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Cosplay grew out of the practice of fan costuming at science fiction conventions, beginning with Morojo's \"futuristicostumes\" created for the 1st World Science Fiction Convention held in New York City in 1939. The Japanese term \"cosplay\" (コスプレ, kosupure) was coined in 1984. A rapid growth in the number of people cosplaying as a hobby since the 1990s has made the phenomenon a significant aspect of popular culture in Japan, as well as in other parts of East Asia and in the Western world. Cosplay events are common features of fan conventions, and today there are many dedicated conventions and competitions, as well as social networks, websites, and other forms of media centered on cosplay activities. Cosplay is very popular among all genders, and it is not unusual to see crossplay, also referred to as gender-bending.
The term \"cosplay\" is a Japanese portmanteau of the English terms costume and play. The term was coined by Nobuyuki Takahashi [ja] of Studio Hard after he attended the 1984 World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) in Los Angeles and saw costumed fans, which he later wrote about in an article for the Japanese magazine My Anime [ja]. Takahashi decided to coin a new word rather than use the existing translation of the English term \"masquerade\" because that translates into Japanese as \"an aristocratic costume\", which did not match his experience of the Worldcon. The coinage reflects a common Japanese method of abbreviation in which the first two moras of a pair of words are used to form an independent compound: 'costume' becomes kosu (コス) and 'play' becomes pure (プレ).
Costuming had been a fan activity in Japan from the 1970s, and it became much more popular in the wake of Takahashi's report. The new term did not catch on immediately, however. It was a year or two after the article was published before it was in common use among fans at conventions. It was in the 1990s, after exposure on television and in magazines, that the term and practice of cosplaying became common knowledge in Japan.
The first cosplay cafés appeared in the Akihabara area of Tokyo in the late 1990s. A temporary maid café was set up at the Tokyo Character Collection event in August 1998 to promote the video game Welcome to Pia Carrot 2 (1997). An occasional Pia Carrot Restaurant was held at the shop Gamers in Akihabara in the years up to 2000. Being linked to specific intellectual properties limited the lifespan of these cafés, which was solved by using generic maids, leading to the first permanent establishment, Cure Maid Café, which opened in March 2001.
The first World Cosplay Summit was held on 12 October 2003 at the Rose Court Hotel in Nagoya, Japan, with five cosplayers invited from Germany, France and Italy. There was no contest until 2005, when the World Cosplay Championship began. The first winners were the Italian team of Giorgia Vecchini, Francesca Dani and Emilia Fata Livia.
Cosplay costumes vary greatly and can range from simple themed clothing to highly detailed costumes. It is generally considered different from Halloween and Mardi Gras costume wear, as the intention is to replicate a specific character, rather than to reflect the culture and symbolism of a holiday event. As such, when in costume, some cosplayers often seek to adopt the affect, mannerisms, and body language of the characters they portray (with \"out of character\" breaks). The characters chosen to be cosplayed may be sourced from any movie, TV series, book, comic book, video game, music band, anime, or manga. Some cosplayers even choose to cosplay an original character of their own design or a fusion of different genres (e.g., a steampunk version of a character), and it is a part of the ethos of cosplay that anybody can be anything, as with genderbending, crossplay, or drag, a cosplayer playing a character of another ethnicity, or a hijabi portraying Captain America.
Cosplayers obtain their apparel through many different methods. Manufacturers produce and sell packaged outfits for use in cosplay, with varying levels of quality. These costumes are often sold online, but also can be purchased from dealers at conventions. Japanese manufacturers of cosplay costumes reported a profit of 35 billion yen in 2008. A number of individuals also work on commission, creating custom costumes, props, or wigs designed and fitted to the individual. Other cosplayers, who prefer to create their own costumes, still provide a market for individual elements, and various raw materials, such as unstyled wigs, hair dye, cloth and sewing notions, liquid latex, body paint, costume jewelry, and prop weapons.
