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Defining the Art of Costume Play: An Essay on the Cosplay Subculture


Subcultures can be viewed as distinct cultural entities within a larger dominant cultural system from a sociological point of perspective. Subcultures are defined according to particular rules, beliefs, and practices (Brym and Lie 2012: 47). One such example is the subculture of cosplay. Cosplay is described as a mix of subculture and performance art. A lot of cosplayers participate in non-stage activities which are based on characters from anime, manga, and comics.

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Cosplay is among the most imaginative and creative subcultures of the present. It’s essentially a form of costume play. Participants are required to create costumes that resemble characters from films, video games, comic books, or even books. These kinds of activities are becoming increasingly well-known in Japan. Cosplayers wear costumes not just at events or formal gatherings, but all the time.

There are a variety of activities cosplayers can participate in. They can be found at photo sessions, sewing parties as well as parties and modeling. There are a variety of activities for those who participate in the subculture of cosplay. Since I’m interested in photography, I took part in photo shoots. It was my responsibility to create the scene by the storyline.

The photoshoots were planned to resemble comic book characters. The process requires cosplayers to work together: the ones who design costumes, and decorations as well as the models and the authors of the scripts used for role-playing. It is a huge task to plan these events.

It could be considered a form of performance art since you need to perform your character and follow the narrative. Cosplay is a distinct subculture since it employs some of the same techniques as costume play. Cosplay also includes a set of rules, values, and standards. People have a strong sense of belonging. The teamwork and focus on particulars are also appreciated. It requires time and effort to make costumes.

Accuracy and precision are crucial to make a costume look authentic. The norms for cosplay are the standard of costumes used for special occasions. Making the costume, and then forgetting to put on the shoes is not a good idea. Cosplayers share a connection that transcends differences in gender, race as well as physical appearance. The effort and time that is needed to develop and recreate stories of characters that are beloved from a specific universe are valued by cosplayers.

Symbolic interactions

There is a way to further study the cosplay subculture from the theoretical framework of symbolic interactionism. The sociological approach lets us analyze communication on a micro-level and comprehend how people in the subculture interpret specific activities.

It is evident through the cosplay activities mentioned above that cosplayers aren’t simply reacting to specific situations, but they create a space that permits them to behave in a specific manner. They create the environment they live in, through the lens of symbolic interaction. This is the reason why mutual appreciation and collective effort are crucial.

The cosplayers have an intense sense of belonging. This is because constructed reality is a combination of symbolic elements and ways of identifying. The community of cosplayers is ready to abandon reality and be a part of the artificially created world of costume-based play. Costumes are used as symbols and also serve as a basis for the establishment of connections between characters within the universe in which they are.

Cosplay is an exciting depiction of the universe of symbols. Costume play is a fabricated reality that makes utilization of a variety of symbols to link characters. Through the development of their characters, actors create new friendships and become familiar with other people. Many cosplayers claim that they feel more confident and secure by engaging in these activities. This results in new social connections and satisfying relationships built on shared passions. The way you perceive yourself and the way you interact with other people within the community can affect how you view yourself. Interaction is an essential aspect of cosplay.


Sociological imagination can be a method to understand the role of costumes as a subculture. Mills (1959) declares that social imagination can be a method to understand the relationships between social structure and personal issues. Every member of society is in the four levels of social structure. Personal concerns are thus connected to the social aspects at every level of interaction, including macrostructures and microstructures, as well as global structures. A micro-level of interactivity in subcultures is referred to as social psychological imagination and microstructures. Sociological awareness lets us consider ourselves to be part of the community as well as subcultures.

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