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!
- All contestants must fill out and sign a release & waiver form and turn in all appropriate paperwork for their group to be able to check in. These forms may be filled out, scanned, and emailed to the Cosplay department ([email protected]).
- In the email or letter with the release & waiver form attached, explain and describe your masquerade performance proposal for review. If you have already completed the listed media requirements in advance (intro video or audio), submit them as well.
- 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]
- Each person may only sign up and participate in a single entry.
- Each entry may not appear on stage more than one time.
- At least one individual from per entry MUST check in at the Cosplay office as soon as possible when arriving on the first day of the Anime Expo. The check-in process will include additional updates, information, possible review of late paperwork and audio files. Once check-in is complete, judging appointments can be assigned. We reserve the right to terminate entries that check in late.
- Any contestant under 18 years of age at the time of the Masquerade must have their parent or guardian sign the appropriate sections of the release & waiver forms.
- Masquerade Meetings are mandatory where at least one representative of each entry must be present.
- At-Con/Late registration will no longer be available at Anime Expo.
- All Masquerade content must comply with the Anime Expo Code of Conduct.
- All skits or performances may not exceed 2 minutes.
- There will be no microphones on stage for contestants to use.
- Series and genre cross-overs are permissible pending approval by the department manager and assistant manager.
- All performance content must not exceed PG-13 guidelines. In addition to these basic guidelines, swearing or depictions of sexual acts are forbidden. Bleeps or other forms of audio censoring are acceptable.
- Any presentations with stunts, extreme or shocking performances must be approved by the department manager and assistant manager before allowed on stage. Failure to do so will result in regrettable disqualification from Anime Expo’s Masquerade for that year.
- The use of flash powder, fireworks, laser, electrical flashes or smoke machines is prohibited unless cleared by the department manager and assistant manager.
- Any debris on stage must be able to be quickly cleaned up by stage hands in fewer than 10 seconds.
- On stage interaction with the MC, judges or audience prohibited.
- All characters in a group may be from anime, manga/comic, video games, or pop-culture relevant films or shows.
- All costumes and props must be made by either the contestant wearing the costume, fellow members of the entry group, or non-professional family/friends without monetary compensation.
- Commercially acquired costumes are or not eligible for craftsmanship awards. Salvaged, repurposed or heavily altered items are acceptable but must be declared when being presented to a judge.
- All props and accessories must conform to Anime Expo®’s Weapons Policy & Code of Conduct.
- Large costumes and props should be given prudent consideration. They must be able to fit through door ways (as a whole or in pieces), claim stairs or fit on an elevator. We cannot guarantee that you will be able to get on stage. If a costume or prop is unable to appear on stage as part of your entry, it will not be considered as part of your entry for awards. Please contact the Cosplay department if you have inquiries.
- Costumes should not be constructed with messy substances or loose materials. Paint or make up should not come off during casual contact with others.
- Costumes must be self-contained. Connections to electrical sockets will not be available.
- Costumes that have previously won awards are strongly discouraged from entering. If you have received a minor award or any accolade, you must notify the Cosplay department for review. Any entrant with an undisclosed award or accolade will be disqualified upon discovery.
- Any costume eligible for Craftsmanship Awards must attend the Preliminary Costume Judging. Any costume not presented at the Preliminary Costume Judging will not be eligible for any Craftsmanship Awards or Best in Show.
- Entries of any skill level may sign up for Preliminary Costume Judging.
- Preliminary costume judging appointments will be held on all days at the con before the Masquerade at the Cosplay Office.
- Primary entrants may sign up for appointments after checking in. Standbys may have appointments, based on availability.
- Appointments are made on a first-come, first-serve basis.
- Deadline for setting up an appointment is the 2nd day of convention or until all appointments have been filled, which ever comes first. Please plan accordingly.
- Costumes, appliances and make up are NOT required to be worn for orientation.
- There will be NO rescheduling of appointments. Due to the high volume of entries and the depth of scrutiny demanded upon our judges, we regrettably cannot excuse missed appointments.
- All costumes being presented for craftsmanship judging must be accompanied by a reference book, binder or while showing construction pictures, progress notes and reference images. The intent is to establish the integrity of the costume being judged.
