If you’ve been following my blog, you know that I always make a post in the beginning of the year to predict and highlight popular cosplays.
And now that 2021 is coming to a close (for better or worse), it’s time to see if my predictions were correct.
In terms of the cosplay world 2021 gave us a glimmer of hope. Unlike 2020 where pretty much all cons after March were cancelled because of the pandemic, 2021 saw the return of cosplay conventions. I honestly got so emotional watching Cosplay Music Videos back in the summer and seeing cons happen again. There was a time when we truly thought that cons would never return. But here they are! And while they’re not quite the same as pre-pandemic (click here to see how things have changed and how you can be ready for your next con), it’s good to see we’re making progress again.
So what were the popular cosplays of 2021? Did I predict them right or wrong?
Unlike 2020 where it was kind of difficult to see which cosplays were popular due to the lack of cosplay events, 2021 we got lots of evidence to see what was trending! So let’s find out.
1. Genshin Impact – RIGHT X 100
Okay, so we knew that Genshin Impact would not only be a popular game for 2021, but also for cosplays as well.
But man, who would’ve thought that Genshin cosplays would have been INSANELY popular? If you’re on social media, you’ll see your feed plastered with new Genshin cosplayers on a daily basis. If you’ve been to a cosplay convention this year, the whole arena is taken over by Genshin cosplayers. And with the actual video game’s storyline not being finished and continually updating, that means more characters from the game will be released in the future. So you can bet that Genshin Impact will be popular in 2022 and beyond!
Genshin Impact was the easiest cosplay to predict popularity. Let’s move on. 🙂
2. My Hero Academia – RIGHT
What’s there to be said about My Hero Academia (MHA) that hasn’t been said already? I hate to compare the two, but MHA is new the Naruto! Unless they pull a Promised Neverland Season 2 (AHEM), MHA Is going to be the top Shonen series for years to come. And that popularity will translate into the cosplay world. As much as I love seeing favorites like Deku, Froppy, Bakugo, Todoroki, Uraraka and Toga, I can’t wait to see new characters come out. And that’s a good thing because who doesn’t love My Hero Academia cosplays?🙂
3. League of Legends (or K/DA to be exact) – RIGHT
Daaaaaamn! It’s been over 3 years since Pop/Stars was released and K/DA is still popular to this day. Originally meant to just sell skins for League of Legends, K/DA has become a phenomenon that mostly everyone loves. And in the cosplay world, there are tons of cosplayers who dress up from the trio. Riot Games continually updates the skins/designs for K/DA, so that also has to do with their nonstop popularity.
Much like Genshin, K/DA will be an easy pick for what will be popular in the cosplay for 2022 and beyond.
4. Fate – RIGHT (sort of)
Fate I will say I got right, but barely. There wasn’t too much noise this year with Fate cosplays. The series will always be popular, but it felt like 2021 was a quiet year. Perhaps a combination of new Fate spinoffs, on top of the mobile game (Fate Grand Order) and releasing new outfits will keep this series popular at conventions!
5. Fire Emblem – RIGHT
Much like Fate, there wasn’t much going on with Fire Emblem this year. There haven’t been any new games or characters that have been released by Nintendo, so I think that has a lot to do with it. Still, the series will always be popular at conventions. And we finally got to see more cosplays from the most recent game, Three Houses.
I have a strong feeling that a new Fire Emblem game will be released in 2022. If it does actually happen, then you can bet that Fire Emblem will be even more popular at conventions.
6. Love Live! – Right
I know that Love Live! isn’t as popular as when it first came out 5 or so years ago. But still, the series is still popular with cosplayers, especially when it comes to Idol or group cosplays. And they continue to produce new content such as Love Live! Nijigasaki High School Idol Club. So you can bet that Love Live! will be popular among cosplayers for a long time.
The Bold Predictions
7. Anonymous;Code – Wrong!
Well I was completely wrong with this game. Not only did no one cosplay from it, I don’t even think the game was released this year. Oh well, it was a wild guess that didn’t pan out. 🙂
8. Space Jam – Wrong
I figured with the new Space Jam movie that came out this year, we would have seen some Bugs and Lola cosplays at conventions. But I was wrong.
