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Cosplay Contest

Sakura-Con 2020 Cosplay Contest Official Rules

See your favorite characters come to life on stage!  The Sakura-Con Cosplay Contest is a competition showcase of costume construction and stage performance, open to Cosplayers of all levels of experience.  This is not a Popularity Contest or a Look-a-like Contest.  You may choose to sign up for Craftsmanship Only (Walk-on), Performance Only, or Performance AND Craftsmanship  (limit one entry per person).

For any questions regarding the rules and sign-up details, please contact the Cosplay Coordinator* at cosplay@sakuracon.org

*Cosplay Coordinator and staff have the final say on rules. Failure to comply may result in disqualification.  Sakura-Con and ANCEA are not responsible for any damage or loss to a prop or costume brought on-site.

Contest Format/Time Requirements

Participating in a Cosplay Contest requires time commitment for the show itself, but also at other times during the convention.  Be prepared to devote the necessary time during the weekend to check in, attend a judging sessions on Friday (for craftsmanship entries), and rehearsal on Saturday before the show.  Any scheduling conflicts must be brought to the coordinator’s attention ASAP to see if any accommodations can be made.

General/All Entries Rules

  • All contestants must  be registered attendees of Sakura-Con and possess a Sakura-Con Convention Badge.
  • All costumes and skits must adhere to the Sakura-Con policies. No live steel, no functioning or previously functioning projectile weapons, no indecent exposure, etc… please see Sakura-Con policies for a complete list.  Additional rules (listed below) also apply.
  • This is a SC-13/PG-13 event – please keep this in mind when planning your skit/or performing on stage. No cursing will be permitted, and any innuendo must have an equally obvious non-suggestive interpretation.  If you are unsure whether something is allowed or not, please email cosplay@sakuracon.org.
  • Each contestant may only appear on stage in a single entry, whether this is a skit or walk-on.
  • Only contestants appearing on stage (including cosplayers and ninjas) are allowed to be in the green room/backstage during the show. Contestants with very large or unwieldy costumes, or other special circumstances will be allowed to bring one (1) handler with them. Parents/Guardians may accompany participants whose age requires them to be under supervision according to Sakura-Con policy.  Entrants must notify the coordinator of any handlers/guardians that will be present.
  • All sign-ups are Online Only — No Entries will be accepted for the show or wait-list at the convention.   Applications will be accepted from Noon Pacific Time, Friday, January 3rd 2020, until Monday, March 1st.  If all slots fill before then, entries received after hitting the entry cap will be placed on a waiting list.  If any confirmed entries drop, places will be offered to those on the waitlist in order of who signed up first.
  • You must have some kind of foot covering. Shoes or boots are required. This is a matter of safety. If your character does not usually wear shoes, the lack of accuracy will be forgiven; consider flesh-toned or clear shoes.  This is non-negotiable.
  • Any substances that may cause damage or mess to the stage, equipment, or other entrants costumes are not permitted on stage, in the green room, or anywhere backstage.  This includes but is not limited to anything oily, greasy or that can stain; liquids, fire, smoke/smoke machines, dry ice, confetti/powder/small debris.  If it’s not listed here but you are unsure, please ask the cosplay coordinator.
  • Surprise the audience, but never surprise the staff/crew — Absolutely NO jumping on or off stage.  No acrobatics/flips/cartwheels will be allowed.  Any ‘surprise elements’ must be run by the cosplay coordinator for approval.   Violating this may result in disqualification from the competition, and participation in future Sakura-Con cosplay contests.  When in doubt, ask.
  • At time of sign up, all contestants will be required to set up and link to a file share folder — Google Drive is preferred, but DropBox or One Drive are also acceptable.  This will be where you will submit any files/documentation requested/applicable to your entry (Audio, Performance Scripts, lighting cues, etc.) — Reference Images for your costume are required to be in the folder at the time of signup, but the rest can be submitted later.  There will be separate deadlines for Scripts and Audio, outlined in the rules below.
    Please see this Sample Folder for an idea of the items you’re being asked for:  https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1rMzmzQiL3gijFCyAguGoaVW_ZhO3xs4w?usp=sharing
  • All contestants are required to check in at the convention on Friday, and attend tech rehearsal on Saturday Morning.  Specific times and locations will be announced as the convention approaches. Failure to comply will result in a disqualification.
  • Although there will be awards in both Performance and Craftsmanship, *Best in Show* will be awarded to an entry that displays excellence in both their selected level of Craftsmanship AND in Performance/Stage Presence.   Although it’s not explicitly required, for your best chance at this award you should enter in both craftsmanship AND performance.


