Most of the UK's anime conventions and events have cosplay masquerades, where people get to show off their home-made costumes to a crowd and possibly win prizes.  However, in keeping with the Expo's apparent mantra of doing everything bigger and better than everyone else, they have normal masquerades and the EuroCosplay Championships.

The EuroCosplay Championships launched in 2010, and brought the cream of Europe's cosplayers together to compete in front of a group of international judges for the title of EuroCosplay Champion.  The judges are established cosplayers drawn from countries outside the EU, including Japan, the USA and Brazil, and the judging follows a three stage criteria that includes an interview about the construction of the costume, a close up study of the costume itself and a stage performance.  The main prize, apart from the prestige, is a trip to Japan and a host of other goodies, and with more than forty of the best cosplayers from over 20 European nations taking part winning is quite an achievement.  So far the UK has done quite well, coming third to Poland and winner Portugal in 2010 and taking the title in 2011, but could we hold on to it in 2012?

As always the EuroCosplay Championship Final was hosted by Joe 'Granny Gertrude' Sutton, and the lineup had expanded once more to encompass three more nations - Romania, Turkey and Russia.  This takes the number of entrants up to 44 from 26 different nations, although due to a combination of visa and baggage issues the Russian entrant and one of the Spanish entrants were absent on the night.  They were not the only ones to have an issue either, as one of the French entrants spent the day frantically making adjustments and repairs to their costume and sadly missed the the judging, although they did bravely take the the stage regardless.  Whether this was related to the delay in the event starting is unclear, but start late it did, leaving poor Granny Gertrude to keep the crowd entertained with a combination of giveaways and a brief Gangnam Style dance!  Once underway though the event was slicker than ever, with each cosplayer making the most of their opportunity to wow the crowd

and judges with an array of varied performances and stunning costumes.  The costumes on display were truly jaw-dropping, and each cosplayer really put a lot of thought into their performance as we saw everything from RPG villains, a Warhammer 40k battle nun and the Alien from Aliens vs Predator to a baby dragon, a fallen star and no less than three chanters from Aion Tower of Eternity

Despite the absence of two cosplayers the event went extremely smoothly, with no errors on the on-screen intros or music, no prop failures and no unstable costumes.  In fact the only disaster on the night was possibly Granny Gertrude's suit!  Sadly though the UK lost the EuroCosplay title to Alana from the Netherlands and her excellent Skull Kid costume from Majora's Mask, with Kairi from Poland coming second as the Onion Knight from Final Fantasy: Dissidia and a very credible third place to the UK's Refira and her cute Toothless costume from How to Train Your Dragon.  You can't begrudge Alana's win though, her flawless costume was combined with an excellent performance showing Skull Kid playing his flute in the forest before discovering Majora's Mask and putting it on (despite a cry of 'don't do it!' from the crowd!), whilst Kairi's entertaining performance saw her Onion Knight waking up after a heavy night drinking and staggering around putting on discarded parts of her costume.  The whole event was highly entertaining with no real low point in the string of performances, it was well paced and kept the audience rapt throughout.  One sad note at the end was the announcement that James 'Ilpala' Funnell is stepping down from organising the EuroCosplay Championships.  Joe Sutton may be the public face of EuroCosplay, presenting each event as he does, but James has been the driving force behind organising it, contacting various events across Europe, dealing with the logistics of getting all of the competitors to London and acting as a point of contact alongside Joe.  The fact the event has got to where it is now, established, bigger than ever and growing each year is a testament to the work that James has put in and the infrastructure he has put in place should hopefully mean that the event can continue to grow for many years to come.  James stays behind the scenes so is not as well known as Joe, but he deserves credit for what he has set up and we wish him well for whatever he does next, on the evidence of this event the EuroCosplay Championships is hugely important to cosplayers across Europe and long may it continue!