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 2016

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.


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 or no cosplay experience will compete here.  This includes participants who have won 0 major awards and 0-3 minor awards.


Journeyman –  Participants with moderate cosplay experience will compete here.  This includes participants who have won 1-3 major awards or 4 or more minor awards.


Master – Participants with extensive cosplay experience will compete here.  This includes participants who have won 4 or more major awards and all participants with professional qualifications (ie: professional seamstresses).


Exhibition – Participants who wish to show off their work onstage without being judged will enter here.  Exhibition entries are ineligible for awards, and will be accepted as time and space allow.


*Major awards: Best in Class (Novice, Journeyman, Master), Best Workmanship, Best in Show

*Minor awards: Judges’ Choice, Best Prop, Best Wig, Runner-up, Best Performance, etc.


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

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

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


Cosplay 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, or costumes that have already won at AnimeIowa in previous years.

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

*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.

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

*Costumes entered in the Hall Cosplay or Cosplay Photo contests are not allowed in the Mainstage.



Craftsmanship –  All Craftsmanship judging will take place prior to the Mainstage. Judging times will be assigned by the Cosplay staff and times will be posted prior to the start of judging.  We ask that all participants arrive early to judging to ensure we remain on-time as much as possible.  If you miss your judging time, you might miss your chance to be judged for craftsmanship.

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.


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.  (ie: 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 dances, skits, etc. for judging during the Mainstage.


Time Limits

There will be a 30-second maximum limit for walk-ons and a 3-minute maximum limit for performances.  If your time has passed and you have not discussed an extension with the Cosplay staff prior to the convention, the tech crew will halt the audio and bring down the lights.  Please plan accordingly.

In certain circumstances, an entry may be granted special permission to exceed the time limit.  Any extensions must be approved in advance by the Cosplay Head.  Please send requests to



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, and submit your audio no later than Friday 9pm.  You can email your files before the convention to  All submitted audio is subject to review.

If you are unable to provide audio before the deadline, a selection of generic music will be provided; 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.  The only audio formats accepted are WAV and MP3 files. No exceptions.


Mandatory Information Panel

There will be a mandatory information panel for all entries.  Cosplay staff will be going over the judging, greenroom, and onstage processes as well as collect any additional information needed.  We

ask that as many members of each attend as possible, but at least one member of each group must attend.  If nobody is able to attend, you will forfeit your entry.  No exceptions.


Mainstage Greenroom

All participants are expected to check into the Greenroom in Cosplay Central prior to the Mainstage Cosplay contest.  At this point, you will be given your seating assignment.  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.

If you need a handler or assistant to accompany you, you must receive approval from Cosplay staff prior to entering the Greenroom.  No one that is not competing or a member of staff is allowed to enter the Greenroom without prior approval.


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. Cosplay staff is not permitted to compete.
  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 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:
    1. Live animals (Excluding service animals)
    2. Substances that might damage or soil
    3. Aerosol sprays
    4. Projectiles
    5. Pyrotechnics (including but NOT limited to fire, flash powder, explosives, smoke bombs, fireworks)
    6. Entries that could potentially damage the hotel, the other attendees, or the participant.
    7. Glomping
    8. Illegal weapons of any kind
    9. Anything not approved by the weapons check prior to your entry. No tag; no go.
  7. 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 must have your weapon checked by the Props Master or designated Cosplay staff prior to the show.  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.
  8. Entries with electrical power requirements need to be self-contained. There will be no access to electrical outlets onstage.
  9. Participants who want to use special effects (ie: 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; doing so will be an automatic disqualification and other potential consequences up to a ban from the convention.
  10. Any large set pieces like tables and chairs can be requested through 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.
  11. Surprise the audience, not the Cosplay staff! If you are planning something completely different, please notify us well in advance at  All information will be help in the strictest confidence.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. Smoking is not allowed in the hotel. Participants who leave the building for a smoke break may lose their turn to appear onstage.
  15. All judges’ decisions are final.
  16. 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.
  17. Have fun and break a leg! Not literally though, please…  ):


Got all of that?  Great!  Now follow this link to sign up: