Whether you prefer competing as a contestant on stage or viewing the skits and costumes from the audience, the Cosplay Contest is Kumoricon's main costume event where entrants compete for recognition and top prizes. Join in the fun yourself, or cheer on your favorite characters as they perform original skits and dazzle the audience with amazing costumes.
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Meet our judges
Cosplay Contest judge
Barri (Barracuda Cosplay) is an award winning cosplayer from Philadelphia with over 15 years of experience making costumes. She is known for her wig styling abilities and competed in Arda Wig's Iron Wig 2023. She also represented the United States in the 2021 World Cosplay Summit with her cosplay partner ChibiTifa. Barri's specialty is making highly detailed and sparkly costumes whether for her own cosplays or for her idol performance group, Project Constellation.
Cosplay Contest judge
ChibiTifa is a cosplayer and seamstress from Maryland who's been in the hobby for over 15 years. She's made a vast array of costumes and has been a cosplay craftsmanship and performance judge at several conventions all over the country. A journalist by day, she somehow manages to balance both her work and cosplay life. As part of Team Stellar Rose with Barracuda Cosplay, she was selected to represent the US as Team USA 2021 at the World Cosplay Summit as the first virtual team. She has established many educational and informational panels which range from how to balance work and cosplay life to her most popular one which focuses on cosplay diversity. Tifa makes it her mission to make the cosplay world more welcoming and accepting to any and all newcomers.
Cosplay Contest judge
Teca, part of the World Cosplay Summit Team USA 2020/2022, is an award-winning cosplayer who specializes in competition, craftsmanship, and presentation. With nearly twenty years of experience, she has won over thirty awards as well as hosted panels and judged contests at more than twenty-five events across the country. Teca has worked as an official cosplayer for industry events as Sailor Jupiter from Sailor Moon and Sailor Moon Crystal for Viz Media, America from Hetalia for Funimation, Kyouko Sakura from Puella Magi Madoka Magica for Aniplex, and Marida Cruz from Gundam Unicorn for Bandai, and has also worked with Japanese music acts such as Kalafina and CHEMISTRY.
Changes for 2023
For 2023, we're restructuring the Cosplay Contest.
We are adding a Cosplay Portfolio Review, which will accept all applicants. This is for people who want constructive feedback on their cosplay, without necessarily performing or walking on stage. Those who are interested in showcasing their costume may be offered time to walk on the stage, time allowing.
Important new details:
- Best of Show will still require both Skit performance and Costume Construction judging.
- Skits will remain limited to 30 spots. The maximum skit length is 3 minutes.
- New for 2023: All Costume Construction-only (formerly "walk-on") entries will be accepted for judging, but given an option to opt out of the show. Walk-ons will be handled fashion show style, instead of one at a time onstage.
- New for 2023: Online entries will use Google Drive folder sharing instead of file uploads through the form. (Instructions for how to share your folder with us will appear on the form when it opens.)
How to enter
- Online entries are now closed as of the deadline of October 25, 2023, 11:59pm Pacific Time.
- The total number of entries that will be allowed this year will be 30 Skits and all costume portfolios.
- Skit entries are taken on a first-come, first-served basis. If all entry slots are full, there will be a waiting list for additional entrants who may be called in if anyone drops out or is disqualified. New for 2023: All entries will be accepted for costume portfolios, but given an option to opt out of the show.
- All participants must read and agree to follow all rules of the Cosplay Contest.
- Costumes previously entered in a Kumoricon Cosplay Contest are ineligible.
- By registering for the Cosplay Contest, all participants agree to allow Kumoricon to use their images for promotional purposes, both photographs and video—both those submitted in the entry, and those taken by us. Photographs of winning entries may be shown at Kumoricon Closing Ceremonies, on the website or social media, or elsewhere.
- All convention policies must be upheld during the entirety of the Cosplay Contest. Anyone breaking Kumoricon rules will be disqualified and reported to Operations or Yojimbo.
- Kumoricon general staff may enter the Cosplay Contest as long as staff-related responsibilities are fulfilled.
