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article imageThe Rise of Cosplay in the US

By americangeiko     Dec 27, 2006 in Entertainment
Is it just for nerds and geeks? Or is it turning chic? You decide!
Cosplay, or "costume play", refers to dressing up as Japanese Animation, Manga (comic book), or video game characters. Though amongst "cosplayers" in Western society, it's become accepted to extend that term to dressing in virtually any type of costume. Cosplay in Japan is considered a hobby, and many cosplayers meet to show off their hand-made costumes at conventions (like Comiket in Japan) or in trendy, Harajuku, Tokyo. Since 1998, Tokyo's Akihabara district has had many "cosplay cafe's", cafes where the staff will cosplay, open.
It's said that the term cosplay was coined by Nov Takahashi at Worldcon, a science fiction convention, in 1984. It's also believed that his reports back to Japan of Americans dressed as science fiction characters later gave rise to Japanese cosplay. Though it's highly debated over that Americans are the originators of cosplay.
Japanese cosplay has only recently become popular in the US, boasting some 20,000+ individuals of every race, creed, and color. Yet Western cosplay does deviate from Japanese cosplay in that there's masques (masquerades), cosplay competitions that occur at conventions where cosplayers will display their costume(s) for judging and/or perform a skit on stage by themselves or with others. Prizes consisting of money, dvds, etc. are offered to the winners, varying on the category of difficulty the cosplayer entered. Many cosplayers also attend conventions for panels on various topics, Cosplay Chess (Human Chess in cosplay), and the Anime Dating Game. Cosplay has even become common at movie theaters on opening nights for popular science fiction and fastasy films (like Lord of the Rings and The Matrix).
The Americanized version of cosplay has even spread into Europe, Mexico, Austrialia, and the Philippines. While Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, and other Japanese influence markets have embraced the more traditional Japanese cosplay. And while American cosplayers are generally frowned upon as being "nerds or geeks who play dress-up", it's becoming a more and more acceptible hobby as MTV, G4TV, and various cable networks, magazines, and print media continue to promote cosplay in a positive manner.
More about Cosplay, Japan, United States, Costume, Anime
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