The Masquerade is a Saturday night theatrical performance in which groups of fans display their costuming and acting skills. The participants create and perform short skits based on their favorite anime or Japanese video game. These skits can be dramatic, comedic, dance-based or just plain wacky! A panel of staff and celebrity judges present awards to the best performances and costumes. The Masquerade is just as fun to watch as it is to participate in!

Anime Boston, unlike many other conventions across the United States, has merged our Hall Cosplay and Masquerade contests into ONE contest called simply the Masquerade. You can still get judged on your craftsmanship alone, just as you would at a Hall Cosplay Contest; the difference is that you will be competing against the participants of the Performance Division who chose to also get judged on Craftsmanship.

Indicate when you sign up whether you wish to be judged on CRAFTSMANSHIP, PERFORMANCE, or BOTH. If you choose only craftsmanship, you will not be expected to have a skit planned, though you are still welcome to participate in the catwalk.

After you've read all of the rules below CLICK HERE to apply for the Masquerade when applications are open!

New for this year: Our Division Guidelines have changed slightly, in order to better adhere with the international costuming community (the ICG). Please review the Division section to determine which Division you should enter.

Participating in the Masquerade:

Please note that many of the rules have been truncated for easier perusal. Please click on a rule to expand it and read more.

  1. Registering (Pre-con Expectations for Masquerade Participants)
  2. Checking In (At-con Expectations for Masquerade Participants)
  3. Masquerade Rules
  4. Divisions
  5. Awards List
  6. Important Information on Craftmanship Judging
  7. Sound/Video Guidelines
  8. MC Intro & Outros
  9. Exhibition Performances
  10. Damages
  11. Props Policy
  12. Special Requests
  13. Participant Timeline

1. Registering (Pre-con Expectations for Masquerade Participants)

A. All groups must pre-register for the Masquerade online. In order to do so, sign in or make an account on our Cosplay HQ and click on "Masquerade" to apply.

B. There are twenty-five (25) spots available for presentation & presentation/craftsmanship entries and thirty-five (35) spots available for craftsmanship only entries. Registration will open January 1, 2019 at 12 noon EST. Craftsmanship applications will close when all slots are filled (first-come, first-served based on division). Performance/Performance & Craftsmanship applications close on April 1, 2019.

  1. There will be a "wait-list" in case of cancellations. Any slots that open up due to cancellations before the convention will be given to groups on the wait-list.
  2. Performance entries are NOT chosen on a first-come, first-serve basis. Entries are judged based on their scripts and/or audio/video. The more time you spend on your scripts or audio, the better your chances of being chosen.
  3. Initial performance entries will be judged and chosen on March 19. Applications will remain open until April 1. Any entries submitted between March 19 and April 1 will be automatically added to the waitlist.
  4. The Masquerade Coordinator will email the primary contact of each group on a regular basis with important updates. Individuals must keep their contact information updated. If an individual's email is bouncing and/or phone number no longer works, we will be forced to remove the group from the Masquerade or the wait-list. Please update all contact information; simply contact the Masquerade Coordinator to alert us of any changes.
  5. All contestants must be attending members of Anime Boston 2019 and will need to provide a badge at both Masquerade check-in and at the Masquerade itself. Group leaders who are submitting Masquerade registrations must be pre-registered for Anime Boston 2019.
  6. By registering, all Masquerade participants agree to let Anime Boston use their images for promotional purposes, both photographs and video. All participants will be required to sign a waiver at check-in acknowledging this. Any individuals who do not sign a waiver, will not be allowed to appear in the Masquerade.
  7. Cancellations will be accepted up to the start of the convention, and the remaining spaces will be filled by wait-listed groups.
  8. Craftsmanship entries are accepted on a first-come first-serve basis within Division. This means that we have 12 spots for Novices, 12 for Journeymen, and 11 for Masters.

C. Minors (those under 18 years of age) may not participate in the Masquerade unless given written permission by a legal guardian.

  • Forms will be available both at the convention and online prior to the event. Please bring the signed copy with you to Masquerade check-in if you are less than 18 years of age.

