Cosplay Contests

Cosplay Contests

Main Cosplay Competition Information

The main cosplay competition is broken into three categories: the runway competition, the craftsmanship competition and the skit competition. Participants may enter either the runway competition OR the skit competition. All participants may enter the craftsmanship competition.
Naka-Kon limits cosplay competition registration to 100 entries. Groups and skits are considered single entries. Exceptions to that entry number will be made by the director only in extreme circumstances. Please pre-register via this website when signups open on February 15th, or arrive when cosplay registration opens at 5:00 p.m. on Friday night, to ensure your spot!
As Naka-Kon is a Japanese culture convention, it is heavily encouraged that costumes be based on anime, manga, J-rock, J-pop, Japanese live-action TV, Japanese video games, Japanese history, or other sources as long as they are of Japanese origin. Despite having anime adaptations, we are not counting characters that originated in America, such as Iron Man, the “Supernatural” cast, and any Disney characters involved in the Kingdom Hearts franchise. Those are still all non-Japanese origin characters, as their source material was not Japan.
We have an extremely limited number of slots (10% of the contest) open for non-Japanese origin costumes. These slots are only available for those entering craftsmanship judging or the skit competition. Runway-only entrants are only allowed to enter Japanese costumes.
Non-Japanese costumes are NOT eligible to win the main competition’s Best in Show prize. They are still eligible for other awards in the main competition.

Slots will likely go fast, so if you would like to enter, you should pre-register online or be one of the first in line at cosplay contest registration when it opens. If you’re not able to procure one of these slots and your costume originates from any other country, it will not qualify for the main competition. However, we do encourage you to enter your costume in the hall cosplay competition as an alternative.
To enter the main cosplay competition, please pre-register online by February 15th. If pre-registration has closed already, visit cosplay contest registration at the tables inside Ballroom C from 5:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. Friday night, and from 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. on Saturday.
Registration will be broken into two phases:

  1. Pre-registration: Available for the first 50 signups beginning February 15. Please note, only 8 of the 10 non-Japanese entry slots will be available via pre-registration.
  2. At-convention registration: The remaining 50 slots will be available at the convention. Any non-Japanese costume slots not filled during the online pre-registration period will be available at the convention.


Important Times:

Entry into the contest is a time commitment. Please understand that you will need to devote the majority of Saturday afternoon/evening (2pm-7pm.) to being backstage and ready to go on. Those wishing to enter craftsmanship judging will also have a 5-minute appointment either Friday night or Saturday morning with the judges. If you do not have the time to commit to this, please consider entering the Hall Cosplay Contest instead, as it only takes roughly 5 minutes. There are plenty of cosplayers who would like to enter the runway competition, and we want to ensure that as many people as possible are able to enter. If something comes up, please notify the cosplay staff immediately so we can withdraw your entry and allow another person in. Those who do not notify the cosplay staff of their withdrawal will be banned from the cosplay contests next year.

If you have an extenuating circumstance that prevents you from making one of the earlier craftsmanship times or your costume is bulky and/or difficult to maneuver in, please let the cosplay director know and your craftsmanship judging will be scheduled as close to the time of the competition as possible.

Please note the times below:

  1. Friday night: 5:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. Check-in for pre-registered entries / Signup / Craftsmanship judging appointments starting at 7:00 p.m.
  2. Saturday morning: 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Check-in for pre-registered entries / Signups if slots remain / Craftsmanship judging appointments (9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.)
  3. Saturday afternoon: 12:00 p.m.–2 p.m OPTIONAL tech rehearsal. We highly advise this if you are unfamiliar with our stage or have submitted your own music/audio.  2:00 p.m. -. 3:00 p.m. MANDATORY BACKSTAGE PRE-SHOW MEETING in Ballroom C.If you do not come to this meeting, you will not go on stage. It is advised that you eat ahead of time or bring something small to eat backstage.
  4. Saturday evening: 3:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. The cosplay contest starts as soon as the meeting ends at 3:00 p.m., and runs until 5:30 p.m. The judges will deliberate and then awards will be presented at 6:30pm.

