Japan Foundation, New York Delves Into the Phenomenon of Cosplay

Cosplay: Discovering a Sense of Self Through Fandom

Thursday, October 28 from 8:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m.

Online Event

Admission: Free

Examine the history and power of the cosplay with experts from Japan and the U.S. at this Japan Foundation online event.

About Cosplay: Discovering a Sense of Self Through Fandom

Have you ever cosplayed? Cosplay is the practice of dressing up as a character from fictional worlds such as anime, cartoons, films, and video games. Stemming from the practice of fans wearing costumes at science fiction conventions in the U.S. in the 1930s. It was then localized and coined as “cosplay” in Japan in ‘80s.

Since then, it has grown in popularity around the world. It has reached a level where it has even produced global conventions and competitions. Nowadays, cosplay represents a significant facet of popular culture.

How has cosplay developed in Japan and the world? Why do communities around the world embrace this activity so much? What powers do the costumes give us?

The panel discussion will have four cosplay experts who study cosplay and have worked in the field in both the U.S. and in Japan: Edmund Hoff, Frenchy Lunning, Akiko Sugawa-Shimada, and Diana Tolin. They will delve into the history of cosplay and how it spread globally, exploring the core essence and the power of cosplay.

To register for this event, please visit Japan Foundation, New York’s Eventbrite page.


A live Q&A will follow the discussion. You can ask the experts your questions about cosplay when you register for the event. Live commentary will also be enabled on the YouTube stream, so you can participate in the Q&A session live as well.

About Dr. Edmund Hoff

Originally from Vancouver, Canada, Dr. Edmund Hoff’s research lies in popular culture related to Japan with a focus on cosplay. He is an organizer for the World Cosplay Summit and is the longest continuous support staff member for the event since its inception in 2003. In 2016 he was involved in bringing the Mechademia Academic Association’s Conference to Japan. He continues to play a role on the steering committee.

His most recent publication is a chapter dealing with the early foundations of cosplay culture in Japan from Helen McCarthy and Darren-Jon Ashmore’s book Leiji Matsumoto: Essays on the Manga and Anime Legend (McFarland, 2021). Edmund conducted his postgraduate studies at Nagoya University. Currently, he is a lecturer at Tokyo Denki University.

Please visit his official website to learn more.

About Dr. Frenchy Lunning

Dr. Frenchy Lunning is a Professor Emeritus at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and teaches classes in art and design history and theory. She has written books and numerous essays on Japanese popular culture and costume culture, including Subcultural Fashion: Fetish Style (Bloomsbury, 2013) and Cosplay: The Fictional Mode of Existence (University of Minnesota Press, Spring 2021). She is currently working on a new book that addresses the revolutionary aspects of the shōjo in Japanese art and culture.

The director of the academic conferences Mechademia Conference on Asian Popular Cultures in both the U.S. and in Asia, Dr. Lunning was also the editor-in-chief of the book series Mechademia, a completed ten-volume book series on Asian popular cultures. She is now co-editor-in-chief of the new Mechademia: Second Arc journal.

For more information, please visit her official website.

About Dr. Akiko Sugawa-Shimada

Akiko Sugawa-Shimada is a Professor of the Graduate School of the Urban Innovation at Yokohama National University in Japan. She specializes in Cultural Studies (anime, manga, games), Gender Studies, Contents Tourism, and Audience Studies. Her current research centers on Manga of/for Women in Asia, Cosplay and 2.5-dimensional musicals, and Contents Tourism. She is the author of numerous books and papers on Japanese pop culture, including Fashioning “Feminine Masculinity” through Cross-Dressing Cosplay (Crossplay) of Manga/Anime Characters: Changing Gender Dynamics in Singapore and the Philippines.

Visit her official website for more.

About Diana Tolin

Diana Tolin has been a cosplayer and member of the anime industry for more than 25 years. She worked in licensing, translation, and localization before following her passion for costuming and cosplay and starting her own business, Dial C Costumes, in 2016. Since then, she has crafted costumes for companies such as Square/Enix, Marvel Entertainment, and SCRAP Real Escape Rooms.

After representing the United States at World Cosplay Summit in 2016, she produced and curated the WCS Team USA Retrospective with the cooperation of WCS USA Alumni teams throughout the United States. In 2018 Diana joined the Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation, becoming the organizer for WCS USA and Entertainment Coordinator for their flagship show, Anime Expo. In 2020 and 2021 she developed digital cosplay events for SPJA/Anime Expo Lite, the “Match Your Mask-querade” and “Anime Expo Lite Cosplay Spot-Lite” competitions, as well as produced educational, cultural, and scripted content.

Diana currently works for Ultimate Cosplay as the Director of Internal Production and Business Development and is a guest curator for the upcoming Williams College exhibit Repro Japan: Technologies of Popular Visual Culture.

Check out her costumes here.