If you’re a fan of anime, comics, or video games, you’ll be interested in the world of cosplay! Especially, if you enjoy dressing up like your favorite character. But, what is cosplay?

Cosplay is a Japanese word meaning “costume play.” It’s the art of transforming yourself into a character from pop culture, like those from books, TV shows, and even online games. Think of it like you’re adopting their costume and manners.

It may start as a hobby. But, cosplaying has become popular worldwide, and the cosplay community has become more expansive. There are even professionals who are cosplaying, too.

In this article, we’ll explore the cosplay meaning in more detail. We’ll start from the definition to the history of cosplay and why it is popular. So, keep reading!

What is Cosplay?

Cosplay is derived from the words “costume” and “play.” It’s the practice of dressing up as a character from a movie, comic book, video game, and anime.

You can think of cosplay as an individual hobby in which you create certain costumes and accessories to bring your best-loved characters to life. That way, the fictional character of the movies will come to our real life.

Imagine you dress up like Naruto with his orange and black outfit. Then, you wear a black headband with the symbol of Konoha on your forehead. You’ll look awesome!

Source: Katie Titus on Pinterest

But, don’t get it wrong. This popular culture it’s not about a hobby for yourself in your own room. While it may be true, there are large communities of cosplay, meaning you can hang out with many people with the same recreation.

Wouldn’t it be fun if your friends could join you at cosplay exhibitions? Or, isn’t it nice to meet others with the same interest wearing various anime characters?

That’s not just wishful thinking, though. Cosplay has grown over the years. So, you’ll most certainly find events like a contest or gathering in your area. Many enthusiasts around the world consider cosplay a thing.

That said, don’t restrain yourself from being a cosplayer if that is your passion.

A cosplayer is a person who is engaged in cosplay. And any activity you do as a cosplayer is called cosplaying.

Basically, there are no exact rules to becoming a cosplayer. So, if you ask: “Who can cosplay?” The answer is anyone, no matter what their age, gender, or political beliefs are.

Becoming a cosplayer meaning you are ready to enter a highly inclusive popular culture that welcomes everyone.

Adding to that, this cosplaying thing is all about creativity and passion that has attracted many Otaku—anime fans and Marvelites—Marvel fans to join. That said, you can join them, too.

So, what are cosplayers doing?

If you want to become a cosplayer, you can start making costumes and props from scratch to dress up like your favorite characters.

This demands great skill to produce awesome cosplay outfits, though. So, make sure you know how to deal with various cosplay fabrics like satin, spandex, and even leather. Not only that, body painting and prop-making should be the skills you master, too.

If those things are too cumbersome, you can just buy a ready-made costume from a cosplay store at a particular cosplay gathering.

Regardless of your choice, it would help if you were willing to spend your time, effort, and even money from your savings. But, you’ll know it is worth it if you are a real fan.

Read More: 10 Secrets to Successfully Funding Your Cosplay

So, what do cosplayers do when the cosplay fabric is ready? You need to practice acting like your characters and copy their manner in everything you do to create a convincing portrayal. For instance, learn how to do a Naruto run.

History of Cosplay

If we talk about the idea of wearing a costume, cosplay is not the first to come to mind. Masquerade balls, started in the 15th century, were held first.

While the true history of cosplay is often debatable, it is believed that it started in the 1970s. But, at that moment, the term cosplay was not yet known. It was Nobuyuki Takahashi, a Japanese reporter, that coined the term cosplay in 1984.

When he wanted to write an article about people dressed up as manga characters, the word “masquerade” seemed irrelevant as it was too old-fashioned.

Thinking about words like Custom Show, Hero Plays, and anything like that, he ended up choosing Custom Play, which became cosplay. So if you ask “who invented cosplay”, Nobuyuki Takahashi is a name worth mentioning.

Thus, we can say that cosplay originated in Japan and then became a modern art that has spread worldwide.

In fact, as the love for Japanese anime and manga swept the world, cosplay followed suit. People expressed their fandom by dressing up like “Sailor Moon” or other manga characters. They gathered at conventions like Comiket.

It became more intense when events like Anime Expo in the US started hosting cosplay contests and workshops in the 1990s. This strategy to make Japanese pop culture gain global popularity did work.

Source: World Cosplay Summit Channel

In 2003, the first World Cosplay Community was held in Japan, with many cosplayers from Japan, Germany, France, and Italy.

The latest World Cosplay Community was held in 2022 in Nagoya, Japan, and Oasis 21, with participants from more than 30 countries. What made this event special was the combination of real events and online competition.

Today, cosplay is a global phenomenon, even if it might start as an awkward art. Enthusiasts around the world are growing with many characters from various mediums, not only manga and movies.

Why is Cosplay Popular?

As the long history of cosplay seems to continue, you may wonder why is cosplay popular, right? There are reasons for this:

1. Inclusive

Cosplay is inclusive art, meaning anyone can participate, regardless of age and gender.

Even if it originated in Japan, cosplay is popular because it can cover many characters around the globe, not only anime characters. So if you want to be a particular character in your local movie which is famous, you can do so.

Adding to that, cosplay events like Cosplay World Summit makes cosplay even more popular. Not only that the events had been held in many countries, but they also attracted many cosplayers from all around the world.

Read More: Why Do People Cosplay?

2. Showcase Creative Works

Cosplay is not set in stone. The creativity to bring everyone’s characters to life is limitless. This is why many people are so eager to be involved in the world of cosplay.

