For some costumes are just something you wear for Halloween, but for otaku (fans of anime and manga), costumes are something you do all year long. Wearing an anime costume is usually called cosplay, which is short for “costume play”. The term comes from Japan and generally refers to dressing up in costumes based on Japanese anime, manga and video games. As anime spread to the United States so too did cosplay. Although it is worth noting that dressing up as sci-fi and comic book characters was already popular in Western culture, but many people use the term cosplay specifically when talking about Japanese costumes. Some cosplayers plan all year to design and create costumes to show off at anime conventions across the country.
Anime costumes are usually home made by enthusiastic fans or sometimes by private sellers and are rarely sold to a mass market. However since some anime airs on American TV the licenses to make official costumes have made it over as well. Stores sell popular anime costumes like Pokemon characters, Yu-Gi-Oh characters, and even Naruto costumes have been popping up. Generally speaking though anime costumes that available for sale are aimed at children for Halloween and are of average quality. Serious otaku usually spend a lot of time and effort creating high quality costumes to make sure that they’re anime costume is unique.
Group anime costumes are popular, especially at conventions. Anime shows like Bleach, Naruto and Cowboy Bebop have a lot of unique and recognizable characters that make them great for group costumes. People tend to pick characters that they relate to the most and will get into character.
Whether you’re a serious otaku, or just a casual fan, anime costumes are fun because they usually involve crazy hairstyles and hair colors and really elaborate outfits.