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Mainstage Cosplay

Mainstage Cosplay is one of the highlights of Anime Iowa. You’ll have the opportunity to present your Cosplay as a Model or as part of a Skit complete with lights and sound in front of a live audience! Read the rules below, and check the bottom of the page for sign-up! Also be sure to check out the Cosplay Board on the forums.

Mainstage Cosplay Rules 2015

The Mainstage Cosplay competition consists of two categories: Craftsmanship and Performance. You may choose to enter either Craftsmanship or Performance separately, or you may enter both categories. However, keep in mind that only entries that compete in both categories will be considered for the Best in Show award.
Category Divisions

Within each competition category, entries will also be separated by division according to the following guidelines:
Youth – All participants under the age of 13 will compete here. This division is not separated between the two categories. Instead, entries can choose either a walk-on or a performance, and one award will be given to the best in this division. All youth participants must be accompanied by a registered adult at all times.

Novice – Participants with minimal cosplay experience will compete here. This includes participants who have won 0-1 major awards.

Intermediate – Participants with advanced cosplay experience will compete here. This includes participants who have won 2-4 major awards.

Journeyman – Participants with significant cosplay experience will compete here. This includes participants who have won 5-7 major awards.

Master – Participants with extensive cosplay experience will compete here. This includes participants who have won 8 or more major awards, and all participants with professional qualifications.

Exhibition – This division is for participants who do not wish to compete, but want to present their work onstage. All exhibition entries are ineligible for awards.   Entries in this division will be accepted as time and space allow.


* Groups must compete in the division appropriate for their most experienced member.

I.e.: If three members have no previous awards and one member has 6 awards, the group must compete in the Journeyman division.


* If you have won awards in either category, but this is your first time entering in both categories, you must compete in the highest appropriate division.

I.e.: If you have 3 performance awards and no craftsmanship awards, and you wish to compete in both categories, you must compete in the Intermediate division.


* If you are uncertain which division to enter, the Cosplay staff can assist you. Please contact us by emailing cosplay@animeiowa.com.


* Any entry may be moved to another division at the discretion of the judges or Cosplay Head.

Costume Qualifications

The following may not be worn for craftsmanship competition: wholly purchased costumes without significant modifications, rented costumes, commissioned costumes entered by the purchaser without the creator, costumes that have already won at AnimeIowa in previous years.


*Commissions may be entered by the creator with the purchaser as the model. However, the creator must be present at craftsmanship judging and the award will go to the creator, not the model.


* If your costume has won any awards in previous AnimeIowa competitions, it must be entered in the Exhibition category and will be ineligible for any awards.


*If your costume has won awards at other conventions, it may be entered at AnimeIowa in the next highest division. If it was awarded Best Master, Best Craftsmanship or Best in Show, it may only be reentered in the Master division with significant modifications (please contact cosplay@animeiowa.com to verify if your costume qualifies for reentry).


*Costumes that have been entered in the Hall Cosplay contest are not allowed.


Craftsmanship – All craftsmanship judging will take place prior to the Mainstage. At least one member of each craftsmanship entry must attend the Friday evening information panel OR make prior arrangements with the Cosplay staff to receive their judging time assignment. We ask that all participants arrive early to judging to ensure we remain on-time as closely as possible. If you miss your judging slot, you may be removed from the craftsmanship category.

Judging slots will be appointed according to the number of participants in each group:
1-2 Members = 5 Minutes

3+ Members = 10 Minutes


*Groups with 8 or more members may be granted a 15 minute slot if there is space available.


During your judging slot, please explain key points regarding your costume and prop construction, materials choice, wig styling, etc. The judges will then ask any additional questions they feel necessary to understand your work. Please remember to bring any reference and/or progress photos you need. We will not be able to look them up for you during your judging.


* Groups will be judged as one singular entry regardless of how many members they have.


*You are not required to utilize your entire allotted time, but please do not exceed it. Cosplay staff will be on hand to remind you when your time is up.


Performance – Performances may be submitted by individuals or groups. These will be judged onstage during the Mainstage.


Mainstage Presentations

All participants are required to appear onstage during Saturday evening’s Mainstage. There will be two types of presentations: walk-ons and performances.
Walk-ons – Entries of this kind are limited to those competing in the craftsmanship category ONLY. They are encouraged to present a series of poses to display their work to the audience. (I.e.: 3 poses of 10 seconds each, 4 poses of 8 seconds each, etc.) They may also choose to do a theatrical walk or some small movements as long as they do not exceed their allotted time.

Performances – Entries of this kind are required for anyone competing in the performance category only OR for anyone competing in both categories. Participants will perform short skits, dances, etc. for judging during the Mainstage.


Time Limits

There will be a 30 second limit for walk-ons and a 90 second limit for performances. After your time is past, the tech crew will halt the audio and bring down the lights. Please plan according.


