Become your favourite character !

Explanation of what cosplay is

Cosplay (kosupure in Japanese) is a hobby in which people try to play the role of a fictional character by dressing, styling and applying make-up as the character. Most cosplayers dress up as characters from manga, video games, animated films, movies and comic books. 

There are cosplay competitions, where competitors try to outdo each other in the realism of their costume, be it the fabric of the costume, the metal accessories, the weapons, the wigs. They usually make their costumes themselves, sometimes over several years of work.


The beginning of cosplay

The man known as the first cosplayer is Forrest J. Ackerman. He went to a science fiction convention in 1939 dressed as a man from the future. The embodiment of his favourite fictional characters became possible. This was to grow with the success of Star Wars and Star Trek in the 1970s and 1980s. At this time, costume contests began, called masquerades. The term cosplay comes from a Japanese journalist who went to one of these famous conventions. It combines the notion of costume and playing.

It is in the 80's that the Japanese started cosplaying. The popularity of cosplay is such that some people dress up in everyday life. If you are in Tokyo, it is not uncommon to come across cosplayers in the street, depending on the neighbourhood. In Japan, the emphasis is on the fact that everything is handmade, as if the creation of the costume is a reflection of oneself.


The arrival of cosplay in Europe

It was in the mid-1990s that the phenomenon arrived in Europe, mainly in Germany, Italy and France. Here too, we find the need to make one's own costume in order to participate in competitions, for example. Even the making of weapons must be done by hand.

The emphasis is on the spectacular aspect, by trying to express oneself like the character, with the same dialogues or by mimicking the cult scenes.


The most imitated characters

Depending on the media on which the costumes are based, we find the costumes of the most popular characters. Thus, for video games, we find a lot of cosplay of Mario Bros, Zelda, Link or the characters of the World of Warcraft licences.

In science fiction, characters from the Star Wars and Star Trek universes are always the most popular. 

Superheroes are also very inspiring for costuming. Here Spiderman, Batman, Hulk, or Aquaman are very present in the conventions. 

In the series characters, we find Daenerys Targaryen at the head of the Game of Thrones series, Doctor Who, Suicide Squad, and Walking Dead.

For manga, Luffy and Naruto are the most popular characters.


variations of cosplay

There are derivatives of cosplay that are becoming more and more popular.

There is crossplay, which is based on the principle of dressing up as a male character if you are a woman, and the opposite if you are a man. The spectacular aspect of the metamorphosis can be disturbing, and this is what is sought after.

Another variation is the zombie walk. Here the aim is to gather a mass of people in disguise and do an undead walk in major US cities. There are several themes, but it is mainly people dressed as zombies that are used in these walks.


The phenomenon is also present in Switzerland, you can participate in a contest or attend one of the conventions, like Japan Impact or Polymanga. You will discover impressive cosplayers, in an incredible universe.

If you want to surround yourself with other manga fans and be interested in diving deeper into the world of manga, Apolline offers guidance during her Manga courses in Lausanne, Etoy and Montreux

For a more intensive training over a week, don't hesitate to sign up for the February 2022 courses - BD/Manga, held in Lausanne, Montreux, Etoy, Genève, Neuchâtel, Yverdon, Sion and Fribourg.