The art of constructing elaborate costumes along with props and accessories was first introduced in 1990 and has since become a cultural phenomenon. Sources of inspiration can be taken from favorite comic books, TV shows, anime, video games and more. Many fans use cosplay to express their admiration for a beloved character or dedication to particular fandom. Interest in the practice has evolved into cosplayers creating DIY Youtube videos and the Syfy series Heroes of Cosplay, which followed popular cosplayers such as Chloe Dykstra and YaYa Han on their journey toward making a name for themselves in the industry. In 2017, Syfy introduced Cosplay Melee, a competition show where up-and-coming cosplayers battle against one another for the chance to win $10,000.
Using childhood nostalgia as a driving force, some cosplayers choose to base their designs on characters from their favorite cartoons growing up. Taking inspiration from Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, or the Disney Channel, many have created amazing tributes to their cherished characters. Some have even let nature take its course, creating adult versions of their pre-pubescent characters that often stray into steamier territory.
15. INVADER ZIM
German cosplayer Ravenic has set out to conquer Earth with her Invader Zim cosplay. Dressed in his “human disguise,” she hopes to pass by the Earthlings unnoticed. Ravenic considers the show to be “one of the funniest, creepiest and craziest series ever.” Her Deviantart account also features tributes to Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Sucker Punch and Final Fantasy.
The Nickelodeon cult classic, which premiered in 2001, had a rocky beginning. The show’s creator Jhonen Vasquez considered several ideas before landing on the concept of a naive extraterrestrial, known as Zim, who sets out to enslave the human race. Zim decides to enroll in the nearest elementary school where he becomes fast rivals with Dib who is determined to expose the alien and his nefarious plans.
14. PLUM, BRAVEST WARRIORS
Don’t let her innocent exterior fool you, this spunky Merewif can stand up for herself. Cosplayer EmilyScissorhands, who currently resides in South Carolina, has put an edgy twist on the Bravest Warriors character. Her cosplay resembles the outfit Plum wore in the “Hamster Priest” episode, complete with her combat weapons.
Considered the fifth unofficial member of the Bravest Warriors, Plum has proven her worth. She also has multiple suitors vying for her affections but has her heart dead-set on Chris, despite his crush on her best friend Beth. First appearing in the episode “Gas-Powered Stick,” Plum is a sea creature with a mermaid tail that replaces her legs when she’s swimming and has an ancient double personality that lives her in second brain.
13. MARCELINE, ADVENTURE TIME
This lady doesn’t look like she’s aged a single day. South African cosplayer Tayla Barter aka Kinpatsu-Cosplay’s portrayal of Marceline the Vampire Queen from Adventure Time is spot on. To get the floating effect, Barter sat on a barstool and later edited it out.
Marceline, despite her young appearance, is over 1003 years old and is half-human / half-demon. Despite first being an adversary of main characters Finn and Jake, she soon becomes a close ally. As the “wild, rocker girl,” she often sings about past events and traumas she’s encountered throughout her long life. She plays the guitar to vent her often conflicting emotions, using excerpts from her diary to as inspiration for her songs. She has various supernatural abilities including soul-sucking, shape-shifting, and telekinesis.
12. AVEA TROTTER, MONSTER HIGH
German cosplayer and massive Monster High fan Gaia von Lherzolith, aka awesomePhotoDe, designed this tribute to her favorite Freaky Fusion Hybrid. Avea Trotter, a child of a harpy and centaur, is a very stubborn student who isn’t afraid to take charge. Trotter had trouble fitting in with the other ghouls at school but after spending time with Frankie and the others in Freaky Fusion, has since learned to open up to others. The cosplayer is well known on Deviantart for her impressive Monster High cosplays including Iris Clops, Scarah Screams, Spectra Vondergeist and more.
Monster High was introduced as a Mattel fashion doll franchise in 2010 and has since expanded to video-games, TV specials, and direct-to-DVD movies. The characters are meant to be the children of the classic Universal Movie Monsters such as Dracula and Creature from the Black Lagoon.
11. LYDIA DEETZ, BEETLEJUICE ANIMATED SERIES
She isn’t afraid to say his name three times. Russian cosplayer Ryoko-demon’s take on Lydia Deetz brings an innocent charm to the delightfully quirky fan-favorite cartoon version of the movie character. Lover of all things creepy and spooky, the young Deetz is close friends with Beetlejuice, often acting as his voice of reason. The cosplayer’s Deviantart gallery is full of photos of her and her beloved, portrayed by fellow cosplayer Kifir, including nods to the Tim Burton adaptation with the red wedding gown.
