If you’re just getting started with cosplay, you’ve probably asked…does cosplay have to be Anime? When you see a bunch of Naruto or My Hero Academia cosplays on social media or at a cosplay convention, you might to start wonder if it’s necessary to cosplay an Anime character. So…
Does cosplay to have to be Anime related? The answer is absolutely No! Although Anime cosplays are very popular and make for some great character choices, there are plenty of other options outside of Anime you can cosplay. Non-Anime characters you can cosplay include: video games, comic books, Western cartoons, TV shows, movies and much more.
In this post, we’ll go over whether does cosplay have to be Anime, why it absolutely doesn’t have to be, and great cosplay ideas and options that are NOT Anime.
Here we go!
Does cosplay have to be Anime?
Whatever your situation is, just know that you don’t need to enjoy or watch Anime to cosplay! There are tons of cosplay options that don’t involve Anime. I will show you some great examples of non-Anime cosplay later down in the article, but maybe you have some concerns for not wearing an Anime cosplay…
Maybe you haven’t watched any Anime whatsoever. Or you’re more into other fandoms like comics or video games.
Hey, even I will admit that I’m more of a video gamer than I am an Anime fan. And that’s okay, because you can proudly enjoy both at the same time.
Where did this idea about “does cosplay have to be Anime” come from?
As mentioned in the beginning, Anime is huge in the cosplay community. Not only are most of us cosplayers proud Weebs, Anime characters tend to look awesome and pretty! It’s no wonder why Anime costumes represent a large portion of all the cosplays out there. Maybe one day I’ll be able to pull out an actual percentage of cosplays from a variety of fandoms.
So of course, if you search cosplay on Google or on a costume store, the top results will likely be Anime costumes. Even at Halloween shops, we’re starting to see more Anime characters like Naruto and Deku being offered at these stores.
In short, Anime is huge and it’s not going away anytime soon. It’s no wonder why some beginners in cosplay assume that you must cosplay from an Anime. But of course, that is definitely not true.
Wouldn’t it be weird to wear a sci-fi/Marvel/Harry Potter/etc. cosplay at an ANIME convention?
You’d be surprised! While yes, there are a lot of Anime cosplays at Anime cons, there are also tons of cosplayers who are cosplaying from other stuff like video games or movies. Not everyone wants to cosplay the popular character like Nezuko from Demon Slayeror Camie from My Hero Academia. At cosplay conventions, you have a variety of attendees who show up: video gamers, comic lovers, geeks, normies, etc. Not all of them are into Anime.
Anime is popular, but so are a bunch of video game series and comic book superheroes. If anything, you’ll probably run into someone who is cosplaying the same character as you, even if it’s not from an Anime. Even more so if you’re attending a comic con. At those types of comic book conventions, you’ll find less Anime cosplays.
So don’t worry! If you cosplay a non-Anime character, you’re not going to be an outsider!
Take Anime Expo for example. Here in this Cosplay Music Video below, you can see non-Anime cosplays such as Doctor Strange!
What about Masquerades or cosplay contests? Would I lose points for not cosplaying Anime?
I’m no masquerade judge. But if you’re attending a large convention with a big Masquerade/cosplay contest event, I’m sure they don’t care whether your character is from an Anime or not. So no, you won’t lose points if you do a character not from an Anime.
You’ll likely have a bigger advantage to steal the show if you avoid Anime cosplays. As I mention in my article about how much does cosplay cost, Anime cosplays tend to be on the cheaper-to mid-range in terms of expenses. Unless your cosplay is super spectacular, you probably won’t be winning Masquerades with your $20 sports Anime cosplay. But you sure can do a lot with your Worbla video game cosplay with super-detailed crafting and embroidery!
In short, if I was a cosplay contest judge and had to pick between a Haikyuu! cosplay or an Iron Man cosplay…I’d probably pick the Iron Man cosplay cause it takes far more work to create an armored suit than a regular volleyball outfit. You wouldn’t get disqualified simply because Iron Man is not an Anime!
Wouldn’t it be awkward to go to an Anime convention full of Weebs? I’d be left out in conversations!
If you were attending Anime conventions 15-20 years ago, then maaybeee I’d say this would be an issue. But now that so many people attend cons, you’ll have no problems fitting in if you’re not wearing an Anime cosplay or know nothing about Anime. Remember that attendees come from a variety of backgrounds, so it’s not just Otakus/Weebs attending cons. Cosplay is so mainstream now, you’ll find tons of people who know nothing about Anime. I mentioned in my cosplay rules post that tons of cosplayers dress up as characters they’ve never watched or played.
