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The Real Meaning of Cosplay



The Starts of Cosplay

Having fun is essential in life and there are many ways to have fun. There are the crazy things to do, as in jumping out of a plane and seeing where you get to land with a parachute. Then there are the other more relaxed and at home kind of activities. One of them would be playing soccer outside with friends or watching a good show. As long as the individual assumes that they are having fun then the activity is considered fun. At least to that degree.

So, gathering that information, there is the safe claim that anything can turn out to be fun. If an activity is fun for more than one person it is even better because of the interest that people can share. This happened with many different events that then turned out to be well known and turned to be a good way to have fun.

Cosplay was born in this way. No one would have ever thought that such a small act that was named such a strange word as cosplay would ever turn out to be what many called fun. It eventually did since it was an easy, addictive to the brain and would let one show the true colors hidden inside them.

The big and exact definition of cosplay and what it really means to be a cosplayer has taken many different leads that could be followed down for way too long but there is a silver lining that connects them all together that is deep within the cosplayers and their beliefs. When such individuals share thoughts and hobbies like this group that just wants to go back to the time when being what they wanted to be was alright, that it was ok to walk around and feel alright about how they looked and acted, they can finally release it and be understood. It is their own special outlet into a world that suits only them and will be safe for them. This world, this perfectly populated and enriching environment they have created has gone far just with them sharing feelings and their enthusiasm towards Cosplay.


They have become devouted warriors that share this exciting message of a personal world with anyone willing to listen to them. Who would not want such a marvelous escapade of everyday life? Having to wake up, work, say the same normal and routine-like phrases to every single person you meet and coming back home with a feeling of emptiness is what they have managed to get away from. They have even been as to generous as to let others into what they hold dear because they know that their world will only grow to have a better result at the end. Cosplay has now become essential because of its attributes towards the cosplayers self-esteem, the way they live out their lives, the new world that has been created with crazy and friendly competitions, and the inner definition it has for everyone that gets to know about it.

Cosplay had to start somewhere. It is basic knowledge that all must have a beginning. So many have decided to try to find the beginning of cosplay and how it got to the top. Theories have appeared taking its story to different and somehow unusual levels. Other statements go way out of the path saying it has a bad meaning and that it should never be practiced. Just like that many further journals have been filled to the end of each page declaring that cosplay only came to be by the unison of four great heroes that decided to take it upon their shoulders to make a world for their brethren to live in but that is too cliché to be true.

The real origin of cosplay goes all the way back to the beginning of the science fiction era. Everyone stood in awe when movies, magazines, books, or anything really took up the task of having a sci-fi theme. The one time that this really showed was when they had their very first science fiction convention in New York in 1939. It was the most fun New York had had because of a convention. All were dressed up in all kinds of ways but none really adopted the science fiction theme that had so widely spread. Then came a couple walking with their heads high in the air as the crowds jaw dropped in full shock of what their eyes had just seen.

A twenty two year old Forrest J. Ackerman and his dear friend Myrtle Jones appeared in the first ever seen science fiction costumes. They had been the only ones to try such a feat in a crowd of one hundred and eighty five attendees and they truly outdid themselves in their costume making. Forrest, who was soon to be the new editor of famous monsters in film land, was dressed in a specially and adequately rugged star pilot that made every single man there wish they were him as he walked placidly in a slow motion kind of manner down the line. His friend Myrtle had come in a slightly colored gown that would be used in his film Things to Come later on No one could stop looking at them both because of how they would have never expected someone to take a theme so literally and make something so amazing come out of it. Naturally they won the couple prize for the convention and left in an amazing flash of glory. They had not realized that they had just realized the great new activity which would be affectionately called cosplay.

Moving on with the story, everyone followed the couples’ footsteps and decided to give it their all whenever they made a costume for a science fiction gathering or convention and it soon spread like wildfire. It was just a blur of everyone being aliens, heroes, time travelers, anything that came to mind. It was the start of many other things as well, an example being board games with wizards, castles and dungeons thanks to the fictional attribute of the new era. Fantasy was also introduced and had a very warm welcome amongst the original fans and costume artists of the science fiction time.

