There's a reason why live-action adaptations of anime don't work (well, there are many, many reasons), but a part of it can be that anime characters simply don't look as good and interesting when replaced by real people. Part of the appeal of anime characters is their expressiveness. If you've seen any anime at all you know that these characters tend to make some pretty crazy faces all the time. And when you cast real people to play these characters in live-action adaptations, of course, you're gonna lose those wonderfully hilarious expressions. Moreover, since these characters are drawn their bodies can look however the artist wants them to look, which has resulted in some pretty bizarre and fascinating creations, and we're not even gonna mention all the characters that don't even look human. It's pretty hard to successfully recreate anime characters in real life. That being said, some cosplayers have done a much better job than the various live-action adaptations we've seen over the years.
It is always amazing to see an incredibly well put-together cosplay costume that is accurate and believable, especially when it's a character you normally wouldn't expect to even be possible for cosplayers to pull off. Whether it's a complex armor, a giant mecha, or simply a character with some weird features, cosplayers somehow manage to bring them all to life with their talent, skill, and dedication to the craft. We did some digging and found 20 amazing anime cosplays that are guaranteed to impress you. Nothing is impossible!
20 ALL MIGHT'S TRUE FORM (MY HERO ACADEMIA)
One of the reasons anime is so much fun to watch is the variety in character design. From stunningly gorgeous to hilariously over the top, anime faces can take all kinds of shapes. All Might from My Hero Academia may look like the perfect poster hero akin to Superman, but his true form is far less attractive.
In his true form, All Might is very skinny with sharp, angular facial features and long, slim limbs. Spread on his flat, skinny face is a wide grin above which are two piercing blue eyes clad in dark circles, but with no eyebrows above. ManuMindfreak created a flawless All Might mask for this amazing cosplay.
19 HIMIKO TOGA (MY HERO ACADEMIA)
Himiko Toga is a member of the League of Villains and has been known to cause trouble for our heroes. But, do not let her petite appearance fool you, because she’s known to display sadistic tendencies. Her Quirk, called Transform, allows her to take the complete physical appearance of another by ingesting their blood. This includes their voice, as well as their clothes.
This shapeshifter has a pretty interesting costume, which comes equipped with a Bloodsucking Machine. The toothy grin around her neck is purely for aesthetic purposes. The cosplayer managed to recreate this complex costume is SiuTao, and the photo was taken by Kira Hokuten.
18 EDWARD ELRIC (FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST: BROTHERHOOD)
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is brimming with interesting characters. From the Homunculi to the heroes, be they the Elric Brothers or the members of the Military in their crisp blue uniforms, this anime has a plethora of characters that look cool and thus are cosplay material. Edward Elric is one that is perhaps a bit harder to pull off, but that certainly doesn’t stop cosplayers from trying.
Featured above is the amazing Edward Elric cosplay by Italian cosplayer who goes by Kicka. The automail arm looks awesome, as do the golden eyes and Ed's little antenna. If you like what you see, check her gallery for more photos of Ed.
17 KATSUKI BAKUGO (MY HERO ACADEMIA)
Deku’s childhood friend Katsuki Bakugo, known as Kacchan, is the second protagonist of the series. The complete opposite of Deku, Kacchan is rude, arrogant, and aggressive, sometimes even coming off as an anti-hero or villain. Fittingly, Kacchan’s Explosion Quirk allows him to secrete nitroglycerin-like sweat from his palms and create explosions.
His explosion-making sweat is stored in the Grenadier Bracers around his wrists, which you can see up close on shimyr’s explosive costume. Fun fact, Bakugo was shimyr’s first anime cosplay. Well, we think he did an excellent job and should definitely cosplay as more anime characters in the future.
16 YAMI YUGI (YU-GI-OH!)
Gravity-defying hairstyles are a common trait in the world of anime. Yugi from the popular shounen anime Yu-Gi-Oh! has one of the weirdest, most over the top, hilarious, impossible, absolutely nonsensical hairstyles in all of anime. Like, what even is that thing on his head? How does that happen? What makes this hairdo even more ridiculous is that none of the other Yu-Gi-Oh! characters have a hairstyle nearly as complex as Yugi’s.
Because of that crazy hair, it is pretty difficult to successfully pull off a Yugi cosplay, which is why we’re so impressed with Megan Langan’s cosplay. Everything about this costume is just spot-on Yami Yugi.
