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The Masquerade is a Saturday night theatrical performance in which groups of fans display their costuming and acting skills. The participants create and perform short skits based on their favorite anime or Japanese video game. These skits can be dramatic, comedic, dance-based or just plain wacky! A panel of staff and celebrity judges present awards to the best performances and costumes. The Masquerade is just as fun to watch as it is to participate in!

Anime Boston, unlike many other conventions across the United States, has merged our Hall Cosplay and Masquerade contests into ONE contest called simply the Masquerade. You can still get judged on your craftsmanship alone, just as you would at a Hall Cosplay Contest; the difference is that you will be also be competing against the participants of the Performance Division who chose to also get judged on Craftsmanship.

Indicate when you sign up whether you wish to be judged on CRAFTSMANSHIP, PERFORMANCE, or BOTH. If you choose only craftsmanship, you will not be expected to have a skit planned, though you are still welcome to participate in the catwalk.

Participating in the Masquerade:

  1. Registering (Pre-con Expectations for Masquerade Participants)
  2. Checking In (At-con Expectations for Masquerade Participants)
  3. Masquerade Rules
  4. Divisions
  5. Awards List
  6. Important Information on Craftmanship Judging
  7. Sound/Video Guidelines
  8. When a Group is Announced By the Emcee
  9. Exhibition Performances
  10. Damages
  11. Props Policy
  12. Special Requests
  13. Participant Timeline