Then Nov Takahashi stepped in the picture and was as stunned as everyone else. He kept close watch on all events that happened all around North America and after a long time he decided to name it cosplay because of the fun play of words that was costume and play that he kept hearing. He also named the ones that practiced it the cosplayers. After seeing enough for himself he went back to Japan that being his homeland and shared all that he had seen over there. Japanese elders soon discarded it as a boring and childish thing to do just to dress up but some smaller children took their manga books and soon decided to play around as if they were the characters themselves. Mothers around Japan knit them some costumes and even played roles with them in their free time. Then and all of a sudden, Japan was the new cosplay generator and no one could get enough of the creativity of dressing up and how you could make your own costume.

The origin of cosplay in Japan was such a strange one but it still had a relative connection to many in North America. Many came back and forth sharing their costumes and ideas. Wearing costumes never lost its cool sense because they could not do it every single day and so they would do it at every chance possible as they just could not get enough of being the hero or villain that they wanted to show at least once in a while. Soon competitions started along with the conventions all around the world for anyone to participate in.

Around the 2000 decade everyone kept coming to take small peeks at the gatherings of these strange and funny dressed people. They loved rating each other’s costumes and creativeness and soon enough their costumes became their own version of a modeling dress that deserved a score and a choosing from the best of the best. All cosplayers took weeks or even months to get wigs, the right threads to make the costume, make their props may it have been a sword or a giant hammer and they would then go to local or big contests to seek out the winner.

One of the most famous contests ever held and still ongoing would have to be the otaku house contest. The convention would start with the cosplayers talking and sharing the sweat and pain of making a costume they would end up adoring. After that they would all go up one by one and make poses and go into character depending on who they would dress up like, an example being a super Mario cosplay with the cosplayer jumping up and down and saying, “Mamma mia!” Then the best at fitting their character and its qualities would win the prize.

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Now the contest is held in a different and easier way and they only hold up the convention to attend to. The contest has some very simple rules these involving a solo picture of the cosplayer in their costume, a description of the costume and why they decided to make it. The picture would then be rated and four of the cosplayers would be selected. After that they would select another photo of themselves and follow the same procedure. According to whom did it better and worse, there would be a 1st, 2nd, 3rd and runner up place. Each would get a sum of money going from one hundred dollars to eight hundred and a personalized basket with manga and costume props.

Bleach Cosplay

Bleach Cosplay

There are way too many animes, cartoons, manga, and video games to count that the cosplayers decide to dress up in. All sections have their own famous characters and emotional meaning to the cosplayer that makes their choosing difficult and a huge time period along with it. Many go on how they feel about the character and the importance of the role of the character.

Others go with how the character looks and see if they would look more like them or not. Even with the huge list of famous genres and individual characters to choose from such as Pokémon, Naruto, One piece, Super Donkey Kong, Mario, Kirby and D-Gray man, there are some that take up the titles of most used characters to be dressed up in. These are only three though and are mostly chosen because of what the character means to the cosplayers. These would be Kirito and Asuna from Sword Art Online, Ichigo and his gang of Shinigami from Bleach and Ikkisabara and his companions from “Another”.

Sword Art Online and its famous dynamic duo take up the hearts of the cosplayers in first place because of how they can easily interact with one another and get through anything together. Kirito and Asuna’s story take place in the new virtual video game of Sword Art Online or SAO for short that they had decided to try out as it was the new way of gaming. They have connected to the game as another fifteen thousand players have just for a quick match amongst friends. Little did they know that they would not be able to log out which is a gamers’ biggest fear if their pizza guy is at the door.

The creator of the game has trapped them in and will only let them out if they complete the game. If they were to die in the video game, they would also die in real life by a shock to their brain through the virtual simulator. Asuna and Kirito take the challenge up to be able to meet in the real world and start appreciating it more than ever. This anime made all men shed manly tears and all women wish they had their own Kirito. They went through near deaths of comrades, the happiness of seeing each other safe after a battle and their big reunion at the end of it all. This anime truly deserves its rightful place as the one most used to be dressed up in because of their do or die slogan and the protection and love they had for one another.

The second anime is the all time favorite and passionate Bleach and no, not the cleaning product. Bleach focuses on the story of High school student Ichigo Kurosaki who is tired of living his days seeing the dead. He is a kind student and tries to protect everyone around him. One night he meets a Shinigami or a Death reaper that is in charge of sending the good that have died to one place and banish the bad that have died to another.

