When it comes to cosplay, most people agree that it is originated from Japan. If it is only based on the modern conception of cosplay, this saying is right. However, seeing it from a broader sense, the real cradleland of cosplay is America. During the BC, the primitive form of cosplay had existed. Either the dressing-up Greek priests at about 1000BC or the poets who had written Iliad and Othello at 8th century BC were players of costumes. In fact, what cosplay contains is not only the visualization of outward appearance, more importantly, is the inner world of people.
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Cosplay in America
After the creation of “phantasmagoria” by Athanasius Kircher in the 17th century, animation emerged inevitably. However, it was not until the end of 1930s when Disney Mikey Mouse became popular that the first cosplay which was based on animation appeared. In order to attract more visitors, Walt Disney asked his staff to dress in Mikey Mouse costumes for enjoyment and photo-taking. We could see that the original cosplay was a commercial behavior rather than fashion purchase. Taking America, specifically Disney, as the real origin of cosplay was rational.
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Cosplay in Japan
At that time in Japan, the popularity of cartoon Shin Taka Wajima created by Osamu Tezuka brought a hot flush of new cartoon, which caused a boom of ACG(Anime、Comic、Game). Meantime, Disney cosplay was introduced into Japan and many fans of ACG began to imitate it. Thus, cosplay came into popularity in Japan. But cosplay at that time was mainly a game of children whose family was rich enough to purchase these exquisite costumes. Because there was no cosplay costume shop, many cosplay lovers were shut from the door of fun because they had to tailor and make these cosplay costumes and accessories themselves, or hire professional to do that, which was usually very expensive.
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In 1980s, although cosplay in Japan got more fans at older ages, no large-scale cosplay activity had been held. It was in 1990s when ACG industry held many animation and game exhibitions successfully that these cosplayers attracted wide attention. Cartoon trade companies and videogame companies began to use cosplay to promote their products.
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Through long-time development and research, cosplay nowadays has come to perfection. Cosers can act as not only people, but also other characters in cartoon and games, such as animals, robots, etc. Cosplay in modern society has developed as a main stream of young people’s entertainment. They use cosplay on many occasions such as birthday parties, animation shows, masquerades and so on. Now cosplay as a culture is accepted by more and more people. It is developing as a profession gradually. More and more specialty stores for cospaly costumes emerge because of demand. Just until the very recently, online shopping prevails. Cosplay lovers begin to shop online at cosplay shops which provide whole set of dress, cosplay wigs, even cosplay shoes and boots. Those are often at affordable prices and that brings much more freedom to cosers.
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In Japan, besides the stable videogame exhibitions held in spring and autumn and other shows, there is a cosplay carnival held once a year. In this carnival, elites of cosplay get together to rig out to the fullest. Both youth and children are cosplay lovers, even some parents are interested in it. Cosplay in other countries such as China and Korea is developing fast, too.
As an unofficial recreation, there is almost no limitation to take part in it as long as you are interested in it and have your own costumes. You can participate in any shows of cosplay in the name of club or personally. Or you can have your own cosplay party or masquerade.