Masquerade Rules

Please be sure to read all of our rules. Some guidelines have changed from prior years or are not standard compared to other Anime Conventions. We will announce the Registration date at a later time. Thank you!

Overall Rules:

1. This is a family friendly event. As such, all performances & costumes may be kept to a PG-13 level. No explicit gestures, nudity, swearing, dancing, etc. Participants are expected to behave onstage and backstage in an appropriately mature manner in a family environment.

2. No live steel or firearms. If you are unsure about a weapon or prop, bring them to Masquerade HQ or a Con Safety staffer for clearance. New Jersey has laws about these things, let’s not break them.

3. Anything you bring onstage with you must come off with you. No toilet paper, tissues, rice, water, etc. Fireworks, pyrotechnics, or any fire in general is not allowed. Respect the stage and leave it clean.

4. Size and Mobility: For safety reasons, over-sized costumes or props that cannot navigate the stairs & backstage area due to height, width, etc, may be asked to enter the hall costume contest instead. You may have a handler if visibility or mobility is limited, but all persons & props must be able to get on and off the stage via the stage stairs without interrupting the event or causing undue delay for your fellow participants. .

5. Each participant may only be involved in one skit each. You cannot participate in multiple skits. Sorry, no cloning allowed.

6. Each group is limited to 10 people. This includes stage ninjas, as no more than 10 people are allowed on stage at any given time… even if they are dressed in camouflage.

7. Failure to report for your sign-in, rehearsal, and/or line-up times is grounds for CANCELLATION of your performance. Being late or not showing up throws everyone else off schedule, so do not take this lightly!

8. Exhibition Entries (non-competing) are allowed, but priority for slots will be given to competing participants.

9. The cosplay coordinator has final say in all circumstances and disputes.

Performance Rules:

1. Keep in mind that the Masquerade is a costume competition foremost, not a talent show. Skit entries may take the form of rehearsed skits which may include, but are not limited to: re-enactments, musical numbers, choreographed dances, comedy sketches, acting, instrumental acts, and parodies. All skits must showcase your costumes to their fullest ability.

2. Word of advice, short & to the point is always more memorable. Just because you have a full time limit, doesn’t mean you have to fill that entire time limit. Think of a skit as a commercial for what you are sourcing – and consider how long you would personally be able to stand to listen or watch one before wanting to flip the channel. Keeping the audience’s attention focused is central to a presentation. Always run your skit by someone who is not familiar with your source material, and see if they ‘get’ it. If they are left scratching their head in confusion, then you may want revise your skit. Remember that you want the poor guy stuck in the far back row to be able to understand and see what’s going on just as much as the person who snuck into the front row, so over-exaggerate movements and don’t clump up together if you can help it! Above all, make sure you have a beginning, middle, and end. Don’t just randomly break into song and then run off stage because you aren’t sure on how to end your skit!

3. Walk-ons to showcase your costume are permitted and encouraged, but are required to register as well. Walk-ons are restricted to the Walk-On time limit, regardless of the size of their group, and cannot ‘perform’ outside of posing and activating any special effects pertaining to their costumes. Plan on having three poses to show off. Trust us, this is plenty of time to get on stage, pose, smile, pose, wave, pose, walk off. Try to stay in character from the moment you step onto the stage to the moment you get back off, not just while you are posing, it helps!

4. Time Limits:

Walk-Ons – 30 Seconds

Skits 1-2 participants: 1 ½ minutes

Skits 3-4 participants: 2 minutes

Skits 5+ participants: 3 minutes

5. All entries must attend mandatory rehearsal on Saturday. Rehearsals will be done by appointment; not showing up to your rehearsal slot is forfeiting your right to perform. Your audio CD must have been submitted at check-in. We will have your audio CD for you at the rehearsal; all CDs must be labeled with the correct information; standard CD size containing one track only.

6. Stage acrobatics: Because the stage is portable, it cannot take heavy abuse. Acrobatics or martial arts are not allowed. We will allow slower, choreographed, dance-like movements. Be sure to indicate such presentations when you register. Safety first! You don’t want to be that person that’s remembered for being sent to the hospital in front of the entire audience for doing something stupid!

7. Microphones will not be provided. Prerecording of any and all dialogue & music is heavily advised, as the acoustics in the building are very rough. Live musical presentations are permitted – however they must be approved by the Masquerade Coordinator prior to the show.

8. Background audio: This means any background music or pre recorded dialogue. The only media we can accept are music CDs. All CDs must be burned with one track only – the track for your skit. Any other format may not work on the equipment that we are using. Please test your CD before bringing it to Check-In. Pop it in your car’s CD player or something OTHER than the computer you used to burn it to make sure it plays right. Things happen, so we ask that you always keep a back-up CD just in case! You never know when those late-night Gremlins may take a liking to our equipment.

9. Pre-Recorded Dialogue: Our audio engineer recommends Audacity to do your recording and mixing. There are tutorials for using this program in their help section. There will be no pre-recording done at the convention, so please make sure you have everything recorded prior.

