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What is Cosplay?

Cosplay (コスプレ, kosupure?), short for "costume roleplay", is a type of performance art whose participants outfit themselves, with often-elaborate costumes and accessories, as a specific character or idea. Characters are usually sourced in various Japanese and East Asian media, including manga, anime, tokusatsu, comic books, graphic novels, video games, hentai and fantasy movies. Other sources include performers from J-pop, J-rock, visual kei, fantasy music stories (such as stories by the band Sound Horizon), novels, and objects from cyberspace or the real world that are unique and dramatic (especially if they have or can be given an anthropomorphic form).

Cosplay participants ("cosplayers") form a subculture centered around wearing their costumes and reenacting scenes or inventing likely behavior inspired by their chosen sources. In some circles, the term cosplay has been broadened to include simply wearing a costume, without special consideration given to enacting characters in a performance context.

Origin of the word

Nov Takahashi, from the Japanese studio called Studio Hard, coined the term cosplay – 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 follows a common Japanese method of abbreviation: combining the first two moras of each word to form an independent compound. Costume becomes kosu (コス), and play becomes pure (プレ).

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