2. Checking In (At-con Expectations for Masquerade Participants)
Groups must check in to confirm their registration at Masquerade Headquarters, located in room 101 of the Hynes, during operating hours on Friday, April 19, 2019 (11AM - 8PM) or on Saturday, April 20, 2019 (9AM - 3PM).

  1. Any group that has not checked in by 11AM on Saturday will not be allowed to participate.
  2. Craftsmanship judging will occur on Friday, April 19, 2019 and Saturday, April 20, 2019. Participants will be given the option of a morning or afternoon slot when they register. Please indicate the requested judging time on the application.
  3. Please be advised that individuals will need to be able to remain for the duration of the Masquerade. In the case of medical emergencies, very young children, or personal issues, please contact the Masquerade Coordinator, or another staff member backstage at the convention.
  4. Masquerade staff will attempt to secure a block of time for performance rehearsals. The time available is highly dependent upon other programming at Anime Boston, which has not yet been decided. We hope to have details about rehearsals before the convention, and will send emails as soon as this information is available.
  5. The Masquerade will be held on Saturday, April 20 in the Auditorium. An exact start time will be posted closer to the convention. Please keep an eye on the website for an official schedule to be posted.

3. Masquerade Rules

A. Anime Boston is a Japanese Animation convention, so all costumes must be based on Anime, Manga, Japanese-origin video games, or Japanese live action productions based on Anime or Manga (such as Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, NANA or Cutey Honey.) If the series and/or character originated anywhere other than Japan, it doesn't qualify.

  1. Examples of characters which would be disallowed despite having anime adaptations are: Iron Man, Supernatural, and any Disney characters involved in the Kingdom Hearts franchise. (Japanese adaptations of material within the public domain are permitted - such as Les Miserables: Shojo Cosette, Gankutsuou, or RomeoXJuliet.) Avatar the Last Airbender, the Netflix Voltron, and the live action Netflix Death Note are also not applicable. If you have doubt as to whether a specific skit or costume qualifies, contact the Masquerade Coordinator.
  2. Costumes based on promotional art for anime and manga are allowed, even if the costumes do not appear in the actual series. In this case make sure to bring as many reference photos as possible.
  3. Costumes based on original designs (like Pokemon gijinka) or fanart are allowed based on the discretion of the Masquerade Coordinator. You must email the coordinator to get permission if you plan to use a non-professional source. Original characters are not allowed.

B. For Performance entries, we do allow for non-Japanese characters to appear in small “supporting” roles. These instances are decided on a case-by-case basis by the Masquerade Coordinator and Staff.

C. The Masquerade allows the use of American (and other non-Japanese) music in skits. Groups may use the latest popular American movies, commercials, TV shows, etc., as an influence. If a group isn't sure if their skit plans are appropriate, please ask.

D. Individuals who plan to participate in the Masquerade may not wear a costume at the Anime Boston 2019 Masquerade that was worn for any previous competition at Anime Boston. Groups may not perform a skit at Anime Boston 2019 that was performed at any earlier Anime Boston.

E. Individuals may wear costumes or perform skits that were used in competition/won at other conventions, but we would urge you not to, especially if you’ve already won at an equal size or larger convention.

F. Judges for the Masquerade may not compete in either competition.


  1. Costumes purchased or rented, or any costumes made by a professional designer or seamstress, are prohibited from craftsmanship judging. Please inform the Masquerade staff if only one person in the group made all of the costumes. That person (as long as he/she is a member of the group and not a professional seamstress or tailor) is still eligible for a Craftsmanship Award. Even if he/she happens to be a friend or relative who is NOT participating in the Masquerade, he/she is required to be at Craftsmanship judging in order to answer questions.
  2. There are exceptions to the "purchased or rented" policy:
    • Exception 1: "Found Item" costumes are allowed. This is basically a costume that was built by collecting various pieces from normal clothing stores and combining them or altering them in a unique way, with or without sewing.
    • Exception 2: If one or two minor components of the costume were professionally purchased. In such a case individuals MUST indicate all such items ahead of time, and these items will not be considered by the judges when they evaluate the costume for craftsmanship eligibility.
    • Exception 3: For groups who are interested in presentation awards only (and do not intend to undergo Craftsmanship judging) the Masquerade Coordinator may be more lenient about the proportion of store-bought items in each costume. Individuals are still required to have some homemade items in the costume.

