Cosplay Contest

Kirsten Milliner -Anime Banzai Sai
Anime Banzai Cosplay Contest Logo
Kirsten Milliner -AnimeBanzai Ban
Welcome to the Anime Banzai Cosplay Contest! Below is an explanation of what the contest will consist of and what rules you’ll need to abide by in order to enter!
We’ve made changes from previous years, so be sure to read the rules carefully.
Art of Ban drawn by Megan Florek

Children’s Expo: This category is open to all entrants 12 and under. (Children 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult at ALL TIMES.) Children will be given 45 seconds for a walk-on by default. Children’s Expo awards will be given immediately following the Children’s Expo stage performances.

Beginner: This category is for those starting out.  If you have won 2 or fewer awards in Performance and/or Craftsmanship, we recommend entering as a Beginner.

Intermediate: This category is for those with a bit more experience.  If you have won 3 to 5 awards in Performance and/or Craftsmanship, we recommend entering as Intermediate.  

Master: This category is for those well-experienced in cosplay.  If you have won 5 or more awards in Performance, Craftsmanship, and/or have sewn professionally, we recommend entering as a Master.  

The “strongest” member of a group will determine what category the group should be entered in. (One Master, two Intermediate, and one Novice will result in the group entering as Master.)

**If exceptional work in craftsmanship or performance is shown, the judges may bump a contestant or group to a higher skill level at their discretion.

“Competing Down” (i.e. a Master entering as Intermediate for an easier win) is against Anime Banzai Cosplay Contest rules and will lead to disqualification.

There are two divisions where you can win an award; Craftsmanship and Performance.

Craftsmanship is judged based on the skill with which you put your costume together. Depending on your level of experience and the history of the award, you will qualify for different categories within the Craftsmanship division. (At least 80% of your costume must be made, not purchased, to enter for craftsmanship in any category.) Please pay close attention to the category descriptions. You will be judged to at least the standard of the category you place yourself into. If you have won a “best overall” in any division, you are automatically moved up to the next one.

Performance is based entirely on stage presence and entertainment value. This is also divided into skill and experience-based categories within the Performance Division. If you enter as “Performance Only”, your costumes will not be judged for craftsmanship.

Notice: For safety, security, and review purposes, all judging will be recorded by one or more cameras. By entering, you are agreeing to be filmed for these purposes. There will be no personal recording of the judging or the feedback panel without written consent from the judges and director.

Note: We encourage cosplayers to enter both categories. The award for Anime Banzai Cosplay Contest “Best in Show” can only be won by a solo or group that has entered both.

Art of Sai drawn by Megan Florek

2023 Rules

1. Anime Banzai is a family-friendly convention. Performances must keep to a PG rating and cannot contain nudity, cursing, or sexually explicit situations. Costumes must abide by Anime Banzai’s rules regarding coverage. Body paint is not considered a replacement for garments – naked is not a costume. However, if you are wearing body make-up as part of your costume on your hands, arms, face, etc, please be certain to seal your make-up. This reduces the chance of accidental brush-across-type stains from occurring.

2. Weapons and props must abide by Anime Banzai’s security rules regarding peace bonding and visibility.

3. Costume, set, and prop size can be no bigger than 7.5’ high X 6’ wide X 3’ deep. Hoop skirts and other “collapsible” items are an exception. Please double-check with the Cosplay Director if you have any questions or concerns.

4. Costumes may not have won awards in previous years at Anime Banzai. We also ask that you do not submit costumes that have won major awards at any other conventions or contests. Competing in costumes that have previously won major awards at other conventions is considered “Sandbagging,” and in the spirit of good sportsmanship, we do not appreciate such actions. (Major awards include “Best in Class,” “Best in Show,” or “Best Overall”.) If you have any questions, feel free to contact the Anime Banzai Cosplay Contest Director at any time.

5. Walk-ons are 45 seconds. Skits are up to 3 minutes (less is ok too). The time limit for set-up and/or take down of props, backdrops, and set pieces on and off the stage is 1 minute. There cannot be any exceptions. Please submit your audio as an MP3 file attached to the Tech Needs form that shall be emailed to you as part of your welcome message. Skits need to submit a script with their contest registration form, including any stage directions. Skits that do not have spoken dialogue must still include a brief description of actions on stage.

Audio must be received by 11:59 p.m. on October 7, 2023. If you do not provide an audio file, background music will be chosen for you by the contest director — because silence is boring. A link to a YouTube video, Dropbox, Google Drive, or the like is NOT acceptable – you must attach the file in MP3 format to the Tech Needs form or it will not be used.

Please be aware of the time limits and edit accordingly.

6. Maximum size for group entries (includes craftsmanship, walk-ons, or skit) is 8 people.

7. If you require additional assistance in getting on/off stage, you would like the use of a microphone, or your performance requires “stage ninjas,” please let us know in advance.

8. We appreciate (but do not require) costumes that are of Japanese origin, such as anime, video games, manga, Jpop/JRock, tokusatsu, or takarazuka. But we also appreciate originality, so we will accept fan variations so long as adequate reference photos are provided for judging. Costumes from American or other culture’s media are welcome, but will not be eligible for the “Cultural Award”.

9. The Anime Banzai Cosplay Contest is now requiring costume progress pictures as “proof of life”. We would like to see that you are working on your costume before the convention. We will require 2 photos of each costume, due by 11:59 pm on September 30, 2023. Email them to [email protected].

If we do not receive these photos by the deadline, you will forfeit your spot in the show.

