San Japan uses a Three Class competition system for Craftsmanship, Performance, and Walk-On judging. This is to ensure fairness in competition. It is HIGHLY important that all potential entries read and understand the layout of this system. If you have any questions at all, we strongly encourage you to ask away.
Youth: Specifically for entries 13 and younger, this is a low pressure division for younger cosplayers entering into the contest. All participants will receive a participation award as a result of helping support the hobby in some way. We encourage parents to enter their young children in this division.
Novice: This is the class for first time costumers or people who have been costuming for less than a year with no major awards (Judge’s Awards are not counted). They will have their own award category for all three major judgments. If you have been costuming for over a year and are not perfectly confident in your skill, please discuss this with us so we might negotiate your placement in this category.
Journeyman: This is the class for all cosplayers whom have been cosplaying for some time or have won awards, major or other sort of award. They will have their own award category in all three major judgments. There may be some who do not fulfill the normal requirements of Journeyman placed in this category if the directors and judges feel you should be competing at this level given situations where a first time costumer is able to produce a higher level craft (it has happened, we promise).
Master: This is the class for all cosplayers whom have been cosplaying for a long time or have won several major awards, such as Best in Show or multiple Best in Class or Best Performance awards. They will have their own award category in all three major judgments. Entries will not be bumped from Journeyman to Master and it is purely opt-in only. If you are confident you meet the standards of this division, please enter at this level. All professionals (as in you costume for a living) need to enter at this level for the sake of fairness.
Note about Divisions: Any Novice entry, be it a walk-on or a skit, can be bumped up to Journeyman division by the judges discretion in order to ensure fairness.
Basic Rules for the Stage
As a note, all Skit entries will be pre-screened before being allowed on stage. Signing up for the show does not guarantee you a place in the show. Pre-screening means we will be going through skits for content that do not follow our rules or for things that might go over time. We require a script from all skit entries, recorded or not, to be turned in at the time of entry. If your skit has audio, please turn the CD in with your entry form and script. If you do not have your script ready, do not sign up until it is.
1. Content: We expect all stage entries, both walk-ons and skits, to ensure their entry maintains a TV-PG rating (not how PG is defined for film, but for television). To quote Wikipedia:
TV-PG (Unsuitable for young children)
This rating signifies that the program may be unsuitable for younger children without the guidance of a parent. Many parents may want to watch it with their younger children. Various game shows and most reality shows are rated TV-PG for their suggestive dialog, suggestive humor, and/or coarse language. Some prime-time sitcoms such as Everybody Loves Raymond, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, The Simpsons, Futurama (on FOX and adult swim airings), and Seinfeld usually air with a TV-PG rating. Recently, Cartoon Network has been using the PG rating to rate shows that may contain suggestive dialogue, crude humor, or scary elements, such as Total Drama Island, 6teen, Gundam Wing and reruns of Goosebumps (on FOX, Goosebumps was rated TV-Y7 for scary/disturbing content). Also, on Nickelodeon, Invader Zim is also rated TV-PG when uncut.. Also some unamericanized anime sometimes receives this rating such as Princess Tutu, One Piece (the FUNimation version, though some episodes are rated TV-Y7-FV), Naruto and Kodocha. Some feature films originally rated PG-13 are edited for network or basic cable and are rated TV-PG. Despite edits, all episodes of the show Naruto are given a TV-PG rating.
Basically, if it can’t air on Cartoon Network daytime, then it won’t fly on our stage. This rule applies to all entries.
2. Time: Skits are allowed exactly three (3) minutes. (This is a HARD Limit. We will not accept any entries with audio beyond 3 minutes/180 Seconds. NO exceptions.) You are not allowed any more, and are encouraged to take less. We strongly suggest your skit use pre-recorded audio to ensure the smooth running of the show. Skits that go over time will be disqualified and removed from the stage. Participants of the Cosplay Show Walk-Ons will be 30 Seconds. This time limit will be extended for large/bulky/otherwise difficult to manuever costumes only. All other walk-ons who are on stage beyond 60 seconds will be disqualified; this is the maximum time any walk-on will be allowed. Music for walk-ons, if submitted to us, is encouraged to be longer than 30 seconds (at least a minute) to allow for smooth cues.
Addendum: If you are disabled in any way that would make it difficult to make these time limits or need extra time getting on or off stage, please let us know and we can accommodate you.
3. Stunts: Any choreographed fighting or stunts must be done at 3/4s speed and jumping/tumbling, while not against the rules, is discouraged. You will not be counted against for jumping/tumbling, but for your safety we’d rather you did not. Please discuss it with the directors if you plan to do any of this.
4. Karaoke: There will be karaoke related events at the convention at other times, including Ani-Idol. Therefore, we see no reason for these types of performances during the cosplay show and are thus not allowed. If you desire to sing on stage, please do so at an event other than the Cosplay Show. We suggest signing up for Ani-Idol.
4a. We are limiting skits/performances containing dances that are memetic in nature, such as dances from Vocaloid videos or IdolMaster. If you’re going to be doing a choreographed dance from something like these, please run it by us first when you turn in your music/script/blocking. This does not apply to those who choreograph their own dancing. All original dance skits must be in cosplay. Dance outfits will not count as cosplay.
