Cosplay is short for costume play. This term describes both the practice of dressing up as film, television, book, or video game characters, as well as the actual costume worn during the practice. The term was coined by anime producer Nobuyuki Takahashi, who was impressed by the costumed attendees he observed at Los Angeles’ World Science Fiction Convention in 1984.
Cosplayers commonly dress as characters from Japanese manga or anime, but may dress as any fictional characters. The practice originated in Japan but has spread throughout the world.
Cosplay is a form of role playing. The vast majority of cosplayers do not wish to be the character that they are portraying, but rather see their participation as an homage to the character. Individuals may become involved with cosplay to show their love for a particular character and/or may enjoy the attention they receive when playing this character. Many cosplayers also enjoy the process of creating their costumes.
The Internet has helped the cosplay community grow through social networks, websites, and forums. There are also major cosplay competitions, which may be standalone events or part of pop culture conventions.
Cosplayers often play with gender roles. It’s not unusual to see women posing as male characters or men taking on female roles. This practice is known as crossplay.
While cosplay is generally an innocent activity, a subset of cosplay culture involves participants portraying sexually attractive characters in revealing costumes. Some members of this subgenre have complained that they have faced physical and verbal sexual harassment from others. Some Comic-Con conventions have adopted strict anti-harassment policies to prevent this kind of behavior.