The animated series began with Lydia and Beetlejuice celebrating the one-year anniversary of their first meeting in the Neitherworld. The self-proclaimed “Ghost with the Most” adores Lydia and calls her “the greatest person I know,” even creating a shrine to her honor inside his mind.
10. DANI PHANTOM, DANNY PHANTOM
Kinpatsu-Cosplay is back at it again with her portrayal of Danielle “Dani” Phantom from the Nickelodeon series Danny Phantom. On the show, Dani is the clone of Danny Phantom made by his archenemy Vlad Masters. Similar to her male-counterpart, she is able to shift between her human and ghost form. The cosplayer’s gallery features other Danny Phantom creations such as Sam Manson and Ember.
Danny Phantom, which lasted from 2004-2007, centers around the 14-year old main character who accidently infuses his DNA with ectoplasm when he explores his ghost-hunting parents’ “Ghost Portal” effectively turning him into a half-human / half-ghost. The show’s critical acclaim and dedicated fanbase sparked hopes the series would be revived after its 10-year cancellation, leading to a social media campaign called #GoGhostAgain. In July 2017, creator Butch Hartman announced he was working on a Youtube show inspired by the series.
Based on the Italian comic book series, W.I.T.C.H follows a group of uniquely-powered girls, known as the Guardians of the Veil, who must defend the magical city of Meridian against the evil forces of Phobos. Russian cosplayer Lena aka HelenaRay has teamed-up with her friends to create this stunning portrait of four of the main characters. Lena can be seen at the end, portraying Hay Lin, whose powers include controlling air.
Leader of the group, Will Vandom, is front and center. Her powers include bringing electric appliances to life and speaking with animals. Sitting next to her, looking off into the distance, is Irma Lair who can manipulate water and materialize objects from thin air. Cornelia Hale is next; having the ability to control earth.
8. SAILOR MOON
CineCosu Studios’ Dominique Zamora reassembled the cosplay team of Stella Chuu, Hendo, Akemi101xoxo, Maid of Might, and Jynx for this adult reimagining of the characters from the Japanese series Sailor Moon. The boudoir photoshoot was inspired by the scouts’ transformation scenes and attempted to use practical effects over photoshop edits. Stella Chuu is front and center as Sailor Moon with Sailor Mars and Sailor Jupiter on either side. More of the photoshoot can be viewed on Kotaku.com.
Based on the manga series, Sailor Moon follows the adventures of Usagi Tsukino who is given the power to become a Sailor Soldier. Uniting with her fellow sister soldiers, she must defend the world against a variety of villains. The show followed Tsukino’s journey from timid middle-schooler to responsible young adult. Despite originally intended for a six-month run, the show’s growing popularity and international fan base led to the series concluding after five years.
7. HI HI PUFFY AMIYUMI
Fans of the Teen Titans theme song will recognize these two. Cosplayers UncannyMegan and YuffieBunny portray the fictionalized versions of the popular K-Pop group Puffy AmiYumi. Megan is on the left as the punk rocker Yumi Yoshimura while Bunny plays the preppy schoolgirl Ami Onuki.
The anime-influenced series premiered from November 2004 to June 2006, and followed the adventures of pop stars and best friends Yumi and Ami. The two travel the world in their customized tour bus bringing their musical talent and unique style along the way. Despite being intended for a younger audience, the show gained a teen and adult following, heavily influenced by the the real characters. In 2006, Cartoon Network announced the cancellation of the popular series, never acknowledging the show until 2012 when the characters appeared on the network’s 20th anniversary poster.
6. LOLA, SPACE JAM
Whatever you do, don’t call her “Doll.” Florida cosplayer Danielle DeNicola has created an adult version of the Space Jam character Lola Bunny. Along with her seductive personality, Lola stuns her male peers with her impressive basketball skills. At the end of the film, she becomes Bugs Bunny’s girlfriend. Lola sparked controversy among Looney Tunes fans who felt her introduction was meant to appease modern audiences’ need for updated versions of the iconic characters. On The Looney Tunes Show, the character suffers a dramatic change in personality, going from fierce vixen to absent-minded, annoyingly obsessive girlfriend.
