Cosplay Show

The San Japan Cosplay Show is dedicated to excellence in costume replication. Costumes may be of either Western or Eastern origin and can be from anime, manga, video games, live-action shows or movies, webcomics, web series, etc. “Crossover characters are permitted, as are artbook variants or costume designs based on fan works (such as fanart). All cosplay MUST have source material of some kind. Original designs with no published source material are not permitted.

The San Japan cosplay show divides entrants into four competitive classes and two performance divisions. While entrants may enter any class they qualify for, judges reserve the right to change a competitor’s class anytime. Entrants may only enter one class and one division.

Class restrictions are strictly enforced. If any competitor is found to have entered a class below their skill level, they will be immediately moved to a higher class. If a competitor is found to have intentionally entered a class below their skill level, they risk immediate disqualification.

San Japan encourages competitors to bring costumes that have not previously won awards to our competition. However, we will accept those costumes that have only won awards at conventions of a smaller size (calculated by attendance) than San Japan. Any entrant found to be entering a costume that has previously taken a major award at a larger convention will be immediately disqualified and risks being barred from future competitions.

When entrants are in the cosplay room, pre-judging panels, and backstage for the show, the staff and judges monitor their sportsmanship. Rude remarks, put-downs, or other unsportsmanlike conduct will have consequences. Egregious cases may result in immediate disqualification. Respect the staff, the judges, and your fellow competitors. Competitors will not be notified if they have been disqualified, and judges are not permitted to discuss the judging process or the results. This is to protect entrants, judges, and staff, as well as to maintain the professionalism of the contest.



For entrants 12 and under to compete among their own age group. Normal craftsmanship rules apply, however the cosplayer can have parents or relatives assist them in making their costume. All competitors in this division receive a participation award.


This is for newer competitors and crafters who wish to compete but don’t feel they’re quite up to journeyman standards.


  • You are new to costuming and/or to competing
  • You have competed in the Novice division but have not won any major awards.


For competitors with more experience in crafting and/or competing, or competitors who have won:

  • Multiple major awards in novice category
  • Multiple awards in Hall contests


For competitors who are professional seamstresses, tailors or customers, or competitors who have won:

  • Best in Journeyman/Masters multiple times
  • Best in Show
  • Best in Show (Hall)

Best in Show at shows of equivalent or larger size to San Japan (determined by attendance)



Competitors have 30 seconds of stage time beginning when the competitor crosses onto the staging area from backstage. Competitors are allowed custom audio. Audio must be music and is preferred to be from the series being cosplayed. No microphones will be available for walk-on competitors. Competitors are highly encouraged to upload or submit files in .MP3 format when signing up for the competition. Tracks are limited to 1:00 in length and may be cut or faded. No YouTube rips are allowed due to low-quality output. Staff may contact you about your file if it is too low-quality for stage. If you do not submit custom audio, music will be chosen for you. Audio must be rated TV-PG. Entrants with bulky costumes or other concerns crossing stage will be allotted time within reason to clear the stage outside of their 30 second performance window.


Competitors have 3 minutes and 30 seconds of stage time beginning when their audio starts. All introductions, if applicable, must be made by the MC. All skits must submit scripts to be screened by staff on content, coherence, originality, and entertainment value. All dance skits must be originally choreographed by the entrant. Skits are required to submit pre-recorded audio, as microphones will not be available. Skit entrants may be contacted if their audio is too low-quality for the stage. Skits are not required to be the full 3:30 in length. There is no minimum length to a skit.


1. All competitors are required to construct their own costumes. No store-bought costumes are allowed in the show.

2. If the competitor’s costume was constructed by a third party, the third party must be present at the competition. The third party, not the model, will be eligible for all awards.

3. As a general rule, at least 75% of the costume must be constructed or heavily modified by the competitor. Borderline costumes will be accepted or declined by staff or judges on a case-by-case basis.