H. Each contestant may present (wear) one costume, or a group of people may wear one costume at the same time (i.e., a large costume that requires several people inside to move it).

  • Multiple entries worn by the same person, or one entry worn by multiple people at different times, will not be allowed. Individuals may begin a skit wearing a concealing cloak or coat, and then remove it to reveal another costume underneath. (Please be advised that strip-tease oriented skits will NOT be permitted).

I. The maximum number of members allowed in one group is ten (10) people. If more than the approved number of contestants appears on stage, the group will be disqualified from receiving Presentation Awards.

J. No use of any messy substances that might ruin the costume of another contestant will be allowed. Any individuals wearing body paint or makeup must make sure it will not come off in casual contact with others.

K. Do not leave anything on the stage that cannot be picked up and removed in a few seconds - this includes glitter, confetti, fake blood, bubbles, and rose petals.

L. No throwing things from the stage, for example: T-shirts or Beach Balls.

M. Costumes must be self-contained. Connections to electrical sockets will not be available.

N. No smoke, fog, vapor, fire, flash powder, lasers, explosives or open flame of any kind will be allowed. Electronic flashes will be permitted provided that you notify the Masquerade Coordinator in advance, and it must be announced in your MC introduction to protect those who may be affected by the flashing lights. Strobe lights are not permitted.

O. Nothing is allowed that would be banned in a "PG-13" rated film. Actions, dress, or mannerisms that would not be allowed in public must be avoided. (ie: explicit sexual gestures, nudity, and explicit swearing.)

P. Anime Boston staff does not allow jumping off the stage, nor does the Masquerade staff allow entering or exiting the stage from any area that has not been approved by the Masquerade Coordinator.

Q. All presentations must be confined to the stage area. The aisles and other audience areas are not to be used for any part of the presentation.

R. Please show respect towards fellow cosplayers backstage and during judging. Any heckling or threatening of other participants will NOT be tolerated.

S. Performances or costumes which are extremely similar in theme or "sequels" to previous Anime Boston performances will not be allowed. This rule is in place in order to keep the show interesting and fresh for the audience.

T. Anime Boston and the Masquerade staff reserves the right to cancel a group's performance at any time for any reason.

4. Divisions

All entries will register under ONE of the following skill Divisions:

Youth: A group may compete in the Youth division as long as all participants are under the age of 12

  • It is acceptable for youth division participants to have costumes made by someone else (parents, friends, etc...)
  • It is acceptable for a parent or guardian to escort the child on-stage. However, if the parent or guardian is an integral part of the skit, the skit must be judged in one of the adult categories.


  • Professional costumers may not enter in the Novice division.
  • A contestant who has competed and won in any division other than Novice may not enter in the Novice division.
  • A contestant who has won “Best in Show” or “First Place Novice” may not enter in the Novice division.
  • A contestant who has won more than three major awards in the Novice division is encouraged to enter in the Journeyman division
  • Minor awards may be counted towards placement at the discretion of the costumer.


  • Professional costumers may not enter in the Journeyman division.
  • A contestant who has competed and won in the Master division may not enter in the Journeyman division.
  • A contestant who has won “Best in Show” or “First Place Journeyman” may not enter in the Journeyman division.
  • A contestant who has won more than three major awards in the Journeyman division may not enter in the Journeyman division
  • Minor awards may be counted towards placement at the discretion of the costumer.


  • Any competitor may enter in the Master division

Groups may always choose to compete at a higher level than that for which they qualify.

  • For instance, if a group thinks that the quality of their skit or costume is above the usual standards of Novice level due to extra preparation, a more ambitious project, extensive stage experience, or for some other reason, then the group is encouraged - though not required - to participate at the Journeyman or Masters level.

