Masquerade Competition Rules

All contestants must adhere to the rules as detailed below.

Masquerade Desk Hours

San Jose Marriott Think Tank

  • Friday 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
  • Saturday 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
  • Sunday 10:00 am – 12:00 pm

Check in will be at the Masquerade Desk, located in the Think Tank room on the second floor of the San Jose Marriott, to get your “Backstage Pass” and turn in any music that you have not already provided. If you fail to check in, you will be dropped from the Masquerade.

Required Forms


There are two categories of awards that are judged separately: Craftsmanship and Performance. You or your group can win awards from both categories, but you must be judged during one of our Craftsmanship judging time slots to be considered for a Craftsmanship award.

Best Overall:

  • Best in Show

Performance (Skits):

  • Best Performance, Group
  • Best Performance, Individual
  • Judge’s Award, Performance
  • Judge’s Award, Performance
  • Honorable Mention, Performance
  • Honorable Mention, Performance


  • Best Craftsmanship, Group
  • Best Craftsmanship, Individual
  • Judge’s Award, Craftsmanship
  • Judge’s Award, Craftsmanship
  • Honorable Mention, Craftsmanship
  • Honorable Mention, Craftsmanship


We will have four judges total, two specializing in craftsmanship and two specializing in performance. Our panel of judges is empowered to make independent decisions on the awarding of prizes and recognition. They are selected from the cosplay community to judge cosplayers. Each judge has their own unique skill set and background, and they work collectively to determine awards.

Competition Rules

Performance Length:

  • Maximum performance entry time is 2 minutes 30 seconds. You must get prior permission from the Masquerade Director for any performances that exceed that time limit.
  • Maximum display entry (walk-ons) time is 90 seconds.

Number of Contestants:

  • Up to 12 contestants are allowed to appear on stage together. You must get prior permission from the Masquerade Director for groups larger than 12 contestants.
  • Each person can only participate in one performance. You cannot appear in multiple performances unless cleared in advance by the Masquerade Director.


  • A rehearsal will be held on Sunday, May 24, at 1:30 pm in the Civic Center Auditorium. Call time before the performance for all contestants will be at 4:30 pm at the Civic Center Auditorium.
  • There will be rehearsal time slot sign-ups will be available on a first come, first served basis. Each performance will be given up to 5 minutes to talk with the stage manager and rehearse on stage. Please arrive 10-15 minutes before your selected time slot.
  • This is a courtesy rehearsal to practice entering, lighting, and music. To plan ahead, see this page for more information on the stage.
  • Your music and/or video must be provided in advance via Google Drive, which will be sent to you via e-mail after online application or during in-person check-in at the convention. If you do not provide us with audio or video, a theme song from your series/genre will be played.
  • Please select an entrance, lighting, and exit choice when you apply online or at the convention. If you do not make a selection, a standard entrance, lighting, and exit will be chosen. Example of running order: (Music starts, 0:05 Lights fade up, 1:15 lights fade to black, music fades)

Costume Rules

Each costume is only allowed to compete once. Cosplay from a previous FanimeCon will not be eligible for an award, and we will encourage you to apply with a new costume. Rented or purchased costumes worn as is are generally prohibited, but purchased costumes that have been significantly modified or enhanced are often acceptable for Performance-related awards only.

All cosplay entries must be in the following categories:

  • Asian film, such as characters from 13 Assassins(Japan) or The Flying Swords Of Dragon Gate (China) or 47 Ronin
  • Asian animation, such as the Japanese animation Demon Slayer, the Korean animation Wonderful Days, or Asian-inspired anime like Big Hero 6 or Dragon Prince
  • Asian comics, such as the JapaneseFairy Tail, Korean Breaker, or Chinese Story of the Tao
  • Asian-origin video games, such as Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, or Street Fighter
  • Asian music stars, such as Girls’ Generation, BTS, or AKB48
  • Asian-inspired sources such as Goth-Lolita
  • The rule of thumb is: if the series, character, and/or inspiration originated anywhere other than the Pacific, it doesn’t qualify. If you aren’t sure, ask

Craftsmanship Awards:

  • If you would like to win a Craftsmanship award, you will need to be judged prior to the show on Friday or Saturday (at the San Jose Marriott Think Tank) or Sunday (at the Civic Center Auditorium). Please do not leave your judging to the last minute!
  • For Craftsmanship award consideration: any costume purchased or rented from a costume shop, designer direct, eBay, Yahoo Auction, Yahoo Japan Auctions, Cospa, or any other costuming store, online resource, or any costume made for you by a designer or seamstress is prohibited from entering the Craftsmanship competition.
  • Just tell us the truth about your costume: that’s what we appreciate most of all. If you are just learning and have only modified your costume, you may still qualify for a Craftsmanship award. Please just let us know. Our judges love new cosplayers and are happy to give you advice. We appreciate initiative and ingenuity!
  • Awards can be retracted if competitors are found to knowingly violate the competition rules by making false claims or deliberately not attributing the maker.
  • You can be judged for Craftsmanship as an individual, a group, or both. You can decide up to the last minute, even while being judged.
  • The Craftsmanship Judges recommend (but do not require) that each Craftsmanship competitor bring the following:
    • At least one color picture, preferably two, of each character and costume the entry represents.
    • The judges also appreciate craftsmanship documentation, dress diaries, or online albums that show the work in progress.

