Guest author Kondroid (from Tokyo, Japan) is here to bring us an insider’s look into the world’s largest convention. Kondroid attended this year’s 2011 Comiket at Tokyo Big Site in Tokyo, Japan and got us exclusive coverage that is rarely published in English. Enjoy!
(Let’s Go To Comiket! The King Of Cons)
Nerd conventions. Chances are if you’re reading this, you may have been to one. When most people think of a “big con”, the usual suspects normally come up (Comic-Con, E3, PAX, Anime Expo, Otakon, etc.). Some nerds pride themselves on attending as many major cons as they can manage – the bigger the con, the higher the bragging rights. But I can guarantee – as large as your biggest con was, you have not experienced a true super-massive-con until you’ve been to the Grand Daddy of them all: Comic Market.
– Tokyo Big Sight, host to Comiket, and holiest site in the Otaku universe. –
For the majority of western con-goers, this name might not ring any bells. Comic Market (or Comiket, for short), held in Tokyo Japan, is the world’s largest geek convention. A three day long event so large they have to hold it twice a year just to accommodate the sheer number of hopeful vendors and fans, its attendance is numbered in the hundreds of thousands… for each day. In 2010, the total number of people recorded for both Comikets (that’s six days total) was over one million attendees.
– The legendary line. This is only the end of one part of it. It stretches around the entire massive building. –
It’s not easy for the organizers to get an accurate attendance figure as the con has no entry fee. … That’s right, attending the world’s largest geek gathering will not cost you a cent!
– Waiting at the entrance. –
The catch is, though, that Comiket isn’t really anything like a normal western style con. There are no panels to attend. There are no voice actors to meet, or releases from companies regarding upcoming titles. There are no shows or concerts. There are no people gathering around dancing or doing silly things like playing Ninja. You will not see a single person glomped. There is almost nothing here that resembles a “normal” con, by most people’s definition… except one thing in particular.
The dealer’s room.
– This sea of people is only half of one of the four halls that make up the Comiket Dealer’s Room. –
Comiket is, in fact, just one massive dealers room. Several football fields worth, mind you, but still a dealer’s room none the less (the name of the event is “Comic Market”, after all). People turn up, rush in to buy what they’re after, and then leave. That’s it. The entire event is finished by 4pm everyday (and even then, most people have already left before 3pm anyway). To top it off, like the name suggests, the majority of things being sold there are literally just comics. Not regular comics, either – but “Doujinshi.”
“Doujinshi” (or “doujin” for short) are basically limited production fan-fiction comics. Think of anything pop-culture from Japan (anime, manga, games, etc.), and there is almost guaranteed to be a doujin for it. It’s not even limited to Japanese source material, either. There are doujin devoted to American movies and TV shows. Everything from the latest Pixar feature to Jack Bower’s exploits on 24 have been turned into a doujin.
The catch? 98% of all doujin are pornographic. If you’re not careful, it is possible to stumble across Mickey and Goofy involved in some very eyebrow raising behavior… Basically, it’s easier to think of the goods on display at Comiket as a tangible version of fan-fiction meets DeviantArt.
– These are doujinshi. You do not want to see what Yoshi gets up to in this comic… or DO you? –
The main point of Comiket are those doujinshi. Because of a loophole in Japanese copyright laws that makes it possible for these fan-made comics to even be allowed to exist and be sold in the first place (As long as the print run is under a certain amount, it “escapes recognition” by copyright watchdogs.), each “Circle” (see: small publishing group) is only able/allowed to print and sell a limited number of these comics. Because of these limited numbers, there is a mad rush to be the first to their booth before they sell out.
As there are literally thousands of circles selling their wares, and tens of thousands of fans for each circle all frothing at the mouth in anticipation. You can imagine the furor that erupts as soon as those doors open in the morning!
– Some pretty impressive original wares sold by circles can also be found, if you’re brave enough to take on the Ganondorf/Mewtwo romance doujin for sale at their table. –
If doujin aren’t your taste, there is one other reason you may want to attend Comiet – the cosplay. Comiket is also known for being one of the biggest, if not THE biggest, cosplay event in Tokyo. Cosplay is, of course, a natural extension that comes with any massive gathering of nerds. Obviously the bigger the gathering, the more cosplayers to expect, and as Comiket is the biggest nerd gathering in the world it stands to reason that it would also have one of the largest number of cosplayers in attendance (and it does). People from around the country, and some from around the world, gather there to show off some of the best examples of costume making and modeling perfection.
– This fantastic cosplay pair is just one example of the thousands of amazing cosplayers you can see at Comiket. –
Already making plans to attend the next Comiket? Check out part two of our Comiket coverage – The Guide to Surviving Comiket! – coming tomorrow. In to cosplay? We’ll have a full album of cosplay photos up from this year’s Comiket this Friday – part three in this year’s Big Shiny Robot Comiket coverage.
And now, enjoy Kondroid’s photos from day 1 of Comiket!