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. A single entry into the cosplay Main Stage is 1-2 individuals. Entries of 1-2 people are welcome to enter as a skit; however, if there are more than 2 individuals in your entry, you are required to enter as a skit. Skits may not exceed 6 people.
If you are unable to compete for any reason, please notify the Cosplay Contest 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.
Main Stage Cosplay Rules
- 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 (original renderings of existing licensed characters) is fine; however, no original characters will be allowed. This rule does not apply if you are walking in the Cos-Parade or participating in the Hallway Cosplay Contest.
- No more than 5 entries are open for licensed non-Japanese characters. An example of this is Batman or Disney princesses. Licensed non-Japanese entries may enter any of the categories, but are not eligible for the Best in Show award.
- Cosplays based on unlicensed characters may not enter the Main Stage Contest or Skit contest.
- 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.
- Contestants are only allowed one entry. A contestant may not enter the mainstage cosplay contest with more than one costume, or a part of more than one group.
- 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, and Skit Contest 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 entries unless otherwise arranged before the contest. Your audio must also adhere to a PG rating. If you wish to use your own audio, it must be submitted at the time of online registration via Dropbox. The Dropbox link will be available in the registration form. Please label your music by the name you wish to be announced on stage, e.g.: Tomo-chan Cosplay.
- New this year, we will not accept audio on site.
- Contestants may not bring anyone other than assigned handlers or guardians to the Green Room. Unauthorized individuals in the Green Room will be asked to leave.
- These rules are in addition to the general cosplay rules.
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 minor 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 14. At least 50% of your costume must be made by you.
- Intermediate: Any contestant who has won two or fewer major 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 3 or more major 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 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 outside of 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 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.
Note: Naka-Kon will not issue additional awards if you are part of a group.
- 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 entrant will have 5 minutes with the judges to discuss how the costume was made and answer any questions the judges may have. Be prepared for judges to look closely at your work such as seams, paint job, wig styling and detailing. NOTE: Judging is minimally invasive, however we know some contestants may feel uncomfortable with the judges touching them/ their costume. Please let the directors know if this is the case so we can make accommodations. A trusted handler may be brought in to judging to flip seams, or additional reference pictures may need to be added to the progress book so the judges can see the interior parts of the costume.
- 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 progress 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!
- Audio must be submitted at the time of online registration via Dropbox. The Dropbox link will be available in the registration form.
- 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. on Saturday of the convention. Attendance is mandatory if you provided your own audio. If your tech rehearsal coincides with your judging time, do not worry, we will accommodate this.
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.
Skit Contest Rules
- All skits must adhere to the General Contest Rules and applicable Main Stage Contest rules listed above.
- Skits are limited to 6 people.
- Skits are limited to 3 minutes in length. All content/dialogue must adhere to a PG rating.
- No Karaoke or dance-only performances. You are welcome to perform Karaoke during the Karaoke contest.
- If you wish to be judged on craftwork for your skit, you are also subject to craftwork requirements listed above.
- 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 the Cos-Parade 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 based on unlicensed characters may not enter the Main Stage Contest or skit contest.
- There will be a mandatory meeting for all entrants in the Main Stage Cosplay Contest, Skit and Skit Contest 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 have not 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!
- 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 and audio must be submitted along with your pre-registration application. Audio must be submitted at the time of online registration via Dropbox. The Dropbox link will be available in the registration form.
- 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 plan accordingly!
- Skit scripts do not need to be in any particular format, however we will need documentation of all stage cues and dialogue performed.
Online Registration: Online Registration will be open Tuesday, April 26 at 6:00 p.m. CST until Tuesday May 17 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.
Sign up here for the cosplay contest beginning April 26 at 6:00 p.m. No entries will be accepted before this time!
If all spots fill prior to the deadline, you may fill out the online registration form to be added to the waitlist. Individuals will be added to the waitlist in the order they are received. If a space opens up for your entry, you will receive an email notification, and you will have 24 hours to respond to that email or your spot will be given to the next available person on the waitlist. The waitlist registration will also close on May 17 at 6:00 p.m. and those on the registration list will be notified of their status no later than May 24.
Contestants will receive confirmation of their acceptance into the contest within one week of registering. Emails indicating craftsmanship judging time blocks will be sent no later than 1 week before Naka-Kon.
There will be no on-site registration for the mainstage contest this year!
- Check-in for the Main Stage Cosplay Contests on Friday from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. in Ballroom C. This is where you will confirm your participation in the Main Stage Contests. If you cannot make it at this time, please let the directors know.
- You do not need to be in costume for check in. Come in, check in, then be on your way to enjoy the convention!
Main Stage Cosplay Contest Craftsmanship judging times: You will be assigned a judging time block no later than 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 skits (if skits chose to be judged on craftsmanship).
Tech rehearsal: If you provided your own music or want to practice your stage walk ahead of time, please show up to tech rehearsal which will be noted in your acceptance email.. 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 if needed. Tech rehearsal is required for anyone who provided their own audio. Please note that rehearsal may run concurrent with your judging time block--this is okay! The contest directors will ensure that there is time for both. We may run your audio before or after your judging time.
Green Room: All contestants 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: 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. After the halftime show, awards will be given out.
Mainstage Cosplay Contest
- Registration is online only, and opens Tuesday, April 26 at 6:00 p.m. CST until Tuesday May 17 at 6:00 p.m. CST
- Waitlist registration will also close on May 17 at 6:00 p.m. and those on the registration list will be notified of their status no later than May 24.
- Check-in for the Main Stage Cosplay Contests on Friday from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. in Ballroom C.
- Tech Rehearsal: Tech rehearsal times will be given to you in your acceptance email.
- Greenroom: Begins at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday of the Convention in Ballroom C. This is where all contestants will be stationed.
- The Cosplay Contest itself begins at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday of the Convention in Ballroom A/B. Awards will be given out directly after the contest on stage.
Sign up here for the cosplay contest beginning April 26 at 6:00 p.m. No entries will be accepted before this time!
If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact the Cosplay Directors at Cosplay@Naka-kon.com.
Everyone entering a Main Stage Cosplay Contest or the Hallway Cosplay Contest is eligible for one of many awesome prizes! Please note that the awards will be granted to the winning entry. If you have more than one person in your entry, it is up to you all to determine how you will split the award. We will not be distributing any additional prizes based on the number of people in your entry. The award categories are as follows:
- 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, and non-craftsmanship skits.
- Best Skit
- 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 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 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
- Judge's Choice Awards: Awards given out by judges based on their personal impressions of the cosplay
- Best in Show: $400, a trophy, and one 3D print of the cosplayer(s) from 3DHQ
- Best Skit: $200 a trophy
- Best Master Overall: $200, and a trophy
- Best Master Runway: $150, and a trophy
- Best Master Craftsmanship: $150, and a trophy
- Best Intermediate Overall: $150, and trophy
- Best Intermediate Craftsmanship: $100, and a trophy
- Best Intermediate Runway: $100, and a trophy
- Best Beginner Overall: $100, and a trophy
- Best Beginner Craftsmanship: $50, and a trophy
- Best Beginner Runway: $50, and a trophy
- Judge’s Choice Prizes