Cosplay: Its History and Why It’s Popular

Cosplay is the combined words, costume, and play. It is a kind of performance art where the participants are called cosplayers. They wear costumes and fashion accessories in order to represent a specific character. To put it simply, cosplay, in general, is any costumed role-playing in venues apart from the stage. Some of the most favorite sources of cosplayers are anime, comic books, manga, cartoons, video games, and as well as television series. 

The rapid growth of the number of people cosplaying has made it a significant aspect of popular culture in Japan and as well as in many parts of Asia and the Western countries. In time, cosplaying became a common feature in fan conventions. Aside from that, there are also dedicated conventions for cosplayers, as well as local and international competitions, social networks, websites, and other forms of media that are focused on cosplay activities. 

Cosplay indeed has become a popular hobby not just in Asia but in different parts of the world as well. But have you ever wondered why? Well, if you also want to know what cosplay is popular, then read on to know the reasons, and as well as to know about its history. 

The History of Cosplay

The term cosplay was invented by the founder of Studio Hard, Nobuyuki Takahashi, in 1984. It was when he attended the 42nd Worldcon in Los Angeles and was impressed with the masquerade. He reported on it in My Anime, where he coined the term “kosupre” in the process, from which “cosplay” is derived. Included in his report was encouraging the Japanese fans to include more costuming or cosplay in their own conventions. That report also used the terms “costume play” and “Hero Costume Operation”. 

Well, costuming has been a popular fan activity in Japan since the 1970s. But it became more popular due to Takahashi’s report. The new term did not become popular instantly, but after a year or two that the article was published, it was in common use among fans at conventions. After exposure on televisions and magazines in the 1990s, the term cosplay and the practice of cosplaying became very popular in Japan. 

In the late 1990s, the first cosplay cafes were established in the Akihabara area of Tokyo. Then, in August 1998, a temporary maid café was set up at the Tokyo Character Collection event to promote the video game “Welcome to Pia Carrot 2”. 

On October 12, 2003, the first World Cosplay Summit was held at the Rose Court Hotel in Nagoya, Japan. There were five cosplayers invited from France, Germany, and Italy. Then, in 2005, the cosplay contests began via the World Cosplay Championship. The first winners of this event were the Italian team of Francesca Dani, Emilia Fata Livia, and Giorgia Vecchini. 

The Worldcon masquerade in the United States was very popular in the 1980s. However, it started to fall after that. Then, the trend was reversed when the concept of cosplay was re-imported from Japan. Today, many countries all over the world hosts cosplay events and conventions, and a lot of people have been into cosplaying as their hobby. 

Why Is Cosplay Popular? 

Now that you know how the term cosplay was introduced and how the hobby emerged, let us now know why it became popular. Why do you think a lot of people like to dress up in different costumes and act like different characters? For some people, cosplay is simply dressing up as the character you want to portray, but for cosplayers, it means so much more. To better understand, here are some of the reasons why cosplay is popular. 

  • Cosplay allows people to use their imaginations

One of the reasons why cosplay is popular and why a lot of people do it is that it gives them the opportunity to use their imaginations. In the present time, it’s kind of challenging to showcase your imagination because the opportunities in the modern world are limited. But cosplay can make that possible because it gives people the chance to reimagine a character in any way they like. In the cosplay community, no one is going to judge you for whatever reimagining you want to do. 

  • Cosplay gives cosplayers confidence

Another reason why cosplay has been popular all these years is because it gave a lot of people confidence. When you ask cosplayers, most of them will say that the confidence-building aspect of cosplaying keeps them on doing it. Through cosplay, people can experience somebody’s superhuman powers and their ability to rise up. Once cosplayers are in character, they get the confidence boost that most of us need sometimes. 

  • Cosplay can make people escape reality for a while

Cosplay is popular also because it is a way of escaping real everyday life for some people, and become one with the character they love. It is a way to be someone else, even for just a day. Cosplaying is just like Halloween, but there’s no need for you to wait for October 31st so you can dress up. 

  • Cosplay can help people express their fandom

Cosplay is popular also because a lot of people use it as their way to show their love and affection for specific characters. For example, if you want to pay tribute to Thor, Batman, and other characters, you can simply attend a cosplay convention, dress up, and act like them. 

  • Cosplay showcases craftsmanship

Another thing that makes cosplay popular is the fact that cosplayers put a lot of effort into creating their costumes. It’s not like attending a plain costume party where you just buy whatever costume you can find or mix up different geeky fashions. Cosplayers take pride in the design, layout, and creation of their costumes to make them look like exact replicas of the character they want to role-play. Making the costume is one of the best parts of cosplaying that they enjoy. 

  • Cosplay gives people the opportunity to be part of a community where they can socialize with others

A lot of people enjoy cosplaying because they are able to socialize and meet thousands of people with the same hobby. It is a great way to hang out with fellow cosplayers and discuss different topics that you are not comfortable talking about with friends who are not into cosplaying. 

  • Cosplay is fun

And of course, one of the best reasons why a lot of people love cosplaying and why it became so popular is because it is a fun activity for all people. It is an awesome way to spice up your life and have a great time with other people who share the same interests.

Cosplay is indeed a great and fulfilling activity for a lot of people. This is why it has become so popular over the years and up until the present time. To some, cosplay is a fun hobby, while for others, it is a lifestyle.