Naka-Kon is proud to yet again host one of the most exciting shows of the year, the Cosplay Contest! This is an opportunity for crafters and performers alike to showcase their cosplay talent on stage for adoring fans. There are changes to the rules and organization for this year, so please read the rules carefully and completely. The contest supports a wide variety of talent from various skill sets, so we encourage participants to register for the category that best suits their cosplay and performance needs. This year's Cosplay Contest will have entrants sorted into the following categories:
- Main Stage Cosplay Contest
- Main Stage Skit Contest
- Exhibition Walk
- Hallway Cosplay Contest
Please note that we have a limit of 55 entries for the Main Stage Contests, 15 entries for the Exhibition, and an as-time-permits cap on the Hallway Contest entrants. Please see General Rules, and Category Rules sections for more details.
- All contest entrants must be registered attendees of Naka-Kon 2019.
- All costumes must conform to the Naka-Kon dress code policy.
This is a Japanese culture convention, so cosplays should be based on licensed anime, manga, J-rock/J-pop, Japanese video games, etc. Characters/inspiration not rooted in Japanese origin (e.g., The Avengers or Disney characters as you might find in Kingdom Hearts) do not meet this requirement. Fanart of licensed characters in Japanese media is fine; however, no original characters will be allowed. This rule does not apply if you are entering in the Exhibition or in the Hallway Cosplay Contest.
- No more than 5 entries are open for licensed non-Japanese characters. Licensed non-Japanese entries may enter any of the categories, but are not eligible for the Best in Show award.
- Cosplays of unlicensed characters may not enter the Main Stage Contest.
- YOU MUST WEAR SHOES AT ALL TIMES. This is not only a requirement of the hotel and convention center, but also a safety concern. We will excuse the inaccuracy in your costume, so please wear appropriate footwear that will sufficiently protect your feet!
- All costumes must be completed before your judging time block and/or stage walk. A repair booth will be available in the Green Room before the contest to fix last minute snafus (we've all been there!), but please don't try to make your costume from scratch in the Green Room (please...please).
- Contestants are allowed to have one handler/assistant with them for costume needs, mobility needs, accessibility needs, and/or emotional support. All handlers must be checked in with cosplay staff or they will not be allowed backstage or with you during judging. If you need more than one handler, it must be cleared with the cosplay directors ahead of time (contact firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Contestants may not use stage time to make political, religious, or insulting statements or other demonstrations. If your skit/performance requires mildly insulting language, please be sure to let the cosplay directors know ahead of time.
- Contestants in any maninstage or Hallway Contest may not enter a costume that previously won a category award from Naka-Kon or any other convention. If the award was minor, we will waive this rule. Please contact the cosplay contest directors ahead of time if you are uncertain if your cosplay qualifies. This rule is strictly enforced and violations may result in you being disqualified from this and future cosplay contests.
- Current members of the Naka-Kon Staff (at-convention assistant level and above) are ineligible for awards, but are welcome to enter as exhibition!
- No throwing objects on stage or into the audience.
- No flames or smoke effects.
- No projectiles.
- No jumping off the stage.
- No running up stairs or on stage.
- Items may only be left on stage if entrants request Stage Ninja assistance on the contest registration form.
- All props/shrapnel left on stage must be at least 3"x3" inches in size. We need to be able to see it to pick it up. That means, sadly, no glitter cannons.
- All props and weapons must conform to Naka-Kon's props and weapons policy.
- All costumes must comply with Naka-Kon's dress code. Large costume pieces (e.g., wings, spikes, chains, etc.) must be removable to comply with the dress code.
- Any groups or individual entrants who wish to do any sort of fight or dance choreography must rehearse on the stage prior to the show to ensure safety.
- If you have any questions about the weapons policy or dress code policy , please contact email@example.com.
- Cosplay contest staff reserve the right to disqualify anyone for any logical reason, including but not limited to: cheating, inappropriate behavior at the convention, or offensive cosplays.
- Surprise the audience, not the staff! Please speak to the cosplay contest directors if you have any unconventional plans, outside of walking on and off the stage.
- Stage time is limited to one minute per entry, unless you are entering a skit. Skits are allotted 3 minutes maximum. Please be conscientious of your time!
- There will be a mandatory meeting for all entrants in the Main Stage Cosplay Contest, Skit Contest and Exhibition at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday in Ballroom C—the Green Room. All members of your entry must attend to participate in the contest. Those not present at this meeting who haven't cleared their tardiness with the cosplay directors in advance will be disqualified. Please notify the directors immediately if you need to withdraw your entry so we can give that slot to another cosplayer!
