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Cosplay Show – Rules & Info


Any information in your online entry may be changed on-site when you check in. We will have a reserve list which we will take last minute signups for those who did not check-in online at the convention starting at 12:00PM SATURDAY 9/1 but this is expected to fill up. If you wish to guarantee your spot in the Cosplay Contest then you are required to signup online in advance.

The Cosplay Show Online Signup will open on July 21st, 2018 at 10:00PM Central Time. The deadline will be August 25th, 2018 at 10:00PM CST SHARP at which point the form will be closed and/or when all divisions slots have been filled. We will not accept late entries by e-mail for any reason. All online entries must be through the signup form.

Cosplay Show Online Form Is Now Open

See who will be our Cosplay Judges This Year.

The entry caps will be as follows:

  • 10 Youth Walk-ons
  • 70 Novice Walk-ons
  • 30 Journeyman Walk-ons
  • 20 Master Walk-ons
  • 10 Skits (total)

Cosplay Show: Pre-Judging / Event Times

The times below are tentative. These times may change before the convention begins.
Day & TimeTypeRoom - Location - Floor
Friday 08/31/18

10:00AM - 4:00PM
MANDATORY Online Check-In

Hall Cosplay Sign-Up
Room 208 - Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center - 2nd Floor
Friday 08/31/18

2PM - 4PM
REQUIRED Pre-Judging - Appointment RequiredRoom 209 - Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center - 2nd Floor
Saturday 09/01/18

9AM - 12PM
MANDATORY Online Check-In

Hall Cosplay Sign-Up
Room 208 - Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center - 2nd Floor
Saturday 09/01/18

12PM - 2PM
Onsite Sign-Up Opens UpRoom 208 - Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center - 2nd Floor
Saturday 09/01/17

10AM - 12PM
REQUIRED Pre-Judging - Appointment RequiredRoom 209 - Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center - 2nd Floor
Saturday 09/01/17

2PM - 4PM
REQUIRED Pre-Judging - Appointment RequiredRoom 209 - Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center - 2nd Floor
Saturday 09/02117

6PM - 7:30PM
Cosplay Show Entries Check-In and StagingRoom 004 - Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center (RIVER LEVEL)
Saturday 09/01/18

7:00PM - 8:00PM
Doors Open For General Attendees. Event Ticket Required.
Lila Cockrell Theatre
Saturday 09/01/18

8:00M - 10:30PM
Cosplay ShowLila Cockrell Theatre
If you intend to cosplay at San Japan but don’t plan to enter in the Cosplay Show, it is perfectly allowed to just show up at San Japan. Cosplayers are not required to enter the Cosplay Show. There is no age limit to enter the Cosplay Contest. Fashion Programming is a separate set of events.
Answer to frequent questions on Cosplay Sign-up:

Q) Do I have to attend ALL of the Pre-Judging Sessions?

No, you only have to attend your appointment time. Once you’ve been judged then you’re done for the pre-judging section. You will still have to participate in the Cosplay Show. If you no-show at the Cosplay Show you are disqualified. If you miss your appointment time you may come to another time but you will have wait until the very end of the pre-judging session which will be two hours of waiting so don’t be late or no-show when you’re called up.
Q) Do I have to wear my cosplay to the Pre-Judging Session?

No, you can bring the cosplay on a coat hanger.
Q) What else should I bring?

ANY reference photos, printed or you can show on your phone. Construction photos of your cosplay also helps.
To answer questions about cosplay in general at San Japan like props and dress code, please read the convention San Japan Cosplay Convention Rules first.


Lila Cockrell Stage

The Cosplay Show will be located at the Lila Cockrell Theatre for all future San Japan conventions. The stage is 113 feet wide and there will be 25 feet behind it with a curtain drop. However, don’t plan to do anything extravagant with a stage that large.


Click To A Section: Overview | Classes | Divisions | Pre-Judging | Craftmanship | Stage Rules | Awards | Eligibility | Ask A Question



The San Japan Cosplay Show is dedicated to excellence in costume replication. Costumes may be of either Western or Eastern origin, and may be from anime, manga, video games, live-action shows or movies, webcomics, web series, etc. “Crossover” characters are permitted, as well as artbook variants or costume designs based on fan works (such as fanart). All cosplay MUST have source material of some kind. Original designs with no published source material are not permitted.

The San Japan cosplay show divides entrants into four competitive classes and two performance divisions. While entrants may enter in any class they qualify for, judges reserve the right to change a competitor’s class at any time. Entrants may only enter one class and one division.

Class restrictions are strictly enforced. If any competitor is found to have entered a class below their skill level, the competitor will be immediately moved to a higher class. If a competitor is found to have intentionally entered a class below their skill level (also known as sandbagging), the competitor risks immediate disqualification.


San Japan encourages competitors to bring costumes to our competition that have not previously won awards. However, we will accept those costumes that have only won awards at conventions of a smaller size (calculated by attendance) than San Japan. Any entrant found to be entering a costume which has previously taken a major award at a larger convention (also known as sandbagging) will be immediately disqualified, and risks being barred from future competitions.

When entrants are in the cosplay room, in pre-judging panels, and backstage for the show, the staff and judges monitor their sportsmanship. Rude remarks, put-downs, or other unsportsmanlike conduct will have consequences. Egregious cases may result in immediate disqualification. Respect the staff, the judges, and your fellow competitors. Competitors will not be notified if they have been disqualified, and judges are not permitted to discuss the judging process or the results. This is to protect entrants, judges, and staff, as well as to maintain the professionalism of the contest.