DeNicola graduated with a Bachelor’s in Creative Advertising and enjoys using foam and worbla to create intricate costume armor and props. She also prides herself on body positivity, exploring various characters and their sensuality. Her cosplays include female superheroes such as Black Widow, Supergirl, and Kim Possible.
5. BUGS BUNNY
“What’s up Doc?” Check out this stylish version of Bugs Bunny made by Italian cosplayer DakunCosplay. This gentlemanly take on the iconic Looney Tunes character features a slicked back silver wig, immaculate white gloves, and of course, who could forget the carrot juice. The cosplayer is also well-known for his gender-bent designs including Elsa and Anna from Frozen and Megara from Hercules.
First created in 1940, Bugs Bunny has gone on to become a cultural icon and the official mascot of Warner Bros. Entertainment. Known for his laid-back personality and trickster tendencies, he has appeared in a variety of films, TV shows, comic books and even amusement park rides. In 1985, he was the second cartoon character to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
4. THE CHIPETTES
Cosplayer UncannyMegan teamed up with fellow cosplayers Neptune Suicide and Ani-Mia to create this tribute to the Chipettes from The Chipmunk Adventure. The trio debuted in 1983 on Alvin and the Chipmunks, serving as featured characters in their own right rather than female equivalents of the previous male main characters.
UncannyMegan is in the middle as older sister Brittany Miller with Neptune Suicide on her left as smart sister Jeanette. On her right is Ani-Mia as adorable younger sister Eleanor. In the film, the Chipettes team up with Alvin and his brothers Simon and Theodore as they go on a hot air balloon race around the world. Little do they know that the race is actually a cover for a diamond smuggling ring. Fans of the film will notice the nod to the “Diamond Dolls” each of the girls are holding as well as the baby penguin.
3. VELMA, SCOOBY DOO
“Jinkies!” The beloved Scooby Doo character Velma has gone from clumsy nerd to axe-wielding badass in Jeff Zoet’s reimagining of the Mystery Inc gang as fighters of the zombie apocalypse. Model Ashley DeCarolis portrays the brainy member of the Mystery Inc family, still sporting her chunky glasses and red schoolgirl skirt.
In a interview with Mashable.com, Zoet recalls being a fan of the childhood series, wanting to place the characters “into a more ‘realistic’ world where their lives could actually be in mortal danger.” The photoshoot eerily resembles the film Scooby Doo on Zombie Island where the crew, used to exposing criminals in monster masks and creature costumes, stumble upon a Louisiana bayou version of The Walking Dead. Fans of the early versions of Scooby Doo credited the film for resurrecting the franchise by introducing a darker take on the campy cartoon.
2. BLISSTINA, POWERPUFF GIRLS
Introduced in the 2016 Powerpuff Girls reboot, Blisstina “Bliss” Utonium was created eight years before the Powerpuff Girls in an attempt to create the “Perfect Little Girl.” Professor Utonium added sugar, spice, and everything nice to his concoction before accidentally adding Chemical W which gave his creation superpowers. The professor decides to adopt Bliss as his daughter but comes to quickly realize her uncontrollable powers are too much to handle.
Italian cosplayer Mirella Paola aka mirella91 introduces a punk version of the older sister to the iconic trio. Along with her edgy Powerpuff Girl cosplay, Paola’s Deviantart gallery is full of tributes to W.I.T.C.H, Game of Thrones, Sailor Moon and Overwatch. Also featured is a beautiful Gijinka cosplay of Charmander and a group Flash cosplay with her as Iris West.
1. POWERPUFF GIRLS VS THE ROWDYRUFF BOYS
DuysPhotoShoots photographer and cosplayer Duys Truong took this epic battle shot between the sweet Powerpuff Girls and tough Rowdyruff Boys. The troublesome trio is made up of Heroically Fit as Brick, Duy Truong Cosplay as Butch and Romeo Flynn Winchester as Boomer. The girls are portrayed by Mad Mel Madigan as Blossom, Jenny Lorenzo as Buttercup and Juliet Audrey Winchester as Bubbles.
Introduced in 1999, the Rowdyruff Boys are the creation of Mojo Jojo, who is desperate to finally put an end to the Powerpuff Girls. Using snips, snails, and a puppy dog’s tail, he creates the perfect evil incarnations of the young superhero team. In the episode, the two groups go head-to-head in a lengthy battle resulting in a loss for the Powerpuff Girls. After regrouping, the girls decide to forgo fists in favor of flirting, confusing their opponents long enough to plant a deadly kiss on each of their cheeks.
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