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 theme parks, such as Disneyland, on children's TV shows such as Barney and Friends, Teletubbies and Bananas in Pyjamas, 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. Kigurumin, a style of Japanese street fashion, employs kigurumi costumes as personal dress. Popular outfits include Pokemon characters such as Pikachu and Piplup, Disney characters, Sanrio characters such as Hello Kitty, elephants, dinosaurs, cats, dogs, rabbits, cows, sheep, pigs, pandas, unicorns, tigers, kangaroos and koalas.
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. The performer sees through eye-holes in the mask.
Dollers in Japan often perform on stage in promotional events for anime and other film and television shows.
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 the furry fandom. Such suits completely cover the performer's body and are often padded as necessary to render the appropriate shape.
Variations of fursuits exist informally called "partials" in which only a costume head and costume hands/arms are worn, with standard clothing covering the rest of the body. Partials typically, but not always, include standard shoes rather than fursuit feet-paw-shoes, because the wearer is trying to look casual, and the costume feet would be an additional effort to create. Also, keeping furred feet soles from being ruined while walking is already a problem for people wearing standard fursuits, who sometimes create sandals to protect the soles.
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