Kigurumi: Wikis

  
  

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"Splash mascots" at a Korean amusement park

Kigurumi (着ぐるみ ?) is the Japanese name for costumed performers who represent cartoon characters, often animals. The name comes from the Japanese verb kiru (着る to wear ?) and noun nuigurumi (ぬいぐるみ stuffed toy ?). These performers appear at shopping malls, theme parks, and anime conventions. The costumed characters found in Disneyland, on children's shows such as Barney the Dinosaur, and roaming the sidelines of sports events as mascots are also included in the Japanese term kigurumi. Frequently their appearance serves a festive promotional purpose and they are often employed to entertain audiences of children. Ganguro, a style of Japanese street fashion, employs kigurumi costumes as personal dress. Popular outfits include Pikachu, Winnie the Pooh, Hello Kitty, elephants, dinosaurs, dogs, cows, pigs, and pandas. Kirugumi at promotional events are known in English as "splash mascots."

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Anime Kigurumi

"Doller" at the 2008 Kyoto International Manga Summit

A subset of kigurumi in otaku and cosplay circles is anime kigurumi. In this style of representation humanoid characters are portrayed through the use of masks and bodysuits (the bodysuit is known in Japan as a zentai) that completely covers the bodies of cosplayers. The performer is known as an animegao or "doller". A doller outfit consists of a full bodysuit, usually in a fleshtone color, combined with clothing and accessories appropriate for the character. A mask covers the head with a wig and perhaps a hat to complete the look. The performer looks through eyeholes in the mask.

Dollers in Japan often perform on stage in promotional events for anime and other film and TV shows (such as Tokyo Mew Mew, a children's program). Though still very much a niche specialty in the cosplay world, this style of portraying a character has become somewhat more popular in Asia since the 1980s and attracts some interest in North America as well. Two of the more well known vendors for doller costume supplies are Dolphin Factory and Build Up Studio SIGMA in Japan.

Because most dollers are men, portrayals of female characters often represent a form of crossplay. A long tradition exists in Japan of male stage actors portraying women on stage, as for many centuries women were not allowed to perform in public.

A female fursuiter, "Lucky Coyote", in the role of concierge at Anthrocon 2007

Fursuit

In English-speaking countries kigurumi are referred to as costumed characters, animal costumes, mascot costumes, or fursuits depending on the context. Fursuits are mascot-style costumes that represent animals and cartoon characters according to established styles within furry fandom. Such suits completely cover the performer's body and are often padded as necessary to render the appropriate shape.

Disguise Pajamas

Another subset of kigurumi employs full-body animal pajamas with hoods or hats styled after animals or cartoon characters. Called "disguise pajamas", the clothing is normally worn non-commercially as Japanese street fashion. The wearers are referred to in Japan as kigurumin. The clothing does not function as a performance costume. The pajama outfits tend to be made of thin material and conform to the body in the manner of normal clothing. The hoods or caps do not cover the face.

Disguise pajamas can be purchased from a number of retailers. Preference is for creatures widely regarded as cute: cats, bears, dogs, rabbits and the like, with preference for characters found in TV shows, anime, and movies. Popular characters include Pokémon creatures such as Pikachu, InuYasha animals such as Kirara, Disney creations, and other well-known characters such as Jack Skellington (Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas) and Stitch (Lilo and Stitch).

See also

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