Cosplay Contest



Please email our cosplay department with any comments, questions, or concerns, at

In order to be eligible for the contest, all contestants must be pre-registered online by submitting a Masquerade form online and adhere to both Coast Con Code of Conduct and Props Weapons Policy. Registration will be available on-site at the INFO desk, however, we strongly suggest pre-registering online as spots are very limited. Contestants must also adhere to the cosplay contest rules. The rules are as follows, violators will be disqualified and may be removed from the eveR

  1. All contestants must follow the guidance and instructions of all Coast Con Staff and comply with the rules and Code of Conduct of Coast Con
  2. This is a public convention with family friendly content, all costumes must comply with our PG-13 rating. No nudity or cosplay that are derived from “Adult Content” sources will be allowed in the contest. If your costume is determined to be inappropriate for children, or overtly sexual in nature, you will be asked to cover the offending portion before participating in the contest.
  3. Please don’t jump off the stage or perform any actions that can result in any physical harm.
  4. Use of flash powder, lasers, electrical flashes, glitter, dust, vapor, smoke, or fog are strictly prohibited, and will result in disqualification and expulsion from the convention.
  5. A cosplayer can only enter in the contest with one costume. Transforming costumes count as one costume.
  6. Each cosplayer may only appear on stage once.
  7. There will not be any personal interactions with the audience, MC, or judges during the on stage presentation.
  8. Coast Con is not responsible for keeping track of your possessions, and will not be held responsible for lost, stolen or damaged items.
  9. Although this is a competition, we ask all contestants to be polite, courtesy, respectful, and above all friendly with one another.
  10. You will be disqualified if you are caught taking credit for work that is not your own. Please be considerate of other and fairness
  11. Electric Outlets will not be provided for costumes. Please make sure you have an appropriate power source, if needed.
  12. You will have 1 min on stage for your walk on for minor presentation. Groups are given an exception. Make sure to discuss with staff and/or judges if your presentation exceeds 5 minutes.
  13. Costumes should be self-contained and self-sufficient. Please secure your own escort if you have a bulky costumes that might require an aid to move or see. We will do our best to make sure every contestant appears on stage. If the costume is bulky, please be aware that we may not be able to get the contestant on the stage, but we may still let them perform. Please be prepared to walk up 4-6 stairs in the event that a lift or ramp is not available.

Failure to follow these rules may result in disqualification from contest and or expulsion from convention.

Costume Rules and Safety Guidelines

Please remember that Coast Con is a free all-ages event when deciding what costume to wear.

  1. Costumes should not violate indecent exposure laws as deemed by the city of Costa Mesa
  2. Males are required to wear dance belts for tight fitting costumes
  3. Costumes depicting first responders (i.e military uniform, medical personnel, or government officials) are prohibited
  4. All props must conform to Weapons Policy & Code of Conduct. Limited exceptions can be provided in extreme cases such as large mechas, multi-person costumes, or excessively large props. This will be on a cases-by-case basis, and dealt with at Check in.
  5. Costumes should be self-contained and self-sufficient. Connections to electrical sockets will not be available, and are not allowed. Please secure your own escort if you have a bulky costume that might require aid to move or see. We will do our best to make sure every contestant appears on stage. If the costume is bulky, please be aware that we may not be able to get the contestant on the elevated stage. Stairs are provided for ease of use. People with disabilities or those who cannot access the stage will be allowed to present off of and in front of the stage. Please request this at Check in.
  6. Any prop weapon that is not permitted in the convention will not be permitted on stage. The permitted props will be given the same conditions when it was peace bonded.
  7. All props that will be carried on to the stage must be approved before contest begins at Check in.
  8. No projectile props, throwing props will be allowed. No Prop Ninja stars, playing cards, arrows, or balls etc. may be thrown, tossed, or juggled.
  9. No real weapons of any kind are allowed at Coast Con.
  10. The following are strictly prohibited: Live Firearms, Realistic or mock firearm props, Airsoft guns, Laser pointers, Live steel props [blunted or sharp] including: Knives, Swords, Sword canes, Daggers, Switchblades, Brass Knuckles, Hunting bows or crossbows, Arrows, Whips, Nunchuks
  11. Props may only be held in place or SAFELY swung when striking poses.
  12. Prop Weapons must meet the following criteria to be allowed: No live steel props are allowed at any time, Props cannot be bigger than 6 ft long, Props cannot weight more than 15 pounds, Prop bows must be unstrung or have a low-tensile thread and be incapable of shooting, Chains/cords must be less than 12 inches long and no more than one inch thick, Non-metal chains must be under a reasonable length so as not to pose a safety or fire hazard.
  13. Items such as glitter, confetti, dripping fake blood/liquids, etc. are prohibited. Anything that will take need time to be picked or clean up is prohibited.
  14. All props must remain held in at least one hand at all times. Props may not be dropped suddenly or slammed onto the ground.
  15. No Stunts may be performed, including but not limited to: rolls, flips, hand sands, tumbles, spriting on stage, Jumping or leaping, etc.   
  16. If any dangerous movements or actions are made, you will be disqualified on the spot without warning. The safety of everyone is our #1 priority.
  17. Costumes must and can be from any anime, manga, comic, graphic novel, or video game. (Cross-overs and mixed genres are also permissible
  18. Shoes are required at all times
  19. Costumes cannot impede flow of foot traffic
  20. Coast Con and Anime Academia reserve the full right to update this policy in their sole discretion without prior notice.