- Runway music will be provided by Naka-Kon A/V staff for all Main Stage Contest and Exhibition entries unless otherwise arranged before the contest. All music or audio must be submitted at the time you check in/sign up on site, or you will not be able to use it. Please present your audio on a flash drive with no other music/files in .mp3 or .wav format. Inability to present in this format means we cannot promise it will play on our system. Audio on phones, websites (like YouTube), and other formats will not be accepted.
- Hallway cosplay costumes entered on Friday of the convention may not be worn for the Main Stage Cosplay Contest (in either runway or skit).
- Main Stage Cosplay Contest winners (whether craftsmanship, runway, or skit) may not enter the Sunday Hallway Cosplay Contest with their winning costumes.
The Main Stage Cosplay Contest provides an opportunity for participants to showcase cosplay craftsmanship and runway performances. All entrants will be judged on craftsmanship and runway performance, where craftsmanship is judged before the Main Stage performance, and runway will be judged as entrants walk the stage. Entrants in the skit category have the option of being judged on craftsmanship, which will be an option on the registration page. A single entry into the cosplay Main Stage is 1-2 individuals. If there are more than 2 individuals in your entry, you will need to enter as a skit, with a maximum of 5 people.
If something comes up, please notify the cosplay directors immediately so we can withdraw your entry and allow another entry into the contest. Those who do not notify the cosplay staff of their withdrawal may be banned from the cosplay contests for the next year.
All contestants will self-sort into class level. This ensures that each participant is judged fairly among those in their same skill level.
- Beginner: Any contestant who has never won an award in any costume/cosplay contest, or has won 2 or fewer small cosplay awards (e.g., a judge's choice award, or best beginner runner up). This is also a category you must enter if you are under the age of 13. At least 50% of your costume must be made by you.
- Intermediate: Any contestant who has won two or fewer category awards in any costume/cosplay contest, or convention cosplay contest (e.g. Best Beginner, or Best Beginner craftsmanship). At least 65% of your costume must be made by you.
- Master: Any contestant who has won three or more category awards in any costume/cosplay contest, or convention cosplay contest, or someone who has income exceeding $10,000 per year from costuming, cosplay, sewing, prop construction, wig construction/styling, or any other costume/cosplay-related field. At least 75% of your costume must be made by you.
If you are entering the contest with other people, then your class will be determined by the highest class achieved by members of your entry (e.g. if you are a Beginner and your partner is a Master, you must enter in the Master category, etc.). If you aren't sure what class you are in, please contact the cosplay contest directors.
Please note the cosplay contest team reserves the right to move you to an appropriate class at any time without prior warning in the interest of the integrity of the contest.
Craftsmanship judging will occur ahead of the Main Stage Cosplay Contest through prejudging on Saturday of the contest. Prejudging time is determined by your cosplay class, via block scheduling. You will receive information about your judging time with your confirmation email, which should come to you about a week after the online sign-ups have closed. While cosplay contests do eat up quite a bit of your Saturday schedule, block scheduling allows contestants to enjoy the convention prior to to their judging, as well as take time to eat, hydrate, and rest before the Main Stage Contest. As much as we'd love to keep you to ourselves, we want you to spread your wings and enjoy the the convention as much as possible!
Please show up to your designated time block and be prepared to explain how you made your costume.
- If you had a friend or family member make your cosplay for you, you can present the costume as their model, however the award will be given to the creator of the costume, and we'll leave it to you to divide up any awards you receive. Both the creator and the model must be registered attendees of Naka-Kon.
- Craftsmanship Contest entrants are assigned a time slot based on their class. All judging will take place on Saturday before the contest.
- Judging will take place at the craftsmanship judging table in Ballroom C. Please come through the doors to the front of the room to check in. You will be called up to meet with the judges.
- Each entry will have 4 minutes with the judges to discuss how you made your costume and answer any questions the judges may have. Be prepared for judges to get up, look at your seams, and ask you questions about your work.
- Be sure to tell the judges about things you'd like to highlight on your costume. Likewise, please tell the judges about any elements on your costume you did not make.
- All members of your entry must be present for the full length of the judging session.
- Entrants who are not present at their judging time slot will be disqualified from the Main Stage Contest. Entrants are encouraged to show up for judging 5 minutes before their scheduled time.
- You must bring printed character reference photos for judging as well as at least 3 progress photos. Front and back reference photos are highly encouraged! Your books will be returned to you after the contest in Ballroom C, so to make this process easier, please label your books.
- Reference photos must be printed and bound in some way (binder clips, staples, glue, safety pins…) No photos from your phone/tablet/computer will be accepted.
The runway requirements are fairly straightforward: contestants will be able to walk the runway and pose at several points marked on the stage. Feel free to make your stage presentation/entrance creative, so long as it fits in with all cosplay and Naka-Kon rules/guidelines. This is an opportunity to show off your ability to pose as your character would, and enchant the audience with your walk on the stage. Keep in mind that this is a judged portion of the cosplay contest, so you will have up to 1 minute to hit the audience and judges with the ol' razzle dazzle!
- You may provide your own music for your performance in .mp3 or .wav format at the time of check-in on Friday evening.
- Runway time is limited to 1 minute. If you need more time than that, you must enter as a skit.
- Runway tech rehearsal is between 12:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. It is mandatory if you brought your own audio.
Do you need more time than a minute to showcase your talent on the stage? Look no further than the Skit Contest! Skits usually contain some element of pre-recorded dialogue and/or music, where individuals act out a particular scene on stage. This is also the category for you if you have more than 2 members in your entry. Should you choose to enter the Craftsmanship Contest as well with your skit, you will be judged based on the member of your skit group with the highest class (e.g., if your skit group is made up of 3 Beginners and a Master, your craftsmanship judging will be judged at Master level). If you do not enter in the craftsmanship category, you will not be eligible for Best in Show.
- Skits are limited to 3 minutes maximum, and all content/dialogue must adhere to PG rating. If you feel you need more time for your skit, please contact the cosplay contest directors to see if this is possible.
- Skit size is limited to 5 people. If you feel you need more people, please check with the cosplay contest directors to see if this is possible.
- All audio needs to be pre-recorded. There will be no microphones available, and the audience will not be able to hear your unamplified voice. Scripts must be submitted along with your pre-registration application, and audio/recordings must be submitted during check in on Friday evening/Saturday morning. Please present audio on a flash drive with no other music/files in .mp3 or .wav format. Inability to present in this format means we cannot promise it will play on our system. Audio on phones, websites (like YouTube), and other formats will not be allowed.
Remember, do not surprise the cosplay staff, only the audience. We promise we won't spoil your skit; we need to know what is happening so we can set the stage accordingly!
- While we welcome anyone wishing to perform live music relevant to their costume, please save karaoke-style performances for the karaoke contest.
- Skits can be funny, dramatic, or a little bit of both. Remember this is not a lip-sync battle or dance competition, so please make sure you have more to your skit than those elements!
- All skits must adhere to the General Contest Rules listed above.
- If you wish to be judged on craftwork for your skit, you are also subject to craftwork requirements listed above.
Just want to walk the runway and show off your costume? Are you a Naka-Kon staff member or guest and just want to show the audience your moves? Is this your first time on stage and you just want to try it out before you enter a cosplay contest? This is the category for you! Exhibition entrants will walk the stage during our halftime show. There are no prizes associated with this category, nor is there class assignment. It's just a stress free, fun way to show off your costume. Each Exhibition entrant will have 30 seconds on stage with pre-selected music by the Naka-Kon A/V staff. To register for the Exhibition, please fill out the form below.
Do you like to cosplay, but hate large crowds? Are you an avid cosplayer who has too many costumes for just one event? Is your favorite costume from a show/game/other media that didn't originate in Japan? Then Hallway Cosplay Contest is for you! Come to the hallway cosplay area during the convention, fill out a short form, pose for a picture, talk to the judges for a few minutes, and be on your way. No pre-registration required.
- On Friday, visit the hallway cosplay judges from 7:00 p.m. &endash; 10:00 p.m. at the cosplay contest registration/Check-in tables inside Ballroom C. On Sunday, hallway cosplay judging will be open from 11:00 a.m. &endash; 2:00 p.m.
- Both Friday and Sunday hallway cosplay winners will be announced at Closing Ceremonies. If you win a prize and cannot attend Closing Ceremonies, Naka-Kon will mail you your award.
- Entrants must be registered convention attendees of Naka-Kon 2019.
- Costumes can be from any source in the world; entries are not limited to characters/concepts from Japan. Hallway is a less strict version of the Main Stage Contest, but your cosplay should be at least 30% constructed by you. Costumes that were purchased but heavily modified are still eligible.
- Entrants should bring printed photos of their costumes' sources. If you need to pull the images up on your smartphone, these will be accepted.
- Entrants may enter alone or in a group. Groups count as a single entry. Group size cannot exceed 5 people.
- Cosplayers may enter multiple costumes, but not the same costume multiple times. Entrants may only enter one costume per day (i.e., one on Friday and one on Sunday).
