Anime Expo 2023 Cosplay Gallery and How the Cosplay Community Has Grown

Albert Liu

Anime Expo 2023 was in full swing this year as an army of cosplayers descended upon Downtown Los Angeles and delighted fellow cosplayers, convention goers, and photographers with their creative and elaborate costumes while at the same time bewildering uninitiated bystanders.

I ventured through throngs of Yor Forgers from Spy x Family, an army of Gerudo vai from Zelda, squads of Star Wars stormtroopers, and a vast variety of Genshin Impact characters in the LA Convention Center to better understand what motivated those in the cosplaying community to do what they do, as well as how they felt about being in a community that has seen explosive growth the past couple of decades.

Many cosplayers talked about how empowered they felt by being the characters they were portraying. Andrew (cosplaying as Rem from Re:Zero) and Paul (cosplaying as a “general lolita character) have cosplayed for two years and love how cosplay gives them “the freedom of being comfortable while looking ridiculous”, as well as living a fantasy at the same time.

Andrew as Rem from Re:Zero and Paul as a “general Lolita character.” Photo by Albert Liu

Seasoned cosplayers also expressed similar feelings about Anime Expo letting them be other characters but also reflected on the growth of the community over the years. 

Lindsey, who has been cosplaying for 6-7 years and was working as a vendor while also impressively cosplaying as Nezuko from “Demon Slayer”, thinks that despite cosplaying taking a hit a few years ago due to Covid, the community has grown to be “way better” since then.

Lindsey as Nezuko (IG: @Liz3534). Photo by Albert Liu

A similar sentiment was also echoed by Aiden, who dressed up as Yor Forger and has been cosplaying for 7 years. “The anime community is so diverse now and it’s amazing. So many more people are into it and it’s become even bigger and I love it,” Aiden said enthusiastically. 

Aiden as Yor Forger (IG: @lolvelkrie). Photo by Albert Liu

Ish, who hilariously cosplayed as Seńor Pink from “One Piece”, has been cosplaying for more than a decade since witnessing how passionate other cosplayers were at his first anime convention. He says his “favorite part is meeting other cosplayers and networking, especially in the One Piece community. All the cosplayers are supportive and it’s just a good, big family.”

Ish as Seńor Pink (IG:@Ishplz). Photo by Albert Liu

Najee, who cosplayed as Katsuki Bakugo from “My Hero Academia”, was also inspired by the passion of cosplayers and started cosplaying 5 years ago – he remains inspired today. “It just gets me into the spirit by actually seeing my favorite characters in real life,” said Najee.

Najee as Katsuki Bakugo (IG: @najeeransom). Photo by Albert Liu

Cosplayers who were also relatively new to the cosplaying scene talked about how supportive the cosplaying community is. 

First-time cosplayer Samantha, who cosplayed as Daisy Mae from “Animal Crossing”, thinks her experience with the cosplaying community thus far has been great, with everyone being “so helpful with giving me tips and tricks. People are just so nice, complimenting my hard work I’ve put into this cosplay.”

Samantha as Daisy Mae. Photo by Albert Liu

Sai, who dressed up as Ashley Graham from “Resident Evil 4: Remake”, has been cosplaying for over a year and got into it after going viral as Makima from “Chainsaw Man”. She relishes the opportunity to “dress up as somebody else for the day and look in the mirror and it’s like, ‘Oh wow, I look so different!’” and also noted how accepting everybody is.

Sai as Ashley Graham (IG: @Sai_my_guy). Photo by Albert Liu

There were also other cosplayers who took Anime Expo 2023 as a chance to do more ambitious cosplay projects than they did in the past.

Les cosplayed as Ruji from the “Zelda” games franchise; although she has cosplaying for 3 to 4 years, this is the first major cosplay where she’s made everything herself. When asked about what she most liked about cosplaying, she said, “I really like the community so whenever you come with someone who knows which character you are you really can make that connection and have a conversation and just nerd out together!”

Les as Ruji (IG: @lescards). Photo by Albert Liu

Vanessa has cosplayed for 8 years and also decided to make her costume – an earthy tribute to Studio Ghibli’s “Princess Mononoke” – from scratch for the first time. 

An artist by trade, she observed, “I’ve noticed a lot of people just taking a lot more liberties with the designs, making their own interpretations of it rather than sticking to the store-bought, Amazon-shipped (costumes)… they actually put some thought and creativity to their cosplay and that’s what inspired me to do my own version of the Forest Spirit.”

Vanessa as the Forest Spirit (IG: @craftynessi). Photo by Albert Liu

Eric and Sean, who cosplayed respectively as the Gundam Aerial Rebuild and the Gundam Schwarzette from “Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury ” caught a lot of attention with their larger-than-life mecha suits. “I want to push the limits of my ability to make things. I want to see what I can do, and I want to make things people say I can’t do,” Eric said. 

Sean, who just recently got into the cosplaying community, loves how he can talk shop with other cosplayers, some of whom he considers his heroes. “Even if you do some simple cosplay to some big sale cosplay, it’s all really appreciated. It just feels really inclusive and a lot of fun to jump right into it.”

Eric, who has cosplayed for 10 years, summarized it all the best, noting that cosplaying “has grown a lot over the years. As it’s grown, so has the commercialization of those things. So things are different.” 

But as he also adds, “The thing that hasn’t changed, is that in general, the cosplay community has always been super welcoming, super open, and super kind to each other. And very supportive of each other.”

Eric as Gundam Aerial Rebuild (IG: @eric.craftworks) and Paul as Gundam Schwarzette (IG: @mrbobify). Photo by Albert Liu