12th August, 2016.
The time had come, and so did I.
The 90th Comic Market – better known as Comiket or specifically for Summer Natsucomi – probably needs no explaining for avid anime and manga fans as being the world’s biggest doujinshi event where independent creatives sell their self-published works. An event where everyone is championed from high-profile doujin creators hitting it big by selling out all their stock in a matter of minutes to the smaller creators who will weep for joy if they have at least just one of their copies sold. A stepping stone for some hoping to gain recognition. A lifetime hobby for others practicing what they love. A treacherous battle royale for everyone else as they fight to plunder the exclusive limited print runs of doujinshi from their favourite circles and artists that may or may not be safe for work. Comiket is an otherworldly celebration for the power of manga free from the creative constraints from corporations and committees – an event that can only ever happen in Japan.
Warning: This post contains some NSFW photos.
To put it simply for people unfamiliar of such an event, imagine if the artist alley section at your nearest anime convention had its own giant convention
with blackjack and hookers while the commercial industry booths who would normally engulf the convention is placed on the backburner.
Comiket was something I absolutely wanted to do in Japan as a long-time anime and manga
and hentai doujinshi follower, and seeing it portrayed from dozens of anime and manga from Lucky Star to Saekano and real-life coverage for almost 10 years only fueled my desire even further. The Comiket weekend was actually our point of reference when we were planning the dates so that we could attend and decided if we were to go to Comiket we would go all out and attend all three days for the maximum Comiket experience™.
Each day of Comiket is focused around a general theme and the theme reflected what kind of dojinshi people were selling. Day 1 was BL (Boys’ Love), meaning the first day had a female attendance majority, Day 2 was Games relating to game software and video-game-based doujinshi like Kancolle and Touhou, and last but oh-so not least; Day 3 was Bishoujo – or in layman’s term;
Hentai Erotic Doujinshi. The holy grail of Comiket. The macguffin. The bread and butter. Day 3 was going to be mental.
For people attending and want to track down their favourite doujin artists there are a couple of official resources available such as the official telephone book-sized catalogue, a CD-ROM version of the catalogue as well as the website which, for overseas attendees this would be the best route. The drawback to the website that while it is free to use (upon account creation) the functionality is limited behind a paywall. But because this was the year 2016 and all I went about it through the Twitter route as I was already following a bunch of doujin artists I liked and knew from their display name and pinned tweets which table they were going to be sitting in and what they were going to sell. And so I made a list of them and highlighted where they’ll be sitting on a map of the comic halls using the Comiket website I mentioned. Because many of the doujin artists I wanted to see were going to be on the last day we can take it easy and test out the waters on the first two days after being warned on the dangers of the event before going all out on the final day knowing full well it was going to be hell.
Cosplay is another integral part of the Comiket experience™. While the comic market in the west-end halls are the main hotspots of the event – blotches of land part of Tokyo Big Sight around the vicinity are classified as “Cosplay Zones” with the main area being the Rooftop Exhibition Area on the second floor of the West Hall. These zones are packed with the most vibrant of cosplayers; many from overseas like China, as well as hundreds – if not thousands of photographers with elaborate camera set-ups one can possibly imagine.
Cosplay Zones are nothing like the casual experience of cosplay photoshooting in Western cons I realised; it felt more like a systematic battlefield. Crowds of photographers would flock to one slightly erotic cosplayer to another. Prolific cosplayers would draw in giant hordes and form what resembles a segment of the Colosseum with the cosplayer as the gladiator. Beyond the glass camera lens, lesser known cosplayers would sit idly by the sidelines on their phones probably ranting off in their LINE group chats waiting for that chance someone would approach them and ask for their photo. You would probably have an idea of the cosplay at Comiket if you follow Sankaku Complex’s Comiket Cosplay posts or any other site covering it but there is also another side of the culture of Comiket which is hard to see through existing Comiket photos on the internet.
It was such a compelling experience joining in crowds taking photos of cosplayers because it was just so different from what I normally expect it to be. Crowds who have circled around cosplayers for some length of time would eventually be dispersed by staff members patrolling around to maintain the efficiency of crowd flow and would shout a countdown before everyone had to vacate the area for other cosplayers to take their turn.
