Cosplay FAQ

Below you'll find some of the most frequently asked questions about cosplay at Anime Boston, including the Masquerade and the Cosplay Games. If you don't see the answer to your question, feel free to ask us on the Cosplay Forums.

General Cosplay Questions

  1. What is cosplay?
  2. Do I have to act like my character while I am in costume?
  3. Do I have to be in cosplay to attend the convention?
  4. Where do I get a costume?
  5. How do I decide who to dress up as?
  6. Should I dress up as a character who is or isn't popular?
  7. Can I wear a costume that ISN'T from an anime or Japanese video game?
  8. Wait a minute... you said I might not be able to apply for Masquerade or Cosplay Games as a non-Japanese character? Why not?
  9. Will people take my picture if I cosplay?
  10. I am commuting to the convention, and don't feel comfortable wearing my costume on the T. Is there somewhere I can change?
  11. What is "cross-play"?
  12. I want to make my own costume, but I don't know how. Where can I learn?
  13. I wear glasses, but my character doesn't. Is it OK if I wear my glasses? Should I buy contacts?
  14. My character's eyes are a different color than mine! Should I get colored contacts?
  15. My costume is pretty skimpy. Can I still wear it to the convention?
  16. My character doesn't wear shoes. Can I walk around barefoot?
  17. My character wears roller-blades (or any other wheeled form of transport). Can I wear them?
  18. What is allowed for prop weapons? Do I have to do anything for my weapons?
  19. My costume is HUGE. I can barely fit through doors. Is it still ok for me to wear it to the convention?
  20. My character carries around/wears a sign, but I see in the rules that we can't carry signs. Is it against the rules for me to carry it?
  21. Can my costume incorporate blinking lights, sound, or portable smoke/fog machines?
  22. Is there somewhere at the convention where I can fix my costume if it becomes damaged?
  23. My costume involves an element which is frowned upon in society, like wearing a swastika armband, or black-face. Is it still ok to wear it?

Masquerade Questions

  1. How do I apply to be in the Masquerade?
  2. When will the Masquerade take place?
  3. Do I need to be in cosplay to attend the Masquerade?
  4. What is the seating policy for the Masquerade?
  5. When will the Masquerade Craftsmanship judging be?
  6. When will the Masquerade rehearsal be?
  7. What time is check in for the Masquerade?
  8. What lighting queues can we request for our Masquerade skit?
  9. When are the winners of the Masquerade announced?
  10. What are the photo and video policies for the Masquerade?
  11. Why don't you have a Hall Cosplay Contest? What gives?
  12. I want to be the MC for next year! How do I apply?

Cosplay Games Questions

  1. Do the characters on-stage in Chess and Death Match actually have to fight one another?
  2. Do I have to have stage-fighting experience in order to apply for Chess or Death Match?
  3. How are the participants for Anime Boston's Cosplay Events chosen?
  4. Do we get anything, like prizes, for participating?
  5. I didn't make my costume myself. Can I still apply?
  6. I applied, but I haven't heard anything back yet. Who should I contact?
  7. Do I actually have to go on a date with someone if I win one of the Dating Game rounds?
  8. I made it in! Huzzah! Now what?

Cosplay Photoshoot Questions

  1. What is a Cosplay Photoshoot or Gathering?
  2. Do I have to cosplay to attend a photoshoot or gathering?
  3. How do I find a gathering? When/Where is the photoshoot for the series I like?
  4. Who runs the photoshoots/gatherings at Anime Boston?
  5. I am interested in running a public photoshoot, what do I need to do?
  6. How do I schedule a Cosplay Photoshoot/Gathering?
  7. How long can the gathering be?
  8. What photoshoots/gatherings are accepted at Anime Boston?
  9. What setup/tech is there for the photoshoots?

1. What is cosplay?
Wikipedia defines cosplay as "a type of performance art in which participants don costumes and accessories to represent a specific character or idea." Basically, it means that you dress up in a costume (like Halloween!).

2. Do I have to act like my character while I am in costume?
No. Some people do choose to role-play while they are in costume, but it is by no means required, unless you are participating in an event like the Dating Game or Cosplay Chess.

3. Do I have to be in cosplay to attend the convention? Absolutely not. Many people attend the convention in street clothes, you will not feel out of place if you are not in costume.

4. Where do I get a costume?
Some people make their own costumes, some buy them from places like Ebay or specific costume retailers. Still others commission people to make their costume for them. It is not required that you make your own costume unless you are competing in the Masquerade, where you will be judged on your craftsmanship.

5. How do I decide who to dress up as? Dress up as whoever you like! There are no rules as to who should dress as what.

6. Should I dress up as a character who is or isn't popular?
As stated in the question above, you should dress as a character you love, regardless of their popularity. Be aware that wearing a costume from a little-known source may mean that you won't be asked for as many pictures, but the people who DO recognize you will be thrilled to find you!