Youth: For entrants 12 and under to compete among their own age group. Normal craftsmanship rules apply, however the cosplayer can have parents or relatives assist them in making their costume. All competitors in this division receive a participation award.


Novice: For first-year competitors and competitors who have only won judge’s awards.


Journeyman: For competitors who have been cosplaying over a year, or competitors who have won the following awards:


Master: For competitors who are professional seamstresses, tailors or costumers, or competitors who have won the following awards:




Walk-on: Competitors have 30 seconds of stage time beginning when the competitor crosses onto the staging area from backstage. Competitors are allowed custom audio. Audio must be music and is preferred to be from the series being cosplayed. No microphones will be available for walk-on competitors. Competitors are highly encouraged to upload or submit files in .MP3 format when signing up for the competition. Tracks are limited to 1:00 in length and may be cut or faded. No YouTube rips are allowed due to low-quality output. Staff may contact you about your file if it is too low-quality for stage. If you do not submit custom audio, music will be chosen for you. Audio must be rated TV-PG. Entrants with bulky costumes or other concerns crossing stage will be allotted time within reason to clear the stage outside of their 30 second performance window.



Skit: Competitors have 3 minutes and 30 seconds of stage time beginning when their audio starts or when entrants begin speaking. All introductions, if applicable, must be made by the MC. All skits must submit scripts in advance to be screened by staff on content, coherence, originality, and entertainment value. Pure dance skits without original choreography will be declined unless applicable to the series being cosplayed (IE Vocaloid). Skits are highly encouraged to submit pre-recorded audio as microphones will not be available. Skit entrants may be contacted if their audio is too low-quality for stage. Skits are not required to be the full 3:30 in length. There is no mininum length to a skit.


1. All competitors are required to be pre-judged before the cosplay contest begins. Pre-judging panels will be scheduled throughout the weekend.
2. All competitors are required to sign up for a specific time slot for pre-judging. Time slots are 3min for individual entries and 5min for groups. If you are not present when your time slot is called, you will be moved to the end and called when all assigned time slots have been completed.
3. At the time of pre-judging, the costume may be brought in on a hanger and is not required to be worn.
4. Competitors who have not been pre-judged when lineup begins for the competition will be disqualified.
5. Competitors who are entering as the model for a present commissioner/tailor/seamstress must have the commissioner/tailor/seamstress present during pre-judging.



1. All competitors are required to construct their own costumes. No store bought costumes are allowed in the show.


2. If the competitor’s costume was constructed by a third party, the third party must be present at the competition. The third party, not the model, will be eligible for all awards.


3. Some costumes of simplistic design may raise questions about whether “enough” of the costume was constructed by the competitor. As a general rule, at least 75% of the costume must be constructed or heavily modified by the competitor. Borderline costumes will be accepted or declined by staff or judges on a case-by-case basis.


4. Cosplay staff and judges may disqualify any entrant at any time for not meeting craftsmanship requirements.


5. Craftsmanship requirements may be waived for skit entries only.


1. All walk-on entries, skit performances, and costumes must conform to a TV-PG rating. No nudity, foul language, sexual content or references to drugs or alcohol are permitted.


2. All skits must be submitted with a script that will be pre-screened for content. The staff and the judges reserve the right to decline any skit for lack of original content, incoherent scripting or dialog, or lack of entertainment value. All skit entries are strongly encouraged to use pre-recorded audio.


3. Competitors are required to have at least one foot on the stage at all times. Absolutely no jumping, tumbling or stunts are allowed. Special permission for dance moves which require both feet to leave the stage must be obtained from the staff in advance. Stunts performed without prior permission will result in disqualification.


5. There is absolutely no flash powder, liquid, food, projectile or swinging weaponry allowed on stage at any time. Anything a competitor brings on stage with them must leave the stage with them. This is not our stage. Please be respectful of the space.


6. Competitors must arrive on time for lineup and seating. Competitors arriving more than 15 minutes late will be disqualified from the competition. If an emergency arises, please contact the staff.


7. Group entries are limited to 8 people.


8. Competitors may not touch or involve cosplay staff as a prop or part of the skit/walk-on. All competitors are barred from interacting with the emcee when on stage. Breaking this rule will be an automatic disqualification.



Judge’s Awards: Personal awards acknowledging costumes favored by a particular judge. The number of judge’s awards will be announced when judges are announced.


Best Youth: This award is given to the overall best entrant into the youth division, judged on both craftsmanship and stage presentation.


Best Craftsmanship: This award is given to entrants who exemplify excellence in craftsmanship. There are three craftsmanship awards; Novice, Journeyman and Master.


Best Performance: This award is given to entrants who exemplify excellence in presentation on stage. There are six performance awards; Novice, Journeyman and Master in the Walk-on and Skit divisions.

Best in Class: Winners exemplify the best combination of craftsmanship and performance. There are three best in class awards; Novice, Journeyman and Master. The winners of these awards will be presented TBA prizes.


Best in Show: The cosplayer or group selected for best in show represents the best in craftsmanship and performance across all classes and divisions. There is only one Best in Show award. The winner of this award will be presented with TBA prizes.

All “Best In” entries will win cash awards (issued in pre-paid debit cards). The demonimation amounts will be posted at a later time.


Entrants may not be a member of San Japan staff or San Japan volunteer. Entrants may not enter the same costume in the stage show and the hall cosplay.

If you have questions about the Cosplay Show, please use our contact form or post it on our San Japan Cosplay Facebook Group.


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