On our first day we mostly explored the industry side of the event as we weren’t too keen on the BL stuff (the real goods will come on the third day…) before giving in to briefly walk around the BL doujinshi halls and then experiencing the war zone that is the cosplay zone.
Travelling to Tokyo Big Sight where Comiket is historically held was a bit of a journey from our Airbnb. From Kikukawa Station to Bakuroyokoyama Station via the Shinjuku Line, switching to Higashi-Nihombashi Station down the Asakusa Line to Shiodome Station where we rendezvous with our friend Otamega and ride the always fun Yurikamome Line down to the Tokyo Big Sight.
Travelling on the Yurikamome Line seen above is a cool experience for the first few times because the train whizzes all around the harbour front of Odaiba letting you witness the Fuji TV building (as seen from Digimon), DiverCity and the thousands of shipping containers on the docks in all its glory (it looks spectacular at night!) though I wouldn’t suggest riding it more than three times because of how slow it runs and the pricey train fair. It’s more of a tourist gimmick in my opinion.
Making our way into the Tokyo Big Sight upon arrival was a breeze since early queues have cleared up meaning it was a steady flow from one crowd to another and before we knew it we were through the doors!
The outdoor screen as we were entering was playing dozens of anime ads on loop including the hilariously narrated Hibike! Euphonium Season 2 PV.
Inside the Atrium of the West Exhibition halls where all the industry booths are for the first two days.
Girl’s Tribe aka Garutora was showing off their then upcoming mobile game by giving away free stuff and selling premium stuff! I recognised their artwork from somewhere at first glance only till later on I realise it was drawn by the same illustrator for Re:Zero; Shinichirou Otsuka.
Planetarian! I got around to watching the OVA series after coming back from Japan. It was very feelsy ;_;
Walked past the Crypiract booth selling some – you guessed it – merch. Looks like some Chinese mobage.
Shinkukan Dolls; another – wait for it – mobile game was present selling cool merch as always, cool thing was they also hired cosplayers to lure people in!
I decided to join the crowd of older men with black phallic cameras and snap a few shots too.
It was a strange yet interesting experience huddling in with a male dominant yet organised moshpit and firing off continuous burst shots of a posed cosplayer inside a life-size glass cabinet as if she were a PVC figure – to say the least.
Enako, a prolific professional cosplayer who made a mild splash into the Western news last year stepped into the life-size figure case as the previous girl walked out. I never actually knew who Enako was at that point until Otamega filled me in and pointed out I had already followed her on Twitter (whoopsies). I knew she was a pretty big deal as soon as the amount of people in the photographers’ pit exploded at a blink of an eye.
To combat the never-ending lines to booths selling the hottest merch; queues are partitioned into smaller segments by staff members so that crowds can pass through who instruct the queuers to follow them to another area as they got closer to the front. The people in line raise their hands high as they walk to ensure they were part of the pact and to keep out any pesky leechers attempting to cut in line.
Who wants some overpriced Shinobu merch? Well too bad because you have to wait in an hour-long line.
People with cool Unity bags who were present showing off
their innovative game engine Unity-chan!
Me smearing my hand over a 40-something-inch touchscreen panel demo’ing the latest advancements in Live2D!
ERIMO was given the prestigious opportunity to provide the illustration for Comiket’s official water bottle wrap-around which was plastered everywhere around Big Sight.
It was a miracle that the entire facility was sufficiently air conditioned otherwise the Big Sight would be one giant sauna!
Some company showing off their latest pachislot machines – which is something I can’t get my head of around by enticing anime nerds to gambling- oh wait.
McDonal- uh I mean WcDon- uh what I was meant to say is Nitroplus was on-location selling their cool merch! I think the
McDonalds generic American fast-food chain parody is based on one of their games…
Giant partitioning wall board advertising the then upcoming TV anime Girlish Number! Seeing it displayed everywhere in Japan was what made me overly hyped for the anime when it aired in October last year, and then exhaled a resounding meh when the series ended.
Otamega made us stood here for a good 5 minutes waiting for someone to walk out that door in-order to take a pretentious photograph lmao.
Seventh Sisters! Played their mobage for a few months when it came out before LLSIF took over my life. Can’t wait for the anime though!