- Board members may not compete in the Cosplay Contest.
- Kumoricon is an all-ages-friendly event. Content should not go beyond mild PG.
- Offensive language of any kind is not allowed—no racial or sexual epithets; no profanity, etc.
- No excessive violence.
- No sexual activity or contact—real or implied.
- All sexual jokes must have a non-sexual interpretation that is at least as obvious as the sexual one.
- No nudity—all costumes must adhere to the official Kumoricon code of conduct.
- No age 18+ source material (NC-17, AO, or "adults only").
- M- or R-rated source material is ok as long as the costume/performance meets the above mild PG content rules.
- Be clever, not crass! If you think your costume or presentation might be too risqué or offensive, it probably is.
- If you have a question about your content, please feel free to ask the Cosplay Staff if it is allowable.
- You may surprise the audience, but never surprise the crew.
- Any props/scenic elements that are larger than handheld need to be submitted to the Cosplay Contest for approval. (Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
- No fire, flame, smoke, fog, dry ice, wind machines, lasers, pressurized gases, or liquids.
- No messy substances—wet, dry, or oily—in the green room or on stage.
- No jumping on or off stage—please use the officially designated stage entrances and exits.
- Contestants must abide by the convention weapon policies in the code of conduct. Pointing weapons at anyone not in your cosplay group will not be tolerated. The Cosplay Coordinator must approve any actions involving weapons.
- Contestants may not use stage time to make political, religious, insulting, or other demonstrations not related to their entry.
- Contestants who violate any of our performance rules may have their performance stopped and may be disqualified.
- If for whatever reason one contestant is removed from competition for any violation the entire group may be disqualified as well depending on the situation.
- All decisions made by the Cosplay Coordinator or Director of Programming are final and may only be changed by a formal challenge through Programming.
- You must have some kind of foot covering. Shoes or boots are required. Be aware of safety concerns. If your character does not wear shoes the lack of accuracy will be forgiven; consider flesh-toned or clear shoes.
- All health and safety rules established by Kumoricon or the convention center will be upheld.
"Skit" and "Costume Construction" judging are entirely separate. There is a judging panel for Skit and a judging panel for Costume Construction. Each panel selects and grants its own awards. Costume Construction judging is not required for Skit entries, and the decisions and deliberations of the Costume Construction judging panel have no influence on the Skit judging panel, and vice versa.
- Entrants may enter in both Skit and Costume Construction contests.
- Best of Show requires both Costume Construction judging and Skit performance.
The judges are free to give as many or as few awards as they choose.
- Skits will be judged based on the performance of the whole group.
- Skit awards are granted to the entries that have shown excellent presentation.
- Costumes entered in the Skit judging do not have to be self-made.
- Skits will be divided into the following genres:
- Pre-recorded music and dialogue are required.
- File uploads are preferred.
- Alternatively, you may deliver your file by USB thumb drive.
- For this method, please include your person/group name and skit title in the filename.
- One track is preferred; we cannot change tracks or start in the middle of a track.
- We can accept MP3, M4A, and other common file types. We strongly prefer 128kbps or higher.
- Recorded music and dialogue must be clear to hear.
- Bring backup copies of your audio on USB thumb drive to ensure it's not lost. Kumoricon is not responsible for damage to or loss of your media device.
- We will not play or rip music off of portable MP3 players, such as iPods or cell phones, or from YouTube.
- Leave the stage as clean as it was when you set foot on it. Arrange to remove all items you brought on stage at the end of your presentation. If you have a particularly intricate presentation, we recommend you recruit your own stage ninjas.
- No entry may be a repeat of an entry from any previous competition at Kumoricon.
- Don't plan for complex lighting. The default lighting cue is: lights go up, music starts, you come on at stage right, you leave on stage left, music stops, lights go down. If you desire anything other than default lighting or music cues, discuss it with the Cosplay Coordinator before the convention.
- The Costume Construction awards are based on the following factors:
- Representation of your costume to the character design.
- Skill in scale and body fit adaptation.
- Resemblance to character shown in documentation.