15 FUMIKAGE TOKOYAMI (MY HERO ACADEMIA)
Fumikage Tokoyami, aka the Jet-Black Hero: Tsukuyomi, has one of the weirder Quirks we’ve seen in My Hero Academia. This young man has the head of a black bird on top of a human body. Surprisingly enough, his bird head isn’t covered in feathers, but in hair. Tsukuyomi's Quirk is called Dark Shadow. He is the host of a sentient shadow that materializes from his body.
Tokoyami is very popular with fans of the show, so it’s not surprising that some of them would want to cosplay as the bird-headed hero. The props for this amazing Tokoyami cosplay go to Rage Gear Props.
14 ENDEAVOR (MY HERO ACADEMIA)
My Hero Academia has tons of quirky characters, pardon the pun, and most of them are, naturally, pretty difficult to cosplay convincingly. Enji Todoroki, known as the Flame Hero: Endeavor, possesses the Quirk called Hellflame which gives him pyrokinetic abilities. Half of his costume is basically just flames, which makes it difficult for cosplayers to recreate in real life.
But, as impossible as it may seem, it has been done. Featured above is Nguran Cosplay wearing his flaming Endeavor costume. We have no idea what he used to make the flames look this epic but whatever it is, it worked.
13 CANTI (FLCL)
Cosplaying as a robot can never be an easy task. The green robot with the television set for a head, as seen above, is called Canti and he’s one of the characters from FLCL. The girl Canti is reaching out to is Mamimi Samejima, another character from FLCL. This amazing FLCL cosplay was created by A.K. Wirru and Tsubaki-chan.
A.K. Wirru made the Canti costume from foam mats and mixed the colors by hand to get the perfect shade. The TV screen is made of Perspex and covered in reflective blue paint, allowing the cosplayer to semi-see from the inside. The hard work definitely paid off because Canti looks absolutely amazing.
12 LEVI ACKERMAN (ATTACK ON TITAN)
Many anime feature characters in some kind of uniforms -- school uniforms, military uniforms, and so on. In Attack on Titan, the characters wear the now-iconic short, light brown jacket with the squad badge on both shoulders, the front left pocket and the center of the back, a dark brown sash around the waist, dark brown knee-high leather boots, and the maneuver gear.
While the rest of the outfit may be fairly easy to recreate, the maneuver gear most definitely is not. However, dedicated fans manage to pull it off nonetheless. Dantelian, who happens to be a real-life doppelganger of Levi, looks perfect in his incredible Levi costume.
11 RED RIOT (MY HERO ACADEMIA)
Eijiro Kirishima, known as the Sturdy Hero: Red Riot, is one of the students at UA High School training to become a Pro Hero. Kirishima’s Quirk is called Hardening and it gives him the power to harden and sharpen any part of his body. This means he’s protected from physical attacks, as well as heat and shock waves.
When Kirishima transforms into Red Riot he looks somewhat like The Thing from the Fantastic Four and is thus nearly impossible to cosplay. Nevertheless, Rage Gear Props managed to create this awesome Red Riot costume with mighty impressive hardened arms, which he sported at various conventions.
10 TOUKA KIRISHIMA (TOKYO GHOUL)
The ghouls from Tokyo Ghoul are among the more difficult anime characters to cosplay simply because their kagune happen to be extremely hard to create in real life. Touka Kirishima’s kagune is the most beautiful in the anime since it basically looks like a pair of colorful, flaming wings. It’s a sight to behold for sure, but it’s also very demanding in terms of cosplay costumes.
Still, there are fans who have attempted, and succeeded, at cosplaying as Touka Kirishima with kagune. The talented kc_cosplay created these herself and they look absolutely gorgeous. We can almost hear the chorus of Unravel blasting.
9 RAGYO KIRYUIN (KILL LA KILL)
Kill la Kill is one of the more bizarre anime to come out in the last decade, and for a bizarre story, you really need equally bizarre characters. Kill la Kill has some of the most unique characters, and Ragyo Kiryuin serves as an excellent example of how wonderfully weird the world and characters of this anime are.
Impossible, over the top hairstyles are found in almost every single anime ever made. Still, there are a select few that stand out more than others. Ragyo Kiryuin’s rainbow hair is definitely one of the craziest hair designs we’ve seen. Imagine our surprise when we found Lenneth XVII’s stunning Ragyo Kiryuin cosplay. This is simply incredible.
8 GRIFFITH (BERSERK)
Characters with intricate armors are never cosplay-friendly. But then, there are those special few who went the extra mile to make sure their outfit is nigh impossible to recreate. Griffith from the manga/anime Berserk is one such character. We’ve always known that his shiny armor looks amazing on the page and on the screen, but Okageo has made us realize that it can look just as amazing in real life.