Cosplay represents an act of embodiment. Cosplay has been closely linked to the presentation of self, yet cosplayers' ability to perform is limited by their physical features. The accuracy of a cosplay is judged based on the ability to accurately represent a character through the body, and individual cosplayers frequently are faced by their own \"bodily limits\" such as level of attractiveness, body size, and disability that often restrict and confine how accurate the cosplay is perceived to be. Authenticity is measured by a cosplayer's individual ability to translate on-screen manifestation to the cosplay itself. Some have argued that cosplay can never be a true representation of the character; instead, it can only be read through the body, and that true embodiment of a character is judged based on nearness to the original character form. Cosplaying can also help some of those with self-esteem problems.
Many cosplayers create their own outfits, referencing images of the characters in the process. In the creation of the outfits, much time is given to detail and qualities, thus the skill of a cosplayer may be measured by how difficult the details of the outfit are and how well they have been replicated. Because of the difficulty of replicating some details and materials, cosplayers often educate themselves in crafting specialties such as textiles, sculpture, face paint, fiberglass, fashion design, woodworking, and other uses of materials in the effort to render the look and texture of a costume accurately. Cosplayers often wear wigs in conjunction with their outfit to further improve the resemblance to the character. This is especially necessary for anime and manga or video-game characters who often have unnaturally colored and uniquely styled hair. Simpler outfits may be compensated for their lack of complexity by paying attention to material choice and overall high quality.
To look more like the characters they are portraying, cosplayers might also engage in various forms of body modification. Cosplayers may opt to change their skin color utilizing make-up to more simulate the race of the character they are adopting. Contact lenses that match the color of their character's eyes are a common form of this, especially in the case of characters with particularly unique eyes as part of their trademark look. Contact lenses that make the pupil look enlarged to visually echo the large eyes of anime and manga characters are also used. Another form of body modification in which cosplayers engage is to copy any tattoos or special markings their character might have. Temporary tattoos, permanent marker, body paint, and in rare cases, permanent tattoos, are all methods used by cosplayers to achieve the desired look. Permanent and temporary hair dye, spray-in hair coloring, and specialized extreme styling products are all used by some cosplayers whose natural hair can achieve the desired hairstyle. It is also commonplace for them to shave off their eyebrows to gain a more accurate look.
Some anime and video game characters have weapons or other accessories that are hard to replicate, and conventions have strict rules regarding those weapons, but most cosplayers engage in some combination of methods to obtain all the items necessary for their costumes; for example, they may commission a prop weapon, sew their own clothing, buy character jewelry from a cosplay accessory manufacturer, or buy a pair of off-the-rack shoes, and modify them to match the desired look.
Cosplay may be presented in a number of ways and places. A subset of cosplay culture is centered on sex appeal, with cosplayers specifically choosing characters known for their attractiveness or revealing costumes. However, wearing a revealing costume can be a sensitive issue while appearing in public. People appearing naked at American science fiction fandom conventions during the 1970s were so common, a \"no costume is no costume\" rule was introduced. Some conventions throughout the United States, such as Phoenix Comicon (now known as Phoenix Fan Fusion) and Penny Arcade Expo, have also issued rules upon which they reserve the right to ask attendees to leave or change their costumes if deemed to be inappropriate to a family-friendly environment or something of a similar nature.
The most popular form of presenting a cosplay publicly is by wearing it to a fan convention. Multiple conventions dedicated to anime and manga, comics, TV shows, video games, science fiction, and fantasy may be found all around the world. Cosplay-centered conventions include Cosplay Mania in the Philippines and EOY Cosplay Festival in Singapore.
The single largest event featuring cosplay is the semiannual doujinshi market, Comic Market (Comiket), held in Japan during summer and winter. Comiket attracts hundreds of thousands of manga and anime fans, where thousands of cosplayers congregate on the roof of the exhibition center. In North America, the highest-attended fan conventions featuring cosplayers are the San Diego Comic-Con and New York Comic Con held in the United States, and the anime-specific Anime North in Toronto, Otakon held in Baltimore MD and Anime Expo held in Los Angeles. Europe's largest event is Japan Expo held in Paris, while the London MCM Expo and the London Super Comic Convention are the most notable in the UK. Supanova Pop Culture Expo is Australia's biggest event. 59ce067264