Cosplay friends – everyone wants one. But if you’re a newcomer to the scene, it’s not easy to start.
Being a cosplay event organizer, I’ve seen many people who attend Anime conventions in order to meet new friends. However, when you see groups of cosplayers huddling together and talking to only their friends, making new cosplay friends at a con may seem like a daunting task. But I’m here to help – I myself have made many cosplay friends at Anime conventions! And I’ve met them through a variety of ways.
Before I begin, I should emphasize this list is far more useful if you have a genuine interest in geek fandom (e.g. video games, Anime, comic books). Otherwise, if you have absolutely no interest, you may come off as that guy who’s just trying to pick up girls at the Anime convention. Or you’re a girl who decided to buy a Sailor Moon dress to get some attention at the con. I mean, you don’t have to be a weeaboo or a nerd. But you should have the mindset that you’re going to have fun at an Anime convention, regardless of who you meet.
Here’s 10 different ways to make new cosplay friends at Anime conventions:
1) Wear a popular cosplay – Of all the techniques listed here, wearing a popular cosplay is by far the easiest and most effective way to meet new cosplay friends at a con. Having a good and popular costume opens up all doors as people will approach YOU – whether asking to take a photo of your costume, or complimenting how amazing it is! And once that icebreaker is open, you can take the conversation further if you wanted.
For example, let’s say you’re cosplaying D.Va from Overwatch. Some possible scenarios:
Con Attendee: “OMG I love your D.Va costume!” OR “Excuse me; can I take a photo of you? Your D.Va cosplay is sooo amazing!”
(Pose for photo)
Con Attendee: “Do you play a lot of Overwatch? We should play together sometime.” (Exchange Battle.Net accounts) OR “I’m going to cosplay Tracer at the next con. Do you want to cosplay Overwatch together?”
Alright, I actually don’t know how a typical Overwatch conversation would go. But that’s a quick example showing simply how easy it is to make cosplay friends when you’re cosplaying a popular character.
Also, more than likely there are other people either wearing the same costume or cosplaying a character from the same series. And most of the time, they will want to take a photo with you – another way to break the ice.
The costume itself doesn’t have to be that great either. I used to cosplay Sebastian from the Anime Black Butler, and honestly the material was poor quality (I bought it off a cheap cosplay site). But most people don’t care – if you’re cosplaying someone they like, they will open up and talk to you. I met two good cosplay friends from Otakuthon because they were cosplaying Ciel and Grell, also from Black Butler. I’ve also met three other cosplay friends at Anime Shogatsu because they loved my Sebastian cosplay and because we had a great conversation after taking my photo.
So I cannot emphasize how many cosplay friends I’ve made by simply wearing a cosplay that was considered popular. There’s no easier way to socialize at an Anime convention than to cosplay a popular character. This is especially true if you’re shy or introverted – people will come to you!
If you don’t know what’s considered a popular cosplay, look at the photos of a large convention that recently took place. If you see a lot of the same characters, more than likely it’s popular at this moment in time.
And don’t worry about anyone judging you for wearing a “popular” cosplay or cosplaying a character you’ve never watched in an Anime or played in a video game. A lot of people do this, and the community loves to preach, “Cosplay whoever you want.” And who cares – you’re at a convention to have fun and make new friends.
2) Schedule or attend a group cosplay photoshoot – At many Anime conventions, group photos are scheduled for attendees cosplaying from the same series. (E.g. My Hero Academia photoshoot 2 p.m. Area C of the Toronto Congress Centre, Pokémon shoot at 3 p.m. in the hotel area). These photoshoots are great opportunities to chat with cosplayers from the same series. Not only is it fun to take pictures together with creative poses, more than likely you’ll have things in common – after all you’re cosplaying from the same series!
I cosplay Marth pretty often, so I decided to hold a few Fire Emblem photoshoots at smaller conventions. Not only did I get to meet new cosplayers this way, I made a few new cosplay friends who’ve taught me how to improve my Marth costume. A win-win situation.
3) Take photos of cosplayers – If you decide you don’t want to cosplay, you can always take photos of cosplayers. Start off by asking for their photo (“Excuse me, can I take a photo of your costume?“). After you finish taking their picture, you can ask about their cosplay (“How did you make it” or “Did you see the ending of Naruto, blah blah“). Then gauge their response. If they’re giving you a one-word answer or looking away, they probably have somewhere to go. But if they’re genuinely interested, then perhaps they want to know more about you. You’d be surprised how taking a picture of someone has led to friendship.