7. Can I wear a costume that ISN'T from an anime or Japanese video game?
Yes! While we are an anime convention, we do not require that cosplays be exclusive to Japanese media (unless you are planning on wearing the costume to participate in a specific cosplay event, like Masquerade or Chess, in which case you will need to check the guidelines for each specific event). If you are just planning on walking around the halls, feel free to wear your Stormtrooper, My Little Pony or any other type of costume you like.

8. Will people take my picture if I cosplay?
Almost certainly. It is very common for people to request photographs from people wearing costumes, particularly of popular characters. Practice your poses, just in case. This said, if you aren't comfortable with people taking your picture, don't be afraid to say so. The vast majority of people are respectful of the cosplayer's wishes and will not photograph you without your consent. If someone does snap a photo without asking, you may politely ask them to delete it. If you encounter any problems with people taking unwanted photographs of you, feel free to contact any member of Anime Boston staff or security, and we will be happy to help you.

9. Wait a minute... you said I might not be able to apply for Masquerade or Cosplay Games as a non-Japanese character? Why not?
Anime Boston is an anime convention. As such, the executives of the convention have made a ruling that all official events (panels, AMV contest, cosplay contests, etc) must have a basis in Japan or Japanese culture. It's not that we don't love My Little Pony, Steven Universe, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Overwatch or any of these other things... it's just that we are by definition an anime convention. There are plenty of multi-genre conventions out there that host programming for ALL forms of pop culture. Each event has a different ruling on how much non-Japanese content is allowed, so check the rules for each specific event or contact the coordinators if you’re unsure.

10. I am commuting to the convention, and don't feel comfortable wearing my costume on the T. Is there somewhere I can change?
We do not provide any sort of changing rooms at the convention, but you can change in the bathrooms if you need to. Another possibility would be finding a friend who is staying at a nearby hotel and asking if you might use their room.

11. What is "cross-play"?
This is a phrase used to describe cosplaying as the opposite gender from your own. A girl dressing up as a boy character, or a boy dressing as a girl, would be cross-play. It is very common.

12. I want to make my own costume, but I don't know how. Where can I learn?
There are many fine tutorials over on www.cosplay.com, in the forums section. You may also want to look into taking sewing classes at your local university or fabric store (Jo-Ann fabrics often offers beginner's level sewing courses).

13. I wear glasses, but my character doesn't. Is it OK if I wear my glasses? Should I buy contacts?
It is perfectly acceptable to wear glasses with your cosplay. Some people may ask you to remove them if they request a picture. You should check with your optometrist before buying any sort of contact lenses.

14. My character's eyes are a different color than mine! Should I get colored contacts?
The majority of people will not notice if your eyes are a different color from your character's. You should never feel that you have to wear contacts in order to cosplay. However, if you are a perfectionist, colored contacts can be a fantastic detail to add to your costume. Before purchasing any sort of corrective lens, make an appointment with your optometrist. Your eyes will need to be measured for contact lenses. Any retailer or website which is selling contact lenses without obtaining a prescription from your eye doctor is doing so illegally, and you wouldn't want to trust your eyesight to them. Wearing contacts which are not the right size for your eye can lead to very serious complications.

15. My costume is pretty skimpy. Can I still wear it to the convention?
Offensive and/or revealing attire is prohibited. We kindly ask that people refrain from wearing costumes that would be considered inappropriate in public. Shirts are required in the Prudential Mall, Sheraton Hotel lobby, and all areas where food is served. If you're asked to cover up by Convention, Prudential, or Sheraton staff, please comply.

16. My character doesn't wear shoes. Can I walk around barefoot?
No. Shoes are required on the convention grounds. Wearing flip-flops or skin-colored dancer's shoes are acceptable alternatives, however.

17. My character wears roller-blades (or any other wheeled form of transport). Can I wear them?
No. The convention center has a strict rule prohibiting anything with wheels (excluding mobility assistances devices like wheelchairs, of course).

18. What is allowed for prop weapons? Do I have to do anything for my weapons?
Please see the Props Policy for questions on prop weapons and how/where to get them approved.

19. My costume is HUGE. I can barely fit through doors. Is it still ok for me to wear it to the convention?
Please be aware that the hallways are often very crowded, and moving in such a large costume would be difficult. If you have an over-sized costume (like a Gundam or other mech-type costume, for instance) you may contact Cosplay Staff and we will work with you to ensure that you have a place out of the way of general traffic to set up for photos.

However, if your costume or props are just too big for the area you're in, you may be asked by Anime Boston staff to remove it from the facilities.