Shaft was present at Comiket selling their coveted Madogatari merch which was making the waves with their anniversary exhibitions throughout Summer last year! Was a shame that their event wasn’t in Tokyo when we were there otherwise I would have splurged my entire Japan budget…
A few of my friends on Twitter had pointed out to me the day before that Shaft was going to sell the Kosaki-chan Production Note book and it instantly became my top priority on the first day, but then instantly shot down as I discovered how long the line was unless I wanted to sacrifice an hour in the blistering sun. The good news was that revisiting their booth later on in the day I managed to jump in line as it calmed down and in the heat of the moment; I successfully picked up not one, but TWO Kosaki-chan Production Note books! Why two? One to read and one to preserve for future generations.
I also thought ‘fuck it’ and bought Kizumonogatari Part I Key Animation Note book in the process which came with a beautiful poster of Kiss-Shot and Arararagi!
8000 yen dropped in a matter of seconds. Comiket is scary.
Clip Studio! Probably the best manga/illustration program to date was present flaunting off their swag and presenting demos and workshops to people.
Shot of the Eastern comics hall where all the BL was being sold on the day. Photography in the main attraction of Comiket is strongly prohibitive in respect for the creator’s privacy, hence I didn’t take much photos whilst inside this area. I did this aerial shot outside the venue from the West side so that is a-okay.
After much waltzing in the Eastern halls and drowning in the BL shamelessly laid upon the countless aisles we walked outside to check out the cosplay zones! An integral part of the Comiket experience™.
The main Cosplay Zone was situated on top of the West Exhibition Hall at the Rooftop Exhibition Area, where the sun shines at its highest glory. Perfect for photo capturing!
I joined a few herds to snap a couple of wholesome cosplay shots.
Photographers lining up for a one-to-one photo session with a cosplayer. Some were also armed with lighting rigs!
Took dozens of shots of Sherry as Emilia from Re:Zero who was cool enough to hand out business cards to everyone her once her crowd was dispersed!
Ferris! I lined up and was about to enter a one-to-one photo session here until a Comiket staff came over to break up the crowd, so everyone who lined up were given 20 seconds to shoot what they can in a standard free-for-all.
A Comiket staff counting down before the crowd has to disperse to make way for other people to take their turn. The system they have in place for the cosplay zone is so systematically efficient it’s kind of scary seeing how successful it is at tackling crowd control.
As 4PM struck and the loud tannoy declares the end of day one of Comiket, everyone applauds on the spot before packing everything up at breakneck speed.
And so Day 1 came to a successful close! We decided to hang around for a bit knowing the trains are going to be jam packed at this time.
Knackered from walking around all day we decided to spend the rest of the evening and have dinner in Odaiba.
Arrived at DiverCity Tokyo Plaza! Namely the most obvious place to go in Odaiba for your overpriced shopping needs. Another reason to go is for the Gundam Cafe and the life-size RX-78 Gundam statue outside the plaza – that is, until they torn it down earlier this March… But fear not! As they are planning to build another Gundam to take its place later this year.
Walked around the DiverCity plaza to see what it had, and passed by the most Italian restaurant in Japan so far coming here.
The plaza knowingly has English and Chinese translations for its signage around the complex. That is, if they knew how to spell check…
Met up with another friend of ours living in Japan for a cheeky Italian dinner at Saizeriya! Their unlimited free-flow drinks section was a godsend.
If only I knew of the dazzling architecture inside VenusFort at the time I definitely would have went in, but didn’t after hearing it was a shopping complex aimed for women so I thought it didn’t interest me.
Amazed to see they were projecting Gundam shorts onto the front of the DiverCity building! Apparently I wasn’t meant to photograph this.
I have an interesting anecdote to share for you people who have managed to scroll this far down. This happened towards the end of the first day at Comiket – we saw a guy chasing after another guy just outside the main Cosplay Zone. After the guy caught up to him he wrestled to grab hold of something the guy being chased was clinging onto (we couldn’t see what it was from our angle). The culprit ended up aggressively pushing the chaser aside – falling to the floor before sprinting off again and disappearing into the crowd. After the incident the guy who fell over was tended to by a friend who rushed over before everything resumed back to normal as if it never occurred. After talking about it later in the evening we came to the conclusion that the person being chased probably took creepshots of a cosplayer and the other guy caught him in the act and wanted to delete the photographs off his camera.
Stay tuned for Day 2 of Comiket 90!