Ichigo ends up connecting his fate with that of the Shinigami Rukia and takes her place to save her and his family. Cosplayers love a good hero and Ichigo showed that effortlessly and with the right attributes at all moments. If he had to lose he would and walk away to come back some other time. Cosplayers especially loved the design used to represent the death reapers as warriors with weapons connected to their soul and a kimono as their garments. Everyone liked how amazing one could look just by throwing on the legendary Ichigo kimono on and prancing around in full happiness. The only reason this one is less used by cosplayers is because of an ending that left them devastated and wearing an Ichigo costume only reminded them of it.

Finally we have the classically confusing by name anime “Another”. This anime is based on the story of the new student Ikkisabara who does not really understand his new school and rules. While he is getting adjusted to the system, he spots a girl that no one seems to care about or even realize. He soon comes to understand that she is dead to everyone and must be this way to stop them from dying. This intricate and puzzling anime goes through every turn it gets just to leave you wondering what could possibly happen next. The horror of being at the edge of the unknown makes sanity be questioned and lives valued.

The cosplayers instantly fell for the school uniform look that the anime had to offer. In the emotional value of the anime, they all decided that the cold whispers in which everything was said and the tension of the characters made it for the anime to be a perfect challenge to achieve a connection to Ikkisabara and his mental planning.

The “dead” girl is also another quality to give a round of applause to as at the very end it gives a life lesson at what it is like to be dealt with such a bad punishment for something you have not done. The reason as to why this anime hold third and final place so as not to make the list longer is because of how some decide to leave a masterpiece be a masterpiece and the feeling of not achieving the complete and full shocking aspect of the characters makes cosplayers question if to dress up as the character or not.

Just as it is hard to get the emotional ways of a character, so it is to make the perfect costume. Some find it more useful and fun to just buy it but they are careful on who they buy it from. They have especially chosen websites to select wigs, contacts, props, and full body costumes. Sometimes it is all easier than sitting the endless hours making it yourself. The few select sites to get anime costumes from would have to be hello cosplay because of how many new costumes are put up for sale every week and after that we have the cosplay center that had the luck of getting the website name of

These websites are not only known for the huge arsenal of costumes that they let you choose from but the costumer service that they provide. If a customer wanted a specific part of a costume as in the jacket or even glasses of a character, hello cosplay will make sure to find a way on how to get the merchandise to them safely and with a good price rate.

Cosplay center has a cosplay costume with all included for every character of every anime, manga, video game, novel, movie ever made. Their most famous costume yet would have to be the flash costumes they keep selling so much. These two organizations did so well with their group of costumers because they knew what they had to give out and how to give it out. Many other organizations were underrated by many lazy cosplayers because of the lack of quality of a costume or how they would deliver costumes to them may it have been through a very expensive package and mailing service or by workers that lived close by that really did not care where the order would end up as long as it was on the property in which the customer lives in. Cosplayers are dead serious when it comes to what they are going to wear so they either sweat and cry because of the money spent buying it or the time taken making it.

There is a huge difference between making your costume with perseverance and the right materials and just buying it online from a vast selection of well made ones already waiting to be taken. Whenever cosplayers go to the decision of buying a costume instead of making it, there are only two qualified reasons for the action. One, they can’t sew and just want to use a good costume at the upcoming convention or two; they lack the effort of trying to have a unique costume. A costume is your identity at a convention. It is the only thing that will make you stand out and let your ideals be spoken to others by creativity. Now that being said, take a moment and visualize everyone is wearing the same mass produced costume and it seems like they all came out of a clone machine. Chaos would break out everywhere if such were to happen. No one likes being the exact same as others.

A person biologically needs to be different yet fit in a social group. They have to have the quality that only they can possess but still be accepted in gatherings and meetings as an equal. It is a confusing way of saying it but that is what humans are, plainly mystifying. Another factor to take into consideration would have to be the price of such said costume. It costs a whole lot more to buy a costume, receive it, and pay for gas for the car to get to the convention, than making your own. Sewing materials are a low priced stock group and can be shifted into whatever you desire. Now buying a costume, with all the commodities it has, will bring more suffering. A formula used to calculate the price of a costume in companies is the adding of the labor and time spent making the costume, the shipping that could be involved in sending the costume, the fabric used to make the costume and the bonus that the costumer adds may it be small or big.

These factors are hidden from the majority because it is easy to agree to something that one does not know about. The formula varies along with the costume and to say it in simple words, it just costs too much. Now that the formula is out in the open, the question asked is what to do if one does not know how to sow and they want a good costume? The key is effort and self-tutorials. The first thing to know is what materials will be needed to make the costume. Different cotton or fabric could make the costume look better or worse.

