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Want to show off your costume on the big stage? Have a performance you’re dying to show your fellow con-goers? Interested in having a panel of judges review your costume as part of the masquerade?

Masquerade Judgement Categories

Performance Categories

Cosplay Craftsmanship Categories

Cosplay Masquerade Event Location and Time

Hyatt Regency O’Hare: Grand Ballroom

Saturday: 6:00p – 9:00p

Anime Central Masquerade

Masquerade Registration

All participants in the Masquerade must register in order to be considered.  All skit entries must pre-register online before the online submission deadline.  A small number of walk-on slots will be reserved for registration at the convention. Space is very limited and will fill up quickly.

Masquerade Application Requirements

  • All participants must have purchased a membership to Anime Central valid for the current year.
  • There is a limit of eight (8) people per entry. The only exception to this is group craftsmanship, where the group limit is four (4).
  • Each cosplayer is allowed to cross the stage once. For example, if you are in a skit you cannot compete in the walk-on entry category as well.
  • Those registering online must check in with the Masquerade staff to confirm their registration.  This can be done during the Masquerade staff office hours outlined below. All entries will need to sign off on their pre-registration form at the convention or they will not be able to participate. If you pre-register and cannot make it to the event, please let the management know so your spot can be reassigned.
  • All skit entries must pre-register online. Additionally, skit entries must provide a script to our Masquerade staff for review before the submission deadline below.

Please note that skits will be subject to review, both the script and an at-con “dress rehearsal.” If the Masquerade staff is concerned about content or preparedness, you will be turned away.

Important Dates

  • Masquerade Pre-Registration Closes: April 1st, 2024.
  • Scripts for Skits Turned in by: April 21st, 2024.

Masquerade Staff Office Hours

Hyatt Behind Info Booth Near Main Programming


6:00p – 9:00p


9:00a – 12:00p, 2:00p – 5:00p, 6:00p – 9:00p


8:30a – 12:00p

Masquerade Event Feedback Session

Hyatt Behind Info Booth Near Main Programming


10:00a – 11:00a

Hall Cosplay


4:00p – 6:00p

Would you like to have a panel of judges review your costume but:

  • You aren’t comfortable being in front of large groups of people or can’t dedicate the time that participation in the Masquerade requires?
  • You have a costume which doesn’t quite fit the Masquerade’s categories?
  • You have multiple costumes you’d like judged?

If any of the above describe you, participate in the Hall Cosplay contest!

Judging Times

Masquerade categories judged during the masquerade:

  • Children’s
  • Walk-on Performance
  • Skit Performance
  • Group Performance
  • Novice Craftsmanship

Masquerade categories judged prior to the masquerade:

  • Hall Cosplay: Friday between 12:00p and 6:00p or Saturday between 10:00a and 3:00p.
  • Journeyman Craftsmanship: scheduled with the masquerade team on a first come first serve basis on Saturday between 10:00a and 4:00p.
  • Master Craftsmanship: scheduled with the masquerade team on a first come first serve basis on Friday between 10:00a and 6:00p.
  • Grand Champion Craftsmanship: scheduled with the masquerade team on a first come first serve basis on Friday between 10:00a and 6:00p.

Hall Cosplay Staff Office Hours

Hyatt Regency O’Hare – North Central


11:00a – 3:00p, Winners Contacted 6:00p-7:00p


10:00a – 3:00p, Winners Contacted 3:00p - 4:00p

Masquerade Rules

Standards of Behavior

All contestants are expected to be courteous and respectful onstage.  Your skit should not be used as a jibe/insult against someone, nor should you use your stage time to make a political/religious/etc. statement or demonstration.  Due to issues in years past, Yaoi / Yuri will be extremely curtailed. It may still be in your skit but it cannot / must not be a focal point of your skit, nor its punch line. Pedobear may not make an appearance.

Please refrain from swearing or using any other offensive language or gestures.   Think of this Masquerade as being like a rated PG movie, and you’re pretty much set.

All costumes should cover any “naughty bits”, and should be in good taste.

Additionally, we ask that you exercise kindness to your audience and refrain from using certain internet memes if at all possible (especially as your punch line). Yes, rick-rolling over 9000+ and then losing the game over and over has been fun, but we would prefer to see your creativity in generating the next meme.

Stage Entrance and Exit

We do not allow jumping off the stage, nor do we allow entering or exiting the stage from any area that has not been approved by the Masquerade Staff. Jumping off the stage will result in instant disqualification. Please use the designated exits. The aisles and other audience areas are not to be used for any part of the presentation. Please keep everything confined to the stage.


Any skit entry narration to be read by the MC will be limited to 30 words or less. All narration by the MC will be read prior to your performance.