  1. Registering (Pre-con Expectations for Masquerade Participants)
    • All groups must pre-register for the Masquerade online. In order to do so, sign in or make an account on our Cosplay HQ and click on "Masquerade" to apply.
    • Initially, there will be twenty-five (25) spots available for presentation & presentation/craftsmanship entries and thirty-five (35) spots available for craftsmanship only entries. Registration will open JANUARY 1, 2016 at 12 noon EST.
    • There will be a "wait-list" in case of cancellations. Any slots that open up due to cancellations before the convention will be given to groups on the wait-list.
    • The Masquerade Coordinator will email the primary contact of each group on a regular basis with important updates. Individuals must keep their contact information updated. If an individual's email is bouncing and/or phone number no longer works, we will be forced to remove the group from the Masquerade or the wait-list. Please update all contact information; simply contact the Masquerade Coordinator to alert us of any changes.
    • All contestants must be attending members of Anime Boston 2016 and will need to provide a badge at both Masquerade check-in and at the Masquerade itself. Group leaders who are submitting Masquerade registrations must be pre-registered for Anime Boston 2016.
    • By registering, all Masquerade participants agree to let Anime Boston use their images for promotional purposes, both photographs and video. All participants will be required to sign a waiver at check-in acknowledging this. Any individuals who do not sign a waiver, will not be allowed to appear in the Masquerade.
    • Minors (those under 18 years of age) may not participate in the Masquerade unless given written permission by a legal guardian. Forms will be available both at the convention and online prior to the event. Please bring the signed copy with you to Masquerade check-in if you are less than 18 years of age.
    Information for Presentation Entries (skits) is listed below. If you are applying with a craftsmanship only entry, skip this section and move on to #2 below.
    • Groups are required to submit a short summary ("proof of concept") of their skits when they register for the masquerade. The summaries should be brief, only one or two sentences. These are required to prove that groups have started working on their skits and are not simply signing up to take the space.
    • Groups will also be required to submit a script to the Masquerade Coordinator before their skit will be accepted. It is not necessary to have a script immediately, but one must be uploaded before applications close on March 4th. A group's spot will not be confirmed without a script or audio file.
    • Masquerade slots will not be available at the convention. All skits must pre-register.
    • The deadline for changes to your application (MC intros, participants, etc) is March 18th at MIDNIGHT. Cancellations will be accepted up to the start of the convention, and the remaining spaces will be filled by wait-listed groups.
  2. Checking In (At-con Expectations for Masquerade Participants)
    • Groups must check in to confirm their registration at Masquerade Headquarters, located in room 101 of the Hynes, during operating hours on Friday, March 25th, 2016 (Noon - 6PM) or on Saturday, March 26th, 2016 (8AM - 11AM).
    • Any group that has not checked in by 11AM on Saturday will not be allowed to participate.
    • Craftsmanship judging will occur on Friday, March 25th, 2016 and Saturday, March 26th, 2016. Participants will be given the option of a morning or afternoon slot when they register. Please indicate the requested judging time on the application.
    • Please be advised that individuals will need to be able to remain for the duration of the Masquerade. In the case of medical emergencies, very young children, or personal issues, please contact the Masquerade Coordinator, or another staff member backstage at the convention.
    • Masquerade staff will attempt to secure a block of time for rehearsals. The time available is highly dependent upon other programming at Anime Boston, which has not yet been decided. We hope to have details about rehearsals before the convention, and will send emails as soon as this information is available. If a group would like to request a rehearsal, please note this on the application. We will make every attempt to honor the requests, but rehearsal time is not guaranteed.
    • The Masquerade will be held on Saturday, March 26th in the Auditorium. An exact start time will be posted closer to the convention. Please keep an eye on the website for an official schedule to be posted.
  3. Masquerade Rules
    • Anime Boston is a Japanese Animation convention, so all costumes must be based on Anime, Manga, Japanese-origin video games, or Japanese live action productions based on Anime or Manga (such as Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, NANA or Cutey Honey.) If the series and/or character originated anywhere other than Japan, it doesn't qualify. Examples of characters which would be disallowed despite having anime adaptations are: Iron Man, Supernatural, and any Disney characters involved in the Kingdom Hearts franchise. (Japanese adaptations of material within the public domain are permitted - such as Les Miserables: Shojo Cosette, Gankutsuou, or RomeoXJuliet.) If you have doubt as to whether a specific skit or costume qualifies, contact the Masquerade Coordinator.
    • The Masquerade allows the use of American (and other non-Japanese) music in skits. Groups may use the latest popular American movies, commercials, TV shows, etc., as an influence. If a group isn't sure if their skit plans are appropriate, please ask.
    • Costumes based on promotional art for anime and manga are allowed, even if the costumes do not appear in the actual series. In this case make sure to bring as many reference photos as possible.
    • Individuals who plan to participate in the Masquerade may not wear a costume at the Anime Boston 2016 Masquerade that was worn for any previous competition at Anime Boston. Participation in the Staff-Vote costume contest is still allowed.
    • Groups may not perform a skit at Anime Boston 2016 that was performed at any earlier Anime Boston.
    • Judges for the Masquerade may not compete in either competition.
    • ALL COSTUMES MUST BE HOMEMADE. Costumes purchased or rented, or any costumes made by a professional designer or seamstress, are prohibited from craftsmanship judging. Please inform the Masquerade staff if only one person in the group made all of the costumes. That person (as long as he/she is a member of the group and not a professional seamstress or tailor) is still eligible for a Craftsmanship Award. Even if he/she happens to be a friend or relative who is NOT participating in the Masquerade, he/she is required to be at Craftsmanship judging in order to answer questions.
    • There are exceptions to the "purchased or rented" policy:
      1. Exception 1: "Found Item" costumes are allowed. This is basically a costume that was built by collecting various pieces from normal clothing stores and combining them or altering them in a unique way, with or without sewing.