Perhaps it’s been too long since the first Space Jam has been released. Over 25 years ago! Either that, or not that many cosplayers are into basketball.
9. Cyberpunk 2077 – Wrong
I was surprised by this. Before Cyberpunk 2077 was released, I was starting to see quite a few cosplays from the series. But I guess that was the peak of its cosplay popularity. Nowadays, I hardly see any cosplays from CP2077. Maybe it had to do with the negative publicity regarding the game’s troubled history. Or cosplayers don’t like dressing up as robots?
Either way, I was wrong about Cyberpunk 2077 being a popular cosplay. And I don’t see it being popular in the future.
10. Beastars – Wrong
Damn! At the beginning of 2021, Beastars was trending. It was a new Anime with a cute premise; carnivores and herbivores co-existing with one another, with the carnivores sometimes eating the herbivores. The main character Legoshi being a shy wolf, and Haru being an aggressive hare, complete opposite traits you’d expect from these animals.
But in the end, there wasn’t much cosplay hype for Beastars. Perhaps the series needs more time to gain popularity?
11. Azur Lane – Wrong
I really didn’t see much cosplay from Azur Lane, so I will go ahead and say I missed on this prediction. Maybe there wasn’t too much new content from this series to be a popular choice? Or the series is in its post- saturation phase of cosplay popularity (click here if you want to learn about the 4 stages of cosplay hype).
Who knows, maybe Azur Lane will make a comeback in 2022.
12. Cells At Work – Wrong
This cute little Anime didn’t quite take off in cosplay like I thought it would, despite having a new season this year. Maybe the cuteness has waned off for many? Or there are more fun characters to cosplay from different series?
13. Final Fantasy VII – Right
After getting so many wrong, I finally ended the cold streak and got one series right: Final Fantasy VII.
There wasn’t much happening with Final Fantasy VII this year, other than a re-release on some next gen consoles. But despite that, FF7 characters were a popular choice for cosplays this year. Aeris and Tifa were the most popular by far. I think it’s a combination of nostalgia, combined with how beautiful those two characters are, helped to keep the popularity going.
When the 2nd part of the trilogy is released next year, we’ll see even more FF7 cosplays for 2022. Let’s hope we see some new character designs!
14. Attack On Titan – Right
When Attack on Titan first came out in 2013-2014, it took the Anime world by storm and became so popular with cosplay groups, especially those who were just starting out. Those cool-looking outfits worked really well together as a group.
Attack on Titan is still going after all these years and because of that, we have seen lots of AoT cosplays! Not much to say here, until the Anime series is completely done, we’ll continue to see more of Attack on Titan. And why not? Whether you get to wear that military uniform, or dress up as one of the titans, AoT cosplays are super fun to do!
15. Avatar: The Last Airbender – Right
In the beginning of 2021, I saw a LOT of renewed interest in Avatar. So I boldly predicted that Avatar cosplays will be hyped in 2021, despite no new series coming out.
Avatar was definitely around in 2021. I myself certainly did see some Avatar cosplays. I will say I am correct. Why?
Because Doja Cat cosplayed as Princess Kida! Therefore, Avatar is still a popular series to cosplay, even if the show hasn’t seen any new episodes for the longest time.
16. The Rising of the Shield Hero – Wrong
I’m a huge fan of Shield Hero, so much that I decided to cosplay Naofumi myself! While Shield Hero cosplays aren’t as common as say KD/A, the series got a lot of hype from the first season.
Shield Hero would have been popular in 2021. But I blame the delay of the 2nd season airing for not increasing its popularity. With that said, I did see a few Raphtalia cosplays this year despite the lack of new episodes for 2021.
So when the 2nd season of Shield Hero is finally released, I expect to see this series climb in cosplay popularity again.
17. Demon Slayer – Right (but I am also wrong for a reason)
Demon Slayer was released back in 2019, becoming insanely popular in a short amount of time. We saw tons of Nezuko cosplayers running around at conventions before the pandemic hit.
While I did predict correctly that Demon Slayer will still be a popular series to cosplay from, I was actually wrong about one thing.
A couple of years ago, I said that Demon Slayer would just be a popular cosplay for a year.