For those entering in Craftsmanship, there will be (2) portions: the Prejudging portion and the Stage portion.  You may choose to enter as a Walk-On, or Performance.  

Costumes will be evaluated on the following criteria:

Execution – How well the costume is constructed.

Accuracy/Faithfulness – How close the costume was made to the source material.

Complexity – How wide the range of skills used in the project, and the difficulty level of those techniques.

Creativity –  Design choices, thoughtful use of materials, ingenuity, personalized embellishments, etc.

2020 Cosplay Contest Judges

The Prejudging portion will take place on Friday of the convention during a time slot that you will sign up for after general sign-ups for the contest have closed (you will be notified through email when these will open).  During judging, contestants will display their costumes to a panel of judges, where they will have a chance to inspect the costumes and props from a close distance. Contestants will be evaluated one entry at a time.  Individuals will be granted 5 minutes, while groups will be granted a minimum of 5 minutes, up to 10 minutes depending on the size of the group. Contestants may choose to either wear their costume, or bring it in on a hanger.  If you chose to bring it on a hanger, you MUST provide photos of the costume on your body, so that fit may be evaluated. Not being able to evaluate fit will mean a lower score.

Costumes must be made by the contestant, or in the case of groups, must be made by someone in your group.  You may model a costume for someone else, but the creator of the costume must be present for prejudging to answer questions about the costume build.   Commissioned costumes, Pre-made Purchased costumes, or Costumes made from assembling purchased pieces (“Closet Cosplay”) are not eligible for Craftsmanship evaluation/awards.   These types of costumes are only permitted to participate in Performance entries, and will only qualify for Performance Awards.

All costumes must be derived from an existing fandom.  Derivative work/Fanart re-designs, illustrations created from text descriptions, and avatar characters compiled for the player character from MMO/Console Games are all permitted, with proper reference art.  Completely Original Characters (your own DnD character, Fan-OC’s, a character from an original story you/your friends created, Fursona’s, etc) will not be permitted, due to the difficulty of appropriately scoring on accuracy and faithfulness to source material.

  • Craftsmanship Entries may be entered as either Individual, or a group.
    • Individual entries will be judged on the quality and craftsmanship of a single costume (including props and accessories).
    • Group entries may have 2 to 10 cosplayers.  They will be judged based on the quality and craftsmanship of the group as a whole. In other words, the entire group will receive a single score.
  • All entries, Individual or Group will register under ONE of the following Skill Levels.  Groups must enter under the category of their most experienced group member:
    • Novice: You or anyone in your group has never won a contest contest award*, or have entered fewer than three (3) contests before.
    • Journeyman: You or anyone in your group has won an award* in novice at any convention, OR have participated in more than three (3) contests before, OR have made more than 10 costumes.
    • Masters: You or anyone in your group has won an award* in Journeyman or higher at any convention, OR you have made more than 25 costumes. Anyone who does cosplay work professionally (such as commission work, selling pre-made costume accessories, or works for industry events/booths in costumes they make) MUST enter at Master Level.  This level is also open to anyone who would like to compete at this level.* for the sake of this competition, Judges Awards / Honorable Mentions do not count. Only Level (Novice/Journeyman/Masters) or Category (Needlework/Armor/Etc) are considered.
  • Judges reserve the right to adjust your category if they deem that your cosplay was entered at a level too far below the appropriate category.  Entrants will not be bumped to a lower category than the one they enter.
  • Costumes and props must be at least 75% made by the entrant
    • Found parts or props are allowed, though they must not comprise more than 25% of the costume, and must be disclosed at time of judging. (eg: shoes that were painted or covered, tights or simple gloves, a purchased undershirt or pants that were modified in some way, are all types of items that may be permitted, as long as 75% of your costume is home-made.)
  • Entrants may not enter a costume which fits any of the following:
    • Has been entered at a previous Sakura-Con cosplay contest.
    • Has won an award in Masters or Best in Show at any major convention (Top awards from small/single-day events will be permitted as long as additional work has been done on the costume since.  Novice and Journeyman award winners from other conventions may be entered, at the level above the award received.)
    • Has won/placed in a main Category Award at a convention where costumes are divided by Skillset rather than Experience Level (ex: Best Armor, Best Needlework, etc., as usually seen in ComicCon contests)
    • Costumes made by someone else — the exception is that you may model for someone only if the maker of the costume is present for craftsmanship judging.
  • At the time of pre-judging, entrants must bring the following items with them to present to the judges:
    • At least 2 color reference images of each costume.  We recommend that at least one be a full-body shot.  Exceptions will be made where only one image exists (i.e. an artbook illustration or promotional art).
    • At least 5 color progress pictures of each costume.

