As one of the most enduring traditions of Anime Expo®, the Masquerade is one of the largest and brightest highlights of Anime Expo®. Costumers hailing from around the world have graced our stage with their wonderful costumes and performances. They come for the fame, the glory and that huge trophy, “Best of Show”! If you have the motivation, the skills and the bloodlust to compete in one of the most prestigious anime Masquerades, come join us! Meet new and interesting people! See wonderful and exotic costumes! Witness the glitz, the glamour and the glory of Masquerade!


Registration Rules

  1. Send an email to the Cosplay Department ([email protected]) with the requested information in the waiver detailed below. Please complete as best as possible. If you have your waivers, audio, video, and photos ready then you may attach them to your email. If you are new to masquerade or a veteran, please inform us of this as well.
  2. A waiver is required of all contestants and stage ninjas. Any contestant under 18 years of age at the time of the Masquerade must have their parent or legal guardians sign the appropriate section of the General Release & Waiver Form.
  3. Your audio may contain any sound you deem necessary to express your performance. It should not exceed the maximum allowed stage time of 2mins.
  4. Your intro video (5-30sec) may use any live-action footage, slides, anime or still images with words to explain or prepare you audience to receive your performance. If you cannot complete an introduction video prior to Anime Expo 2014, you will be scheduled with our team of videographers to film a short introductory clip on either July 3rd or 4th during convention hours.
  5. We require at least 2 photos per costume from any angle of any size and at any stage of construction. This does not count as your progress pictures when being considered for craftsmanship awards. The photos are simply to prove that the cosplay exists or that work on it has begun.
  6. Each entry may only appear on stage one time. Each person may only participate in one entry.
  7. Each entry is limited to a maximum of 10 cosplayers per group. Aids, escorts and stage-ninjas do not count towards the group maximum but should not outnumber the group entry. For special circumstances, please contact the Cosplay Office or email us at ‘[email protected]’.
  8. All group leaders of each entry must check-in at the Cosplay Office in person to schedule judging appointments  additional updates, or, updated submissions of late paperwork and media files. You may check on the first 1st and 2nd day of the convention. We reserve the right to terminate entrees that check in late.
  9. Limited At-Con/Late registration will be available at the Cosplay Office if space permits or if. We reserve the right to refuse additional entrees.

Costume Rules

  1.  Costumes may be from any anime, manga, comic, graphic novel or video game. Cross-overs and mixed genres are also permissible.
  2. Costumes based on fan-art, custom creations or a design that deviates greatly from the original source should personally check in with the Cosplay Office during convention hours to asses eligible for craftsmanship category. These will be handled on case by case bases. The judges have the right to deny craftsmanship eligibility.
  3. All costumes and props must be made by at least one member of the group to qualify for craftsmanship judging. Commercially acquired costume sets are still eligible for performance awards but or not eligible for craftsmanship awards. Found, salvaged or heavily altered costumes and props can still be eligible for craftsmanship judging.
  4. All props must conform to standard Anime Expo®’s Weapons Policy & Code of Conduct. Limited exceptions can be provided in extreme cases such as large mechas, multi-person costumes or excessively large props.
  5. Costumes should be self-contained and self-sufficient. Connections to electrical sockets will not be available. Some bulky costumes will require an aid to move or see so please secure your own escort if this is indeed the case.
  6. Costumes that have previously won awards from a major convention or costume contest are discouraged from entering. Please contact the Cosplay Department at [email protected] for inquires.

Performance rules

  1. All Masquerade content must comply with the Anime Expo Code of Conduct, LA City ordinances and should not exceed the PG-13 rating. In addition to these basic guidelines, swearing and depiction of sexual acts is forbidden. Bleeps or other forms of censoring are acceptable.
  2. All performances may not exceed 2 minutes. The MC narration or introduction will not count towards the performance time.
  3. Microphones will not be provided on stage for contestants to use. Any audio must be prerecorded.
  4. Audio and a short introductory video are highly encouraged. Narrations and introductions do not count against the on-stage time limit.
  5. Any presentations with stunts, extreme or shocking performances must be approved by the department manager and assistant manager before the event. Failure to do so may result in disqualification.
  6. The use of flash powder, fireworks, lasers, electrical flashes or smoke machines are prohibited unless cleared by the department manager and assistant manager.
  7. Do not leave debris on stage that cannot be quickly cleaned by stage hands in fewer than 10 seconds.
  8. Interaction with the MC, judges or the audience is prohibited while on stage.
    1. All media submissions must be received by June 29th. All submissions after this deadline will count as late-registration.
    2. Media that exceeds the maximum time will be requested to be shortened or will be arbitrarily shortened by AX.
    3. Acceptable audio formats are: .wav (16 bit, 44.1 kHz, stereo, 1411 kbps) and .mp3 (bitrate 320 kbps). Uncompressed audio is preferred for superior quality. Please have original recordings available in case our tech team requests further editing.
    4. Acceptable video formats are: .avi, .mp4, or .mpg in the following common resolutions:
      • 640×480 (4:3, Square Pixel)
      • 848×480 (16:9, Square Pixel)
      • 960×720 (4:3, Square Pixel)
      • 1280×720 (16:9, Square Pixel)
      • 720×480 (4:3, 0.9:1 Pixel Aspect Ratio)
      • 720×480 (16:9, 1.21:1 Pixel Aspect Ratio)

