Cosplay (コスプレ kosupure?), short for "costume play", is a performance art in which participants wear costumes and accessories to represent a specific character or idea.
Cosplayers often interact to create a subculture centered on role play. A broader use of the term cosplay applies to any costumed role play in venues apart from the stage, regardless of the cultural context.
Inanimate objects are given anthropomorphic forms and it is not unusual to see genders switched, with women playing male roles and vice versa.
There is also a subset of cosplay culture centered on sex appeal, with cosplayers specifically choosing characters that are known for their attractiveness and/or revealing costumes.
The Internet has enabled many cosplayers to create social networks and websites centered on cosplay activities, while forums allow cosplayers to share stories, photographs, news, and general information.
The rapid growth in the number of people cosplaying as a hobby since 1990 has made the phenomenon a significant aspect of popular culture.
This is particularly the case in Asia, where cosplay influences Japanese street fashion. Cosplay costumes vary greatly and can range from simple themed clothing to highly detailed costumes.
Cosplay is generally considered different from Halloween and Mardi Gras costume wear, as the intention is to accurately replicate a specific character, rather than to reflect the culture and symbolism of a holiday event. As such, when in costume, cosplayers will often seek to adopt the affect, mannerisms and body language of the characters they portray (with "out of character" breaks).
The characters chosen to be cosplayed may be sourced from any movie, TV series, book, comic book, video game or music band, but the practice of cosplay is often associated with replicating anime and manga characters