This talented cosplayer clearly put a lot of effort into building this jaw-dropping armor. Everything looks flawless. Okageo has created tons of equally outstanding costumes, which you can check out in his gallery.
7 SHINICHI IZUMI AND MIGI (PARASYTE)
In the world of Parasyte, strange worm-like creatures called Parasytes took over the brains of human hosts by entering through their ears and noses. Shinichi Izumi woke up while a Parasyte was attempting to enter his brain and managed to stop him. The Parasyte did, however, enter his right hand and the two of them continued existing in the same body causing Shinichi’s right hand to get deformed as seen on the picture above.
This fantastic cosplay was created by keruuu. Everything you see was hand-made by kerruu himself, who described the process in detail in the description. It took a lot of hard work to get this right, but it paid off.
6 EVA UNIT 05 (EVANGELION: 2.0)
Why cosplay the character who’s operating the giant mecha when you can cosplay the mecha itself, right? Well, that’s apparently what went A.K. Wirru’s head when he decided to build this amazing giant robot from Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance. This Australian cosplayer built his Eva Unit 05 entirely from EVA foam, colored it by coating, painted with acrylics, varnished with super gloss, and equipped with torchlights and LEDs.
It couldn’t have been easy to create such a detailed and functional mech suit, so props to A.K. Wirru for doing an amazing job and recreating the first few minutes of the film in his garage on top of that.
5 SABER (FATE/ZERO)
The vastly popular Fate franchise spans various mediums, which includes a number of anime adaptations. Out of all the characters that the Fate franchise has created, Saber is the most popular one. Altria Pendragon, or Saber, is an ancient warrior who gets summoned to fight in a war for the mythical Holy Grail.
Saber is a stunning young woman with long blond hair, usually dressed in a blue dress and silver armor. The intricate design of the armor makes Saber a pretty demanding character to cosplay. But that didn’t stop Lux Cosplay from creating this incredibly accurate and awesome Saber costume.
4 TOTORO (MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO)
When Abraham Fernandez took his Totoro cosplay to Anime Expo 2018 he turned a lot of heads. He got featured in LA Weekly, and IGN featured him in their Anime Expo video, and we can definitely see why. Just look at this giant furball, he looks adorable.
Abraham Fernandez has a lot of pictures that show the process behind the making this amazing Totoro costume, which you can check out on his Instagram. Being a huge fan of everything Ghibli, Abraham has previously cosplayed as No Face from Spirited Away, though that costume probably didn’t require nearly as much work as Totoro.
3 RYUK (DEATH NOTE)
Everyone’s favorite God of Death, the Shinigami Ryuk, is one fascinating fellow for sure. He’s supposed to be this scary monster, but there’s just something about him that we can’t help but like him. Still, with those round yellow eyes and the toothy grin settled on that bony skull and surrounded by all the spiky hair, Ryuk is certainly not a pretty creature.
And because he has such a unique monster-like appearance it’s extremely challenging to successfully pull off a Ryuk cosplay. Canadian cosplayer Tatterhood took this challenge and passed it with flying colors. If you’re interested in making one yourself, Tatterhood has posted the instructions.
2 GAOGAIGAR (THE BRAVE SERIES)
Mecha anime feature battles between robots, aka mecha, and there have been quite a lot of these over the decades. The most famous is Mobile Suit Gundam, but there are other well-known mecha anime besides Gundam. The Brave series is a popular mecha anime from the '90s. One of the robots that appeared in the Brave series is GaoGaiGar.
What you see above is a cosplay of GaoGaiGar built by UbersCosplay. It took nine months to complete this giant made of EVA foam, Sintra and Foamcore board. The costume is equipped with dual speakers and lights, which can be controlled by the wearer. UbersCosplay won Best in Show at the Florida Anime Expo 2013.
1 ALPHONSE ELRIC (FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST: BROTHERHOOD)
Alphonse Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is without a doubt one of the most difficult characters to cosplay. The guy is literally a walking suit of armor, and that’s not something that can be built in a day’s work. But Al is a beloved character and fans aren’t about to back down from a challenge.
Cosplayer Savage Suon, who claims to be a foam armor specialist (and after seeing this we believe him), managed to create an astonishing Alphonse Elric armor from foam. On his Instagram, you will also find Al with that kawaii face he makes that we all love so much. Savage Suon puts it on when he cosplays with a little plush kitty and it's the cutest thing.