Knowingly entering a lower division when a group ought to be higher is grounds for disqualification.

5. Awards List
Youth Awards (dependent on number of entries).

  • These awards will be presented directly after the youth division skits, so the children will get to bed at a reasonable hour.

One Sponsored Grand Prize (Major)

  • This year, Arda Wigs is graciously offering a grand prize of $1,000 cash for the best overall Craftsmanship (please note that this is a separate award from "Best Overall Craftsmanship"). The winner of the Sponsored Grand Prize will be ineligible for all other prizes.

One Best in Show (Major):

  • Best in Show is determined by overall craftsmanship and overall presentation at the Masquerade. In order to qualify for Best in Show, the entry must participate in both Craftsmanship and Presentation judging. The winning entry may be from any division (Youth, Novice, Journeyman or Craftsman.) Winner(s) of the Best in Show award will not qualify to win any other awards.

Seven Presentation Awards (Major):

  • First Place, Novice division, Presentation
  • Second Place, Novice division, Presentation
  • First Place, Journeyman division, Presentation
  • Second Place, Journeyman division, Presentation
  • First Place, Masters division, Presentation
  • Second Place, Masters division Presentation
  • Best Overall Performance

Eight Craftsmanship Awards (Major):

  • Best Prop
  • First Place, Novice division, Craftsmanship
  • Second Place, Novice division, Craftsmanship
  • First Place, Journeyman division, Craftsmanship
  • Second Place, Journeyman division Craftsmanship
  • First Place, Masters division, Craftsmanship
  • Second Place, Journeyman division Craftsmanship
  • Best Overall Craftsmanship

Ten Judges’ Awards (Minor):

  • These awards are given for any and all exceptional entries whose merits are not covered by the basic awards. These awards are granted by the members of the Judges' panel and by the Event Manager and Emcee.
  • Judge's Awards - Eight awarded
  • Emcee's Award - One awarded
  • Masquerade Coordinator's Award - One awarded

If an entry has indicated that they wish to be judged on both craftsmanship and presentation, that entry may receive a maximum of one divisional award, with presentation taking precedence over craftsmanship. They may still receive a judges' award on top of their divisional award.

No single entry may receive MORE than two awards. This applies to the Judges', Emcee, and Coordinator's awards.

6. Important Information on Craftsmanship Judging

A. All Craftsmanship Judging occurs prior to the Masquerade itself. In order to participate in the Craftsmanship category, groups or individuals must make an appointment to be judged by expressing so on the registration application. Time slots will be assigned by the Masquerade Coordinator. Participants will be notified of this time slot by March 14th at the latest. Craftsmanship judging will be held in Masquerade Headquarters (room 101 of the Hynes).

B. Craftsmanship judging will occur on Friday, April 19, 2019 and Saturday, April 20, 2019 in Masquerade Headquarters (room 101 of the Hynes.) Masquerade staff will attempt to reschedule missed craftsmanship judging appointments, but staff cannot guarantee there will be time to do so.

C. All Craftsmanship judging participants should bring at least one color picture, preferably more, of each character for reference.

  1. A black and white image is acceptable if the participant has designed a manga-based costume for which no color image is available.
  2. We recommend that the images chosen be full length (including shoes), and show both back and front. Individuals should bring an actual image from the anime or manga - a screencap, a manga page or a piece of promotional art. Failure to bring a reference picture may disqualify participants from craftsmanship judging. If the judges don't know what an individual's costume is supposed to look like, they cannot judge it accurately.
  3. One of the major craftsmanship judging criteria is how closely the costume matches the original. If some portion of the costume is never shown, such as the back or the shoes, then individuals should design the missing components as best as possible.

D. If one person in your group made all of the costumes for that group, that person is solely eligible for Craftsmanship Awards.

E. Every contestant needs to be prepared to answer the judges' questions about his/her role in the construction of his/her costume.

F. Every participant consents to have their costume touched and examined closely by craftsmanship judges. If you feel that the judges have overstepped their bounds, please alert the Masquerade Coordinator immediately.