Fast forward to 2021 and conventions are still full of cosplays as Nezuko, Tanjiro, Shinobu, etc. So I was definitely incorrect about Demon Slayer not being a mainstay for popular cosplay. And as of now, with a 2nd season on its way, Demon Slayer will continue to be a popular choice for cosplay. And why not, those outfits look so amazing!
18. Overwatch – Wrong (for now)
Overwatch is one of the hottest multiplayer games out there. Why? Because the game is easy to learn (although difficult to master), the characters are interesting and the competitive eSports scene keeps this game relevant.
But while Overwatch has maintained a permanent cosplay presence at conventions for a few years now, it feels like the cosplay hype for this game is starting to whittle down, especially during 2020. Maybe we’ve seen so many awesome Overwatch cosplays, that there really isn’t anything new to experiment with. Or the game itself hasn’t changed much recently.
I should have went with my instinct and ruled out Overwatch for 2021. Because I didn’t see much love in the cosplay world for this Blizzard multiplayer game. The hype has died down a lot. So until Overwatch 2 is released (or they release a bunch of new skins), I don’t see Overwatch being popular in cosplay for a while.
19. Suicide Squad – Wrong (except for Harley Quinn)
Harley Quinn is a cosplay that’s been way overdone, but at least she has a different outfit for each new film. The Birds Of Prey costume was fabulous!
I had Suicide Squad as a maybe for 2021 is because the past couple of films have been lackluster in terms of ratings. Suicide Squad back in 2016 wasn’t well-received. And it looks like the 2021 film didn’t do so well either.
But one thing’s for sure; Harley Quinn will always be popular at conventions. She is by far the most overdone cosplay of all time, and that’s alright. Because she looks amazing!
20. Among Us – Right
The interesting thing is that Among Us was released back in 2018. It’s a fun multiplayer party game created by indie developers. Due to the nature of the pandemic, as well as a few famous Twitch gamers showcasing the game, Among Us became viral and meme-worthy in 2020.
Who doesn’t love a game of guessing who the murderer is?! The beauty of Among Us is that you can enjoy this experience completely online.
The popularity of Among Us extended into cosplay, with cosplayers either dressing up as a player or one of the killers.
With that said, I don’t see Among Us being a popular cosplay into 2022. The hype is dying down.
21. RE: Zero – Wrong
In 2019, I thought RE: Zero cosplays would make a resurgence with a second season on the horizon. That didn’t quite happen. But with the second part coming out in 2021, maybe I thought that change? I mean, who doesn’t love RE: Zero?!
Well I was wrong because apparently cosplayers don’t! I didn’t see a single Emilia or Rem this year at a convention or on social media.
Senpai’s Cosplay Popularity Prediction Score: 11/21
Not my year in terms of guessing the right cosplays that would be popular! Maybe 2022 I’ll be more psychic about it. 🙂
What was actually popular in 2021 that wasn’t predicted?
Lady Dimitrescu from Resident Evil
Lady D was a character that became a popular cosplay in 2021! She’s a villain from the newest Resident Evil game, with her signature dress, evil-looking face and those super long claws. I’d say the most interesting thing to take away is that she’s by no means a sexy cosplay.
In my experience, a lot of characters are popular if they some sort of sex appeal. But Lady D is an older lady, which is why I’m so surprised to see her so popular. It’s rare for these cosplays to go viral. So perhaps in the future, we’ll see more variety of popular cosplays that don’t necessarily need to have sex appeal (nothing wrong with it BTW).
So I had to look up what this character was actually called. I’ve seen it floating around on social media but couldn’t put a name to it. Apparently it’s Gawr Gura! This character is a virtual streamer that’s gone viral!
I don’t know how I forgot Star Wars. Not because it wasn’t already popular enough as it is. But with Disney releasing content on Disney+ with Mandalorian, you can bet that Star Wars and respective cosplays will be popular for years to come!
There you have it; all the popular cosplays in 2021! It’s definitely been a crazy year. Hopefully 2022 we’ll see some more normalcy.
Want to know which cosplays will be popular next year in 2022? Stay tuned, that’ll be a future post coming up soon!
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!