Some people might learn the manners of the specific character in the comic. In contrast, others may focus on making the best cosplay outfit with detailed accessories to make the characters real.

3. A Way to Express Fandom

For some people, expressing fandom can be done by collecting comic books or action figures. And yet, for others who want to go further, wearing superhero outfits and acting like them is an expression of fandom, too.

Doing this expression before the 2000s can be a bit weird. But, as the cosplay community becomes more prominent, it is possible to do so. Not only as an individual in your own room but also as a part of a community by joining in the local events.

4. A Medium of Escapism

Escapism is a state of escaping someone from reality for a certain period. This can help people to prevent burnout, release tension, and reduce stress. 

Cosplay is often related to escapism behavior, although not all cosplayers have this reason.

When you act out the different roles as anime characters, you can engage yourself in the fantasy world. That way, you may feel better because of a sense of adventure. Doing this apart from routine is one of the escapism techniques.

5. A New Form of Entertainment

In its nature, cosplay is about entertainment. While you can do this as a mere hobby, you can get money from it as a professional performer, too.

Cosplay allows you to showcase your acting skills as certain characters. When you manage to dress up and adopt the character’s personality perfectly, you can be a unique artist.

This potential is also one of the reasons why cosplay is popular. It’s up to the cosplayers if they just want to do it for fun or earn money as cosplayers.

Read More: How Can You Monetize Your Cosplay Career

Types of Cosplay

Because of its popularity, there are many types of cosplay that you may find today. Some of them are:

  • Anime and Manga Cosplay. This type of cosplay will replicate the unique clothing and accessories of manga characters. It is not restricted by time; from Sailor Moon, to One Piece and Naruto. You name it.
  • Video Game Cosplay. The cosplayers of this type will recreate armor and weapons from the game characters like those from Mortal Kombat, Mario Bros, and many more.
  • Comic Book Cosplay. As it spreads all over the world, cosplayers are free to be their favorite characters from Marvel and DC Comics. You can be Spiderman or even Hulk.
  • Movie and TV Cosplay. If you like to be Harry Potter or Darth Vader, this is the type that you can play with as a cosplayer.
  • Original Character. Some cosplayers choose to create their characters. You’re allowed to express your creativity to its fullest. If you can make unique characters, it may become a particular genre that becomes a cosplay trend, too.
  • Crossplay. As its name suggests, this type will ask you to dress up as a character of the opposite gender. While it may not be comfortable for all people, it offers a great opportunity to explore the creativity of cosplayers.
  • Casual or Closet Cosplay. You can use your everyday clothing and items from your wardrobe to be a cosplayer. Don’t worry about being too simplified with the character’s costume. It’s meant to be that way.
  • Gijinka. This is a humanized type of cosplay. The non-human characters will be transformed into human forms. It takes great creativity to make the human clothing and accessories resemble the characters.
  • Team Cosplay. Ask your friends or family members to dress up as characters from the same manga or movie. This type of cosplaying will create a more impressive portrayal.
  • Mashup. Who said that you’re bound to act as one character? This type of cosplay is known for combining elements from two or more characters to make it more unique.

Get Ready to Join the Fun of Cosplay

What is cosplay? In simple terms, cosplay is a creative form of self-expression that allows you to act as your favorite character. The sky is the limit; you can be a character from comic books, video games, and even movies.

If you’re a beginner, you’ll be amazed at how the creativity and passion of the cosplay community help this pop culture continue to grow and become a trend.

Nothing is holding you back. You’ll find like-minded individuals who share your enthusiasm to bring fictional characters to life.

The more you delve into the cosplay world, the better you’ll enjoy the process of learning and growing as a cosplayer. Hence, the better you can express your creativity as a die-hard fan of your fictional figures.

Don’t miss out on more inspiring content and tips on cosplay for beginners on our blog. Let’s create magic together!


What does cosplay mean?

Cosplay is an act of dressing up as certain characters from movies, video games, or manga as a way to express fandom. This will include acting like them to make you look like the character in real life.

What is the concept of cosplay?

The concept of cosplay is fictional characters’ fans try to express their love for their favorite characters by dressing up like them. It includes the arts of acting like them and creating suits that are used in manga or movies. Not only about appearance, cosplay is also about connecting with other like-minded people to share their interests.

No, you can buy pre-made costumes, commission someone to make them for you, or create a closet cosplay using everyday clothes. The choice is yours, as cosplay is about having fun and expressing your passion for the character.

Who can cosplay?

Anyone can be a cosplayer. Cosplay is open to people of all ages, from young children to adults. Being inclusive is even one of the reasons why cosplay is popular and getting more attention from all around the world.

How can I find other cosplayers and events?

There is so many cosplay community around the world, online and offline. They used to post on social media platforms and online forums about the events about to hold. Another way to do that, you can check the schedule of regular events like comic conventions, anime expos, or cosplay summits from their official websites.

What is the most popular cosplay?

It depends on where you’re cosplaying. However, some characters that remain popular from generation to generation are Sailor Moon, which still attracts people in Cosplay World Summit 2022, and anime characters like Naruto and those from One Piece.

Do cosplayers get paid?

Cosplayers can make money from their hobby. But, it really depends on their skills as great performers. Before start earning money as a professional, a cosplayer needs to build a strong online presence and grow their followers. That way, they can monetize their work through sponsorships, paid appearances, and selling products..


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