7. Sound/Video Guidelines

A. For Anime Boston 2019 the skit lengths are as follows:

  • Novice Division: <1:30 minute
  • Journeyman Division: <2:30 minutes
  • Master Division: <3:30 minutes
  • There are no exceptions to time limits.

B. Staff requires prerecorded music and/or dialogue for skit presentations.

  1. All groups must submit a digital sound/video file or MP3 via the Cosplay HQ or emailed directly to the Masquerade Coordinator. The earlier groups send in their sound/video the better; sending it in ahead of time will allow us to pre-screen it and notify groups of any problems.
  2. All sound must be on ONE TRACK. Any skit soundtrack that is divided into multiple tracks cannot be used. If a group needs silence at the beginning of the audio clip, they must record it into the track. If a group thinks that something is going to get a laugh, leave a pause after the line before continuing.

C. Live (hand-held) microphones are permitted, but participants will be required to submit an audition tape as part of the application process. Please be aware that judging for live-microphone skits is very strict and few applications will be approved.

D. If participants are submitting a video, be aware that the only display that can be used is the one located directly behind the stage. Its aspect ratio is 4:3. Consider adding a black border to the video to compensate for a slight overscan.

  1. Preferred file formats are: MP4, AVI, MPG. Other file formats may be accepted, but please prepare for the possibility of re-formatting your video in case our tech crew has difficulty converting it into the correct format.

E. All groups must have their audio/video submitted by April 5, 2019 so staff can check and verify the final playlist.

8. MC Intros & Outros

A. Groups will be requested to supply an introduction to be read by the emcee. If individuals do not supply one, the staff will write a simple introduction for you. Introductions may not contain anything that does not comply with the PG-13 rating.

B. Any narration to be read by the emcee will be limited to 100 words or less. All narration by the emcee will be read prior to the performance. Names and character names will be read after the performance.

C. Please do not interact with the emcee. Masquerade staff prohibits any involvement with the emcee during skits. Staff also prohibits any emcee dialogue during the performance.

9. Exhibition Performances
A. The Masquerade staff will allow a small number of slots for special performances. A special performance is exhibition-only (i.e., does not qualify for awards).

B. The length of special performances will be worked out by the performers and the Masquerade Coordinator. The special performances may come at the beginning, middle or end of the Masquerade.

C. If individuals are interested in a special performance, please send us a proposal in advance. Staff cannot guarantee or accept all proposals. Contact the Masquerade Coordinator for any and all proposals.

D. Masquerade staff reserves the right to cancel any performance at any time for any reason.

10. Damages
A. "You Break it, You Bought it:" If any participant breaks a piece of equipment, deface the facilities, or cause any other damages, then he or she must pay to replace what was damaged. No exceptions.

B. To help prevent damages, please exercise care while on the stage. Be aware of floor microphones, cables, speakers, curtains, screens, etc. MIND THE TAPE.

C. Remember - no jumping off the stage, at any time, for any reason. Jumping off the stage, by any individual will result in disqualification and removal of his or her badge.

D. NO THROWING THINGS onto the stage or into the audience.

11. Props Policy
Please review Anime Boston's Props Policy.

12. Special Requests
A. If individuals have any special requests or concerns (such as requiring large props, or needing to be judged early or late on a given day, or anything else unusual) please contact the Masquerade Coordinator in advance or as soon as possible, or place the request on your registration form.

B. Because of the complexity of the event, few special requests will be able to be met, but the sooner staff is notified about them, the more likely it is that accommodations can be made. Special requests made at the convention itself are likely to be impossible for us to accommodate.

13. Participant Timeline:
We realize this is a lot of information, so here is a simple timeline of pre-convention events:

  • Applications open: January 1, 2019
  • Pre-judging for Performance skits: March 19, 2019
  • Applications close (and finalized scripts due): April 1, 2019
  • Final Audio/Video due: April 5, 2019
  • Rehearsal/judging notifications sent to participants: April 12, 2019