These items may be either printed on paper or presented on a USB Thumb Drive onlyWe will NOT accept references and progress photos submitted via email or shared drive prior to the con, or references on your own device (phone, tablet, etc).    You may also submit your documents to your shared folder as a Back-Up, but there is no guarantee we will be able to access these at the convention.

The Stage portion will take place on Saturday, at an exact time TBD. During the show, entrants will either perform a skit (further rules below) or walk across the stage to a short piece of custom audio that you must submit.

  • Walk Ons are limited to 40 seconds for individuals, and 60 seconds for groups.   All walk-ons MUST be Craftsmanship Entries. Audio for walk-ons must be submitted Digitally in MP3 format via file share by March 29th, 2020.   If you have any lights in your costume, Walk-Ons will be permitted to have a single custom lighting changing, so that we can showcase the light work in your costume.   You will be expected to make a note of this need in a document in your shared folder.
  • All Performance entries are subject to additional Rules, listed below.

Any questions regarding the rules or application process can be directed to cosplay@sakuracon.org

Performance Rules

Those choosing to enter in the performance category may do so with or without craftsmanship judging.  Performances will be judged based on the quality of the presentation, including entertainment value, stage presence, and audio quality/clarity.  Purchased, Commissioned or Closet Cosplay costumes will be permitted in skit entries, but they will not be eligible for Craftsmanship Awards.

  • Performance is an Open competition —  All entries will be evaluated equally, with awards handed out based on Genre (Drama, Comedy, Musical/Dance).  The judges will determine the category that best fits your performance when they deliberate.
  • Skits are limited to 3 minutes and should be planned with this limit in mind.  If this limit absolutely cannot be met, up to 3 minutes and 30 seconds may be allowed on a case-by-case basis, at the discretion of the cosplay coordinator.  Anything over that will NOT be accepted. If your audio exceeds 3 minutes, you must email cosplay@sakuracon.org for review/approval of any extension.
  • There will be a maximum of 15 entries allowed for the Performance Category.  Once this fills, the rest will be placed on a wait list. If a confirmed entry drops, the space will be offered to those on the waitlist based on the order in which they signed up.
  • Groups are limited to 10 persons, including stage ninjas. We will have staff to help you get items on and off stage before/after your performance, but if you need assistance during, you will need to provide your own help.
  • Performances must be screened for general content.  You must provide a ‘script’ in your digital file-share folder by SUNDAY, March 8th, 2020.  A script should include any spoken dialogue, general blocking (IE: Character A sword fights with Character B), any style of dance (IE: Belly Dancing, Ballet, etc) or a link to video of the original choreography.  The Cosplay Coordinator may ask for additional information or clarification. If there is anything questionably against the rules or deemed inappropriate, you may be asked to make changes. Don’t be afraid to ask questions!
  • All audio for your skit must be pre-recorded; there will be no microphones available for your use.  Audio must be submitted by Friday, March 29th in MP3 format only.  This must be submitted digitally into the file-share folder you provided a link to at time of sign-up (Google Drive is prefered, but DropBox and One Drive are also acceptable)
  • The default for stage lighting will be lights up at the start of your audio, lights down at the end of your audio. Custom lighting cues during the run of the performance may be noted, but not all may be possible to execute.  You will be expected to provide a sheet of cues matched to time stamps of your audio track. Details/examples can be found in the Sample shared folder linked in the general rules above. You are NOT REQUIRED To have custom lighting cues, but any requests will be due no later than FRIDAY, April 3rd, 2020


It is up to the contestant to state any possible conflicts of interest. Such conflicts will be evaluated by the cosplay coordinator, and appropriate action will be taken at the discretion of the cosplay coordinator and sakura con staff. 

All awards are final with the exception of those who are found to have been cheating.  Any claims of Sandbagging brought to the staff’s attention with be investigated to determine if an award should be revoked.

Displays of poor sportsmanship may result in disqualification and/or barring from future SakuraCon Cosplay contests.

Harassment of judges or staff, or any conduct that violates the Sakura-Con policies may result in disqualification and barring from future SakuraCon Cosplay contests. Further action may be taken at the discretion of programming staff.

Have fun and happy crafting!

Cosplay Contest Application Form Closed

**Due to the large volume of Contest Sign-Ups, the show and wait list are now FULL and submissions have been closed for 2020**