4. Cosplay staff and judges may disqualify any entrant at any time for not meeting craftsmanship requirements.

5. Craftsmanship requirements may be waived for skit entries only.


1. All competitors are required to be pre-judged before the cosplay contest begins. Pre-judging panels will be scheduled throughout the weekend.

2. All competitors are required to sign up for a specific time slot for pre-judging. Time slots are 3 minutes for individual entries and 5 minutes for groups. If you are not present when your time slot is called, you will be moved to the end and called when all assigned time slots have been completed if time allows.

3. At the time of pre-judging, the costume may be brought in on a hanger and is not required to be worn.

4. Competitors who have not been pre-judged when the lineup begins for the competition will be disqualified.

5. Competitors who are entering as the model for a present commissioner/tailor/seamstress must have the commissioner/tailor/seamstress present during pre-judging.

Questions can be addressed on the San Japan Facebook Cosplay Group

or you can email us at

2024 Cosplay Judges

To Be Announced By August 15th

To Be Announced By August 15th

To Be Announced By August 15th


Judge’s Awards

Personal awards acknowledging costumes favored by a particular judge. The number of judge’s awards will be announced when judges are announced.

Best  Craftsmanship

This award is given to entrants who exemplify excellence in craftsmanship. There are three craftsmanship awards; Novice, Journeyman, and Master.

Best Performance

This award is given to entrants who exemplify excellence in presentation on stage. There are six performance awards; Novice, Journeyman, and Master in the Walk-on and Skit divisions.

Best  In Class

Winners exemplify the best combination of craftsmanship and performance. There are three best in class awards; Novice, Journeyman and Master. The winners of these awards will be presented TBA prizes.

Best  In Show

The cosplayer or group selected for best in show represents the best in craftsmanship and performance across all classes and divisions. There is only one Best in Show award. The winner of this award will be presented with TBA prizes.

All “Best In” entries will win cash awards (issued in pre-paid debit cards). Here are the 2024 Prize Amounts.


Cosplay Contest Prizes:

  • Best In Show – $750
  • Best In Class (3) – $375 (Per Division)
  • Best Craftmanship (3) – $200 (Per Division)
  • Best Walk-On (3) – $100 (Per Division)
  • Best Skit (3) – $100 (Per Division Based On Entries Received)
  • Judge/Staff Choice (4) – $50 (Each)

Hall Cosplay Contest Prizes:


  • Best In Hall (1) – $225
  • Best Theme (1) – $100
  • Costume Replication (4) – $50
  • Character Representation (4) – $50


Any information in your online entry may be changed on-site when you check in. If you wish to guarantee your spot in the Cosplay Contest then you are required to signup online in advance.
The Main Cosplay Show does not require to be in theme in order to enter.

The entry caps will be as follows:

  • 10 Youth Walk-ons
  • 30 Novice Walk-ons
  • 20 Journeyman Walk-ons
  • 15 Master Walk-ons
  • 10 Skits (total)

Entrants may not be a member of San Japan staff or San Japan volunteer. Entrants may not enter the same costume in the stage show and the hall cosplay.

