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All the Announcements from Anime Expo 2024
We Need Disguises Cosplay Wins World Cosplay Summit USA at Anime Expo 2024

by Lucas DeRuyter,

ANN's coverage of Anime Expo 2024 sponsored by Yen Press and Ize Press!

World Cosplay Summit USA Winners: We Need Disguises Cosplay
Photography by Lucas DeRuyter

Every year, thousands of people flock to Anime Expo for cosplay alone. While truly impressive cosplay and some of the biggest cosplay creators can be seen on the convention floor and surrounding convention center campus, this particular expression of anime fandom shines brightest at the annual Cosplay Masquerade and World Cosplay Summit Finals. Here, cosplayers of various experience levels gave short performances tied to their characters, which made the event feel like the coolest version of a high school talent show imaginable.

Masquerade contestants were separated into three levels of competition — beginners, intermediate, and masters — with additional awards going out for best craftsmanship, performance, and best in show. Additionally, the winner of the overlapping World Cosplay Summit competition will represent the United States in the 2025 Olympic Cosplay Summit in Japan. Judging this year's competition was a collection of cosplayers, craftspeople, and Japanese performers. This panel included Regan of Cowbutt Crunchies Cosplay, cosplayer Panterona, craftsperson Tim Harrison, and former Takarazuka Revue members Urara Reimi and Hiroki Nanami. The event opened with a penlight dance performance from ZERO-UCHI Restart, and Just Cosplay Sings performed a multi-set concert while judges deliberated.

Judges (from left to right in the foreground on center stage): Urara Reimi, Hiroki Nanami, Cowbutt Crunchies Cosplay, Tim Harrison, and Paneronoa.
Photography by Lucas DeRuyter

Masquerade Competitors included:

  • Beginners Class:
    • MisaWiisa (Born to be an Idol, Forced to be a Youmu)
    • Niji (Deku the Next Frontier)
    • Anjel and Ed (Howl and Sophie's Waltz)
    • Rian (Be a Flower)
    • Dragon Cosplay (Berserk)
    • The Castaways (Deep in the Abyss)
    • Famugen (Shinigami)
    • Yume Wonderlands (King)
  • Intermediate Class:
    • Frootcos (Clear Card Sakura)
    • Ashten Passion & Samaiya Cosplays (The Floral Prince)
    • Hinotori Cosplay (Lightning Link)
    • Vantera Cosplay (Mad Burnish)
    • Kyo and Cloud Berry (Rin and Len Kagamine)
    • Jazzichi (IA the Aria)
    • Dreaming of Cosplay (Welcome to the Muse School Idol Club)
  • Masters Class:
    • Magical Girls Anonymous (Equals)
    • Maybe Magic Cosplay (Let Them Eat Cake)
    • Hylian Creme & A Literal Cryptid (The Final Curtain Call)
    • Risa Ai (My Guardian Characters)
    • A.L. Cassiopeia (Traditional Miku)
    • Static Rabbit (The Witch's House)
    • Beanandcheese.burrito (Emu Otori's Sweet Magic)
    • Robot Unichunk Cosplay (Reigen Arataka Special Technique: Motivational Speech!)
    • Eriza (Gigantamax Alcremie Gijinka)
    • Tantalus Cosplay (Fire Emblem Performance)

World Cosplay Summit USA Finals Entries included:

  • Sparkle Saw (5 of Clubs and 4 of Diamonds)
  • Last Minute Cosplay (Fight of the Raven)
  • Team Arrbys (Sleight at the Museum)
  • Double J Cosplay (Memory of Versailles)
  • Cookie Shark Cosplay (GrimGrimoire)
  • We Need Disguises Cosplay (I'm So Sorry!)

The Winners of each category are as follows:

  • Best Craftsmanship: Hylian Creme & A Literal Cryptid
  • best-craft-hylian-cream-and-a-literal-cryptid
    Hylian Cream and A Literal Cryptid
    Photography by Lucas DeRuyter
  • Best Performance: Eriza
  • best-performance-eriza-5
    Photography by Lucas DeRuyter
  • Best Beginners Class: Anjel and Ed
  • best-beginners-anjel-and-ed
    Anjel and Ed
    Photography by Lucas DeRuyter
  • Best Intermediate Class: Ashten Passion & Samaiya Cosplays
  • ashten-passion-and-samaiya-cosplays-2
    Ashten Passion & Samaiya Cosplay
    Photography by Lucas DeRuyter
  • Best Masters Class: Static Rabbit
  • best-performance-eriza
    Static Rabbit
    Photography by Lucas DeRuyter
  • Best in Show: Beanandcheese.burrito
  • best-in-show-burrito-4
    Photography by Lucas DeRuyter
  • World Cosplay Summit Finals: We Need Disguises Cosplay
  • wcs-winnters-pic-1
    We Need Disguises Cosplay
    Photography by Lucas DeRuyter

Judges this year highlighted the detail in the costuming of the winners. In reference to Eriza's win for best performance, Urara Reimi noted that "the colors [of her gown] were fabulous," while Hiroki Nanami focused on the quality of Eriza's costume and performance. Panterona explained Anjel and Ed's victory in the Best Beginners Class, noting that she was looking for "people who really embodied their characters and brought them to life on stage" while commenting on the excellent craftsmanship of their cosplay.

On the topic of characters, it's worth noting that many of the winners — and competitors more broadly, were not cosplaying characters from trending media under the anime umbrella. Winners of the USA World Cosplay Summit Finals, We Need Disguises Cosplay, were dressed as and performed a Support conversation between Prince Alcryst and Princess Hortensia from Fire Emblem: Engage, a game that lives in the shadow of its far more popular predecessor, Fire Emblem: Three Houses. Beanandcheese.burrito's Best in Show winning cosplay was a performance as Otori Emu from Project SEKAI, a rhythm game more commonly associated with Hatsune Miku.

Being the largest anime convention in the U.S., attendees and convention organizers tend to focus on what's trending in the anime space or on the most mainstream releases. It was surprising and heartwarming to see more niche characters and media represented at this event, and for the cosplayers passionate about them to be rewarded. In many ways, this event reminded me that the cosplay community is a microcosm of the broader anime space. It's never been easier to be a casual anime fan or cosplayer and, while it's great that these spaces are bigger and more approachable than ever, that change also comes with a shift in identity. To people with only a passive interest in the anime community, it'd be easy for them to assume that cosplay has shifted from a craft that requires an eclectic skillset to a casual hobby that boils down to buying and wearing a costume.

The Cosplay Masquerade and World Cosplay Summit USA Finals reminded me that there are still scores of dedicated and passionate people who find value, enjoyment, and community in all that cosplay has to offer. It reminded me that, just because all facets of the anime community are becoming more popular, doesn't mean that the people who put the work into fostering this space and growing through it have stopped mattering. This event makes it clear that the cosplay community, and the broader anime community, is still a welcoming, inclusive, and supportive space filled with talented and hard-working people that I'm happy to be a part of.

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