Cosplay Contest Rules

Welcome to the Cosplay Contest! First of all, thank you for wanting to be a part of this contest. Cosplay is the lifeblood of any convention and we want to recognize the work that goes into your vision. So, here are the rules!

We will be using International Costumers Guild Guidelines for this competition. That means there will be 4 divisions: Novice, Journeyman, Master, and Exhibition. 

Age limit for entry is 12 years old on opening day of Animeland Wasabi.

Skits are their own category and you can be judged for both your skit and your costumes. Simply mark on the form the categories you wish to be entered in. If you ONLY want to be judged for your skit, put Exhibition Only for the Cosplay Judging, and then mark the Skit Judging box.


Email your documentation to

Now for the Rules:

1. For all categories except Master, reference images are not required, but are recommended. If you are not able to print a reference image, you may also pull one up on your cell phone or tablet to present to the judges. Reference images are not mandatory, but without reference pictures, costumers may not be able to compete for accuracy awards. Plus, it allows the judge to view the character you are portraying if he/she has never seen the anime or series.

2. Original designs are allowed, but anime, video games, and any Japan related cosplays will have first priority in the case the maximum entries is met. Original designs either must be 80% made by wearer or have a reference picture to enter.

3. Both made costumes and found/pieced together costumes may be entered into the contest. At least 80% of a costume needs to be made by the wearer for it to be considered made. (Example: Sewing a dress for your costume but then buying accessories and shoes would still qualify it as over 80% made by the entrant.)

IMPORTANT FASHION TIP: If you did not make your costume but are the model for it, that’s perfectly cool and can still be entered in the contest. Simply make sure you state who the costume maker is in your entry form. Giving proper credit is important and proves you are a good person.

4. Contestants can participate in Individual and Group. If one person designed most or all of the costumes in a Group, that person is the one up for the costuming award. This is a separate category from the Skit Category and can be classified as Novice, Journeyman, or Master.

5. Keep everything “family friendly”. No profanity allowed on stage. Content you provide must be no worse than something you would see in a rated-PG movie. This includes messages on signs or clothes. Anyone who breaks this rule will be disqualified and, in the case of offensive content, possibly asked to leave the convention.

6. The guideline for modesty of a costume is a conservative bikini. If you are unsure, ask on the Contact page about any specific outfits for the cosplay contest.


  • open flame
  • flash powder/paper
  • lasers/laser pointers
  • messy substances (i.e. fake blood, silly string)
  • strobe effects
  • projectiles of any nature (this includes loaded NERF guns or water guns)
  • nudity
  • any other potentially dangerous or illegal item (i.e. knives, swords, other sharp objects)

8. If costumes are not self contained, the wearer may bring a handler, but the convention will not be able provide anyone.

9. Skill categories will matter int his contest so know which category your costume best fits in. When considering group entries, go by the hours PER COSTUME, not the overall time.

  • Novice: 0-100 hours
  • Journeyman: 100-300 hours
  • Master: 300+ hours


Category hours are to include research, shopping, building, repairing, false starts or redone work, etc. Honestly, EVERYTHING you do to create this project counts, including writing your documentation, finding your reference pictures, and stuff you tried that didn’t work. Don’t discount your work just because the first attempt failed. That’s practice, and it counts because you learned something.

IMPORTANT FASHION TIP: The purpose of lower categories and competing at that level is to teach you how to take criticism. The people looking at your costume have at least 30 years of making costumes professionally from the skin out. They have competed and judged on the international stage. They know their stuff and are willing to teach you how to be a better costumer. Think about it: You KNOW where all the mistakes are in your costume. So will they.

Novice: If you are new to cosplay or have only competed a few times, this is your division. Novice must have no more than one win in a previous contest. Craftsmanship is not expected to be perfect. Rather, the judges will be looking for how you have translated a character from paper or screen to your own person. Remember, everyone in Masters was once in the Novice category. Enjoy the process!