10. Stage Dimensions: To Be Announced.

11. Tell us in advance of anything “unique” you have planned in your presentation. We will do our best to accommodate your requests, but are limited in what we can do and allow. The more we know ahead of time, the more we can work with you. Waiting till you check-in to ask for special clearance to do something is way too late!

Costume Rules:

1. This event is an amateur competition for Anime/Manga costumes, Video Game costumes, Fantasy & Science Fiction costumes (Doctor Who, Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, etc), and any other costumes related to one or more of these categories. Costumes are not limited to just Asian media, but participants are encouraged to focus on such.

2. Original and Fan Art-based costumes are not eligible to participate in the Masquerade. Generic “outfits” and Genderswapping of an established character’s design are not permitted, as they fall under the basis of original and fan art designs. Costumes must be a copy of a published character’s design from Anime, Manga, Video Games, Movies, TV shows, etc.

3. Printed references are required for Craftsmanship Judging. Please bring two copies if you wish, as you will be asked to leave a copy of your references with the Judges, and this copy will not be returned to you. It is strongly recommended that you bring documentation of your construction for consideration. Judges love seeing how you made something as much as they love seeing the finished product!

4. No double-dipping. You may not enter a costume that was entered in our Hall Costume Contest. You also may not enter a costume that has previously won a major award at AnimeNEXT or any other convention.

5. Judging for the Masquerade Craftsmanship Awards will take place backstage prior to the start of the Masquerade. You can be judged on your entire costume, or only on a specific piece or prop. Note: Craftsmanship Judging is optional, but to qualify for the Best in Show award, your entry must report for Craftsmanship judging.


1. Only one person in a group needs to fill out the registration form, but are required to provide information on all members including stage ninjas, plus a liability waiver from each person. Failure to provide a signed liability waiver from every participant in your group is grounds for cancellation of your performance. The registration form will be published online at a later date. We will keep you posted.

2. If a participant is underage, they must have a parental guardian sign the liability waiver. If it is an on-site sign up, the guardian must be present to sign the waiver. All participants aged 12 or younger must have a parental guardian with them at ALL TIMES. Those participants who are required to have a guardian with them, but are found unaccompanied will be fed to the hungry volunteers.

3. Regarding Check-in: All members of a pre-registered entry must check in at Masquerade HQ during pre-registration check-in times to confirm your entry and any special requirements, and to receive your backstage pass. Failure to show up during this time period means your slot will be dropped and made available to another group. Should you need to cancel your entry, please inform the Masquerade Director as soon as possible.

4. Violating any Masquerade or Convention rules will disqualify you. Don’t make us break out the ban hammer.

Divisions & Awards:

1. All participants will be placed & judged in one of four possible divisions: Junior, Novice, Journeyman, Master. Each entry’s appropriate category is determined by the highest ranked division member of their group. For example, a group containing 1 Novice, 3 Journeyman, and 1 Master, will be required to participate at the Master level.

2. Awards are broken down by Division. Awards will be determined based on scores for each division, focusing on Presentation & Craftsmanship, and will be awarded at the Judges’ discretion. Best Overall Presentation & Best Overall Craftsmanship winners, if chosen, will be pulled from across all divisions to reflect the very best of that criteria from all entries. In order to be eligible for “Best In Show”, a group must have completed both Craftsmanship & Presentation judging.

3. For Division Purposes: Awards of ranking, including but not limited to “Best in Show,” “Best in Division,” “Best Performance or Craftsmanship,” or “First Place,” “Second Place,” etc. in any type of cosplay competition are considered Major cosplay awards. “Honorable Mentions,” “Judges’ Awards,” and similar forms of recognition are not considered major awards.

4. Entries will be separated into four divisions:

Junior -

- Junior is open to all participants aged 12 or younger. However, any “Junior” skit or walk-on containing non-Junior competitors, will be moved out of Junior and into the appropriate non-Junior category.

Novice -

- A competitor who has won 3 Major Awards or less as a Novice may compete in this division.

- If you have ever won in any division higher than Novice in any competition, you may not enter at Novice.

Journeyman -

- A competitor who has won 3 Major Awards or less as a Journeyman may compete in this division.

- If you have won more than 3 Major Awards as a Journeyman, you will need to enter at the Master Division.

- If you have ever won in any division higher than Journeyman in any competition, you may not enter at Journeyman.

Master -

- Any participant may enter on the Master level.

- Anyone who is a professional in a costume-related business must compete as a Master. For the purpose of this competition, a professional is defined as one who makes 50% or more of their income in a costume-related business.

Participants may be bumped to a higher division at the Judges’ discretion. A competitor may choose to compete in a division higher than the one s/he is eligible to enter. However, if the competitor receives an award in this higher division, they must continue to compete in that division (or higher) in future competitions.

All participants are asked to bring a 1” or smaller red star-shaped sticker to stick on the back of their badge. If the participant’s badge is inspected by any Masquerade Staff and the participant is found to have brought their sticker as asked, you will be awarded with our appreciation for having read the rules entirely. Appreciation might be in the form of another sticker, a charm, a pin, a snack, a pat on the head, or even special consideration during our sacrificial ceremony (meaning it won’t be you we sacrifice to the cosplay overlords).

And most of all… HAVE FUN!