Cosplay (コスプレ, kosupure), short for "costume play", is a Japanese subculture centered on dressing as characters from manga, anime, tokusatsu, and video games, and, less commonly, Japanese live action television shows, fantasy movies, Japanese pop music bands, Visual Kei, fantasy music stories (such as stories by the band Sound Horizon), novels, and anything in the real world being unique and dramatic (or their moe anthropomorphic form). However, in some circles, "cosplay" has been expanded to mean simply wearing a costume.
The most specific anecdote about the origin of the word "cosplay" was that Nov Takahashi (from a Japanese studio called Studio Hard) coined the term "cosplay" as a contraction of the English-language words "costume play" while attending the 1984 Los Angeles Science Fiction Worldcon. He was so impressed by the hall and masquerade costuming there that he reported about it frequently in Japanese science fiction magazines. This point is debatable, however, as the word fits in with a common Japanese method of abbreviation: combining the first two moras of each word. Both "cos" and "play" are long syllables, counting for two moras each.
Cosplay can be seen at public events such as video game shows, as well as at dedicated cosplay parties at nightclubs or amusement parks. It is not unusual for Japanese teenagers to gather with like-minded friends in places like Tokyo's Harajuku district to engage in cosplay. Since 1998, Tokyo's Akihabara district has contained a large number of cosplay cafés, catering to devoted anime and cosplay fans. The waitresses at such cafés dress as game or anime characters; maid (or meido) costumes are particularly popular.
Possibly the single largest and most famous event attended by cosplayers is the semiannual doujinshi market, Comiket. This event, held in summer and winter, attracts hundreds of thousands of manga otaku and many thousands of cosplayers who congregate on the roof of the exhibition center, often in unbearably hot or cold conditions.
Cosplayers in Japan refer to themselves as reyazu (レヤズ, reyazu) ; pronounced layers (by writing the word cosplayers in katakana, コスプレヤズ, it is possible to shorten it in this way). Those who photograph players are called cameko, short for "Camera Kozo" or "Camera Boy". The cameko give prints of their photos to the players as gifts. Tensions between players and cameko have increased due to perceived stalker-like behavior among some obsessive males who push female cosplayers to exchange personal email addresses or do private photo sessions. One result of this has been a tightening of restrictions on photography at events such as Comiket.
While Cosplay arguably originated in Japan, one should not be confused with the idea that Cosplay is considered typical behavior in Japan. While some do attend Cosplay functions that are held in districts such as Akihabara, most Japanese people find Cosplay to be rather silly . In addition, because Cosplay in Japan has adapted such a negative sexual connotation, many Japanese have come to feel that Cosplay is reprehensible. In addition, North Americans who Cosplay typically refer to themselves as "otaku", which is essentially the Japanese word for "geek", and use this word in an attempt to embody themselves in a sociological group of which they can be proud. To contrast, in Japan actual "otaku" refuse to admit that they are otaku, because the word suggests a group of people who are engaging in an activity that may seem "just a little different". In fact, being an otaku in Japan entails standing on one of the bottom rungs of the Japanese social ladder.
Cosplay costumes are radically different from typical Halloween costumes. Because the object of cosplay is to literally become one's character, the intricate details of the costumes are critical. Costumes must meticulously adhere to the designs of the characters' attire, and even more generic costumes are often elaborately artistic. Rigorous attention to detail may include ensuring the seams are aligned properly, thread colors are appropriate, and fabric colors precisely match the character and their attire. Some cosplayers will buy their costumes from talented artists, while others may spend months creating the perfect cosplay outfit.
Because the costumes are so elaborate, like-minded people gather to see others' costumes, show off their own elaborate handmade creations, take lots of pictures, and possibly participate in best costume contests at different cosplay events.
A recent trend at Japanese cosplay events is an increase in the popularity of non-Japanese fantasy and science fiction movie characters, perhaps due to the international success of such films as The Matrix, Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. Characters from the Harry Potter films have a particularly high number of female fans in Japan, with female cosplayers playing either male or female characters, Draco Malfoy being an extremely popular choice.
Cosplaying as characters of the opposite sex is called "crossplay", and cosplaying as characters who dress as the opposite sex is called "cross-dressing". They often coincide, but since some Japanese characters cross-dress to start with, it is possible to do one without the other. For example, a female cosplayer cosplaying as a male character would be cross-dressing and crossplaying; However, a female cosplayer dressing as someone like Mana (male artist from the Visual Kei band Malice Mizer known for dressing in female clothes) would be crossplaying, but not cross-dressing; and a male cosplayer also cosplaying as Mana would be cross-dressing, but not cross-playing.
A small niche group in the crossplaying field are dollers, a subset of kigurumi cosplayers; usually male, they wear bodysuits and masks to fully transform into female characters.
Another recent trend in cosplay is a blurring of the distinction between costumes based on characters from games and anime, and "original" costumes based upon a general theme or existing fashions. In particular, the Tokyo teen-fashion trend of Gothic Lolita has attracted some cosplayers who might not have the inclination (or possibly courage) to wear such distinctive clothes around town, but who would like to dress in such a manner on some occasions. Other popular trends include the "original Visual Kei cosplaying", "original punk cosplaying", "original Super Dollfie cosplaying", et cetera.
In Japan, there are 2 cosplay magazines, Cosmode(コスモード) Dengeki Layers . COSMODE has the largest share in the market.
There are also 2 emerging cosplay magazines outside of Japan, USA's AniCoz and Mexico's Cosplaymix.
An English digital version of COSMODE is also in the making.
Sursa : aici