- Overall Construction:
- Use of materials, construction methods, and durability.
- Use of appropriate or innovative methods and applications.
- Extra points may be awarded at the judges' discretion for construction done above and beyond the normal effort expected for a costume.
- All costumes from all genres and media are accepted for Kumoricon's Cosplay Contest review, including original designs as a sub-category, except:
- No age 18+ source material.
- One costume will be allowed per entrant.
- Reference pictures will be required. This includes screen captures, posters, or any other official media that reveals the character's full costume. The pictures should reveal different views of the character (i.e. front, back, sides). Do not assume judges know your costume or character! You will be required to submit reference pictures when entering.
- New for 2023: If you're entering both Costume Construction and Skit (Best of Show), proof of commitment is required with your submission: progress photos, a project outline/timeline, or a budget, or proof of materials—show us the plan for your cosplay.
- Commissioned, purchased, rented, or commercially made costumes will not be allowed to enter the Costume Construction part of the contest. A portion of the costume (such as a leotard, tights, and shoes) may be from purchased finished goods, but at least 60% of the costume should have been constructed by the creator of the costume. More is expected if you are entering as a Journeyman or Master.
- If you have made heavy alterations to a store-bought garment and wish to enter it into the contest, you must be able to explain how you have altered it and the processes that such an endeavor entailed. Unaltered store-bought assemblies of clothing to represent a "costume" are not allowed.
- Costumes worn for any previous competition at Kumoricon are ineligible.
Skill levels—Costume Construction only
To ensure that entrants with limited experience compete with their peers and not against more experienced entrants, skill levels have been established. The judges will assess entries of higher skill levels using stricter criteria.
- These rankings apply to the costume maker, not the wearer as they are for construction, not presentation.
- Group entries will be judged at the highest division amongst your members.
- A group should compete in the skill division of the group's most experienced member. If in a group and all participants are Novice, but one participant is Master, the group must compete in the Master division (as no one may compete in a division lower than their own). You cannot compete lower than any division award you have won.
- All costumes will be judged by skill level. If your costume is an Original Design (see below) you will still be judged by skill level, but you will also be eligible for the Original Design award.
- The Master division is intended for skilled cosplayers with extensive cosplay experience and several awards.
- Those competing in the Master division must submit a portfolio showcasing the progress of their costume and a minimum of three previous costumes.
- Professional costumers, tailors, pattern-makers, seamstresses, or people who take commissions for creating costumes or other clothing are required to compete at this level.
- Anyone who has won two or more awards as a Journeyman, or
- An individual who has achieved "Master" status at any other major convention, or
- Anyone who chooses to compete in this division may do so.
- The Journeyman division is intended for people with some cosplay experience and/or some awards.
- Those competing in the Journeyman division must submit a portfolio showcasing the progress of their costume.
- Has won fewer than two awards as a Journeyman, or
- Has won at least two awards in the Novice division, or
- Anyone who is not required to compete as a Master and who chooses to compete in this division.
- The Novice division is intended for people with virtually no cosplay experience or cosplayers with little to no prior experience competing.
- First-time performers and/or costumers fit here.
- Any group with at least one member who is old enough to not qualify for the Youth division, or a Youth group that prefers to compete in the Novice division.
- Anyone who has never won an award in a cosplay competition at any convention.
- All members of the group are under the age of 14 on the day of the Cosplay Contest.
- Contestants under the age of 14 on the day of the competition who have created at least 50% of their costume on their own (if an adult created the costume, the costume is entered under the adult's skill level).
- Modified for 2023: Original Design will be treated as a separate award within the contest.
- Costumes that are considered Original Design are as follows: gijinkas, genderbends, characters with no published artwork, fan art designs, original video game characters, etc.
- Cosplays based on art by well-known artists are no longer considered "Original Design".
- Original Designs will be judged solely based on construction.
- Original Design contestants must submit a portfolio of all reference/inspiration material and progress photos.
Please note that any entry may be reclassified by the coordinators or judges if they feel it is appropriate.
Cosplay Contest online entries are now closed.