Mainstage Cosplay 2022

Welcome to AnimeIowa’s Main Stage Cosplay Competition information page!
In the anime convention world, this may also be referred to as “Masquerade”.
If you are new to Masquerade and have additional questions, please contact AnimeIowa’s Cosplay Team at

Courtesy of MandyMo


  • Best in Show
  • Best Workmanship in Master Division
  • Best Workmanship in Journeyman Division
  • Best Workmanship in Novice Division
  • Best in Performance
  • Judge’s Choice (x3)

Mainstage Cosplay Competition – (Masquerade)

The Categories:
You may enter in Workmanship, Performance, or both categories.

The Workmanship Divisions:
PLEASE NOTE: Divisions have changed for the 2022.  Please pay attention when selecting your division on your entry form

  • Novice: You may enter at this division if you have no more than 1 major award (Best in Division, Best in Show) at a previous AnimeIowa Masquerade or at any anime convention of equal-to or greater than previous year’s AnimeIowa size (official attendees count).*
  • Journeyman: You may enter the Journeyman division if you have won no more than 3 major awards at a previous AnimeIowa Convention, or a competition of equal size or greater than AnimeIowa.
  • Master: You may enter the Master division if you have won 4 or more major awards at previous AnimeIowa Masquerades or a convention of equal-to or greater size than AnimeIowa.*  Any contestant may elect to “compete up” and enter in the Master Division. Note: Professional costumers’ must enter in the Master Division. If people pay for your costume work, even if you have other jobs that pay “the bills”, you are considered a professional.
  • Your entry may be moved up to your appropriate division at the discretion of the judges or Cosplay Department Head.
    * 3,800 attendees in 2017 (the last time an AnimeIowa without attendance restrictions was held at the Marriott [now Hyatt])

Judging Information for Everyone

  1. AnimeIowa Registration:
    You need to be registered for this year’s AnimeIowa to be eligible for Masquerade.
  2. Previous Costumes:
    • If your costume won in a previous AnimeIowa Masquerade, it is not eligible for this year.
    • If your costume is in this year’s Hall Cosplay Contest, it is not eligible for this year.
  3. Workmanship Judging:
    If you are participating in the workmanship category, you need to sign up for one of the judging times (times to be determined at a later date). You will be advised when workmanship signup times are available. It is advised to bring reference materials and progress photos to help you talk up your creation during workmanship judging. If you can print off three copies, then you can be sure all the judges spend an adequate amount of time reviewing your work. To be eligible for any workmanship awards, your entry’s participation is required at the performance portion of the Masquerade.
  4. Using Cosplay Models:
    You may use cosplay models for your entry. But, you need to be present with your models during all Masquerade events. During workmanship judging you will be the one presenting your work and answering questions from the judges.
  5. Performance Judging and Submissions:
    You will be allowed no more than 2.5 minutes of walk-on, skit, short dance, or other kind of entertaining performance, including setup and clean up. This can be extended to 3 minutes with the Cosplay Department Head’s permission.
    A typical walk-on is a cosplayer walking to the center of the stage, holding first pose for 3 to 5 seconds, changing to second post for another 3 to 5 seconds, throwing in a third pose for 3 to 5 seconds, and walking off the stage to applause. This should be no more than 30 seconds total.
  6. Audio:
    Your audio needs to be pre-recorded and submitted as an MP3 file. This includes walk-ons that would like to use their own audio.  Please have all audio titles with your entry name and your name to prevent any confusion.
    Microphones will not be available to contestants.
  7. Check in @ Cosplay Central:
    On Friday of the convention weekend, check in at Cosplay Central to verify the accuracy of your entry for names, cues for MCs, and the audio file.
  8. Green Room: You (and everyone in the group if this is a group entry) should be checked into the Green Room by the specified time as directed by Cosplay staff.
    a. Each entry is allowed one handler upon request, but they must be registered with Cosplay staff before the opening of the Greenroom so we can make certain to have enough space. 
    b. For group entries, up to two handlers may be requested. Handlers need to have their own AnimeIowa badge.  Cosplay staff,  in the effort to control crowding, may ask a handler to leave or stay in the hallway until showtime so as to keep the population in the Greenroom down to essential personnel.
  9. PG-13:
    Masquerade is rated PG-13; consider this to be family entertainment. No nudity, profanity, and please use your best discretion.
  10. The Boring “No” Rules for the Green Room and Main Stage:
    a. Live animal (other than pre-approved and licensed service animal)
    b. Aerosol spray, fog, uncontained liquid, loose glitter, and confetti.
    c. projectiles or pyrotechnics (including but NOT limited to fire, flash powder, explosives, smoke bombs, fireworks).
    d. Weapons not approved by convention’s weapon check desk.
    e. Anything that poses a damage risk to the venue and/or equipment.
    f. Anything that poses health risk to the contestant and other persons.
  11. Your costume needs to be self-contained and not have pieces falling off that, at the harmless end, pose extra cleanup effort, to the harmful end, pose safety risk.

Sandbagging Rules

Sandbagging is NOT allowed at this contest. Sandbagging is when a specific cosplay has won a Major award (“Best In” awards) and then you re-enter it at the same level or competition and/or without significant modifications.
False accusations of another contestant, judge, or otherwise staff of poor conduct, cheating, or “sandbagging” will result in (first offense) banned from entering the contest the following year and 2nd offense contestant will be permanently banned from competing in AnimeIowa’s cosplay contests.

Final Note:
MCs, Masquerade Stage Manager and Cosplay Department Head may stop a performance at any time for safety, sensitivity, and other reasons. Cosplay Department Head may disqualify an entry at any time for any reason. Remember, when in doubt, ask your Cosplay Department Head! General rule of thumb: We would love to have you surprise the audience, but please do not surprise the Cosplay Department. 

Decisions of the judges and Cosplay Department Head are final.

Judging Information for Groups

If your entry is a group, this section is for you.
The most experienced person in the group determines the group’s division placement. Everyone in your group needs to be present during your group’s judging times. Your group will be judged, and if awarded, as one singular entry regardless of how many members in the group.

SIGN-UPS ARE Closed for 2022