The Massive Subculture Known As Cosplay

Naruto cosplay


Cosplay is a word known to many across the planet. The word cosplay is a comination of costume and play. Originally starting in Japan, cosplay remained a rather small niche until around the early 90′s when it broke into popular culture — and it broke in hard at that.

In fact you will be hard pressed to attend any convention nowadays without majority of the people there being decorated from head to toe in a cosplay costume.

So what exactly is cosplay?

Cosplay is the act of dressing up to portray the appearance and sometimes role of whatever character you have chosen. However, it goes further than this, and one would argue that cosplay is more than just “costume dressup” but rather than of a performance art.

A lot of cosplayers even design their own costumes from scratch as well.
However, a lot of people still do not understand why people dress up the way they do; portraying characters from video games, movies, tv series, anime, and manga. But since cosplay has become such a huge subculture it warrants reason that these unknowing individuals find out.

I asked some people I knew who knew people that participate in cosplay; about WHY they really dress up and WHY they like it so much. With it becoming so popular clearly there is something about this to love that us non cosplaying folks are missing right? Lets find out:

“There are two main reason why I, and most people I know participate in cosplay and cosplay events.”


First off cosplay is about showing the world what you love and expressing it thoroughly. Its one thing to love your favorite character or feel one with them; but its another to actually dress up as them and declare it to the world. Majority of us wish we could live the life of our favorite characters throughout the worlds of various video games or tv shows. And dressing up as that character and devoting time and energy to it is a lot more fun than just daydreaming about it.

Second is the community that comes with cosplay. A lot of people have met a ton of their friends and great people who like to do the same thing where they otherwise wouldn’t. You know, you cant tell if that person likes the exact same shows and characters as you if they’re just dressed normally at events. However, when everyone is dressed up you can tell exactly who’s into what you’re into and finding an instant commonality is that much easier. Then of course there’s also all the pictures you take with other people where you otherwise wouldn’t. And of course there’s also a lot of incentive to portray your character as best you can; as people will typically come up to you and tell you how bad ass/they love that/you look awesome,  or some other variation.”

As you can see those are just two of many likely reasons why people participate in cosplay, but now lets talk about some of the most popular characters and shows people are cosplaying about.

By far one of the most common portrayed tv shows/anime out there is Naruto. Naruto is the most popular anime out at the moment. It started in Japan before it spread over to North America like crazy. Tons of people are portraying some of their favorite Naruto characters which tend to be the ones that possess a certain ocular ability; that visually consists of red and black various swirls known as the sharingan. In fact just the sharingan itself is so popular that there are thousands of naruto fans monthly ordering sharingan contact lenses online for their favorite Uchiha character like Uchiha Sasuke, Itachi, Madara or Kakashi — all characters from the anime series Naruto.

Other popular tried and true classic characters to portray remain the same year after year. Like Batman, Superman, Star Wars, and many others.

It may be hard to fathom to some that there are hundreds of thousands — if not more — people dressing up as their favorite characters and going out into the world. However, as it stands cosplay in North America is booming and it is here to stay.

Vanity In Our Culture

Vanity in our culture has seemingly never been stronger or more apparent. Acts of narcissism, materialism, consumerism, and the need to satisfy the ego are everywhere and seemingly apparent in almost everyone these days.

And while I went over this need for vanity and appearancs in my other article — today I want to go over this topic in a more negative light.

A great way to start this off is to watch this video below. It will get you in the proper mindset as it goes over how our culture is in an all time decline.

If you liked this video you can check out the full writeup here.

For example lets take a look at the recent boom that has been seen for cosmetic plastic surgeries over the past decade or so. In fact focusing in on rhinoplasty we can see that in 2012 there were 242,684 people that recieved rhinoplasty according to this michigan rhinoplasty specialist. Granted some of these nose job’s were for structural issues but majority were purely for aesthetic appearance only. And the numbers for plastic surgeries purely for cosmetic purposes in our western society is huge and growing.

Besides plastic surgeries of the face or areas of the body that can be seen; our need to feel better and more attractive everywhere is staggering. A good example of this is the amount of companies out there profiting off the insecurites of people by providing a solution for their shortcomings. The male enhancement industry for one is a good example of this. Due to the media and other sources out there, men are desperately ashamed of the size of their penis because it is seen as a representation of ones manhood. And due to this there are tons of expensive penis enlargement devices on the market capitilizing on this. Just check out this review of the phallosan forte I dug up. This penis extender system resembles something of a medieval torture device that claims to give men a bigger and harder penis.

And it doesnt just stop there. Women and men everywhere are becoming more and more insecure, wasting more money, becoming more stressed, and even developing personality disorders from the vanity and pressures in our current culture.

Marshall Mcluhan made once uttered a quote saying that “the last thing a fish would ever notice in its habitat is the water”. And this same type of message applies to us humans in our everyday lives and within our cutlure. Very infrequently do people take a break from their everyday lives to actually stop and look at whats going on around them. Typically from being too busy in the daily grind or from the fear of social alienation.

But when one actually does stop to think about our supposed normality — we start to unravel the dark truth thats really behind it.