General Competition Rules (for all entrants):

  1. All competition entrants must be registered attendees of Naka-Kon 2018.
  2. All costumes must conform to a PG or TV-Y7 rating. In addition, the hotels and convention center require that attendees wear shoes at all times. We will excuse the inaccuracy in your costume!
  3. All costumes must be completed before the mandatory cosplay competition meeting on Saturday (at 2 p.m.). Repairs may be made in the Green Room before the contest.
  4. Anyone with a disability may have one handler with them in the competition. We will also allow one handler if you are extremely young (12 or under) or have a very bulky/hard-to-move-in costume. All handlers must be checked in with cosplay staff or they will not be allowed backstage. If you need more than one handler, it must be cleared with the cosplay director ahead of time (contact
  5. If you wish to enter craftsmanship judging, at least 60% of your costume must be handmade and not store-bought or commissioned. If you had a friend or family member make it for you, you can present the costume as their model. Both the creator and the model must be registered convention attendees of Naka-Kon and the creator must be present along with the model at the time of judging.
  6. Store-bought or commissioned costumes without the creator present to speak with the judges are only allowed to enter the runway or skit competitions. These entries will still be eligible for the skit awards and runway awards such as Judge’s Awards
  7. All entrants of the runway competition will have a maximum of 60 seconds on stage. Contestants may not use stage time to make political, religious, insulting or other demonstrations not related to their entry.
  8. Contestants may not enter a previous winning costume or skits from Naka-Kon or any other convention. If the award was minor (a judge’s award, or an award from a very small convention), we will waive this rule. Check with the cosplay staff at signups if you are uncertain if your cosplay qualifies.
  9. Current members of Naka-kon Staff are ineligible for awards, but are welcome to enter as exhibition-only.
  10. Safety first!
    1. No throwing objects on stage or into the audience.
    2. No flames or smoke effects.
    3. No jumping off the stage.
    4. No running up stairs or on stage.
    5. Items may only be left on stage if entrants request Stage Ninja assistance on the contest registration form.
    6. All props and weapons must conform to Naka-Kon’s props and weapons policy.
    7. 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.
    8. 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.
    9. If you have any questions about the weapons policy or dress code policy, please contact
  11. Groups may have no more than five members unless approved in advance by Naka-Kon’s cosplay director.
  12. Cosplay competition staff reserve the right to disqualify anyone for any logical reason.
  13. Please DO NOT surprise the cosplay staff. Feel free to surprise the audience, but you must speak to the cosplay staff at cosplay competition registration to notify us of any unconventional plans.
  14. All cosplay competition participants must sign up during designated cosplay competition registration times. Cosplay contest registration will be available online via for the first 50 slots (including up to 8 non-Japanese costume entries). The remaining entry slots will be available at the convention between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. Friday night  of the convention, and between 10 a.m. and noon on Saturday.
  15. No submissions will be taken after noon on Saturday. Applications must be completely filled out to enter.
  16. There will be a mandatory meeting for all entrants at  2 p.m. on Saturday in the Green Room, which is in Ballroom C. If you have a group, all members of the group must attend to participate in the competition. Those not present at this meeting who haven’t cleared their tardiness with the cosplay director in advance will be disqualified. Please notify the director immediately if you need to withdraw your entry so we can give that slot to another cosplayer!
  17. Runway music will be provided by Naka-Kon A/V staff unless otherwise arranged before the competition. All music or audio must be submitted at the time you check in/sign up or you will not be able to use it. Please present 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.
  18. Hall cosplay costumes entered on Friday of the convention may not be worn for the main cosplay competition (either runway or skit).
  19. Main cosplay competition winners (whether craftsmanship, runway or skit) may not enter the Sunday hall cosplay competition with their winning costumes.
  20. All contestants will be required to indicate a skill level:
    1. Beginner: Any contestant who has never won an award in any costume or cosplay competition.
    2. Intermediate: Any contestant who has won one or two awards in any costume, cosplay, or convention competition.
    3. Master: Any contestant who has won three or more awards in any costume, cosplay or convention competition, or someone who has income exceeding $10,000 per year from costuming, cosplay, sewing, prop construction, wig construction or styling or any other costume- or cosplay-related field.

Note: These categories are guidelines, so if you are unsure of where you would fall, or if you feel that the rules place you in a higher category than you belong, please speak with a cosplay staff member. Naka-Kon cosplay staff reserve the right to change any entrant’s category for any logical reason.

