japan for the origin of Cosplay and the term as well. The term was indeed formed in 1984 in Japan, but the hobby itself was not wholly a Japanese invention. Masquerade balls and costume parties have been held since the 15th century. The first time that someone dressed up in costumes was not in Japan.

Myrtle Rebecca Douglas Smith, also known in the science fiction history as Morojo, was one of the biggest fans of science fiction and came up with the first-ever Cosplay in California.

World Cosplay Summit over the years

WCS is one of the most significant and most crucial cosplay events in the world. The primary purpose of the event is to promote and help others get started in the world of cosplay. The first WCS event was held in 2003, and since then, it has been growing in significance, size, and scope almost every year.

Some of the details of the event are:

  • The first WCS event was held in 2003 in Nagoya, at Rose Court Hotel. The event had invited five different cosplayers from different countries, including Italy, Germany and France. The event had photography, a mixer event and a panel discussion.
  • In 2004, the second WCS was held on 4th August in Nagoya at the Osu shopping district. This time the event included a costume parade with about 100 participants and eight official teams from various countries including US, Italy, Germany and France.
  • In 2005, the invitation based system was eliminated. A new policy was incorporated that held preliminary events all around the world to select the best cosplayers. It was also the first time that cosplay championships were held. Group and single teams flew in to participate and represent different countries. It included four cosplayers from each country. The event was held in two different locations.
  • In 2006, the venue shifted for the cosplay championships. Oasis 21 in Sakae Nagoya continued to hold the tournaments till 2013. Nine countries participated in the event, including Japan, China, Singapore, Thailand, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Brazil. The total number of cosplayers this time was 22. This year, the Ministry of Land and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs extended their support to WCS. Thousands of people attended the event and the parade. It was also broadcasted on TV.

From then forth, the event grew and grew every year in support and size.

World Cosplay
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Why do people love Cosplay?                       

Now that you know the history of Cosplay which is quite exciting and unusual. Let’s see why people like to participate in Cosplay and why they love it so much.

Cosplay provides a person a chance to be a part of a community. It allows them to be someone else for a little while and gain a sense of appeal that they cannot find in their everyday lives. It allows their creativity to flow and a gives them a chance to show off talents. Cosplay enables people to be a part of a different culture and feel right at home.

As such, it is so much more than just dressing up in a costume and that’s why people love it.

Basics of Cosplay

The main thing people try to achieve in cosplay it to portray a character as closely as possible. Cosplayers tend to do that by making sure that their costume is the same as the actual character, down to the last detail. Many like to put their own creativity into the costumes by adding makeup, wigs and other accessories.

If you are looking to be a part of cosplay community then these are the basics that you should follow:

  • Pick a fictional character from a comic book, TV series, movie or anime. You can even choose a meme.
  • Go to fabric shops to get all the pieces you need to bring your costume together. You will find many shops online which provide state of the art costumes, props and accessories.
  • If you want to really get into it then study the way the character acts and try to copy it.
Basics of Cosplay
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The world of Cosplay opens a vast world of possibilities. You can let your creativity take control, belong to a community where you fit in and develop new friendships. Some people also found their soul mates through this forum. It all started in 1939 as a small idea to have some fun and has now transformed into one of the most significant international phenomena.

We don’t know where it will go from here but one thing is for sure, it will keep growing and gaining popularity as time passes. The trend will not die anytime soon and that all can be said looking at the immense growth of WCS and other cosplay events. There is so much potential that is yet to come out and we are waiting till we get to see what everyone around the world has to offer.