Once, I saw a good Star Trek cosplayer and asked for her photo. While I don’t think it’s a good idea to talk about Star Wars to a fan of Star Trek, for some reason I decided to talk about Star Wars to her after I took the photo. I found out we actually had a lot in common! So we kept in touch and now she’s a good acquaintance of mine, and I’m happy to see she’s still making great cosplays to this day.
You never know who you can meet by simply asking for their photo.
Just be aware that there are certain times where it’s inappropriate to ask for a photo. For example, don’t ask to take a picture if they’re sitting down, or eating or busy doing something else. It’s considered especially rude to ask for a photo while they’re in the middle of their own photoshoot; interrupting the photographer and the cosplayer is not a good first impression to make!
4) Volunteer – Volunteering is a great way to meet new people during an Anime convention. Not the actual attendees themselves, but the volunteers and staff you’re working alongside with. It’s like meeting coworkers at your job, but in a more fun, casual environment. It doesn’t have to feel like work either – you can usually decide what type of volunteer work to do, and how many hours you want to help.
A few years ago, I volunteered for Anime Boston (yes, a convention outside of my own country!). They accepted my application and the experience was a lot of fun. My fellow volunteers and staff were great people to volunteer and socialize with, and I still keep in touch with them today. By volunteering for Anime Boston, I made a bunch of new friends and I got a bunch of swag and free stuff during the con as well.
5) Bring a Card Game – Whether it’s Apples to Apples or Cards Against Humanity, card games are a great way to break the ice with your fellow attendees at an Anime convention. There’s always going to be somebody bored or lonely at a con. Bring one of these card games to a convention and invite them to play with you. Not only will it be fun, you’ll also make a new friend this way.
Back when I first started the Cosplay Hangout Group, most people who showed up for my cosplay events didn’t talk to each other. Like many new people in the cosplay community, it was somewhat awkward and people were standing around. So I decided to bring my Cards Against Humanity deck and made the attendees play together. Not only was the game hilarious and eased the nervousness of some, it allowed them to socialize with each other. How beautiful that game is.
6) Hit up the Con Rave – I know the raves at cons get a bad rep for sketchy people and drug addicts, but I’ve met some great people at raves, including cosplayers, DJs, performers, singers and fashion artists. It’s a wonderful and diverse mix of people at a rave. Starting a conversation at a rave can be as easy as giving someone your glow stick or “Kandi.”
7) Hotel Parties – If you’re going to a large Anime convention, there will always be hotels where attendees are staying for the weekend. And with hotels, come hotel parties! Probably the most difficult part is getting invited. But if you socialize enough during the con, you will find yourself invited to one. Believe me, it’s not that difficult. I’ve been to several conventions outside of my own city and I’ve been invited to hotel parties by attendees I’ve never met prior. Anyways, if you want to make new cosplay friends and you get invited, be damn sure to accept the invitation and go.
Yes, sometimes it can be awkward at the party when everyone knows each other and you know nobody at first. But don’t worry, there’s always someone at the hotel party similar to one described in that Alessia Cara track, Here (God I hate that song).
I hosted a Pokémon panel a couple of years back. The attendees were as enthusiastic about Pokémon as I was, and if I wanted a few players to battle with, I could easily have picked a few right there at the panel. In fact, one guy came up to me and wanted to be my friend. He asked for my Facebook account. But he kept interrupting my damn panel, so I didn’t want to be friends with him!
9) Tabletop Gaming – At many Anime conventions, there’s a room dedicated to tabletop gaming. Although some people will already be with their friends playing together, there are a few people who are looking for someone to join their game. Maybe one of their friends left for a photoshoot, and they’re now missing a player? Much like bringing a card game to a con, tabletop gaming is a good way to have fun and meet new people. I got to hangout with some cool people in the Tabletop gaming room at Youmacon. I sure as hell don’t remember what game it was, but it was fun talking about differences between Detroit and Toronto!
10) Video Game rooms – What better way to start a friendship than to kick their ass in Smash Bros.?! Okay, I haven’t made many friends in video game rooms – because they’re too salty after I beat them.