The maximum number of members in a single entry is 8 (including any stage ninjas). If more than the approved number appear on stage, the group will be disqualified.

We will allow parents to be backstage with participants aged 14 and under. This is not required, just recommended and encouraged, especially for participants aged 12 and under.

If your costume is such that you require assistance (visibility, size, etc.), we will allow you to have a handler. Be sure to bring this person with you when you check in.

Costume Size

When planning and building your costume, please keep this in mind. A standard entry door is 3 feet wide and 6 feet 8 inches tall. If your costume is larger than this in any direction, you will have trouble getting on and off stage: be sure to contact the masquerade department head immediately at so that you can discuss your plans and determine if your planned costume is viable for the loading/unloading area and stage.

Skit Music and Sound Guidelines

There will be no handheld microphones for contestant use. The stage itself will be mic’d properly and thoroughly.

We require that all skits that require music supply said music themselves. We will not be stocking any music.

Skits that require music or recorded dialogue must have their sound submitted and confirmed by EARLY Saturday, or they will not be allowed to participate. The times for submissions will be posted at the Office Area, in the Program Book, and at the Information Desk(s).

There may be background music for the ‘Walk On’ section of the Masquerade, however, it will be kept at a low volume, and it will be wholly provided and controlled by the technical group.

We will only accept submissions in CD (avi) or MP3 format. Cassette tapes will not be accepted. We are not able to support DVD-R format, and can’t guarantee successful ripping of audio from thumb drive files.

The pre-recorded music/dialogue submitted to the Masquerade staff must be two (2) minutes 30 seconds or under – be sure to reduce this time by the amount of time needed to set up on the stage.

There will be no exceptions to the ‘2 Minute’ rule. Any entry over the 2:30 mark will be stopped at that point.

There will NOT be audio editing software/machine on site. Have all audio prepared ahead of time.

Skit Reviews

During your skit review, you will provide Masquerade Staff the information that you would like to be read when you step onstage.

You will perform your skit as if you were on stage for final approval. This allows us to not only read your skit but to review it in action.

Time Limitation

There is a time limit of two (2) minutes 30 seconds on skits, including any set-up and/or teardown time. Extensions will NOT be given. If your skit is affecting the flow of the program, or is running excessively long, we reserve the right to interrupt and end your performance. If your skit is interrupted, it will not disqualify you from winning any of the awards, unless you refuse to leave the stage.


The Masquerade team will email the primary contact for your entry with important updates. It is your responsibility to keep your contact information up to date. If your email bounces twice with one week between attempts, your entry will be deleted. Updates can be emailed to


If you wish to have your costume judged for craftsmanship, you must specifically inform us of this during either your pre-registration (there will be a place for the information) or when registering at the convention.

Anything the Anime Central Masquerade Staff deems a possible danger to people or the stage area will not be allowed.

The Masquerade Team has the final word in all matters concerning the Masquerade Cosplay Competition.

Masquerade Craftsmanship

Craftsmanship is a separate judging. For Novices and Journeymen, it is run concurrent with the masquerade. You may participate in the masquerade without participating in the masquerade craftsmanship judging. However, you must participate in the masquerade in order to have your costume judged for masquerade craftsmanship.

For Groups and Masters, judging will be done prior to the masquerade. We will work with you to identify a time on Saturday. Available times will be communicated via the pre-registration process or during at-con sign-up. If you absolutely cannot be judged at a time other than during the show that can be arranged, but it is not preferred.

Craftsmanship Judging Guidelines

To be properly and fairly judged on your costume, you must answer, truthfully, ‘yes’ to at least 4 of the following the questions, the first two questions being a definite ‘yes’ (if you will be entering as a group, substitute “your group” for “you”):

  • Did you create your costume yourself?
  • Did you supply reference materials for your costume?
  • Were the patterns used for your costume self-made / modified from originals?
  • Was your costume 60% or more handcrafted?
  • Were your props/accessories handcrafted by you?
  • Did you spend a significant amount of time planning, constructing, and finishing your costume?

All craftsmanship judging occurs prior and during the Masquerade itself. In order to participate in the Craftsmanship Award category, you must be in the Masquerade waiting area no later than the time specified.

All Craftsmanship judging participants must also be approved entries in the Masquerade and must participate (either as a ‘skit’ or a ‘walk on’) in the Masquerade. They must also have filled out the Costume Craftsmanship Judging Form. Filling out this form does NOT double as your Masquerade entry form.

Every contestant needs to be prepared to answer the judges questions.

Each contestant may wear one and only one costume. No Exceptions.

Each costume will be judged individually (excepting the group category). I.E. one entry perform.

We use a tiered system. Each entry can only be in one tier level. Please be honest when you enter.