20. My character carries around/wears a sign, but I see in the rules that we can't carry signs. Is it against the rules for me to carry it?
As long as the character carries the sign in the show, it is allowed. Please carry a screenshot or picture of your character with the sign so that any staff which may stop you will be able to see the proof. Examples of such characters would be Phoenix Wright, Deadpool, Genma Saotome or Wile E. Coyote. Please be aware that this is the only situation where signs are allowed.

21. Can my costume incorporate blinking lights, sound, or portable smoke/fog machines?
Lights are perfectly fine, as long as they are not turned on in screening rooms or other dark events (such as the Masquerade or AMV contest). Sound may be employed, but must be kept to an acceptable level. Smoke or fog machines are not allowed, as they may constitute a fire hazard.

22. Is there somewhere at the convention where I can fix my costume if it becomes damaged?
Yes! Anime Boston provides a "Cosplay Repair Station", located in Hynes 104. The materials at the station are completely free. If something should happen to your costume or props, feel free to come by, and our staff will help you get fixed up!

23. My costume involves an element which is frowned upon in society, like wearing a swastika armband, or black-face. Is it still ok to wear it?
Symbols and costumes depicting or associated with discrimination, harassment, or hate groups are not permitted in the convention. Anime Boston staff reserve the right to make final determination whether an object falls within these parameters.

24. How do I apply to be in the Masquerade?
You can apply for the Masquerade (and all of the other Cosplay Events) by logging into the Cosplay HQ. Please note that you will need to have a username for the forums before you can utilize the Cosplay HQ.

25. When will the Masquerade take place?
The Masquerade will be held on Saturday night. The exact time will be announced when this year's schedule is posted.

26. Do I need to be in cosplay to attend the Masquerade?
You do not need to be in any costume to watch the Masquerade. If you are participating in the show however, some sort of costume will be required.

27. What is the seating policy for the Masquerade?
In order to streamline seating for the Masquerade, Anime Boston uses a ticket system.

Tickets will be FREE to all attendees and handed out while supplies last. The location of the ticketing table and times when it will be open will be announced shortly before the convention. There will be two types of tickets: Auditorium Floor and Auditorium Balcony. One ticket will be issued per person. Each ticket guarantees the ticket holder a seat in that area. Anime Boston is not responsible for lost/misplaced tickets; however, if tickets are lost, seats may be available after those with tickets have been seated. Attendees will not be allowed to line up for the Masquerade until two hours before seating time. There will be a line for each ticket type. Floor ticket holders will line up outside of the Auditorium entrance, balcony ticket holders will line up on the 3rd floor along the windows. There will be no simulcast.

28. When will the Masquerade Craftsmanship judging be?
Masquerade judges will have judging times on Friday and Saturday. In order to streamline the judging process, times will be provided before the convention. The Masquerade Coordinator will notify you of your judging times.

29. When will the Masquerade rehearsal be?
We do our best to provide rehearsal times. However, due to time constraints, rehearsals for the Masquerade are not guaranteed. If your group is given a rehearsal time, the Masquerade Coordinator will notify you of your rehearsal time.

30. What time is check in for the Masquerade?
Check in will be held in Masquerade HQ on Friday afternoon from 12pm to 6pm, and Saturday morning 9am to 11am.

31. What lighting queues can we request for our Masquerade skit?
The following lighting options are available:

  • Stage to blue for any setup. "Blue," for these purposes, should be treated like a blackout.
  • Stage to blue for end.
  • Groups are then limited to one simple lighting effect during the skit. This can include a flash of nearly any color (except brown or black), a dim/restore, or color shift/restore. A "rock show" type effect of multi-colored flashing lights may also be requested.

32. When are the winners of the Masquerade announced?
The winners of the Masquerade will be announced at the end of the Masquerade.

33. What are the photo and video policies for the Masquerade?
Taking photographs of the Masquerade is permitted. For the safety of the participants flash photography is NOT permitted.

34. Why don't you have a Hall Cosplay Contest? What gives?
Anime Boston has merged our Hall Cosplay and Masquerade contests. You can still compete with a "craftsmanship only" entry, the only difference is that you will have a broader field of competition. There are no other changes - you are judged on your craftsmanship and have the choice of whether or not to participate in the Fashion Show during the Masquerade.

35. I want to be the MC next year! How do I apply?
Being the MC is a very difficult and time-consuming position. In the event that we have an opening, we screen our MCs very carefully, and only choose people who have had extensive experience in hosting large live events. If you fit these criteria, you may contact us with video of your previous MCing experience (youtube links are acceptable) and we will review them.

36. Do the characters on-stage in Chess and Death Match actually have to fight one another?
No. All combat is stage-fighting. No one on stage will be injured.