Craftsmanship Judging Times:

You will be assigned one of your two choices of judging dates & times based on the number of people applying for a time slot. We will do our best to give you your first choice.

  • Friday, May 22 at the San Jose Marriott Think Tank
    • 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
    • 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm
    • 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm
  • Saturday, May 23 at the San Jose Marriott Think Tank
    • 10:00 am – 11:00 am
    • 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
    • 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
    • 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
    • 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm
    • 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm
  • Sunday, May 24 at the Civic Center Auditorium
    • 10:00 am – 11:00 am
    • 11:00 am – 12:00 pm

Performance Rules

Make sure you read and understand FanimeCon’s Weapons & Props Policy.

Masquerade Weapons & Props Rules:

  • Your performance must be described in detail on your application form. Please send your completed forms to
  • Your performance props must be easy to assemble and disassemble. You have only a few hours before the show. To plan ahead, see this page for more information on the stage.
  • Your performance props must be easily movable. You have 30 seconds (each) to get the props on and off the stage.
  • All props must be brought to rehearsal and stored on-site for the competition. FanimeCon will not be responsible for any damage or loss to any prop brought on site. If you are concerned about being able to follow these rules, please contact masquerade@fanime.comto make special arrangements.
  • All cosplay/props must be disassembled and ready for transport directly following the end of the Masquerade.
  • Your prop must accompany the costume that you are wearing in order for it to be peacebonded.
  • No firearms, airsoft weapons, or replicas of guns are allowed in the Masquerade. Functional bows and arrows all also prohibited. Any prop guns must look like a prop from 50 feet away. This is for your safety and for the safety of our other attendees.
  • No live steel is allowed in the Masquerade. Live steel is defined as swords, knives, or other objects made of metal, which can take an edge. Dull metal weapons are considered live steel, and therefore are not permitted.
  • No metal or wood bats, metal pipes, or long metal chains are allowed in the Masquerade.
  • Any item that is designed or manufactured with the intent to cause bodily injury or death; any item that is illegal in the state of California; or any other item that appears dangerous or may pose a risk of harm will not be allowed on the premises. This will be up to the sole discretion of qualified FanimeCon staff.
  • Operating a prop to shoot an object of any material is not allowed at FanimeCon and will result in your peacebonding being removed.

Safety Rules:

  • Don’t wear or use any substances that might ruin the costume of another contestant. If you are wearing body paint or makeup, make sure it will not come off in casual contact with others.
  • Do not leave anything on the stage that cannot be picked up by the stage ninjas in a few seconds.
  • Costumes must be self-contained. Connections to electrical sockets will not be available.
  • Nothing is allowed that would be banned in a PG-13 rated film. Actions, dress, or mannerisms that would not be allowed on a public street or thoroughfare must be avoided. Specifically, the following must be avoided: explicit sexual gestures, nudity, and explicit swearing. Violation of these rules will disqualify you and possibly result in you being escorted off the stage.
  • No fire, flash powder, high powered lasers, explosives, or open flame of any kind will be allowed in the Masquerade.
  • Electronic flashes will be permitted during a performance provided that you notify the Masquerade Director in advance. Any electronic flashes must be announced during your MC introduction to protect those who might be affected by the flashing lights.
  • No on-stage interaction with the MC, judges, or audience is allowed. The MC will read the name of the entry, the names of the contestants, and a short introduction. Any narration to be read by the MC will be limited to 35 words or less.
  • You cannot enter or exit the stage from any area that has not been approved by the Masquerade Director or the backstage director. Jumping off the stage is not permitted.

We have a set staff of ninjas to help contestants; their primary function is the safety and smooth performance of the show. If you need to use ninjas as part of your performance to hold props or be part of the act, you are required to inform the Masquerade Director in advance at or bring your own. We highly encourage you to bring your own ninjas in these cases.

Audio & Video

All entries must provide a maximum 2 minute and 30 second (for skits) or maximum 90 second (for walk-on entries) audio clip or a movie clip (with embedded music and/or dialog) to accompany their entry, otherwise we will provide it for you. There will be a sound technician on-call to assist you. We can accept a USB drive for on-site deliveries.
If you choose to show a video during your skit, it will serve as a replacement for your music track. Your video must play for the entire skit, or fade to black or to a logo for the rest of your skit. You must attend the Masquerade Rehearsal if you choose to use video for your skit. If you do not show up for the rehearsal, we will not play your video and will default to the audio-only version.

Video Format:

  • The screens in the Civic are 16:9 HD format.
  • We prefer a USB drive to download the file to our system, but we will accept entries recorded on CD-R, CD-RW, DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+R, or DVD+RW.

Any video featuring real people is only allowed if they are participating members of your performance or they have signed the 2020 Release and Waiver of Liability. Please send your completed forms to

Nothing is allowed that would be banned in a PG-13-rated film and we will review the video before we play it.