The term “Cosplay” was first coined in the ’80s by Nobuyuki Takahashi, a Japanese film director and the founder of Studio Hard, after attending the 42nd Worldcon in LA. Takahashi was impressed with how people were masquerading as different characters at the event. After returning to Japan, he coined the term Costume Play (コスチュームプレイ), which was abbreviated as Cosplay (コスプレ). However, it wasn’t until the ’90s that the term finally gained the attention of the mass public.
Before the term was coined, Cosplay already existed in different forms. Date back to the ’70s there have already been records of fans dressing up as different characters from manga series.
▍More than Just a Costume
Cosplaying can be more than just putting on a costume. Whilst some consider cosplaying to be an interpretation of a character, it is also seen as embodying a character. Often, cosplayer will also adopt the character’s speech patterns, attitude, and behaviors to truly re-create the character in real life. This is seen more clearly in cosplay competitions where cosplayers are judged in different criteria, mainly the overall performance, the costume, and how closely they stay towards the original character setting and design. One of the biggest cosplay competition is the World Cosplay Championship which is held annually at the World Cosplay Summit.
Of course, outside of competitions, those criteria don’t apply. Often cosplayers will portray their favorite characters the series. However, they might ship the character with another character. It isn’t surprising to find cosplayers pairing with other cosplayers to play out their dream couples, similar to how some people will make fan art of their favorite CPs.
At the end of the day, Cosplay is about expressing your love for a character or a series through dressing up as a certain character. The most important thing is to
not look bad have fun!