37. Do I have to have stage-fighting experience in order to apply for Chess or Death Match?
No, although if you DO have experience it is a huge plus. We will hold a brief tutorial on the basics of stage combat before the event so you can have some time to practice.

38. How are the participants for Anime Boston's Cosplay Events chosen?
Our choices depend on a number of things, but the biggest ones are acting experience, quality of your costume, and how recognizable/popular your character is. We do accept a few people every year who have no experience whatsoever and we also accept some characters who aren't from popular "mainstream" anime, so don't be afraid to apply.

Note: Please be aware that applicants for the Cosplot and the Host Pool are more highly screened than other events, as participating in either requires a lot of work before and during the convention. For these "events" we prefer to work with people who have prior experience in Anime Boston's Cosplay Games.

39. Do we get anything, like prizes, for participating?
We do have some small prizes that we give out to our participants each year, but the biggest prize is to get out there on stage and show off your awesome costume and acting skills!

40. I didn't make my costume myself. Can I still apply?
Absolutely! You are welcome to apply to Anime Boston's Cosplay Games regardless of whether your costume is homemade or bought.

41. I applied, but I haven't heard anything back yet. Who should I contact?
Please be aware that we get hundreds of applications each year, and it takes our staff some time to go through them all - especially as it gets closer to the convention. If you haven't heard back from us a few weeks after you have sent in your application, contact the Cosplay Games Coordinator.

42. Do I actually have to go on a date with someone if I win one of the Dating Game rounds?
No.

43. I made it in! Huzzah! Now what?
Our staff will remain in contact with you via email in the month prior to the convention. We also give out small badges to our participants with important information on them, like when each event is and where it will be held. If you have any questions while you are at the convention, don't hesitate to stop by Cosplay HQ, and we will be happy to help you!

44. What is a Cosplay Photoshoot or Gathering?
People organize cosplay photoshoots and gatherings as a chance to meet up with others that like the same series, and give an opportunity to find a greater variety of characters from the same series in one place.

45. Do I have to cosplay to attend a photoshoot or gathering?
No. While gatherings are organized so cosplayers can find others from the same series, you do not have to be in cosplay to attend. Many people attend so they can take photos of their favorite characters, or share their love for a series.

46. How do I find a gathering? When/Where is the photoshoot for the series I like?
Before the convention: You can search the Anime Boston Cosplay Forum or popular social media sites (like Cosplay.com or Facebook) to see if other people share the same interests in a series. If you don’t see anyone talking about the series you’re interested in, then you can start a new thread or page to start the discussion. Once there’s enough interest, then someone can volunteer to organize a gathering and let people know when and where it will be taking place.

During the Convention: Anime Boston will have the schedule of all registered photoshoots available on the main website, and in the guidebook app that is available to download closer to the con.

47. Who runs the photoshoots/gatherings at Anime Boston?
Anime Boston members volunteer to organize and run their own cosplay gatherings and photoshoots. Anime Boston Staff do not run the actual gatherings.

48. I am interested in running a public photoshoot, what do I need to do?
Look in the Anime Boston forums and on other popular social media sites to see if anyone else is planning to run a photoshoot from the same series. If you find someone else, then talk to them, it’s generally better to get one larger group than splitting the fandom into smaller groups. As Anime Boston grows closer, sign-ups will appear so you can get your photoshoot in the schedule of events.

49. How do I schedule a Cosplay Photoshoot/Gathering?
Group organizers will be able to sign up their series closer to the convention on the Anime Boston website. Look for the news announcement. Locations and times will be booked on a first-come-first-served basis. There will be one group per location per timeslot, unless the groups agree to share ahead of time.

50. How long can the gathering be?
Groups can sign up for 1 half-hour, 1 hour, or 1 hour-and-a-half timeslots, depending on expected size. Many photoshoots only take an hour, smaller groups take less time, while we have seen large enough groups in the past that have needed 1.5 hours. (Please remember to plan your gatherings accordingly, so you can let the next group start on time.)

51. What photoshoots/gatherings are accepted at Anime Boston?
Any series from any media can have a photoshoot or gathering at Anime Boston. All photoshoots are public and are located in open hallways, so they must be run in a PG13 manner, and cosplays must follow Anime Boston dress code. (Younger children may be walking by during the gathering).

52. What setup/tech is there for the photoshoots?
Each location is different and offers a different space to gather in. All locations are inside the Hynes Convention Center, have blank white walls, and some locations have large windows for strong backlighting, depending on the time of day. Some locations have nearby benches, but all locations are designed as wide open spaces.

All locations are in the open hallways and are subject to Anime Boston’s sound policy. If any music or voices become too disruptive, then security may request things to be toned down or dismissed.