You must always plan ahead before deciding to make a costume. Second you will need the basic instructions. Most knitting patterns are easier than math story problems in books and that is a curios statistic that cosplayers hold dear. The only way to get really good at making costumes to the cosplayers’ desires is only to practice. As a cat once told the anime fans in a show, practice makes perfect and that cat could not have been more correct. At first it will seem stupid to put so much effort into making a costume but what many think about is the look on the judges’ faces when they say that they made it themselves. It is such a small thing like that that brings joy to a huge crowd of cosplayers.

Cosplay and Self-esteem

A great verity about cosplaying and dressing up that no one would have ever guessed is that it does wonders for your self-esteem. At first, the idea sounds preposterous to numerous and confuses people but nevertheless, it is true. The fixation needed to understand this is to envisage what it would be like to be in a costume, preferably one of a banana that dances peanut butter jelly time. The first thought is that there would be a lot of jokes and name calling as soon as anyone sees a person wear that, but no one wonders what it takes to put that costume on. The real story behind that human being though is that they just built a mirror for everyone to look into so that they could see what he or she saw inside of their heart.

One must see fun and enjoyment happily residing in the heart and mind. A person cannot picture themselves being grumpy and unhappy or if not that is what would be given out as an overall message to everybody else. Wearing a costume lets a person be what they are meant to be: unique. This must keep getting said. It is the meaning behind cosplay itself as mentioned countless times. Whether it is dressing as Mojo Mojo or My neighbor Totoro, the costume resembles something inside that the naked eye cannot capture. For the time that the person is in the costume, in their head they are the character. They have the values the character has. They connect with a fictional being as their inner self. Being trapped internally would be the death of all. The way such a message falls on the crowds’ ears makes them think that it is something rather radical to say because costumes are the topic but it is only the truth. All of the populace needs an escape from a crude realism every now and then.

Living in the same schedule of waking up and doing a routine that was set out and planned is reality. Going out, talking to that girl you really like after two years, getting super powers and living what you want to live, that might happen while wearing a costume. And why does it happen only when wearing a costume??! Well because every single person on the face of this planet is afraid. Society is molded in fear. A daily worker cannot become superman if they see robbers robbing bank. Reality states that they would get shot and then die. So where does the world go because they are afraid? They go and wear costumes so they may show some of the inner spirit that should be alive in reality to the world. Now encouragement is set on the shoulders of peanut butter jelly guy or girl because all they wanted was a smile in the world and that costume let them do it. All that Santa Claus man at the mall wanted was to make the kids have some faith in Christmas.

All that Spider-man window cleaner wanted was to let others think that being a hero was possible. As an old saying goes, you cannot settle down in the lines that your work sets for you. Instead be the guy your dog thinks you are. Cosplaying makes a person’s self-esteem, what they think of themselves and what they know of themselves grow for a better good. Sooner or later they leave the costume at home, but they keep being the super hero that lives inside. Being inside a banana costume builds up the way to be the man or woman that puts a smile on peoples face. The costume is merely the baby steps.

Ready to Start the Journy of the Cosplaying World?

Now if anyone decides to go on into the world of cosplaying and start the journey of self discovery with new friends and ways to have fun, it would be useful to have an introduction. Just much like other groups and gatherings, the cosplay world has unspoken rules that would make everything better if followed. The rules were made discretely to make the best out of every meeting for each and every cosplayers, may them be new or old to the world of cosplay. The regulations are divided as so:

Cosplay is a hobby and a form of expression

It is not an exact science or competition. The whole way it was started was because it seemed to be fun and it made many feel awesome. If you take that away then the social events, gatherings and conventions are meaningless. The cosplayers get together and share amongst each other about every detail of their creativity, their same likes and dislikes, their inner persona and self-turmoil and friendly tips and advices towards each other out of experience and new found friendship. Going into such a peaceful habitat or environment and taking it apart is purely wrong.

