From Academic Kids

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Cosplayer Francesca Dani as Dejiko from Digi Charat.

Cosplay (コスプレ kosupure), a contraction (or portmanteau) 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 venues

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 cafes, catering to devoted anime and cosplay fans. The waitresses at such cafes dress as game or anime characters; maid costumes are particularly popular.

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Teens in Tokyo gather for cosplay.

Possibly the single largest and most famous event attended by cosplayers is the twice-yearly 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.

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, and female cosplayers may play either male or female characters, with Draco Malfoy a particularly popular choice.

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Anime-face style kigurumi.

This trend of playing characters of the opposite sex is called "crossplay" (cross-dressing cosplay). One 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.

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 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 partial ban on photography at Comiket.

International cosplay

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 differs from Japanese cosplay culture in some ways. Cosplay as Star Trek Star Wars or Renaissance-era characters, especially at science fiction conventions, are far more popular in the west 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.


High-profile cosplayers

See also

External links

Articles on cosplay

Cosplayer websites

Cosplay community sites

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