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.

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