Cosplay: More Than Meets the Eye

Date of Award

Spring 2015

Document Type


First Advisor

Rebecca Overmyer-Velazquez


My project is based on original research on a small group of individuals within the cosplay community. Formally known as Costume Play, cosplay, which originated in Japan (Bainbridge and Norris 2013) is an activity where normal, everyday people attend events such as conventions or gatherings and dress as a character from a particular movie or show. The point of my project is to try to understand a small part of the U.S. cosplay community and the basis for why people choose to participate in the activity. This research strives to understand what individual participants believe is the culture of cosplay. I feel this is an important area of research, because the cosplay community is characterized as disconnected from reality by the etic point of view, outside of social norms, and downright strange. To understand these people and to understand the culture would shed light on the community and create a better atmosphere for current and new participants. I interviewed participants, performed participant observation, and analyzed field notes. Through the data, I found that cosplay can be "escapism" for some, while it can also be a reason to improve one's crafting skills for others. From what I understand, cosplay is considered to be a creative outlet and a hobby that allows participants to develop new or improve old skills. Crafting can include buying a premade costume and improving it or creating a costume from scratch by searching for the necessary materials to make it. It can be a system of support for those that need it and helps participants expand their social circle. I have come to the conclusion that participants have their reasons for choosing to cosplay such as enjoying the gratification they receive for their costumes or simply, because they had found a community where they will not face judgment or be scrutinized.


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