Kigurumi (着ぐるみ) is the Japanese name for costumed animal characters. The name comes from the Japanese verb kiru (着る to wear?) and noun nuigurumi (ぬいぐるみ stuffed toy). These suited performers are sometimes found at shopping malls, theme parks, and booths at anime conventions. Disneyland costumed characters such as Mickey Mouse and costumed "mascot" characters at sports events are referred to as kigurumi by the Japanese. Sometimes these characters are to entertain children, sometimes as promotional tactics to grab attention on busy city streets. Ganguro, a Japanese fashion style, also involves kigurumi costumes.
Anime Character Kigurumi Edit
A subset of kigurumi with a particular attraction to the otaku and cosplay community is anime kigurumi cosplay, which involves the portrayal of more humanoid characters by means of masks and bodysuits (called a zentai). A performer of this style is often called a "Doller". Dollers perform in Japan on stage, usually to promote an anime or in children's shows (such as the popular Tokyo Mew Mew). However, over time Kigurumi has become more popular in Japan and has reached North America as well. The outfits consist of a full bodysuit that covers the whole body, usually a fleshtone color. Performers use an open face suit so they can see through the eye holes in the mask. Then they wear the character's costume with accessories. Some characters are not based on any particular anime, so they may use regular clothing as well. Finally, the kigurumi mask covers the head, and a wig completes the look.
Animal Pajama Edit
Full-body animal pajama with hoods or hats styled after animals are also called Kigurumi, but do not have the same "costume" connotation as the full-body suits. They are worn non-commercially and are another form of Japanese street fashion. People who choose to wear kigurumi in public are often referred to as "kigurumin", and the consumer-level costumes they tend to wear are known as "disguise pajama". The suits, which can be bought from several different companies, are made in the style of full-body or semi-full-body pajamas resembling animals or popular characters. The hoods or caps on these pajamas do not cover the face. These pajama often include many various animals that are considered to look cute. The full body pajama suits often tend to be made of a thin material and hang loosely on the body as compared to the commercially worn "costume" connotation of kigurumi. The most popular kigurumi pajama clothes include bears, cats, dogs, rabbits, and other animals of that nature. Some are even animal characters taken from T.V. shows, anime, and other movies. The most common ones are Pokémon creatures, i.e. Pikachu, etc; InuYasha animals, i.e. Kirara; and even some Disney movie characters including Jack Skellington from Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas, Stitch from Lilo and Stitch, and other characters of that nature.
In English-speaking countries, kigurumi would be considered animal costumes, mascot costumes, or fursuits, depending on the context. Fursuits are costumes made to resemble animal characters for fandom purposes, particularly within the furry fandom.