      2. Exception 2: If one or two minor components of the costume were professionally purchased. In such a case individuals MUST indicate all such items ahead of time, and these items will not be considered by the judges when they evaluate the costume for craftsmanship eligibility.
      3. Exception 3: For groups who are interested in presentation awards only (and do not intend to undergo Craftsmanship judging) the Masquerade Coordinator may be more lenient about the proportion of store-bought items in each costume. Individuals are still required to have some homemade items in the costume.
    • Each contestant may present (wear) one costume, or a group of people may wear one costume at the same time (i.e., a large costume that requires several people inside to move it). Multiple entries worn by the same person, or one entry worn by multiple people at different times, will not be allowed. Individuals may begin a skit wearing a concealing cloak or coat, and then remove it to reveal another costume underneath. (Please be advised that strip-tease oriented skits will NOT be permitted).
    • The maximum number of members allowed in one group is ten (10) people. If more than the approved number of contestants appears on stage, the group will be disqualified from receiving Presentation Awards.
    • No use of any messy substances that might ruin the costume of another contestant will be allowed. Any individuals wearing body paint or makeup must make sure it will not come off in casual contact with others.
    • Do not leave anything on the stage that cannot be picked up and removed in a few seconds - this includes glitter, confetti, fake blood, bubbles, and rose petals.
    • No throwing things from the stage, for example: T-shirts or Beach Balls.
    • Costumes must be self-contained. Connections to electrical sockets will not be available.
    • Please review Anime Boston's Props Policy. All props used in the Masquerade MUST COMPLY with the Anime Boston Props Policy.
    • No fire, flash powder, lasers, explosives or open flame of any kind will be allowed. Electronic flashes will be permitted provided that you notify the Masquerade Coordinator in advance, and it must be announced in your MC introduction to protect those who may be affected by the flashing lights. Strobe lights are not permitted.
    • Nothing is allowed that would be banned in a "PG-13" rated film. Actions, dress, or mannerisms that would not be allowed in public must be avoided. (ie: explicit sexual gestures, nudity, and explicit swearing.)
    • Anime Boston staff does not allow jumping off the stage, nor does the Masquerade staff allow entering or exiting the stage from any area that has not been approved by the Masquerade Coordinator.
    • All presentations must be confined to the stage area. The aisles and other audience areas are not to be used for any part of the presentation.
    • Please show respect towards fellow cosplayers backstage and during judging. Any heckling or threatening of other participants will NOT be tolerated.
    • Anime Boston and the Masquerade staff reserves the right to cancel a group's performance at any time for any reason.
  4. Divisions
    • All entries will register under ONE of the following skill Divisions:
      • Youth: A group may compete in the Youth divisoin as long as all participants are under the age of 12
        • It is acceptable for youth division participants to have costumes made by someone else (parents, friends, etc...)
        • It is acceptable for a parent or guardian to escort the child on-stage. However, if the parent or guardian is an integral part of the skit, the skit must be judged in one of the adult categories.
      • Novice: A group may compete in the Novice division as long as:
        • No member of the group has won more than three minor awards at Novice level at previous conventions.
        • No member of the group has won ANY major award (such as Best Overall Presentation or Best in Show).
        • No member of the group has won any award above Novice level (Intermediate, Advanced/Craftsman or the equivalent).
      • Intermediate/Journeyman: A group may compete in the Intermediate division if:
        • Members of the group have not won more than three (3) total major awards (such as Best Overall Presentation or Best in Show) in cosplay/costume competition.
        • No member of the group has won any award above Intermediate level (Advanced/Craftsman/Master or the equivalent).
      • Master: Your group will be required to compete in the Master division if:
        • Members of the group have won more than three (3) major awards (such as Best Overall Presentation or Best in Show) in cosplay/costume competitions.
        • If any member of the group has won any award above Intermediate level (Advanced/Craftsman/Master or the equivalent.)
    • Groups may always choose to compete at a higher level than that for which they qualify. For instance, if a group thinks the quality of their skit or costume is above the usual standards of Novice level, due to extra preparation, a more ambitious project, extensive stage experience, or for some other reason, then the group is encouraged, though not required, to participate at the Intermediate or Masters level.
    • If a group has opted to register and compete in a higher skill division (Intermediate, Masters etc.) in the past, and won ANY AWARD in that division, the group is obligated to compete in the same Division (or higher) thereafter. Knowingly entering Novice division when a group ought to be in Intermediate or Masters is grounds for disqualification.
  5. Awards List
    • Youth Awards (dependant on number of entries).
      • Note: These awares will be presented directly after the youth division skits, so the children will get to bed at a reasonable hour.
    • Presentation Awards:
      • First Place, Novice division, Presentation
      • Second Place, Novice division, Presentation
      • First Place, Intermediate division, Presentation
      • Second Place, Intermediate division, Presentation
      • First Place, Masters division, Presentation
      • Second Place, Masters division Presentation
      • Best Performance
    • Craftsmanship Awards:
      • Best Prop
      • First Place, Novice division, Craftsmanship
      • Second Place, Novice division, Craftsmanship
      • First Place, Intermediate division, Craftsmanship
      • Second Place, Intermediate division Craftsmanship
      • First Place, Masters division, Craftsmanship
      • Second Place, Intermediate division Craftsmanship
      • Best Craftsmanship
    • Judges Awards:
      These awards are given for any and all exceptional entries whose merits are not covered by the basic awards. These awards are granted by the members of the Judges' panel and by the Event Manager and Emcee.
      • Judge's Awards - Eight awarded
      • Emcee's Award - One awarded
      • Masquerade Coordinator's Award - One awarded
    • Best in Show:
      Best in Show is determined by overall craftsmanship and overall presentation at the Masquerade. In order to qualify for Best in Show, the entry must participate in both Craftsmanship and Presentation judging. The winning entry may be from any division (Youth, Novice, Journeyman or Craftsman). Understand that the winners of the Best in Show award will not qualify to win any other awards.

