The Field Guide to Convention Cosplayers

The greatest spectacle at any anime convention is the parade of costumed congoers roaming the halls or on stage at the masquerade. The myriad of colors and styles out there will make you hunt for your camera one moment and search for eye bleach the next. Such reactions can even come from the same costume- Tifa looks completely different when portrayed by a lovely young lady or a thirty-something gentleman with back hair. Therefore, convention veterans and first-timers alike often have difficulty identifying the many species of cosplayer. Is that Sakura Haruno cosplayer a Narutard, a subtle Post-Modernist allusion to her show's popularity, or a Cosplay Mafia member isolated from her pack?

This guide was created to help identify the primary 18 species of convention cosplayer. With this guide, you will be able to recognize a cosplayer by the character they cosplay or their trademark habits. For each, we have included helpful suggestions on approaching them including the most important- whether it is socially acceptable to request a picture. There are also important Dos and Do Nots that we highly recommend for getting the most out of your convention and cosplay-watching experience.

Please note that it is possible, however unlikely, that you will come across a cosplayer that does not adhere to one of these 18 species. Such undocumented cosplayers are likely ordinary, well-adjusted geeks that are harmless, polite and unobtrusive enough to avoid detection- a rare find indeed!


The Narutard

Likely Cosplaying: - InuYasha
- Light from Death Note
- Anyone from Naruto
Defining Traits: - Hive mentality
- Need to have an easy and recognizable cosplay in order to fit in with crowd.
- Can't wait for the associated shoot in order to be in pictures with the other hundred Naruto cosplayers.
May I Take A Picture?: No.
Do: Pretend you've never heard of the series he/she is cosplaying.
Do Not: Debate which Sasuke costume is more detailed. It doesn't matter.

The Diva

Likely Cosplaying: - Felicia from Darkstalkers
- Anyone from Tenjho Tenge or Burst Angel
- Any Final Fantasy T&A
Defining Traits: - Tremendous body with a tremendous costume that shows a tremendous proportion of tremendous body.
- Flaunty pose.
- Utter disdain for other cosplayers.
May I Take A Picture?: Yes! You know you want to, and she'll kill you if you don't.
Do: Ogle. You like it, she likes it, everybody wins.
Do Not: Attempt to date her. She's either already taken or too conceited to be capable of a faithful relationship.

The Walking Photoshoot

Likely Cosplaying: - A giant mecha
- A cute monster from Pokémon or a Miyazaki film
- Chocobo, Moogle or Tonberry from Final Fantasy
Defining Traits: - A slave to his/her ridiculously awesome cosplay.
- Forced to stop every fifteen seconds for photos, will never experience anything at the convention.
May I Take A Picture?: Absolutely. Everyone else is.
Do: Offer to serve as crowd control, carry accessories or the character's head.
Do Not: Block a crowded hallway, assume cosplayer's gender.


Likely Cosplaying: - Chi from Chobits
- Sexy Jutsu from Naruto
- Any Final Fantasy T&A
Defining Traits: - A high school girl wearing something mommy definitely did not pick out for her.
- Thus, unfortunately, also qualifying as a Walking Photoshoot.
May I Take A Picture?: Why don't you have a seat over there?
Do: Check for any plain-clothes police officers before beginning a conversation.
Do Not:

There are too many Do Nots to list here.

Mr. Irony

Likely Cosplaying: - Anything from a non-anime Adult Swim show
- Beloved prop from beloved video game
- Interpretation of an internet meme
Defining Traits: - Fabric of choice: Cardboard and construction paper.
- Time spent: The night before the convention.
- Popularity: Abnormally high.
May I Take A Picture?: Only if you laugh out loud within three seconds.
Do: Make silly quote related to source. Then you're as awesome and funny as the cosplayer!
Do Not: Labor over the costume's technical merits.

Crossplayer (Bad)

Likely Cosplaying: - Sailor Moon
- Faye from Cowboy Bebop
- Any Final Fantasy T&A
Defining Traits: - Dressed as same characters as Diva.
- Absolutely nothing tremendous except disregard for his fellow man.
May I Take A Picture?: Every time someone does, God kills a Domo-kun.
Do: Stare directly at the forehead. Stare directly at the forehead. Stare directly at the forehead.
Do Not: Look down.

Crossplayer (Worse)

Likely Cosplaying: - Cardcaptor Sakura
- Sakura from Naruto
- Bridget from Guilty Gear
Defining Traits: - Same as Crossplayer (Bad), only looking disturbingly good in the costume.
- Likely mistaken for a girl from a distance.
May I Take A Picture?: A great military leader once said: “It's a trap!”
Do: Praise him for going all-out. Or, conversely, curse his filthy ruse.
Do Not: Continue to fall for said filthy ruse.

The Non-Costumed Cosplayer

Likely Cosplaying: - L from Death Note
- Shinji from Eva
- Heero from Gundam Wing
Defining Traits: - A desire to fit in by "cosplaying" without exerting any actual effort or looking at all weird.
- Often enters the masquerade anyway.
May I Take A Picture?: Absolutely Not.
Do: Talk about the series. You may expose him/her as a fraud or be treated to a hilarious in-character rant or angst session.
Do Not: Acknowledge that he/she is actually cosplaying.