5. Cleanliness: Anything that goes on stage with you leave with you. Do not bring any sort of particle/fluid/other projectile on stage with you. It is not our responsibility to clean up after your performance.
6. Bulky Costumes: Please inform us ahead of time if your costume is difficult to move around in so we can make proper accommodations. We are willing to do almost anything in order to allow an amazing costume on stage so please talk to us!
7. Group size limits: We are limiting the amount of people on stage to Eight (8). You may have more than that in your group, but not on stage at a single time.
8. You must show up ON TIME for Saturday afternoon required pre-rehearsal to be listed on the convention schedule with the time of when you need to arrive at the designated panel room for check-in, pre-judgment & walk-through. We recommend you arrive early. If you arrive LATE, you WILL be disqualified from the show. Do not arrive 30 minutes before the cosplay show is about to start to check-in else you will already have been disqualified.
8a. If you have signed up for the Cosplay Show via San Japan’s website, you absolutely MUST check in at the sign up table on Friday or Saturday so that we can confirm your entry. If you do not do this, your entry will be void and you will be removed from the show. Please do not show up at rehearsal if you have not done this, as you will not be allowed in the show.
9. Sandbagging: Sandbagging is, in the simplest terms, taking a costume that has already won a major award at a larger or more prestigious contest, or has won several major awards all together, and entering it into this contest and expecting the same results. It can also mean entering a high-skill level costume at the Novice level. Neither are allowed at San Japan’s cosplay contest. The costume will be discreetly disqualified if the person(s) walks on the stage. If it is found that a cosplayer had gotten away with ‘sandbagging’ after the duration of the contest/convention then the award given will be revoked and nullified in the posted award winners.
1. The Gear Project endorses a “75% rule” on craftsmanship. This rule means that at least 75% of your costume must be made or modified personally. Note that this rule does not have to apply to shoes and wigs.
2. Modification: The 75% rule for costumes that are modified from store-bought pieces means that at least 75% of the work put into this costume was alterations, accessories, props or details. For example, buying a T-shirt, jeans and a jacket does not count as 75% craftsmanship. Altering the jacket to fit, painting details on the jeans and sewing trim or patches on the T-shirt does count as 75% craftsmanship.
3. If your costume was commissioned (bought or ordered from another person who did more than 75% of the work on the costume), and the maker is present at the contest, you may compete but note that the prize (if one is won) will go to the maker of the costume, not the model. If the maker is not present at the contest, you may not enter the contest.
4. For group entries, at least half of your group must comply with these rules. For example, if you have three people in your group and two of them bought their costumes, you are not eligible to enter the contest. If you have three people in your group and only one of them bought their costume, you are eligible.
5. The craftsmanship rule may be waived for skits, which will then be judged solely on performance and not on construction. Note that this is an option for skits, not mandatory. We strongly encourage skits to opt in for crafstmanship judging if applicable. Skits must be in a recognizable costume, whether they made it or not.
6. If an entry is believed to be dishonest with how they are presenting their craftsmanship, they will be disqualified and removed from the show. Our judges will be able to recognize purchased costumes. Please do not waste your time and ours, taking away slots from people who followed the rules.
Craftsmanship Pre-judging for any entry that has already signed up for the show can be done throughout the day at the Cosplay Pre-Judging area, adjacent to the sign up area in the same room. We strongly encourage everyone to take advantage of this, but if you cannot or do not wish to, there will still be pre-judging during Rehearsal.
Awards for Stage
There will be several awards presented at the San Japan Cosplay Show. The following are brief descriptions of each:
Judge’s Award: These are the personal awards of each judge that they may present to whomever they wish. Class does not mean anything here and the qualifications of the award are dependent entirely on the judge presenting it. There will be 5, one for each Judge.
Best Youth: This will be awarded to the overall best entry in the Youth Division (13 and under). It will be a general award based on both presentation and craftsmanship, and will be awarded to the child and anyone that helped them make the costume (if applicable)
Best Performance (Walk-On): There will be an award for all three classes for this category. This will be based entirely on an entry’s ability to command the stage and entertain the audience with both posing and stage presence.
Best Performance (Skit): There will be an award for all three classes for this category. This will be based on the quality and execution of a skit entry, given their ability to execute their performance as well as entertain the audience and keep people excited about their entry. This applies to all skits, be they dance numbers, dramatic scenes, or comedic sketches.
Best Craftsmanship: There will be an award for all three classes for this category. This award is based purely on the skill of your craft and performance is not factored in at all. Excellence in costuming as well as prop/accessory construction will be looked at here.
Best in Class: Basically, there will be three Runner Up awards for Best In Show based on Class, and these are it. See below for Best in Show
Best in Show: This is a category that all three classes will compete for. This will be awarded to the entry that shows the best examples of both craftsmanship and performance together. This is considered the top award in the show.
Note about Awards: Novice entries bumped up to Journeyman during competition will be eligible for Journeyman level awards. If there are no Master level cosplayers in any given award division, an award will not be given for that class.