• AX Masquerade & World Cosplay Summit USA Finals

    The AX Masquerade and WCS USA Finals are cosplay craftsmanship and performance competitions, with some of the best prizes in the country.

People from across the US compete in our grand showcase of cosplay craftsmanship and performance.


The Anime Expo Masquerade has been a longstanding tradition, running for over 25 years. Every year, cosplayers bring the best in performance and craft to entertain the audience and impress our incredible cosplay judges. The AX Masquerade is a cosplay craftsmanship and performance competition, with some of the largest cash prizes in the country.

Since making its home at Anime Expo in 2017, the World Cosplay Summit USA Finals has shared the stage with the AX Masquerade, making our Main Events stage shine with the some of the best cosplayers in the country, competing for the chance to represent the United States at the World Cosplay Championships in Nagoya, Japan. Interested in stepping onto an international stage? Learn more about the WCS USA Finals at our official website.

Due to popular demand, the AX Masquerade/ World Cosplay Summit USA Finals are a ticketed event and requires a ticket to attend in addition to a badge. For more information, please check out the Ticketing FAQ.

AX24 Masquerade & WCS USA Finals Applications Now Closed.

2024 Masquerade and World Cosplay Summit USA Judges

2024 Judging Panel to Be Announced.

Masquerade and WCS USA Finals Ticketed Event

Get ready for two phenomenal cosplay events sharing the same amazing stage! The AX Masquerade is the longest-running event at Anime Expo. Cheer for your favorites as they compete for incredible prizes and the coveted Best in Show on the Main Events stage!

Date: Saturday, July 6, 2024

Location:  Main Events, Hall B

Get Tickets!!!

How To Enter the AX Masquerade

  • Read through the rules below for all important information about judging, contest, and performance guidelines and requirements.
  • Complete the Masquerade Contestant Application

    AX24 Masquerade Application Now Closed

  • Upon notification of acceptance from the AX Masquerade Team, prepare and send the following by May 31, 2024. Please refer to the General Info & Requirement section and the Performance Rules & Guidelines section down below for more details.
    • Audio
    • Background Image/Video
    • Progress Photos
  • Maintain communication with AX Masquerade Team via email.

    Contestants are expected to respond to emails in a timely manner (within one week or given deadline). Any further instructions or confirmations will be conducted via email. Lack of communication could result in disqualification. If you are expected to be unavailable for a certain period of time, please be sure to notify the AX Masquerade Team by emailing  masquerade@anime-expo.org.

  • Finalize Masquerade Eligibility

    Check-in with the AX Masquerade Team on Day 1 (July 4, 2024) to confirm your slot in the Masquerade.

    Questions or comments? Contact us at: masquerade@anime-expo.org

  1. Each participant must have a Valid 4-Day Anime Expo badge.
    • All craftsmanship judging will take place on day 1 and 2 of Anime Expo. Participants will have the opportunity to request their preferred craftsmanship judging day in the months leading up to Anime Expo.
  2. Each entry must submit the following by May 31, 2024. Failure to submit without notification may result in a disqualification:
    • Audio: Any sound necessary to express your performance (i.e., music, pre-recorded dialogue, sound effects). Microphones will not be available on stage for contestants to use. More details can be found in Performance Rules & Guidelines.
    • Background  Image/Video: Any image/video necessary to express your performance. Contestants must submit an image or video that will be shown on the screen behind them during their performance. More details can be found in Performance Rules & Guidelines.
    • Photos: Each contestant must submit a minimum of 2 progress photos of their costume from any angle at any stage of the construction. This does not count towards any craftmanship judging; it is simply to show that work has begun for the entry.
  3. Each entry may only appear on stage one time. Each person may only participate in one entry.
  4. On-stage rehearsals are not guaranteed. Please be prepared to adapt and perform without previous rehearsal time. If rehearsal time is granted please be on time or else you will forfeit your rehearsal time.
  5. 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 AX Masquerade Team or email us at masquerade@anime-expo.org.
  6. Each accepted entries must check-in at the Masquerade Office in person a minimum of 10 minutes prior to their scheduled craftsmanship judging session. The AX Masquerade Team reserves the right to terminate entries that are late or have missed their check-in without prior notification or explanation. Entries that have elected not to participate in craftmanship judging must check-in on Day 1.
  7. Current AX volunteers, Employees of the SPJA, and anyone who was an AX Volunteer within the past year are NOT eligible to compete in the masquerade.
  8. While the Anime Expo Masquerade and World Cosplay Summit USA Preliminary are held during the same time, they are separate events with separate rules, regulations, and requirements. Due to the popularity of both events, Contestants cannot enter to compete in both under any circumstance. Anyone found to have entered both events may have an opportunity to choose one if there are available slots or may be disqualified.

