Skip main navigation

Hurry, only 4 days left to get one year of Unlimited learning for £249.99 £174.99. New subscribers only. T&Cs apply

Find out more

Costume + Play = A Cosplay History

A Cosplay history
Woman wearing jacket with spikes on back

In Japan, Sci-fi conventions have existed since the 1960’s, as well as the phenomenon of dressing up, known as “kasou”, but it was Nobuyuki Takahashi, writer and innovator, who helped popularise the term in the early 1980’s.

In the June 1983 issue of My Anime, a Japanese magazine dedicated to Anime and Manga, published the article titled “Operation Cosplay”, written by Takahashi about fans dressing up as manga and anime characters. During WorldCon in 1984 in Los Angeles the term had still not reached America. Tomino Yoshiyuki, a Japanese mecha anime creator, animator, director, screenwriter, songwriter, and novelist best known for creating the Gundam anime franchise, was invited to attend and although there were many Sci-Fi cosplayers, at the time the word “Cosplay” was not used.

It was finally during the comic market in 1986, that the word “Cosplay” became popular. I agree with the author of the original article[5] in believing that the spread of the word is due to the re-edition and translation of the original article “Operation Cosplay”, making it more accessible for a wider audience.

At that time, WorldCon was not the only major event for cosplayers: in Japan Comiket[6] was a known convention for the now well-known “cosplayers” lovers, which started in 1975. In Italy, Lucca Comics, founded in 1966, related to Comics only, changed its name to Lucca Comics & Games in 1996, becoming the largest comics festival in Europe[7], the second biggest in the world after the Comiket.

Those events underlined the power of cosplayers worldwide. The world “power” is not used by chance: as it is meant to underline the subcultural and economical power of cosplay. If, as stated previously, cosplay can be seen as the celebration of the DIY do-it-yourself movement, it is by far an economic engine. Moreover, is it correct to refer to cosplay still as a subculture, when manga and anime are celebrated by Fashion brands year after year, season after season?


  • What is kasou?
  • Have you ever made your own costume?

Share your answers with your peers below.

5. Task: read +

This article is from the free online

Fashion and Gaming: How Luxury Fashion Brands Use Gamification

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now