Online Signup Opens on August 1st at 11:59pm Central


Friday 08/30/2412:00 PM - 4:00 PMMandatory Online Check-In / Hall Cosplay Sign-UpTO BE ANNOUNCED BY AUGUST 15TH - HBG Convention Center
Friday 08/30/243:00 PM - 5:00 PMREQUIRED: Pre-Judging (Appointment Required)TO BE ANNOUNCED BY AUGUST 15TH - HBG Convention Center
Saturday 08/31/249:00 AM - 12:00 PMMandatory Online Check-In / Hall Cosplay Sign-UpTO BE ANNOUNCED BY AUGUST 15TH - HBG Convention Center
Saturday 08/31/2410:00 AM - 12:00 PMREQUIRED Pre-Judging (Appointment Required)TO BE ANNOUNCED BY AUGUST 15TH - HBG Convention Center
Saturday 08/31/242:00 PM - 4:00 PMREQUIRED Pre-Judging (Appointment Required)TO BE ANNOUNCED BY AUGUST 15TH - HBG Convention Center
Saturday 08/31/245:00PM - 6:30PMCosplay Show Entries Check-In and StagingStars At Night Ballroom - HBG Convention Center 3rd Floor
Saturday 08/31/246:45PM - 7:30PMDoors Open For General Attendees (7:00 Early Entry For Gold/Premiere | 7:15PM For General Public. Badge Required)Stars At Night Ballroom - HBG Convention Center 3rd Floor
Saturday 08/31/248:00PM - 9:30PMCosplay ShowStars At Night Ballroom - HBG Convention Center 3rd Floor
Post ConventionTo Be AnnouncedCosplay Show ResultsPosted On the San Japan Cosplay Facebook Group

Stage Location

The Cosplay Show will be at the Stars At Night Ballroom at the HBG Convention Center in 2024. The stage size has not been decided and will be announced by August 15th. Please do not plan to do anything extravagant. Contacting us for further information will be deferred to the Cosplay Show page.

Cosplay Show 2022

Stage Rules

1. All walk-on entries, skit performances, and costumes must conform to a TV-PG rating. No nudity, foul language, sexual content or references to drugs or alcohol are permitted.

2. All skits must be submitted with a script that will be pre-screened for content. The staff and the judges reserve the right to decline any skit for lack of original content, incoherent scripting or dialog, or lack of entertainment value. All skit entries are strongly encouraged to use pre-recorded audio.

3. Competitors are required to have at least one foot on the stage at all times. Absolutely no jumping, tumbling or stunts are allowed. Special permission for dance moves which require both feet to leave the stage must be obtained from the staff in advance. Stunts performed without prior permission will result in disqualification.

5. There is absolutely no flash powder, liquid, food, projectile or swinging weaponry allowed on stage at any time. Anything a competitor brings on stage with them must leave the stage with them. This is not our stage. Please be respectful of the space.

6. Competitors must arrive on time for lineup and seating. Competitors arriving more than 15 minutes late will be disqualified from the competition. If an emergency arises, please contact the staff.

7. Group entries are limited to 8 people.

8. Competitors may not touch or involve cosplay staff as a prop or part of the skit/walk-on. All competitors are barred from interacting with the emcee when on stage. Breaking this rule will be an automatic disqualification.

The Cosplay Show Online Signup will open on August 1st at 11:59PM Central Time.

Based on 2023 entries we expect signup to quickly fill up in under 24 hours. We will not take entries by email or contact form. Once it’s closed, that will be it.

 All entries must be through the signup form. We do not accept walkup entries for the Cosplay Show at the convention.

All online entries will receive an automatic notification that it was received. We didn’t get your entry if you don’t see that email.

If you intend to cosplay at San Japan but don’t plan to enter the Cosplay Show, it is perfectly allowed to just show up at San Japan. Cosplayers are not required to enter the Cosplay Show. There is no age limit to enter the Cosplay Contest.

Cosplay Show FAQ

Question Answer
What else should I bring?ANY reference photos, printed or you can show on your phone. Construction photos of your cosplay also helps.
Do I have to wear my cosplay to the Pre-Judging Session?No, you can bring the cosplay on a coat hanger.
Do I have to attend ALL of the Pre-Judging Sessions?No, you only have to attend your appointment time. Once you’ve been judged then you’re done for the pre-judging section. You will still have to participate in the Cosplay Show. If you no-show at the Cosplay Show you are disqualified. If you miss your appointment time you may come to another time but you will have wait until the very end of the pre-judging session which will be two hours of waiting so don’t be late or no-show when you’re called up.
When applying for the Main Show does my Cosplay have be part of the them.No, we accept all cosplays for the Main Cosplay Contest. The only contest which has a theme category is our Hall Cosplay Contest.