Journeyman: This is the category for those who have several competitions under their belt or those who have won a craftsmanship award in the Beginner division. If you’ve won between two or more awards this is your division. A higher degree of skill is required in this category as judges start to take fine details, fabric choices, and more advanced techniques under consideration. Documentation is recommended.

Master: This is the place for the most seasoned cosplayers. Competitors in Masters are those who are considered professional or near professional quality – if you have won any Masters level awards, have won more than five Best In Show awards in the past for your works, and if you have been a cosplay judge or a guest at other events, this is your category. If you make 50% or more of your income from cosplaying (commissions, props, celebrity, etc.), you are considered a Master. All aspects are considered, including seams, linings, underpieces, structure, and props, many of which are not noticeable unless closely inspected. Documentation and reference photos are required.  At this level, the tiniest detail can make a sizable difference in judging.

Exhibition Only: Exhibition Only is a great way to get your feet wet. Afraid of judging because it’s too stressful? Only attending for one day? Just got here in time for rehearsal? Just do Exhibition Only! You still get to show off your amazing costume to MILLIONS of adoring fans (okay, maybe not millions) and you can get some practice being on stage. Regardless, you will get your picture taken and can even qualify for the People’s Choice award for audience favorite!

Skits: Just like the name says. This is a blend of both performance and craftsmanship, and the group may be at any of the aforementioned skill levels. Standard craftsmanship judging will occur as per the other categories, but the performance aspect will be much more heavily weighted. Skits may be up to three minutes long. Copies of the script and audio recording must be submitted no later than Saturday morning by 10 AM. This gives our stage crew time to incorporate your music or audio into the show.

IMPORTANT FASHION TIP: Skits can be no longer than 3 minutes and you must submit your audio/script to for approval.

Submitting Audio: If you have audio for your stage presentation, let us know on the form. Make sure you have an email for us to contact you. You can also bring a copy of your audio with you to the convention and get it to the stage crew by 10 AM. If it is on a thumb drive or CD, make it the ONLY file on the thumb drive or CD.

Youth Division: Many of us have kids too so we know the challenges of herding them! In order to keep them happy and participating, we will have a separate costume Parade Sunday for younger folks. There will be specific prizes for them and everyone gets a special Animeland Coloring Book, complete with their own Award Certificate so they can hand out awards to people as well. Or they can keep them in the coloring book for future use!

There are times when the judges decide that an individual should be bumped up to higher category. This is most definitely a compliment on your work! Your craftsmanship is ready to be considered at a higher level and you will be competing in a way that shows everyone in their best light.

Judges also have the right to lower your category – we want you to do the very best you can and give you the best opportunities!


IMPORTANT FASHION TIP: If you are unsure about where you fit skill-wise, let us know! We know our stuff. If we feel you would show better in a lower category, we’ll ask if you want to drop down. Likewise, if you are too skilled to be in the category you chose, we’ll bump you up to the proper level.

Although we won’t drop you a category unless you are okay, we might bump you up without telling you. If you enter a category for which you are unsuited and do not wish to be bumped down to a lower category, that’s fine. Just understand that simply because you are the only entrant in the Master Category, that doesn’t mean you win it. If you don’t fit the requirements, your entry won’t win.


On Saturday 10-3, the judges will be doing pre-judging. This is a chance for you to bring in your costume and have it looked over by the judges before it goes on stage. You CAN wear it but you don’t have to.

At the sign-up area for the costume contest, there will be a sheet with 10 minute time blocks. Pick one and write your name in it. Make note on your judging sheets what your time slot is. You are required to sign up for this slot in person. BRING YOUR 3 JUDGING SHEETS WITH YOU TO YOUR PRE-JUDGING APPOINTMENT. If you forget or misplace them, reschedule and fill out replacement sheets. If you can’t reschedule, please enter under Exhibition Only. We still want you to be on stage, but we can’t judge you if we don’t have your sheets.

IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO BE ON TIME. If you are late to your pre-judging, you can reschedule to a later time only if there is an open slot. If something happens and you can’t make your time slot and can’t reschedule, please enter as an Exhibition Only. You did all this work and prep, the audience deserves to see your work!

Thank you for your participation!