Craftsmanship Competition Rules

  1. All craftsmanship competition entrants must also enter the runway competition or skit competition, and follow the respective runway or skit competition rules.
  2. The craftsmanship competition will be limited to 85 entries.Groups count as a single entry.
  3. Craftsmanship competition entrants must sign up for a judging time slot when they register for the contest. Judging time slots will be available on Friday night from 7 p.m.-10 p.m. and Saturday morning, 9 a.m.-11 a.m. Entrants are encouraged to sign up as early as possible to secure a judging time slot. All craftsmanship competition judging will finish before the cosplay competition begins. Additional time slots will not be added for latecomers.
  4. Judging will take place at the craftsmanship judging table inside Ballroom C. Individual entrants will be allotted five minutes for judging. Groups of any size will be allotted up to 10 minutes for judging. All group members must be present for the full length of the judging session.


  5. Entrants who are not present at their judging time slot will be disqualified from the craftsmanship competition. Entrants are encouraged to show up for judging 5 minutes before their scheduled time.
  6. Entrants are encouraged to bring printed character reference materials and progress photos for judging. Reference material will be available for pick up at the Hall Cosplay table on Sunday.


  7. All craftsmanship entrants must adhere to the General Competition Rules listed above.

Skit Competition Rules

  1. All skit dialogue, visuals, and costumes must meet a PG or TV-Y7 rating. In addition, the hotels and convention center require that attendees wear shoes at all times. We will forgive the inaccuracy in your costume!
  2. All skit entries will have a 3-minute time limit no matter how many people are in the skit. If you feel you have a legitimate reason for your skit to be longer than 3 minutes, please contact the cosplay director at and clear it ahead of time.
  3. No more than five people may be on the stage at a time, unless cleared in advance by the cosplay director.
  4. All audio must be pre-recorded. No microphones will be available, and the audience will not be able to hear your unamplified voice. All music or audio must be submitted at the time you check in/sign up or you will not be able to use it. Please present 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.
  5. All skit entries must submit a TYPED script to register for the skit competition. If you wish to do so ahead of time, which we highly encourage, please email it to! 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!
  6. While we welcome anyone wishing to perform live music relevant to their costume (particularly instrumental music), we encourage singers of Japanese songs to enter our karaoke contest instead!
  7. 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!
  8. A Best Skit award will be given no matter the amount of entries (unless we have 0), but we must have 5 or more to award a Skit Runner-Up. Please encourage your friends to enter skits so we can give out more awards!
  9. All skits must adhere to the General Competition Rules listed above.


    Pre-registration will be available online for the first 50 entrants. The remaining slots will be available at the cosplay check-in desk starting at 5 p.m. on Friday night of the convention.

  10. If you would like to pre-register for the cosplay contest, please sign up here! (Opens February 15th at midnight)

    2018 Hall Cosplay Competition

    Do you like to cosplay, but hate people staring at you? 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 hall cosplay is for you! Come to the hall 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.
    On Friday, visit the hall cosplay judges between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. at the cosplay contest registration tables inside Ballroom C. On Sunday, hall cosplay judging will be open from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. and 1 p.m.-2 p.m.
    Both Friday and Sunday hall cosplay winners will be announced at Closing Ceremonies. If you win a prize and cannot attend Closing Ceremonies, Naka-Kon will mail you your certificate and prize money.

    Hall Cosplay Rules

    • Entrants must be registered convention attendees of Naka-Kon 2018.
    • Costumes can be from any source in the world (Japan, America, Europe, whatever!), but please avoid entirely bought-at-the-store outfits. If you’ve made or modified some of your costume, that’s great!
    • Entrants should bring printed photos of their costumes’ sources. If you need to pull the images up on your smartphone, that’s okay!
    • Entrants may enter alone or in a group. Groups count as a single entry.
    • Cosplayers may enter multiple costumes, but not the same costume multiple times. Entrants may only enter one costume a day (i.e., one on Friday and one on Sunday).

      Cosplay Etiquette

      Cosplay is not consent.
      This includes:

      • Do not touch a cosplayer, their costume or their props without permission.
      • Do not take a photo 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.
      • Do not ask to take photos with only one cosplayer out of a group from the same series/clearly in a group cosplay. Excluding the others is disrespectful and rude.
      • Any negativity directed at cosplayers will be treated as harassment. Remember, they may still be able to hear you, or their friends may be in earshot.
        This includes but is not limited to:
        1. Criticizing someone because of their race, gender or body size.
        2. Making snide remarks about skill level.
        3. “I could do that better” type statements.
        4. Unwelcome critiques of their techniques. 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!

      For Cosplayers:

      • 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, do your best to move out of the flow of traffic.
      • If you are wearing extensive makeup or body paint, please seal it properly. Please avoid situations where you may cause damage to something (i.e., 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.