For people who do not read comic books, or watch cartoons, or play video games, they would look at Cosplay and its followers with a hint of skepticism. In fact to date, many people may not have even heard of the term.
Short for “costume play”, Cosplay has been defined as a type of live performance art wherein the participants dress up as a specific fictional character normally found in comic books, cartoon shows or video games. The term was actually coined by Nobuyuki Takahashi. The most common characters portrayed are those from Japanese fiction like anime, manga, hentai and tokusatsu. From Japan, Cosplay has grown into popularity not only in Asia, but in Australia, Europe and America as well. For the latter places, cosplayers generally recreate live action series like Star Trek, Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter.
Others would also define Cosplay as a sub-culture organized and comprised by many participants all over the world, whose interaction is primarily centered on costumed role-playing, outside the customary venues for the same. Another use for Cosplay is sexual role-play that exhibits people’s sexual fetishes. In Japan, there are love hotels that offer costume rentals, and image clubs that feature this more intimate type of Cosplay. Lastly, there are other cosplayers who are more into modeling rather than acting.
In Cosplay, a person’s gender and sexual preference are immaterial. In fact, there are two identified kinds of cosplayers: the crossplayers and the crossdressers. Crossplaying is when a person plays the role of the opposite sex. On the other hand, crossdressing is wearing the clothes of the opposite sex. A cosplayer can be either or he can be a crossdresser and a crossplayer at the same time.
Today, one can see cosplayers all over the internet, keeping in touch and exchanging views, photos and updates through online forums, websites and social networks. They meet in Cosplay public events like conventions and join parties and gatherings in cafes, bars and clubs. Some known cosplayers are Lee Teng-hui, Taiwan’s first President; Daisuke Enomoto, a Japanese entrepreneur; Yuichiro Nagashima, a Japanese kickboxer and martial artist; Liana Kerzner, a Canadian talk show host; and the Philippines’ Cosplay Queen, Alodia Gosiengfiao.