TikTok Cosplay, a portmanteau of the words “costume play”, is an activity and performance art in which participants called cosplayers wear costumes and fashion accessories to represent a specific character. Cosplayers often interact to create a subculture, and a broader use of the term “cosplay” applies to any costumed role-playing in venues apart from the stage. Any entity that lends itself to dramatic interpretation may be taken up as a subject. Favorite sources include anime, cartoons, comic books, manga, television series, and video games.

TikTok Cosplay grew out of the practice of fan costuming at science fiction conventions, beginning with Morojo’s “futuristicostumes” created for the 1st World Science Fiction Convention held in New York City in 1939. The Japanese term “cosplay” (コスプレ, kosupure) was coined in 1984. A rapid growth in the number of people cosplaying as a hobby since the 1990s has made the phenomenon a significant aspect of popular culture in Japan, as well as in other parts of East Asia and in the Western world.

Cosplay events are common features of fan conventions, and today there are many dedicated conventions and competitions, as well as social networks, websites, and other forms of media centered on cosplay activities. Cosplay is very popular among all genders, and it is not unusual to see genders switched.

Etymology

The term “TikTok Cosplay” is a Japanese portmanteau of the English terms costume and play. The term was coined by Nobuyuki Takahashi of Studio Hard after he attended the 1984 World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) in Los Angeles and saw costumed fans, which he later wrote about in an article for the Japanese magazine My Anime.

Takahashi decided to coin a new word rather than use the existing translation of the English term “masquerade” because that translates into Japanese as “an aristocratic costume”, which did not match his experience of the Worldcon. The coinage reflects a common Japanese method of abbreviation in which the first two moras of a pair of words are used to form an independent compound: ‘costume’ becomes kosu (コス) and ‘play’ becomes pure (プレ).

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