Some cosplayers that took it upon themselves to bully and hurt others are not accepted. The idea is not to gain a prize for being the best and then showing it off to every other loser as a way of boosting their own ego. Also there is no such thing as studying cosplay. What is meant by saying that is that you cannot figure out what other cosplayers or judges like. You cannot say something is hip or out of fashion in this world. The entire system is based on self-opinion. All cosplayers are allowed to say their own thoughts to whoever wishes to hear but they cannot automatically decide and control others and their form of expression based on studying, hypothesis and experimentation. This is the number one unspoken yet known rule of the cosplay world. If followed, then the organism stays in harmony.

Involvement is optional

Cosplayers know what it is like to have a busy schedule. Commitment is hard when balancing what is wanted and what is need. In a house you need food, electricity, water and basic necessities. A cosplayer’s room does not have to be filled with fabric, hats, glasses, shirt, pants, dresses and so and so but it is what they want. If getting involved is difficult and messes up the need and want basis then trouble will be brought up. The cosplay association and international cosplay guild wants everyone that enters contests and conventions to be sure of their assistance and help if asked. A whole group of cosplayers that signed paperwork to be at an event and demonstrate their art made the impossible to be there that day.

The same should go with anyone else that decides to state out of free will and choice that they wish to be on the list for sure and no take backs. The only reason this rule exists is because it is a lot of work to get the necessary amount of chairs, food, beverages, gift bags and room design to meet everyone’s expectation. All details took work and time to complete and make look perfect so you have to appreciate it. Their program only works if all of the ones involved are hand in hand and go accordingly in time. Do not make a promise that cannot be kept. That is the social slogan for all cosplayers.

Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.

— Oscar Wilde

The last and final rule of the world of cosplay is that once and otaku, always an otaku.

The term given on to any cosplayers is otaku that in Japanese means fan boy. A fan boys’ only job is to take on the full persona, aspects, behaviors and essential characteristics of the person they are cosplaying as. That is the only component that makes all other tasks of cosplaying unify into one big action. Staying in character is a praised skill amongst cosplayers and is of high honor if achieved correctly. Also by being an otaku, it means honoring all other genres and costumes that others have chosen to wear and their reason as to why.

Making fun of costumes or the person that they are trying to be is what makes cosplayers infamous along large groups and is highly detested. Doing that is making fun of them and their principles. A character for them is a teacher in a whole other level. They wish to succeed in going down the same footsteps and feel what they normally do not feel. If a cosplayers takes it upon him or herself to crush the effort put into achieving such a goal, the action and the cosplayer is detested. One must think of it as if they are talking about their mother which in reality is a nice lady. If cosplayers were to mock and incessantly laugh at others decisions then they are not an otaku but just a bully taking care of their ego. If feeling good implies putting everyone else in an off mood then that person is not considered to be of the ICG. Brothers and sisters stand all alike in front of each other and have opinions. The only difference between a real otaku and a bully is that an otaku would give constructive response over the costume overall and what could be improved while a bully only intends to put others in misery as long as needed. A cosplay organization thinks of itself as a secondary family to all there.

The slight change is that there are no black sheep in the family but instead multi-colored sheep of all sizes, shapes, forms and ways that are accepted and welcome under any condition except inner turmoil and disaster. As Abraham Lincoln once said, “A house that is divided cannot stand” which is a famous verse from the Bible which can be found in Mark chapter three, verse twenty five. Taking on such a quote and life lesson is hard and sometimes cannot be established to the fullest but all effort counts and this rule holds its place so that all new and old remember that they came to the world of cosplay because they could not stand the world of back stabbing, betrayal, damaging and colossal jerks that resided here and there. All societies must imply this rule some time or another so people are not afraid to stand out and be struck down but instead be inspired to stand up.

So what is cosplay about? Well cosplay has various sources, definitions, beliefs, myths, misunderstandings, traditions and meanings to all that practice it but the facts that are known fo sho now are that it is an open and greatly celebrated act that anyone can participate in, honor and richness in heart comes from the hard workers that put their back and soul into what they love and that the act of cosplay will soon take absolutely anyone that wishes for it to be what they have always wanted to be and how they see themselves inside.

Today all people can decide to be a pony, alien, phone, inflatable tube man, DC comic hero, stupidly charming cartoon character, cold villain, or courageous champion, just whatever they like. Cosplay gives you a warm welcome and receives all as good friends. Stand united, stand tall, embrace what you are and shall be, love what is unique and what connects all in this world and enjoy big and small for the effort that was put into it. Be the otaku inside the heart and follow all that once seemed impossible. Now charge forwards my comrades!

Article by: Steven Gutiérrez

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