cosplay

photo via Facebook (CC-BY-SA)

Let these cosplay pros be your inspiration.
Cosplay is great fun, no matter if you do it casually or devote every minute and dollar to the craft. For those who do the latter, though, there's another dimension to it. People look forward to your costumes, and each time you debut a new one there's a great deal of pressure to impress. It's art, and the cosplayer is the artist.

An anime fan can't help but be impressed when a cosplayer perfectly nails a character, not only in costume but also in attitude. While there are thousands out there that do it well, these are a few of the ones that we just love to watch to see what they'll come up with next.

1. Vampy

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Linda Le—known as Vampy in cosplay circles—is an incredible badass when it comes to recreating anime characters to perfection. She also makes all her own costumes from scratch. The 33-year-old California native is not only wildly talented, but also incredibly kind and gracious. It's no surprise that modeling and cosplay is her full-time job.

2. Yaya Han

Yaya Han

A completely self-taught costume designer, Han got started in 1999 after attending an Anime Expo and becoming inspired. Today, she's created dozens of costumes entirely on her own, and her brand is so successful that she has her own cosplay pattern line with McCall's Patterns. Han is always dynamic, and its a pleasure to see what she'll come up with next. One thing is for sure: It'll be a stunner every time.

3. Marie-Claude Bourbonnais

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Canadian model and cosplayer Marie-Claude Bourbonnais added anime to her repertoire in 2010 and quickly blew folks away with her attention to detail and overall presentation (not to mention her awe-inspiring bust!). She is a self-taught leathermaker as well and runs a full studio devoted to technical costume design. If you'd like to see how she creates her fantastical outfits, she frequently posts in-progress photos on her Facebook page.

4. Reika

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Widely considered one of Japan's best cosplayers, Reika can translate between male and female characters flawlessly. She has been involved in cosplay for close to two decades and started out by drawing characters she wanted to cosplay. If the characters she chooses have weapons, she always makes them first before the rest of the outfit. Check out an English language interview with her here.

5. Major Sam

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Major Sam won the honor of International Cosplay Champion earlier this year, which is no surprise considering the insane amount of detail she pours into her costumes. She's only been at it since 2011, which makes her skill level even more awe-inspiring. She is great about sharing how she creates her work on her Instagram account, so follow if you'd like to learn from the best.

6. Lay of Touga Cosplay

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Also massively popular in Japan, Lay of Touga Cosplay is so perfect that he's actually played the role of a Square-Enix pretty boy at the official cafe. His work with makeup and styling is so striking that one can't help but want to learn from him. His Twitter is great fun to follow, and he's cosplayed a really impressive roster of anime characters over the years.

7. Spiral Cats

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This all-female cosplay group from South Korea impresses time and time again with their ensembles, which hail from both anime and video games. The group has modeled professionally for Nexon, Neowiz Games, NCSOFT, Blizzard Entertainment, and Riot Games. While the roster has changed a bit since its inception, the quality of the cosplay remains extremely high. You can learn more about the girls on their Facebook page.

8. Jessica Nigri

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Called "The Queen of Cosplay" by her fan base, Nigri's top-notch costuming has won her many other accolades as well. Active in the scene since 2009, she says she is indebted to her parents for teaching her how to create costumes (her mother is a designer for the Kentucky Derby's famous hats and costumes).
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