Cosplay is a Japanese subculture centered on dressing as characters from manga, anime, tokusatsu, and video games, and, less commonly, Japanese live action television shows, fantasy movies, Japanese pop music bands, Visual Kei, fantasy music stories (such as stories by the band Sound Horizon), and novels. Some even make up there own costume from none of the above. Either way most are hand crafted. Countless hours spent on the finest details in there costume. There are also some that can be store bought but that depends on your budget and creativity. However, in some circles, "cosplay" has been expanded to mean simply wearing a costume instead of inpersonating a character while wearing a costume asin life action roleplay for example. Though the intensity of the acting might vary very much, there are alot of cosplayers spending alot of energy to learn all their character's taglines and poses to perform as perfect as possible.
A recent trend at Japanese cosplay events is an increase in the popularity of non-Japanese fantasy and science fiction movie characters, perhaps due to the international success of such films as The Matrix, Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. Characters from the Harry Potter films have a particularly high number of female fans in Japan, with female cosplayers playing either male or female characters, Draco Malfoy being an extremely popular choice.
The act of cosplaying as characters of the opposite sex is called "crossplay" (cross-dressing cosplay). A small niche group in this field are dollers, a subset of kigurumi cosplayers; usually male, they wear bodysuits and masks to fully transform into female characters.
Another recent trend in cosplay is a blurring of the distinction between costumes based on characters from games and anime, and "original" costumes based upon a general theme or existing fashions. In particular, the Tokyo teen-fashion trend of Gothic Lolita has attracted some cosplayers who might not have the inclination (or possibly courage) to wear such distinctive clothes around town, but who would like to dress in such a manner on some occasions.
Cosplayers in Japan refer to themselves as reyazu. Those who photograph players are called cameko, short for "Camera Kozo" or "Camera Boy". The cameko give prints of their photos to the players as gifts and should always request permission before taking pics or touching the player's costume.
Most features of cosplay have spread first to the other parts of Asia, then around the globe, and finally fused with costuming at science fiction, comic and rpg conventions in North America and Europe.
Cosplay in Japan
Nike cosplay commercial
Final Dance Fantasy
World Cosplay Summit 2007 Winner