10. All entrants must check in at the Cosplay Desk located in the Atrium Hallway near the Repair Station between the hours of 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Friday, or between 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. on Saturday or your entries will be forfeit. Entrants will review their audio files to make sure everything is correct and sign waivers that will be provided at the desk. (Under 18 entrants must have a waiver signed by a parent or legal guardian.) Entrants must also attend a mandatory cosplay check-in meeting on Saturday, Oct 21, 2023, at 5:00 p.m. in the Events Greenroom, just before the show begins. You must attend or your entry will be forfeit.

There will be an optional rehearsal time on the stage of the Main Events Room on Friday, Oct 20, 2023, during the Second Hand Sale from 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Please enter through the Events Greenroom, and NOT through the doors to the Second Hand Sale – you will not be allowed access to the stage if you enter through those doors. We will review stage procedures and entries may use the stage space for a quick rehearsal on a first-come first-served basis. Lights and sound will not be available due to sharing space with the Second Hand Sale. It is highly recommended that you take advantage of this stage time.

11. For your own safety, no running on stage, no skating, no jumping off of the stage, and no materials on stage that cannot be easily removed. This includes, but is not limited to: confetti, rose petals, glitter, water or other liquids, pyrotechnics, or compressed air cannons. If you are unsure, please contact us in advance. Use of any of these without previous permission will result in automatic disqualification.

12. You must be registered for Anime Banzai to enter the contest. The majority of contest sign-ups will be online, so please make sure you (and your group if applicable) are registered! You will need your badge when you check in at the Cosplay Desk! Online sign-ups will go live on Friday, Sept 8, 2023 at 6:00 p.m. If you miss the online sign-ups, there will be a few slots available for at-con entries Friday at the Cosplay Desk on a first-come first-served basis. These slots fill up fast, so online sign-up is recommended. Audio for at-con entries must be presented on a flash drive in a pre-edited MP3 format when signing up. Please do not bring CDs. Video files or internet links will not be accepted. If you do not have your audio with you when you sign up, an audio file will be chosen for you.

13. Craftsmanship entrants must attend a Craftsmanship judging session on either Friday evening or Saturday. Times will be assigned after contest registration with time preference given on a first-come first-served basis. Solo entries will be given 5 minutes to present their costume to the judges. Groups will be given 10 minutes. Please plan your presentations accordingly. If you are not comfortable having your costume judged for craftsmanship while you are wearing it, you may bring it on a hanger or dress form. Dress forms will not be provided. Photos of you wearing it would also be helpful.

For the benefit of everyone, please arrive at the judging location in the Home2Suites lobby at least 5 minutes before your assigned time. Be sure to check in so the Cosplay Staff knows you are there. Everyone 17 years old or younger must be accompanied by a parent/legal guardian during judging.

PLEASE NOTE: If you are an Anime Banzai Staff Member or Volunteer, or you are entering as “Craftsmanship Only” and do not wish to appear on stage, you MUST have your Craftsmanship Judging on the evening of Friday, October 20th, unless this creates a time conflict with your staff duties. Such time conflicts need to be brought to the attention of the Anime Banzai Cosplay Contest Director BEFORE October 7, 2023.

14. If you are entering for Craftsmanship, be prepared with a PRINTED color reference of your cosplay. We suggest (but do not require) a minimum of 3 copies printed out as well as a few pages showing your work progress. A minimum of 6 progress photos is preferred.

Points may be deducted from your overall score if no reference is provided. Judges may accept laptop or phone images for reference at their discretion.

** If your cosplay has no color reference, such as a manga-only character, black and white is acceptable.

15. A Cosplayer may only be a part of a single entry – no exceptions. You cannot enter as a solo and also be part of another group entry. You cannot enter a model for craftsmanship and also enter yourself in a performance. Please give others the opportunity to enter, too.

Art of Ban and Sai drawn by Megan Florek

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the Cosplay Director at: [email protected]

Get to Know

This Year's Judges

Jez Roth Anime Banzai 2023 Cosplay Contest Judge

Jez Roth

See Jez's Instagram Page

Jez Roth

Cirque du Soleil. Celebrities. One Piece. EDC. Red Carpets.

Jez has won Best in Show 16 times with tailored costumes and heavily choreographed skits. He shares unique events that educate and involve the community (such as Lip Sync For Your Cosplay and PROJECT: Cosplay!) and has restructured and organized cosplay events for conventions in his goal to make the competition scene more streamlined.

He’s also the founder of the very first School of Cosplay, Cosplay Vegas. Jez believes that the world of costuming is an endlessly fascinating pursuit—from armor to gowns, giant puppetry to monsters.

This is the TL;DR version. Jez is kind, capable, talented, and experienced. And he’s always still willing to learn to add to his arsenal of qualifications. 

Merkurrie Cosplay Contest Judge 2023


See Merkurrie's Instagram Page


Merkurrie is an award-winning, mostly self-taught cosplayer who got her start in the early aughts. With no signs of stopping you’ll normally find her roaming convention halls or tearing up the Masquerade stage (Or these days cheering her lungs out).

Originally from the East Coast, now living on the West Coast with occasional visits to the vast middle of the states. Merkurrie is always excited to see or be in cosplay and is thrilled to meet you!

Maria of Oz Costumes Cosplay Contest Judge 2023

Maria of Oz Costumes

See Oz Costumes' Instagram Page

Maria of Oz Costumes

Maria of Oz Costumes carries a Masters in Costume Design & Technology from California State University Long Beach. She has been sewing professionally in the theater industry since 2019.

With 15 years of cosplaying under her belt, she has won multiple Best In Show and Master Division awards throughout the Southwest, including Best in Show at Anime Banzai 2021.

Maria’s core belief about cosplay is that everyone has the capability to learn and grow and that all skill levels should be celebrated. But most importantly, cosplay is for fun! Currently, she lives in Salt Lake City with her husband and many pets.