Cosplay, short for "costume play," involves wearing a costume in public for fun, typically at a convention or other event. These costumes are often based on characters from Japanese cartoon and video games franchises, since cosplay is especially popular in Japan. It has since grown in Western countries and may also incorporate ideas from other cultures. Costumes tend to be quite extravagant in nature, with individuals opting for eye-catching hair, make-up and clothing.
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Cosplay costumes could be based around the popular Japanese cartoon series "Sailor Moon,",which has also become a favourite with audiences in the West and spawned a range of merchandise. "Sailor Moon" cosplayers often dress as one of the protagonists in the series, the Sailor Senshis, who wear a distinctive uniform that combines Japanese school fashion with a traditional sailor outfit. Cosplayers might also base their costumes around the villains of the series, such as Queen Beryl.
Many cosplayers enjoy dressing as characters and monsters from the "Pokémon" franchise, which consists of both video games and television shows. In some cases, cosplayers are inspired by the Pokémon themselves, which typically resemble cute or fearsome variations on real world animals. These include Pikachu, an electric mouse, and Charmander, a flame-coloured lizard. Cosplayers can also dress as the human characters from the series, such as Team Rocket, a villainous organisation whose members wear white clothing emboldened with a huge red letter R.
A popular source for cosplay costumes is the "Final Fantasy" video game series, which contains over a dozen titles. Both protagonists and antagonists in this series are suitable choices for easily-achieved costumes, since the appearance of "Final Fantasy" characters tends to resemble modern dress with a science-fiction or fantasy edge, featuring tropes such as medieval weaponry. For example, the Aerith Gainsborough character,from "Final Fantasy 7" wears a red and pink dress and carries a staff.
With its enduring popularity all over the world and sheer number of settings and characters, Disney is a rich source of inspiration for cosplay characters. With many cosplayers enjoying costumes based on character types such as princesses and warriors, some gravitate toward Disney staples such as Jasmine from "Aladdin," Ariel from "The Little Mermaid," and Snow White. Cosplayers can also experiment with costumes based on animals and other creatures found in Disney movies.
A staple of Japanese cosplay culture is the maid character, which bears some resemblance to the concept of the Geisha. The maid typically wears a black and white or pink dress, and adopts a servile role in institutions such as maid cafes, which have cropped up in Japanese cities, as described by the Tokyo Top Guide web site.
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