*All information, rules & guidelines effective as of December 21, 2024.

Masquerade contestants may apply to any one of the divisions listed below. These divisions are based on experience and skill; they apply only to the costume maker(s), not the wearer, as they are for craftsmanship, not performance.

Note that the AX Masquerade Team and/or the judges reserve the right to reclassify any contestants if they feel you are under- or over-qualified for your declared skill level. You may appeal to be reclassified into another skill level. Appeals can be presented to the AX Masquerade Team but only one appeal is allowed.

Anime Expo 2024 Masquerade Divisions:

• Contestants with some experience making costumes and no experience participating in a cosplay contest or masquerade.
• May not have won “Best Intermediate” or honors of that caliber or above at any major costume competitions.
• Entries with contestants under the age of 13 should compete in the Beginner class.

• Contestants with some experience making costumes and/or participating in a masquerade experience.
• May have won a few awards at any costume competition. (Winning a previous award is not required to qualify for this division.)
• May not have won “Best Intermediate” or honors of that caliber or above at any major costume competition.

• Contestants with a high level of skill and/or highly experienced.
• May have won many awards or at least one high-ranking award at any costume competition. (Winning a previous award is not required to qualify for this division)

Anime Expo usually does not count any Hall Awards, Judge’s Awards, or Honorable Mentions when considering an individual’s skill as a cosplayer depending on the circumstance.

If you need assistance, the AX Masquerade Team can help place you at the appropriate skill level. Email: masquerade@anime-expo.org

1. Costumes must be from an anime, manga, video game, or tokusatsu of Japanese origin or of obvious Japanese pop culture influence. Please feel free to contact the AX Masquerade Team for any inquiries at masquerade@anime-expo.org.

2. Costumes based on fan-art, custom creations, or a design that deviates greatly from the original source should reach out to masquerade@anime-expo.org to be considered for eligibility for the competition. These will be handled on a case-by-case basis. The AX Masquerade Team reserves the right to deny eligibility.

3. For group entries, 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 are not eligible for craftsmanship awards. Found, salvaged, or altered costumes and props are still eligible for craftsmanship judging but must be altered by at least 60% with the exceptions being for footwear or items for safety.

4. All props must conform to 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. Please secure your own handler if you have a bulky costume that might require an aid to move or see. We will do our best to make sure every contestant appears on stage. If the costume is bulky, please be aware that we may not be able to get the contestant on the stage, but we may still let them perform. Please be prepared to walk up 4-6 stairs if a lift or ramp is not available.

6. Costumes that have previously won awards from a major convention (20,000 attendees or more) or costume contest are subject to review and must contact the AX Masquerade Team at masquerade@anime-expo.org when they apply AND must list their awards when applying.

7. If a contestant is found to be misrepresenting their craftsmanship, previous awards, or originality of performance, they may face removal from the Masquerade, be stripped of any awards won, and/or be suspended from future Anime Expo Cosplay events at the sole discretion of SPJA.

Masquerade contestants can choose to enter as a group performance (dance, skit, color guard, etc.) or a solo performance (monologue, color guard, dance, skit, etc.). Both solo and group performances are expected to be entertaining, while displaying the costume(s) and embodying the character(s). Please be aware that tech rehearsals will not be guaranteed. As such, please be sure to check through our technical requirements and guidelines to make sure that your audio and video files will play properly.

• Adhere to the 2-minute time limit.
o MC introductions will not count towards the performance time.
o Audio and video submissions that exceed the 2-minute limit will be cut off at the 2-minute mark unless confirmed otherwise.

Audio: Any sound necessary to express your performance (i.e., music, pre-recorded dialogue, sound effects).
o Must be comparable to a PG rating – no profanity or offensive language. Bleeps or other forms of censoring are acceptable.
o Should not exceed 2 minutes.
o Must be in MP3 format.
o Must have a minimum of 192 bitrate.
o Try to avoid audio quality defects (audio distortion, overdriven levels, low sample-rate/bitrate).