Adorable Kid

Likely Cosplaying: - Shippo from InuYasha
- Anyone from Tiny Snow Fairy Sugar
- Beloved decades-old Saturday morning cartoon character
Defining Traits: - Here with parents, who may be in related cosplay.
- Infinitely more photogenic than parents.
- Not entirely sure what the hell is going on.
May I Take A Picture?: Yes, with parent's permission.
Do: Ask if they're having fun. Alert authorities if answer is an emphatic no.
Do Not:

Glomp him/her. A child is not a plushie.

The Cosplay Mafia

Likely Cosplaying: - Assorted characters from InuYasha
- Assorted characters from Hellsing
- Assorted characters from Final Fantasy
Defining Traits: - Individually, each cosplay is pretty average.
- Individually, may qualify as a Narutard.
- But when their powers combine, they collectively morph into Walking Photoshoot!
May I Take A Picture?: No. Another group will come along that does it better.
Do: Lavish attention on one to inflict jealously and sabotage the operation.
Do Not: Yell that their series “Rules!” or “Sucks!” Your spine will survive neither the incessant glomping nor beating that will ensue.

The Harajuku Girl

Likely Cosplaying: - N/A
Defining Traits: - Wearing a “trendy” Tokyo outfit that is not technically cosplay.
- Still could not be worn in public unless it was an anime convention or Halloween.
May I Take A Picture?: Yes. You'll never see such “trendy” fashion again.
Do: Ask what character she's cosplaying. They hate that.
Do Not: Follow one into a Lolita panel. It does not mean what you think it does.

The Post-Modernist

Likely Cosplaying: - Human version of a Pokémon
- Sexy/chibi/transgendered version of stock character
- “Look mommy- I'm hentai!”
Defining Traits: - Costume representing some bizarre twist on an old favorite.
- Coincidentally, bizarre twist fits the wearer's form and sewing ability perfectly.
- In rare cases, an actual clever take on a trite concept.
May I Take A Picture?: This will almost always be gold for your camera.
Do: Appreciate them for being different. Especially if it's sexier.
Do Not: Ask how they got the idea. Don't give them that much credit.

The Hot Topic du Jour

Likely Cosplaying: - Misa from Death Note
- Robin from Witch Hunter Robin
- Anyone from Rozen Maiden
Defining Traits: - One step above Non-Cosplaying Cosplayer, wearing an ensemble comprising recent Hot Topic purchases.
- 70% chance he/she considers themselves goth.
- 90% chance he/she is merely emo.
May I Take A Picture?: Only if you can identify the character by name.
Do: Compliment the costume if warranted, but in a disgustingly fanboyish/girlish way.
Do Not: Ask where he/she got the fabric. Cosplayer will take it the wrong way.

The Old School Tribute

Likely Cosplaying: - Lum from Urusei Yatsura
- Anyone from Ranma ˝
- Anyone from Final Fantasy II through V
Defining Traits: - Looking really good in a classic cosplay
- Unless it's overly complex or revealing, being completely unrecognized and ignored.
May I Take A Picture?: Please do.
Do: Thank them for remembering a show that came out before InuYasha.
Do Not: Mistake the Daicon bunny girl for Haruko from FLCL.

The Furry

Likely Cosplaying: - N/A
Defining Traits: - Any established character from a popular series is officially a Walking Photoshoot.
- Anything that's not is a walking discomfort.
May I Take A Picture?: Please don't.
Do: Treat them like any other human being. Whether they like it or not.
Do Not: Ask what show they're from. There is a good chance they are an original character of the wearer's design, and an even better chance that you're going to hear its life story.

Bondage Boy/Babe

Likely Cosplaying: - Anyone from Death Note
- Myriad of characters from various yaoi series and/or Yu-Gi-Oh.
Defining Traits: - One keeps the other on a chain, ignoring all public decorum and related connotations.
- Actual costume qualifies as Hot Topic du Jour.
May I Take A Picture?: Only if you e-mail it to their parents.
Do: Assume the one on the leash is in charge.
Do Not:

Accidentally stab yourself on their chokers or bracelets.

Diva Deluxe

Likely Cosplaying: - Anyone in a schoolgirl uniform
- Any Final Fantasy T&A
Defining Traits: - An overweight fan dressed as a scantily-clad schoolgirl.
- Evokes the same reaction as Crossplayer (Bad).
- Quickest to defend (and the primary argument against) the "free to cosplay anything" philosophy.
May I Take A Picture?: Your camera will hate you.
Do: See Crossplayer (Bad).
Do Not:

See Walking Photoshoot.

The Chick Magnet

Likely Cosplaying: - Anyone from Ouran Host Club
- Vash from Trigun
- Any Male Lead from Final Fantasy
Defining Traits: - Patrolling the con in bishounen costume with intent to score that night.
- Barring physical defect or being caught out-of-character, will be successful.
- May be with girlfriend who forced him to cosplay.
May I Take A Picture?: If Male: No. If Female: Refer to cosplayer's intent.
Do: Ask permission to tag along and pick up potential leftovers.
Do Not: Come between him and squealing fangirls. You will not survive.

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