Novice-0-1(minor award, such as Judge’s Choice) awards won.

Journeyman-1-3 awards won.

Master-4+ awards won.

Group –award count not applicable.

There will be a maximum of entries per level: 25 Novice, 15 Journeymen, 10 Masters, 10 Groups (maximum of 4 persons per group entry).

Any Craftsmanship materials left in our possession will be available to be picked up at the Masquerade Office on Sunday, from 10AM till Noon. Any materials left in our possession after that time will be discarded.

Costume Themes

Costumes must come from Japanese Anime, Japanese Manga, J-Rock, J-Pop, Japanese Live Action, a Japanese origin anime-style video game or Korean based anime/manga source.

A LIMITED number of costumes (between 5 and 15) from non-Japanese/Korean sources will be accepted (“international” costumes, if you will; any source is acceptable if approved by the masquerade DH, with sources influenced by anime/manga preferred). These costumes may be pre- registered just as all other costumes are (1stcome, 1st served for the 5-15 slots available), with the added caveat that staff may require a picture of the character and possibly the costume itself before accepting the registration. Please check the forums closer to the pre-registration opening date for more information about what is expected of international costumes.

Weapons/Effects Policy

No Live Steel. Period. If your costume calls for you to wear a katana or other sharp/dull_METAL_ weapon, use an obvious fake. Violation of this rule will be taken VERY seriously.

Other weapons, such as bokken, nunchaku, or other blunt instruments should be used with extreme caution, and never swung in a manner that might injure someone.

No live firearms. Any weapon that is capable of firing any sort of projectile more powerful than a suction-cup dart will not be allowed on stage. Replicas ONLY. Furthermore, such replicas must never be pointed directly at any human being, even in jest. If it’s necessary to mime a firing action as part of your skit, “shoot” the ceiling or somewhere offstage where no one is standing.

If you are using any other sort of ranged weapon, such as a sling or bow, you will not be allowed to carry any sort of ammunition for such weapons onstage.

Please do not throw any objects, even soft ones, into the audience.

No fire, flash powder, laser, explosives, or open flame of any kind will be allowed. Electronic flashes will be permitted provided that you notify the Masquerade Staff in advance. It will be announced during your ‘lead in’ by the MC to protect those who may be affected by the flashing lights.

Your skit will NOT include smoke or vapor which is generated in any manner.

Costume Usage

Please do not wear a costume in the Anime Central Masquerade that was worn for the Masquerade competition at a previous Anime Central.

Costume Interaction

Please don’t wear or use any messy substances that might ruin the costume of another participant. If you are wearing body paint or make-up, please make sure it will not come off in casual contact with others. Do not leave anything on stage that cannot be picked up by YOUR stage ninja in a few seconds.

Costume Containment

All costumes must be self-contained. Connections to electrical sockets, amp hook-ups, projection screens, et cetera will not be available.

Time Commitment

Probably, 4:30 PM – 9:30 PM on Saturday, local time. The masquerade itself will likely run Saturday from 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM local time, but this is subject to change. Additionally, masquerade participants are expected to be present at main programming at time which will be provided when you check in at the convention (likely 4:30 PM or 4:35 PM) in order to organize participants.

At-Con Check-In

All entries, both pre-registration and ‘at con’, must check in at the Masquerade Office during the specified times, posted in the program book or at the Information Desk(s). There will be separate times for skit review. You do not need to be in costume for check-in.

For skit review, please bring any audio and props. You do not need to be in costume for skit review.

Showtime Requirements

When you arrive at Main Programming for the show itself, you must be stage ready, meaning that you are in costume and ready for walk-on or skit performance. All contestants will need to be there. No exceptions.

If you wish to bring something to keep you occupied while you wait (deck of cards, novels, handheld video games), you and you alone will be responsible for the safety of your belongings.

Following the stage appearance, the cosplayers will be guided back to the masquerade waiting area to enjoy the rest of the Masquerade until the awards presentation.


Do not make any last-minute changes in your entry without consulting the Masquerade Staff beforehand, well BEFORE the Masquerade starts.

Stage Combat

In the interests of safety, stage combat is severely restricted. Unless you can prove to the Masquerade Staff at the Interview that you are a well-trained stage fighter, you will not be allowed to perform any sort of combat. Please note: the stage is a TEMPORARY stage composed of multiple sections, which must be taken into account for any stage combat.


If you pre-registered for the Masquerade and do not show up or notify us that you won’t be there, you will NOT be allowed to pre-register for two years.

If you are banned from the Masquerade, the banning is in effect for the year it is constituted and for the following year.

Entry Limit

Each contestant may wear a limit of one costume. Multiple entries worn by the same person, or one entry worn by multiple people at different times, will not be allowed. No exceptions.