Take me for example. I actually am not a hardcore Anime fan, so my knowledge is pretty limited on the more popular Anime. It would be nice, but I haven’t watched all of Naruto. And I just started watching My Hero Academia. I’ve never watched One Piece or Fairy Tail. Despite not knowing much about Anime, I’ve still made so many friends at Anime conventions!
So yes, you’ll still make friends at conventions, even if you don’t know a dam thing about Anime!
Cosplay Ideas for non-Anime characters
There are sooooo many, many, many other options you can do for cosplay that doesn’t involve Anime series or characters. Let’s go through some:
If you’re not into Anime, then you’ll have a TON of options when it comes to video game cosplay. Since I know more about video games than Anime, I actually enjoy seeing game cosplays more. Like Anime, video game cosplays have a wide range of difficulty and costs, from dirt cheap to splurging expensive. A Pokémon Trainer cosplay you can easily do for cheap or use your closet. While a full-blown World of Warcraft cosplay will cost you a few paycheques!
Here are some other ideas:
- Nintendo characters (e.g. Mario, Zelda, Zero Suit Samus, Animal Crossing)
- League of Legends (e.g. K/DA, Spirit Blossom, Jinx)
- Genshin Impact
- Nier: Automata
Marvel and DC have been super popular in the theatres in the past decade! That has translated into the cosplay world, and you certainly can’t attend a comic con without seeing your favourite superheroes. So if you’re into this, you’re definitely in luck with the variety of characters you can choose from, including:
- Spider-Man/Spider Gwen
- Harley Quinn (overdone but who cares?)
- Deadpool (overdone as well but who cares?)
- Captain Marvel
- Poison Ivy
- Wonder Woman
Western cartoons and TV shows
Yes, you can even cosplay from TV series! Video game, comic and Anime series usually get all the love and attention in the cosplay world. But there are many popular shows on TV, so much so that it gets cosplayers wanting to dress up as them. Who are some of these characters?
(Ms. Frizzle cosplay)
- My Little Pony
- Kim Possible
- Wednesday Addams
- Powerpuff Girls
Some series may only have 1 film, but that doesn’t mean they’re forgettable! Quite the opposite. There are a lot of cosplays from movies that only came out once, even from a long time ago! Here are some examples:
- Disney films (e.g. Pocahontas, Frozen, Snow White)
- Star Wars
- Harry Potter
- Pirates of the Caribbean
Creative or Original Cosplay
Last but not least, we have original and creative cosplays you can do. It’s not common for cosplayers to do something original/creative (because it’s pretty difficult). But you can pull it off then you’ll get rewarded with tons of engagement and likes on social media and at conventions.
Some example of unusual/creative/original cosplays:
- Peanut butter cosplay
- Starbucks mascot
- Wendy’s/Ronald McDonald
- Cosplaying the convention center building (this actually does happen!)
- Pokestop from Pokémon GO
And there you have it! We have answered the question: does cosplay to have to be Anime related? The answer is a definite no, as you have plenty of other options outside of Anime. And cosplaying something different will not change your experience at a cosplay convention at all.
What type of cosplays do you like to do? Are you into Anime and like to stick those types of costumes? Or are you into different fandoms and rather do video games or comic cosplays? Or are you into originality and like doing characters that are obscure? Let me know in the comments below!
My name is Roger Senpai. I’m a cosplayer that’s been in the community for well over a decade now. I’ve traveled all over the world to Anime and Comic conventions and hosted my own cosplay events. Now I’m writing articles for new and experienced cosplayers like you to help inspire, save you money and improve your cosplays!
Rarely have I ever cosplayed an anime character, even to a con, simply because I’m too lazy to buy the materials that compose them 😂
I’ve only done that once, and that was as Rex Raptor from Yu-Gi-Oh. My other cosplays have been from other media: a Catholic cardinal from Assassins’ Creed, a Traditionalist Catholic priest from a 1907 apocalyptic novel, Judge Claude Frollo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and D’Artagnan from The Three Musketeers (last two being the Disney versions), so I can definitely concur with your post.
Daniel LaRusso from The Karate Kid and an IRL person (Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani) are next on my cosplay list.
I like how you’ve done a bunch of Catholic cosplays, it fits perfectly for you! Some Anime cosplays I’ve done are pretty easy, while others are pretty complicated.
Most anime character cosplays aren’t hard to assemble (I tend to avoid ones that are time consuming or material heavy), but the only hassle is that the clothing material or props can be a bit hard or expensive to find. Especially with wigs 😂 And it can take some ingenuity to solve the crafting problems too – for example I have no idea how to sew so for my Frollo hat I literally had to use glue to stick the parts together, and my muskteer robe used white tape for the lining.
I say that’s some pretty genius thinking to solve your crafting problems!