What are the pros and cons of cosplaying popular characters?
If you’re trying to decide on your next cosplay, maybe you want to dress up as a character that is popular right now. (If you’re wondering who those characters are, check out my article here to find out).
But perhaps you have some hesitation. You’ve heard it’s not cool to just clout chase by doing what’s popular at the moment. Maybe you should be more original. At the same time, maybe you’ll enjoy yourself better if you do a character that everyone knows!
Depending on the type of convention experience you’re looking, you may or may not want to cosplay a popular character. Let me summarize the pros and cons for you below:
|You’ll get more attention at conventions||It’s hard to distinguish yourself|
|More engagement on social media platforms||Can be difficult to walk around the con|
|More opportunities for social interactions||Not necessarily cheap or wallet-friendly|
|Easier to buy the costume online||It’s easier to judge yourself|
|Easiest to do group photoshoots||Other people are judging you|
Verdict: If you want a fun and exciting experience at a cosplay convention while looking for engagement, then go for a popular cosplay. However, if you want to engage your creativity and want a quieter experience, then you should stay away from doing a popular character.
In this post, I’ll go through the pros and cons of cosplaying popular characters in detail with why you should or shouldn’t cosplay a popular character. Let’s get to it and start with the pros:
Pro: You’ll get more attention at conventions
Let’s face it; you want to cosplay a popular character because you want more attention at a con. That’s totally okay! Part of the reason why we cosplay is to validate the work we’ve done with our costumes. Or even if you just bought it online, to feel great as that character.
And the easiest way to achieve this is by going for a popular character. Deku from My Hero Academia and Nezuko from Demon Slayer are going to turn more heads than an obscure character, that’s for sure. So if you want the spotlight on you during a convention, then you should definitely go for a popular character!
But keep in mind that you may not necessarily get the attention you want; I’ll talk more about this in the Cons section, but in general, if your cosplay is overdone, then you might not get the reaction you want.
Pro: More engagement on social media platforms
Popular cosplays are not only good at conventions; they’re also great for those engaged in social media. If you’re looking to get more likes and follows, then generally speaking, it’s easier to do so by cosplaying the more well-known characters.
People tend to follow hashtags related to their favorite characters in Anime, video games, etc. So if you’re cosplaying characters that are popular, you’ll find it easier to get more people to follow and like your content.
Pro: More opportunities for social interactions
Not to say that it’s impossible to interact with people if you don’t have a popular cosplay. But it sure is a lot easier when you do! When con attendees know who you’re cosplaying and they like your character, it’s a lot easier to break the ice. Not only will you have something in common because you both like the character, but more than likely you’re into the same stuff as well.
From my experience, it’s certainly a lot easier to socialize at conventions if you’re wearing a popular cosplay. (If you’re interested in learning how to make friends at conventions, check out my article here regarding that)
Pro: Easier to buy the costume online
If you yourself do not know how to sew or craft your own costume (which is totally fine by the way) and you just want to wear a costume, you’ll find that you’ll have an easier time looking for popular cosplays. Don’t forget that costume stores are looking to make a profit as well, so their costume lineup isn’t going to be full of obscure characters. They want to produce popular characters that will sell well to cosplayers.
Although these characters won’t necessarily be cheap (more on this in the cons section), you’ll definitely have more options to choose from. This lets you compare and find the best price, whereas an obscure cosplay, you may only have one or no options at all. (If you want to know the best cosplay websites out there, check out this article I made for it)
Pro: Easier to do group photoshoots
If you’re into group photoshoots, you’ll find it’s waaay easier to get together a group of KDA or Fire Emblem cosplayers than say…Baten Kaitos. Because your friends or acquaintances have likely already bought or made those characters. Not only that, at conventions they have scheduled group shoots for the most popular series out there (e.g. Pokemon, Naruto). So if you need a Sasuke to go with your Sakura, it won’t be too difficult to find one at a convention! (PS I would love to get a group of Baten Kaitos cosplayers together…but I’m like the only one that has played that obscure RPG for the GameCube. One day perhaps)
Alright, so those are the best things about doing popular cosplays. What about the cons or bad things? Let’s get into it…
Con: It’s hard to distinguish yourself
The biggest advantage of doing an obscure cosplay is that you’re unique. But when you’re cosplaying a popular character, you can bet that there are tons of cosplayers dressed as the exact same character as you. For some (like me), you might not care or you may enjoy seeing others cosplay the same character.
But for others, it can be difficult because it makes things harder to distinguish yourself. If you’re cosplaying Elsa and 100 other cosplayers are also cosplaying, how will you stand out? In a previous article I did, I talk about Cosplay Hype. If your cosplay character is in the Saturation Phase, then people may actually be tired of seeing your character cosplayed so often. And that can be heartbreaking for you, if you spent a lot of time or money on your costume.
Con: Can be difficult to walk around the con
On the other hand, if your cosplay is in Peak Hype phase, then there is another downside…not being able to walk around freely. If you’ve been in the Cosplay Community for a while, then you likely have cosplay friends who have experienced not bring able to walk 2 steps at a con without being asked for a photo. While it feels completely flattering to get all that love and attention, it makes things difficult to attend panels or meet up with friends if you can’t even walk around without being stopped! And I think it’s even harder when it gets to the point where you have to refuse photo requests because you need to get somewhere.
Con: Not necessarily cheap or wallet-friendly
Like I mentioned in the Pros section, while popular characters are easy to find online, they’re not necessarily the cheapest. In fact, because they’re so popular, you might find that stores are charging a premium on it. Unlike older or used cosplays where you can usually find a deal, you’ll find that popular cosplays are rarely ever on sale. So if you’re always pursuing popular cosplays all the time, you’ll start to see that it is NOT budget-friendly at all! New popular cosplays can cost hundreds of dollars, and if you’re buying a new one every 2-3 months, it’s going to hurt financially!
Con: It’s easier to judge yourself
When you’re cosplaying a character that many many many others have done as well, it’s easy to negatively compare yourself to others. Let’s say you cosplay Akali from KD/A. When you look at your version, you might think it’s good. But then you see more famous cosplayers or even the professional ones also cosplay Akali, you might be like, “Damn, my cosplay looks like shit compared to theirs.” For some cosplayers, this can be mentally challenging as it’s easy to compare yourself to others. Cosplay in general always has a competitive aspect to it, so it’s only natural this happens.
Con: Other people are judging you
This is probably the worst part about doing popular cosplays. Not only are you judging yourself, but there are lots of others who are judging you. I always say it’s not fair to compare yourself to professional cosplayers who are likely more experienced and do this for a full time job. But sadly, many others don’t feel the same way.
When you do a popular cosplay and put yourself out there, you will be judged by the highest standard, which is totally unfair. Another problem is that you may get accused of clout chasing. A lot of people cosplay a character for the likes and hype, which I totally can understand. But others don’t feel so favorable about that. That’s just something you may need to deal with when you’re cosplaying a popular character.
So I hope my list of the pros and cons of cosplaying popular characters has helped you decide whether you want to or not. Overall, you should try doing both and seeing what you like best. For one convention, go ahead and cosplay those popular characters like Harley Quinn, Nezuko, Genshin Impact, K/DA. And for another convention, cosplay a character you genuinely like that no one has even heard of. You may find that you like one experience better than the other!
Will you cosplay a popular character in the future? Let me know in the comments of what you think of the pros and cons of cosplaying popular characters!
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!