*If unsure whether or not your media format will be acceptable or if you have trouble complying with these formats, please contact the Cosplay Department.*

Judging Guidelines

  1. Applying for the preliminary costume judging takes place after you physically enter the Cosplay Office on Day 1. Upon confirming your arrival, appointments can then be scheduled with our craftsmanship judges for best available time between the judges and the group.
  2. Due to a tight schedule our judges may commit to, we will not allow make up judging sessions.
  3. The entries will be judged in the costumes they intend to compete in during masquerade.
  4. Any eligible costume that wishes to compete for Craftsmanship Awards must submit to a preliminary costume judging. Any costume not taking part in preliminary costume judging would not qualify for Craftsmanship Awards or Best in Shows.
  5. Entries of any skill level may take part in for preliminary costume judging. The maker’s skill level will be taken into consideration when the costume is examined.
  6. Entries that intend to be judged should prepare a binder or reference book detailing the progress of the costume constructions. These should also be accompanied with reference pictures that guided the costume’s construction and to measure the fidelity of the 3D realization from its 2D origins.

Juding Criteria

Costume judging is based on, but not limited to, the following factors:

  1. Adaptation
    • Representation of your costume to the character design.
    • Appropriate scaling and dimensions.
  2. Construction
    • Use of resources, construction methods and technique.
  3. Judges are free to consider any artistic and technical factors at their own discretion.

Due to the broad range of skills and technical expertise amongst the vast genres of cosplay/costuming, experience seemed the one fair place to divide the pack. The skill levels are Novice, Intermediate, and Master/Professional. These ranks apply to the costume maker, not the wearer as they are for construction, not performance.

Note that any contestant can be reclassified by the judges. If they feel you are under qualified or over qualified for your declared skill level, you may appeal to be reclassified into another skill level. Appeals can be presented to the Cosplay managerial team but only one appeal is allowed.

The 3 levels are defined as follows:


  • The novice category is intended for costumers with few to no prior experience making costumes and/or people with little masquerade experience.
  • May not have won “Best Novice” or honors of that caliber or above at any major costume competition.


  • The intermediate category is intended for people with some experience making costumes and/or masquerade experience or having a few awards for costumes.
  • May not have won “Best Intermediate” or honors of that caliber or above at any major costume competition.


  • The master/professional category is intended for skilled costumers with lots of experience or many awards. Costume commissioners and professionals are allowed to compete at this level as well.

Anime Expo usually doesn’t count any hallway awards or Judge’s Awards and Honorable Mentions when considering an individual’s skill as a cosplayer depending on the circumstance.

If you need assistance, the Cosplay Department staff can help place you in the appropriate skill level.

Best in Show
This category of awards is presented to the entries that have shown the best in Presentation and/or Craftsmanship. To be eligible for these awards, an entry must have undergone craftsmanship judging.The awards are:


Awards for Each Skill Rank

A winner will selected for the following categories in each skill rank (Master, Intermediate, and Novice). Best Construction is for entries that have demonstrated excellence in personal costume construction. To qualify, entrants must make an appoint with our craftsmanship judges.

  • Best in Class
  • Best Construction
  • Best Performance

Judges Awards

These awards are given out by the Judges themselves for entries they deem worthy of note. Each Judge may present one award based on their personal selection.

What is current process for applying to be a part of AX Masquerade?
After interested attendees email [email protected], the cosplay department staff will respond with a welcome letter and a form they must complete. Once all the information on the form is complete they are put on the master list and guaranteed a spot in the show. However, since many entries may not complete the requirements right away (incomplete form, missing wavers, audio, video, etc), those who have turned in the majority of their information are put onto a primary list until all their info is turned in.What is the response time to submissions?
Our cosplay department is now able to respond within 48 hours or so.

How many slots are there?
We have a total of 40 contestant slots, plus an additional 10-15 on a waiting list.

When will you stop accepting submissions for the Masquerade?

Pre-registration will close on June 11th.

What if I still have questions?
Please send an email to [email protected]

Show Archive

Media from this year’s Masquerade will be added soon! Please look forward to it.