Last week Japan, the country that invented cosplay, hosted the ninth annual World Cosplay Summit. This year’s final, on the 6th of August in Nagoya, saw a Brazilian pair win the championship with a lively performance of a battle scene from the game “Final Fantasy 12.”
The term cosplay is a portmanteau of the English words costume and play. The term was coined by Nobuyuki Takahashi of the Japanesestudio Studio Hard while attending the 1984 Los Angeles Science Fiction Worldcon.
Cosplayers typically come from the ranks of otaku: fans of Japanese comic books, known as manga. They gather at public events such as comic-book and video game trade shows, as well as at dedicated cosplay parties at nightclubs or amusement parks. It is a very big thing for Asian teenagers and young adults: the anime world is absolutely huge and this trend is starting to spread to Europe.
It is also big business. The cosplay costume industry grew 5% in 2009, to ¥40 billion (around $500m) in Japan alone. Like video games and fashion designers before it, cosplay is becoming an important part of Japan’s pop cultural exports.