Comiket is a shortened name derived from Comic Market. As I mentioned in an old post on how busy is Comiket? Comiket now attracts half a million visitors per each 3 day event (known as the summer and winter Comiket). It is a free event but they encourage sales of the Comiket catalougue, detailing what is on the stands each day. It is an epic book itself, about the same size as the bible and Qur’an combined… but with more pictures obviously!
It is the worlds largest gathering on self published comic books, known as dōjinshi in Japan (and the world for that matter). The vast majority of displays are amateurs but some professional artists turn up to sell their work (which is often sold on afterwards up to 10x as much due to them being rare).Now I’m not really a manga (Japanese word for comic) fan at all. I don’t have anything against it, I’ve just never shown an interest. An attraction for me was seeing the cosplay (costume play) where people dress up as characters from their favourite manga, but I’ll be a tease here and leave that for the next post.
Comiket was a strange place, I was overwhelmed and underwhelmed at the same time, for the same reasons by it. Obviously the first noticeable thing was the crowds. I knew it would be busy much like anywhere else in Tokyo. But shuffling along a 8-12 person wide queue with several hundred people in front and behind you isn’t a pleasant feeling, especially when the queue is so long, you don’t even know what you’re queuing for! I’d highly advice against coming if you are claustrophobic.
Tokyo Big sight is divided up into the central conference tower with quad upside down pyramids and 2 side exhibition halls – East and West. The east and west halls have a mobile roof to adjust sunlight depending on the event, and the total floor space thanks the the moveable flooring to create a second layer (yeah it’s hard to explain…) creates a total of over 46,000 square metres of floor space, that’s 11 and a half acres in land measurement.
The striking looking conference tower wasn’t in use for Comiket from what I could tell, except as a route between the 2 main halls (and there were several different routes all packed and blocked with people). But the Eat and west exhibition halls (which were split in half, and then again into 6 different big areas) hosted rows of tables with the artist behind showing off their manga.
As it was self published stuff, I reckon a good 50%, maybe more of it was hentei (porn style manga). As I can’t read Japanese I didn’t bother to look in anything as just walking past everything took the majority of the day. I know a lot of it has a reputation for being a bit crap though (there are reasons these people can’t get published) so I don’t know what kind of storylines any of them offered.
Another note is every day is a different theme. Luckily the day I turned up was ‘anything goes’ so it was a bit more varied and mixed to previous days. I’m not sure what the other days all are, but I know the day before I went was mostly same sex relationship stuff. So mostly gay and lesbian porn then judging by the day I did turn up. I must say I’m pleased I came on the more varied day!
It wasn’t quite as stereotypical as you might imagine. Of course there was the usual comic geek looking men there. But I also saw middle age ladies selling their comics. Which weren’t exactly about middle age lady stuff…
To be honest nothing especially stood out. The stands were arranged by display type, for example I found an area where all the manga were about war and ships. But nearly everything else looked like it was based at a school. I don’t think future highly-successful mangas which get developed aren’t based around a school as the idea has been done to death in Japan now.
I’m pretty sure it’s heaven on earth for non-claustrophobic manga fans, but I personally wouldn’t go back again (but I would go to a similar event for anime or video games for the variation). I would however recommend going to anyone for at least a one off. You don’t have to stay all day (I did half a day) to get what it’s all about, it’s free and at worst you can enjoy the cosplay which is what I got out of the visit.
Speaking of which, every Tuesday for the next 3 weeks will be filled with cosplay photos from the event :-) Enjoy!