Everyone entering a Main Stage Cosplay Contest or the Hallway Cosplay Contest is eligible for one of many awesome prizes! The award categories are as follows:
Main Stage Cosplay Awards
- Judges Choice Awards — Awards given out by judges based on their personal impressions of the cosplay
Best Beginner — Best overall in the beginner class for runway and craftsmanship
- Best Beginner Craftsmanship — Best craftsmanship in the Beginner class
- Best Beginner Runway — Best runway performance in the Beginner class
- Best Intermediate — Best overall in the Intermediate class for runway and craftsmanship
- Best Intermediate Craftsmanship — Best craftsmanship in the Intermediate class
- Best Intermediate Runway — Best runway performance in the Intermediate class
- Best Master — Best overall in the Master class for runway and craftsmanship
- Best Master Craftsmanship — Best craftsmanship in the Master class
- Best Master Runway — Best runway performance in the Master class
- Best Skit
- Best in Show — The highest award of the cosplay contest for anyone. All entries are eligible to win this award except for non-Japanese source entries, non-craftsmanship skits, and exhibition entries.
- Best Beginner — Friday
- Best Beginner — mdash; Sunday
Best Intermediate — Friday
- Best Intermediate — Sunday
- Best Master — Friday
- Best Master — Sunday
- Best in show — Best overall of both Friday and Sunday entrants
- Judge's choice awards
Online Registration: Online Registration will be open February 5 at 6:00 p.m. CST until March 1 At 6:00 p.m. CST. If we fill up before this date, registration will close earlier, so please make sure to register as soon as possible. Contestants will receive confirmation emails indicating their craftsmanship judging time slot no later than 1 week before Naka Kon.
At-Con Registration and Check in:
- Check in for the Main Stage Cosplay Contests and Exhibition is on Friday from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. in Ballroom C. This is where you will confirm your participation in the Main Stage Contests or Exhibition if you pre-registered, as well as drop off your music (if any).
- On-site registration for the Main Stage Cosplay Contests and Exhibition is on Friday from 8:00 p.m. &endash; 10:00 p.m. in Ballroom C.
Any spots not filled, as well as our limited number of on-site slots (15) will also be available during on-site registration. You do not need to be in costume for registration/check in. Come in, check in/register, then be on your way to enjoy the convention!
Main Stage Cosplay Contest Craftsmanship judging times: You will be assigned a judging time block a week before the convention via email, within the larger block of time designated for your class level. Please show up to your judging time at least 5 minutes early! Beginners will be judged first, followed by Intermediate, Masters then skit (should skits choose to be judged on craftsmanship).
Tech rehearsal: If you brought music or want to practice your stage walk ahead of time, please show up to tech rehearsal between 12:00 p.m. &endash; 2:00 p.m. This will be in Ballroom C. You don't need to be in costume, but you may want to bring anything bulky/tricky so you can adjust your presentation.
Green Room: All contestants and Exhibition entries must show up to Ballroom C at 3:00 p.m. This is so we can get you lined up and ready for the show.
Main Stage Cosplay Contest and Exhibition Show start: The Main Stage Cosplay Contest begins at 4:00 p.m.. After all contestants walk, there will be a half-time show while our judges deliberate, at which point the Exhibition will begin. After the halftime show, awards will be given out.
Hallway Cosplay Contest Times:
Entrants will be judged on their cosplays from 7:00 p.m. &endash; 10:00 p.m. on Friday, and from 11:00 a.m. &endash; 2:00 p.m. on Sunday. This location is inside Ballroom C at the Hallway Cosplay Contest registration table.
To register for the Main Stage Contests or Exhibition, please do so online (see link below). Online Registration will close on March 1, 2019 at 6:00 p.m, or after the number of available slots fill. Slots will go fast, so be sure to pre-register as soon as possible. We will have a limited number of slots open at-con on Friday. Online pre-registered cosplayers may check in from 5:00 p.m. &endash; 8:00 p.m. and any remaining slots will be open from 8:00 p.m. &endash; 10:00 p.m. If you are unable to pre-register/sign up online, fear not! You can still enter the Hallway Cosplay Contest!
- Pre-registration: Available for the first 40 entries for the Main Stage Cosplay Contests, and the first 10 entries for the Exhibition.
- At-convention registration: The remaining 15 slots for the Main Stage Cosplay Contest and the remaining 5 slots for the Exhibition will be available at the convention at the Cosplay Registration/Check-in table in Ballroom C on Friday (see times above). Any regular and non-Japanese costume slots not filled during the online pre-registration period, or vacant spots due to last minute dropouts will also be given out on-site. That is why it is IMPERATIVE that if you find you cannot compete, you let the cosplay directors know immediately.