    If an entry has indicated that they wish to be judged on both craftsmanship and presentation, that entry may receive a maximum of one divisional award, with presentation taking precedence over craftsmanship. They may still receive a judges' award on top of their divisional award. No single entry may receive MORE than two awards. This applies to the Judges', Emcee, and Coordinator's awards.

  6. Important Information on Craftsmanship Judging
    • All Craftsmanship Judging occurs prior to the Masquerade itself. In order to participate in the Craftsmanship category, groups or individuals must make an appointment to be judged by expressing so on the registration application. Time slots will be assigned by the Masquerade Coordinator. Participants will be notified of this time slot by March 14th at the latest. Craftsmanship judging will be held in Masquerade Headquarters (room 101 of the Hynes).
    • Craftsmanship judging will occur on Friday March 25th, 2016 and Saturday, March 26th, 2016. Masquerade staff will attempt to reschedule missed craftsmanship judging appointments, but staff cannot guarantee there will be time to do so.
    • All Craftsmanship judging participants should bring at least one color picture, preferably more, of each character for reference. A black and white image is acceptable if the participant has designed a manga-based costume for which no color image is available. We recommend that the images chosen be full length (including shoes), and show both, back and front. Individuals should bring an actual image from the anime or manga - a screencap, a manga page or a piece of promotional art. Failure to bring a reference picture may disqualify participants from craftsmanship judging. If the judges don't know what an individual's costume is supposed to look like, they cannot judge it completely.
    • One of the major craftsmanship judging criteria is how closely the costume matches the original. If some portion of the costume is never shown, such as the back or the shoes, then individuals should design the missing components as best as possible.
    • If one person in your group made all of the costumes for that group, that person is solely eligible for Craftsmanship Awards.
    • Every contestant needs to be prepared to answer the judges' questions about his/her role in the construction of his/her costume.
  7. Sound/Video Guidelines
    • Staff requests prerecorded music and/or dialogue for both skit presentations and walk-on presentations. Live microphones are available, but pre-recorded sound is preferred.
    • If participants are submitting a video, be aware that the only display that can be used is the one located directly behind the stage. Its aspect ratio is 4:3. Also, consider adding a black border to the video to compensate for a slight overscan.
    • If a group would like to perform a LIVE AUDIO performance they may bring partial or no pre-recorded sound, but will be required to do a full rehearsal at some point on Saturday.
    • There will be microphones on the stage. There will be four (4) handheld microphones available for use. Please contact the Masquerade Coordinator in advance to organize the use of our microphones.
    • It is required that all groups prepare their sound ahead of time and submit a digital sound/video file or MP3 by e-mail, or via a file sharing site. These files should be sent directly to the Masquerade Coordinator. The earlier groups send in their sound/video the better, and sending it in ahead of time will allow us to pre-screen it and notify groups of any problems.
    • All sound must be on ONE TRACK. Any skit soundtrack that is divided into multiple tracks cannot be used. If a group needs silence at the beginning of the sound, they must record it into the track. Conversely, if a group thinks that something is going to get a laugh, leave a pause after the line before continuing.
    • For Anime Boston 2016 the skit lengths are as follows:
      • Novice Division: <1:30 minute
      • Intermediate Division: <2:30 minutes
      • Master Division: <3:30 minutes
    • All groups must have their music/audio confirmed and audio/video submitted by March 11th, 2016 so that staff can check and verify the final playlist.
  8. When a Group is Announced By the Emcee
    • On the Registration form, groups will be requested to supply an introduction to be read by the emcee. If individuals do not supply one, the staff will write a simple introduction for you. Introductions may not contain profanity, sexual innuendo or anything else that does not comply with the PG-13 rating.
    • Any narration to be read by the emcee will be limited to 50 words or less (Remember it needs to be PG-13). All narration by the emcee will be read prior to the performance. All names and character names will be read after the performance.
    • Please do not interact with the emcee. Masquerade staff prohibits any involvement with the emcee during skits. Staff also prohibits any emcee dialogue during the performance.
  9. Exhibition Performances
    • The Masquerade staff will allow a certain number of slots for special performances. A special performance is exhibition-only (i.e., does not qualify for awards).
    • The length of special performances will be worked out by the performers and the Masquerade Coordinator. The special performances may come at the beginning, middle or end of the Masquerade.
    • If individuals are interested in a special performance, please send us a proposal in advance. Staff cannot guarantee or accept all proposals. Contact the Masquerade Coordinator for any and all proposals.
    • Masquerade staff reserves the right to cancel any performance at any time for any reason.
  10. Damages
    • "You Break it, You Bought it:" If any participant breaks a piece of equipment, deface the facilities, or cause any other damages, then he or she must pay to replace what was damaged. No exceptions.
    • To help prevent damages, please exercise care while on the stage. Be aware of floor microphones, cables, speakers, curtains, screens, etc. MIND THE TAPE.
    • Remember - no jumping off the stage, at any time, for any reason. Jumping off the stage, by any individual will result in disqualification and removal of his or her badge.
    • NO THROWING THINGS onto the stage or into the audience.
  11. Props Policy
    Please review Anime Boston's Props Policy.
  12. Special Requests
    If individuals have any special requests or concerns (such as requiring large props, or needing to be judged early or late on a given day, or anything else unusual) please contact the Masquerade Coordinator in advance or as soon as possible, or place the request on your registration form.

    Because of the complexity of the event, few special requests will be able to be met, but the sooner staff is notified about them, the more likely it is that accommodations can be made. Special requests made at the convention itself are likely to be impossible for us to accommodate.

  13. Participant Timeline: We realize this is a lot of information, so here is a simple timeline of pre-convention events:
    • Applications open: January 1st, 2016.
    • Applications close (and finalized scripts due): March 4th, 2016.
    • Final Audio/Video due: March 11th, 2016.
    • Rehearsal/judging notifications sent to participants: March 14th, 2016.
    • Changes to application (participant names, MC intros, etc): March 18th, 2016.