- All media must be submitted through the online system (email or automation). Further instruction will be provided via email to all approved and standby entries.
- Media that exceeds the maximum specified time will be requested to be shortened or arbitrarily altered by AX.
- 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 further editing is required.
- Acceptable video formats are: .avi, .mp4, or .mpg in the following common resolutions:
- 640x480 (4:3, Square Pixel)
- 848x480 (16:9, Square Pixel)
- 960x720 (4:3, Square Pixel)
- 1280x720 (16:9, Square Pixel)
- 720x480 (4:3, 0.9:1 Pixel Aspect Ratio)
- 720x480 (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 at [email protected]
Best of Show
This category of awards is presented to the entries that have shown the best combination of both Presentation and Craftsmanship. To be eligible for these awards, an entry must be presented at the Preliminary Costume Judging. Any entry that fails this requirement will not be eligible for Best of Show awards. The awards are:
- Best of Show
- Second Place Best of Show
- Third Place Best of Show
This category of awards is presented to the entries that have shown excellent costume craftsmanship and construction. Awards for the skill levels are given for individual achievement in costume construction. To be eligible for group awards, all costumes of an entry must be presented at the Preliminary Costume Judging. Any entry that fails this requirement will not be considered for the Group Craftsmanship Awards.
The Craftsmanship Awards are:
- Best Group Craftsmanship
- Best Master Craftsmanship
- Best Intermediate Craftsmanship
- Best Novice Craftsmanship
- Honorable Mention for Craftsmanship
These awards are presented to the entries that have shown excellent stage presentation. This can be either by a performance or a simple exhibition of a costume. The awards are separated by Group and Individual achievement. Skill levels are not factored into these awards.
The Presentation Awards are:
- Best Group Presentation
- Best Individual Presentation
- Honorable Mention for Presentation
These awards are selected by the Judges for entries they deem worthy of award but did not fit any of the previous categories. Each Judge may present one award based on their personal selection.
This category is composed of prizes from sponsors, retailers and other industry related organizations and may require an entry meet special criteria to be eligible.
The judging of costumes will focus on aspects of craftsmanship. Because of the broad range of skill levels among the field of contestants, a skill ranking system has been established. The skill levels are Novice, Intermediate, and Master/Professional. These rankings apply to the costume maker, not the wearer as they are for construction, not presentation.
This 3 tier system was developed to answer the growing diversity of ranging skill levels within our cosplay communities. This is to ensure that Novice costumers with limited costuming experiences will be able to compete with their peers, not with the more experienced costumers of higher skill levels.
Professional costumers must participate at the Master level. A professional is someone who has either been part of an active cosplay commission studio or has been employed as a seamstress, tailor, or pattern maker at any time. If you are unsure how this affects you, please email the Cosplay department with your inquiries.
Please 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, they can reclassify you into another skill level. Appeals can be presented to the Cosplay manager but any contestation over the final decision could result in a disqualification for the year.
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 virtually no masquerade experience.
- May not have won “Best Novice” or a title of that same caliber or above at any other 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 a title of that same caliber or above at any other major costume competition more than 3 times.
- The master/professional category is intended for skilled costumers with lots of masquerade experience or many awards. Professionals are allowed to compete at this level as well.
- Anyone who wishes to join this level may do so.
Anime Expo will not count any awards such as Judge’s Awards or Honorable Mentions when ranking individual cosplayers.
If you need assistance, the Cosplay department staff can help place you in the appropriate skill level.
1) We will accept the first 40 entries that complete all the appropriate paperwork correctly with an additional 10 as standbys.
2) Entries will be notified ASAP that their applications are accepted or require corrections so that they may become acceptable.
3) Upon acceptance, be prepared to record and submit a 2 minute or less pre- audio track and a 15-30 second video introducing your entry for screening purposes. The Cosplay department can help providing guidelines to showcase your creative talents. If you are unable to complete the video before June 1st, please notify the Cosplay department ([email protected]) as soon as you can.
Costume Judging is based on following factors:
- The fidelity of your costume to the original design.
- Skill in scale and body fit adaptation.
- Overall Construction:
- Use of materials, construction methods and durability.
- Use of appropriate or innovative methods and applications.
- Extra points may be awarded at the Judges discretion for construction done above and beyond the normal effort expected for a costume.