- Sign up here for the cosplay contest beginning February 5, 2019!
In General: Cosplay is not consent. This means:
- Do not touch a cosplayer, their costume, or their props without permission.
- Do not take photos of a cosplayer without asking permission and allowing them to pose first.
- Do not use a zoom feature to highlight only aspects of a cosplayer without their consent. If you would like them to do a specific pose or do a closeup of a certain aspect, ask them!
Do not make any lewd or suggestive comments to a cosplayer because of what they are wearing. Unwanted criticism/critique or comments directed at cosplayers may be treated as harassment. This includes but is not limited to:
- Criticizing someone because of their race, gender, body size, etc.
- Making snide remarks about skill level.
- "I could do that better" statements.
- Unwelcome critiques of their cosplay. Unless a cosplayer specifically asks for feedback about how to do something better, do not give it.
- In short: if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.
- Please do not use flash or auto-focus assist lights during the cosplay contest! It makes it difficult for cosplayers to see when they are walking across the stage.
- Do not ask to take photos with only one cosplayer out of a group from the same series/clearly in a group cosplay. Take a picture of the group, and if you'd like an individual shot of your favorite character, ask later.
- Please be mindful of your equipment that may block walkways, entryways or other general traffic.
- Be fully aware when in a large costume or in a costume with protruding elements (like wings, tails, etc.). If you cannot see well, make sure you have a friend help make sure your pathways are clear.
- If asked for a photo, move out of the flow of traffic, against a wall, or to a less common area.
- If you are wearing extensive makeup or body paint, seal it properly. You don't want to be in a situation where you cause damage to something (e.g., the pool, hotel or convention center decorations, etc.).
- Do not use being "in character" as an excuse to be a jerk, make lewd or suggestive comments, or physically or verbally bother someone. The harassment policy still applies to you, regardless of who you are dressed as.
- You may not, under any circumstances, Black/Brownface, or wear any costumes that are offensive or disrespectful to any group of existing, living cultures and people. This includes darkening your skin to match that of an existing race, wearing Nazi regalia, etc.
- Category Award: This is an award that has won a first place class or area award at other conventions or Naka-Kon, such as Best beginner, Best Intermediate Craftsmanship, Best Master Runway, etc. This does not include a Judge's Choice award or a runner up award.
- Class: Your rank within a contest based on the number of awards you have received: Beginner, Intermediate and Masters. Each contest and convention has different ratings, so please make sure you read the information carefully.
- Entry: Participant(s) registered in any of the cosplay contests. May include more than one person.
- Exhibition: This is a non-judged stage presentation open to individuals who want to walk the stage and show off for the audience!
- Fanart: Cosplays that have characterization rooted in existing, licensed characters, but have been reworked artistically. This includes reworks of licensed characters and licensed character interpretations (e.g., Pokemon gijinka, your interpretation of a podcast character etc.) Fanart also includes mashups of licensed characters (e.g., Kingdom Hearts style Sailor Moon).
- Green Room: Pre-show meeting place in Ballroom C. This is usually an hour before your actual stage walk. This is an opportunity to make sure everyone is present, organized and ready to go.
- Main Stage Cosplay Contests: These are the judged elements of the Saturday cosplay contest that takes place on stage. At Naka-Kon, the Main Stage Contest areas are: Craftsmanship, Runway, and Skit, with awards in each category.
- Minor Award: Awards that are not category specific, or first place awards in those categories. Examples would include a Judge's Choice award, a runner up award, best prop award, etc.
- Offensive Cosplays: "Offense" is a somewhat subjective term, but but we are functioning with the following definition: Cosplays that incite violence, racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism, transphobia, and bigotry. This includes race-facing (e.g. Blackface/Brownface) as well as costumes that replicate historic or current international or national tragedies. The goal is to make sure our attendees feel safe, included, and appreciated, so cosplays should reflect this intent.
- Original Characters: Characters that are not licensed characters. For the Main Stage Contests, you may only enter characters that are from licensed materials. Original Characters are allowed in the Exhibition or the Hallway Cosplay Contest.
- PG Rating: No nudity or coarse language. Simulated violence and thematic situations are okay.
- Progress book: A book documenting your progress to showcase the elements you made, as well as highlight anything particularly interesting/difficult about your costume.
- Script: A script is a general description of your stage blocking and complete dialogue. No specific format is required, but we do need to have a good idea of what it is that you will be doing/what your recorded dialogue will project to the audience.
We're trying out a few new things this year, so we ask that you remain open and flexible. If you have any questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to contact the Cosplay Directors at Cosplay@Naka-kon.com.