In rare circumstances, an entry may be granted special permission to exceed this time limit. The maximum extension is an additional 30 seconds. Any extensions must be approved in advance by the Cosplay Head. Please send requests to cosplay@animeiowa.com.



Please record all audio for your presentation. No live mics are available for participants to use onstage, and spoken dialogue will not be heard by the audience. Edit your audio in advance to fit within the designated time limits. Mainstage staff may not be able to assist you with editing at the convention, and there will be no audio recording equipment available. If you need assistance with sound editing, please contact the Cosplay staff at cosplay@animeiowa.com, and we will do our best to help.


A selection of generic music will be provided if your entry does not have audio; however, this may not suit the tone of your entry. We encourage participants to submit their own audio instead, and recommend that you bring more than one storage device (cds, flash drives, etc.) in the event of technical difficulties. All audio must be submitted as .mp3 files.


Mandatory Information Panels

There will be mandatory information meetings for all entries. In these, we will go over the judging, greenroom, and onstage processes as well as collect additional information for judging sheets.   To accommodate as many participants as possible, we will have two panels available for you to attend: Friday evening and Saturday morning. You may choose which panel fits your schedule best. However, craftsmanship entries must attend the Friday evening panel OR make prior arrangements with the Cosplay staff so that they can receive their judging time assignments.


We ask that as many members of each group attend as possible, but at least one member of each group must attend one of the two available panels. If nobody is able to attend, you must make arrangements with the Cosplay staff to receive any necessary information presented during these panels and to fill out the judging information sheets collected at the end of each meeting.


Mainstage Greenroom
All participants are expected to check in to the Greenroom in Cosplay Central prior to the Mainstage. At this point, you will be given your seating assignment and introduced to the Den Mothers who will be assisting you throughout the Mainstage. We ask that all members of a group arrive together whenever possible to ensure proper seating. Please arrive in full costume and make-up. If you have bulky accessories or large props to assemble, this may be done in the Greenroom. Additionally, unexpected repairs may be completed if necessary.


General Contest Rules

  1.  All Cosplay participants must be registered attendees of the AnimeIowa convention.
  2. Participation in this event is open to all attendees, including staff assuming their duties allow.
  3. Youth participants must be accompanied by a responsible, registered adult at all times.
  4. Participants will be required to sign a liability release and a limited release for use of video and photo images.
  5. NO blatant nudity. This event is rated PG-13. Please use discretion with your character, props, and performance content.
  6. For safety reasons, the following are not allowed:

– Live animals (Excluding service animals)

– Substances that might damage or soil

– Aerosol sprays

– Projectiles

– Pyrotechnics (including but NOT limited fire, flash powder, explosives, smoke bombs, fireworks)

-Entries that could potentially damage the hotel, the other attendees, or the wearer


– Illegal weapons of any kind

  1. Legal real and prop weapons used as part of the costume are allowed with restrictions. You are expected to act responsibly with your weapon, and you may be asked to check your weapon in to the Props Master or designated Cosplay staff if we deem the weapon potentially dangerous to your fellow attendees. If you decide to carry a weapon, by signing your registration form, you accept any legal and financial responsibility for any damage your weapon may cause to persons or property. General AnimeIowa Weapons Policy rules apply.
  2. Entries with electric power requirements need to be self-contained. There will be no access to electrical outlets onstage.
  3. Participants who want to use special effects (i.e. strobe lights, fog, etc.) must notify the Cosplay Head in advance. The Cosplay Head has the right to deny requests for special effects due to safety concerns and/or building regulations. Do not plan your performance around unapproved special effects.
  4. Any large set pieces like tables and chairs can be requested through cosplay@animeiowa.com. Please include descriptions so we can help as best we can. These requests must be made before the convention. We cannot accommodate last-minute requests of this nature at the convention.
  5. Surprise the audience, not the Cosplay staff! If you are planning something completely different, please notify us well in advance at cosplay@animeiowa.com. All information will be held in the strictest confidence.
  6. Your entry must be completed before you get to the Greenroom. No sewing, gluing, spray painting, welding, or other construction work is allowed backstage. However, final assembly of large costumes and/or props and unexpected repairs will be allowed.
  7. Cosplay Central does have some emergency repair supplies, and the Cosplay staff may be available to assist you with emergencies and damage repairs. However, AnimeIowa does not supply participants with make-up, make-up applicators and/or removers, paint, etc. Please come to the convention with everything you need to complete and/or assemble your cosplay.
  8. Smoking is not allowed in the hotel. Participants who leave the building for a smoke break may lose their turn to appear onstage.
  9. All judges’ decisions are final.
  10. The Cosplay Head has the right to eliminate any entry from the competition on the basis of taste, danger to the audience/building/participants, violation of any of the above rules, or any other reason deemed sufficient. We have never had to eliminate any yet, so let’s keep it that way.