Background Image / Video: Any image/video necessary to express your performance.
o Must be one of the following accepted file formats.
 Video: MP4, MKV, AVI, MOV, MPG, or M2TS. (MP4 is suggested.)
 Image: PNG
o Must have a resolution of at least 720p.
o Can contain live-action footage, slides, or still images.
o Must be original. CANNOT contain any copyrighted material. If you use a photo, you must have explicit permission to use the photo.

1. All masquerade contestants must follow the guidance and instruction of all AX Masquerade Team.

2. All Masquerade contestants must comply with the Anime Expo Code of Conduct, LA City Ordinances, and comply with a PG rating.

3. Any presentations with stunts, extreme or shocking performances must be approved by the department lead and assistant lead before the event. Failure to do so may result in disqualification and-or expulsion.

4. The use of flash powder, fireworks, lasers, electrical flashes, or smoke machines are STRICTLY prohibited.

5. Any debris left on stage must be quickly cleaned by stagehands in less than 10 seconds. Interaction with the MC, judges, or the audience is prohibited while on stage.

Craftsmanship judging is not required. but it is recommended. Contestants are only judged on the skill level of their class. Contestants that opt out of Craftsmanship judging will only be eligible for the Best Performance Award.

  • Contestants will be given the chance to opt in or out of Craftsmanship Judging before Anime Expo 2024.
  • Contestants will be judged on a scale of 1-10 in the following categories:
    • Design Difficulty, Techniques & Problem Solving, Execution, Creativity, and Continuity.
  • Contestant must arrive 10 minutes before their judging time, and have with them all the elements of the costume.
  • If a contestant is late, without contacting the AX Masquerade Team, a make up judging session cannot be guaranteed.
  • It is encouraged for the cosplayer to be in full costume for the judging session, but it is not required. Hair, make up, or props that do not appear for the the costume judging cannot be judged.
  • If there is special make up worn with the costume, it is  recommended that the cosplayer bring a picture of the makeup to display the full effect to the judges.
  • Contestants are encourage to create a Costume Portfolio for their Craftsmanship judging, detailing the progress of the craftsmanship construction, and can include the following:
    • Binder (no larger than 1.5 inches)
    • References pictures (minimum 2 per customer)
    • Captions
    • Fabric swatches
    • Brief background information of character
      • Title of anime, manga, or video game of origin
      • Why you picked the character
      • Any success or difficulties
  • For solo entries, if a costume is commercially acquired, it is not eligible for Craftsmanship judging or Craftsmanship awards.
  • For group entries, if majority (over 60%) of the costumes are constructed by contestants, it is still eligible for Craftsmanship judging.

To avoid bias voting, if a constants and one or more of the judges have a personal relationship (friend, relative, boyfriend/girlfriend, or significant other) that judge will not be allowed to vote for that contest.

• Contestants will be judged on a scale of 1-10 in the following categories:

Stage Presence. Tech, Creativity, Prop & Set, and Continuity.

• Contestants must arrive according to their call time at the Masquerade Office prior to the Masquerade to be escorted to the Main Events Hall. Call time will be issued at a later time.

• If a contestant is late, they must contact the AX Masquerade Team as soon as possible in order for arrangements to be made. If a contestant is late, their Performance may be cancelled and they will no longer be eligible to compete.

  • Best in Show: TBA
  • Best in Show Runner Up: TBA
  • Best Construction: TBA
  • Best Performance: TBA
  • Division Winners:
    • Masters: TBA
    • Intermediate: TBA
    • Beginners: TBA

What is WCS?

The World Cosplay Summit (WCS) is an annual cosplay competition and cultural exchange held in Nagoya, Japan. Launched in 2003 by Japanese television station TV Aichi, it’s main focus is to promote the international exchange of Japanese culture, manga and anime. The championship debuted in 2005 and has been held annually since, with participants hailing from 40+ countries and across 6 continents. The World Cosplay Summit USA Finals (WCS USA) take place directly following the Anime Expo Masquerade, running as a separate competition in accordance with WCS rules and regulations.

The winner of the WCS USA Finals at Anime Expo will then travel to Nagoya as representatives of the USA in the Cosplay Championship at World Cosplay Summit.

WCS USA Finals Application Now Closed.


WCS USA 2023 Winner

Team Name: Kirari Cosplay

Names: Kira Masquerade & The Fashionable Cupcake

More in depth information in the WCS USA Website.

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