Entry and Requirement Detail

  • Audio: Any sound necessary to express your performance (i.e. music, pre-recorded dialogue, sound effects). Must be comparable to a PG rating– no profanity or offensive language. Bleeps or other forms of censoring are acceptable.
  • Should not exceed 2 minutes.
  • Must be on USB Flash Drive on a MP3 format.
  • Must have minimum 192 bitrate. [NO POTATO QUALITY AUDIO]
  • Try to avoid audio quality defects (audible distortion, overdriven levels, low sample-rate/bitrate).

Cosplayers are expected to walk the catwalk in their cosplay, pose, and walk back and off the stage. Unless there is audio in place for a performance or otherwise.

Any presentations with stunts, extreme or shocking performances must be approved by the department manager and assistant manager before the event. Failure to do so may result in disqualification and /or expulsion.

All costumes competing for Craftsmanship, must be made by at least one member of the group, with at least 70% of the costume made to qualify for craftsmanship judging.

Each contestant may only enter one costume into the competition.

Commercially acquired costume sets are still eligible for performance awards, but are not eligible for craftsmanship awards.

If you’ve received any major awards with a costume, it’s highly discourage to reenter with it. Major awards are under Best in Show, Best in Class, if you’ve any question regarding this please email (to be determined)

All costumes competing for the Craftsmanship Award must have made at least 70% of the costume to qualify for Craftsmanship judging

​There will be 3 competitive divisions in this competition: Novice (Beginner), Journeyman (Intermediate), and Master (Advanced). There will also be an Exhibition Division (Open), for those who want to display and showcase their cosplay, but do not wish to participate in the contest, be judged, or awarded.

Contest Divisions Description

Please be aware that tech rehearsals will not be guaranteed, so be sure to check through our technical requirements and guidelines to make sure that your audio and video files will play properly.

Exhibition: Any cosplayer may enter in the Exhibition Division
The exhibition division is a presentation only division.
Entries are not judged and will not be awarded any prizes.
Recommended for children and those who bought their costumes and wish to perform. This is a great chance to show off your cosplay and enjoy the competition without the hassle of judging.


  • Any cosplayer who is competing for the very first time in any contest.
  • Professionals who profits from being established may not enter in this division


  • A cosplayer who may have competed in previous cosplay contests, but not won first place or any major awards*
  • Professionals who profits from being established may not enter in this division


  • A cosplayer who may have competed in any previous cosplay contest and have won a major award*
  • Professional and reputable cosplayers welcome!!
  • Not recommended for inexperienced cosplayers

Major awards classification: Best in Show, Best in Class, or 1st/2nd/3rd Place at major competitions/conventions

Pre-Judging and Check-In Guidelines

  • You must check-in to participate in the showcase.
  • All contestants must check-in before being prejudged.
  • Pre-Judging for all contestants will begin at 12 PM and end at 3 PM, and will take place at the designated cosplay contest zone
  • All members of a group must be present in order to check-in for the Exhibition.
  • All participants will be given a calling number based on a first come first serve basis at check-in.
  • Check in closes at 3 PM
  • If the costume is based on original fan-art, custom creations, or a design that deviates greatly from the original source, be prepared to explain your point of reference or inspiration.
  • Please bring reference pictures of your character(s) along with pictures of your work in progress to the prejudging, highly recommended.


  • Cosplayers will appear on stage according to roll call assigned during check-in
  • The flow of entries are as followed: Exhibition, Novice, Journeymen, lastly Masters.
  • Once all contestants have presented, the Judges will adjourn and deliberate. Once the scores have been tallied, the winners will be announced at the end of the contest during the Award Presentation.


Accuracy:  Based on how close the costume is to that of the character it is based on. More points will be awarded for attention to detail in the costume, such as use of props, and fewer points will be awarded for costumes that do not follow the original character design.  

Craftsmanship: Based on the general quality of the costume and its pieces. More points will be awarded for effort in making the costume or its pieces, less if they were bought and unmodified.

Originality: Based on how unique and special the costume is. Higher points will be awarded to costumes that are out of the box, and one of a kind, lower points will be awarded to costumes that lack creativity or are uninspired.

Presentation: Based on how well the cosplayer presents their character on stage in front of the live audience, independent of the costume itself. Higher points will be awarded to contestants who voice, pose, gesture, and overall act out their characters on stage, and fewer points will be awarded to those who make little to no effort in presenting their character.

Judging & Award Guidelines

  • ​Judges will not base their decisions on personal interests or bias.
  • Craftsmanship, accuracy, and originality will be judged during prejudging. Only presentation will be judged on stage.
  • This is both a prejudged and live judging cosplay contest.
  • In an effort to save time, questions will only be asked during pre-judging. No questions will be asked during the on stage portion of the contest.
  • Judges may not discuss their scores with any participant before or during the contest.
  • Awards are given out per Judges’ discretion after deliberation, if there were any questions or concerns, please address them after the contest.
  • There will only be one Best in Show Craftsmanship and one Best In Show Presentation.
  • Other awards may be given if the presenter(s) met the criteria.

Group Entry Guidelines

  • ​A group of cosplayers may only participate in the Exhibition division.
  • Each entry is limited to a maximum of 10 cosplayers per group. Aids, escorts, and stage ninjas do not count towards the group maximum but should not outnumber the group entry. No more than a total 12 people will be allowed on stage.
  • If your presentation exceeds 5 minutes, please inform staff and/or judges.
  • ​Please email our cosplay department with any comments, questions, or concerns, at

Important Side Notes: