Before coming to Japan, a lot of my senpais who have done a 1-year exchange in Japan, told me that I should go to Comiket. At first, I was very unsure if I wanted to go. Maybe it was because of my initial impressions that the stuff they offer may not be what I like or the line to get into the venue takes a long time. But, I said to myself, “YOLO, just go!”, and the experience was surprisingly good, even though it was such a scorcher.
Comiket (short for Comic Market) is Japan’s largest and popular 同人誌(Dōjinshi) convention, which is a 3-day event that is held bi-annually with Summer Comiket happening in mid August and Winter Comiket happening in late December. I went to Day 2 and Day 3 of Summer Comiket. As you can probably see in the photo above, the event is held at Tokyo Big Sight in Odaiba. There are three key focus in this convention.
- Doujin Works. These are unlicensed, fan-made anime parody works by doujin circles (group of artist and writers that produce doujin and/or original works but are not affiliated with a commercial entity). Keep in mind that these artwork are sold on a certain day. The artwork you bought on Day 1 of the event may not be available on Day 2/3. The way to know which artwork is sold on what day is either through the Comiket Web Catalog website or buy a hard-copy catalog on the day. This will allow you to go into Comiket prepared with the booth maps and prioritized shopping list.
- Corporate/industry booths. While the doujin works are the main highlight of Comiket, there are also official merchandises that you can purchase. I didn’t bother with these because they were pretty expensive.
- Cosplay. There is a dedicated area for cosplayers to show off. The cosplayers looked so good but there were so many photographers so I didn’t took a lot of photos. In fact, I’m not really comfortable in cosplay photography. Probably because I fear that the photos I took look mediocre (which is usually the case) and having to work around the various poses the cosplayer can do.. I’m sure my buddies can help me out on this…
Getting to the venue was not that hard. Since I live in Kofu, it took about 2.5 hours by train to get to Shinjuku. From Shinjuku, I took a train to 国際展示場 (25 minute ride), and within walking distance is the Tokyo Big Sight, where Comiket was held. Since Comiket opens at 10am, me and my friends got to the queue roughly 20 minutes before that. I initially thought that it would take a VERY long time to actually enter the venue (like 2/3 hours). Surprisingly, on both days I’ve been two, I only had to wait 30 mins (maybe there was a change in queue priorities?).
My thoughts on Comiket? If you are referring to the Summer Comiket, it was hell, but enjoyable. Summer in Japan is ridiculously hot so always have a bottle of water with you. Also, the neck is usually the area in which you can feel the burn so get a wet towel and either cover the neck or your head. Either way, stay hydrated if you are thinking of going to Summer Comiket.
While I’m not considered to be an otaku, I do however appreciate fan-made works, which is why Comiket is so popular. You get to meet the artist in person and interact with them. I’d think of Comiket as SMASH (Sydney Manga and Anime Show) but infinitely bigger. What really surprised me was that Comiket also have albums for denpa songs. I managed to meet up with my senpai, who was willing to show me what denpa songs are. It’s a type of Japanese music that is intentionally strange and catchy. The vocals and pace of the song are generally fast, almost similar to an electro style music. I actually enjoyed them because they have a unique sense of rhythm, which is a nice change to the slow-paced music that I normally listen to.
One crucial fact! The fan-made works that are available to be bought at Comiket are considered very rare, so some items can be found in shops or on the internet that are priced more than 5 times the original price. No wonder why so many people go to Comiket!
In preparations for Comiket, if you are looking to just buy doujin works, have a bunch of 1000 yen notes and 100/500yen coins with you. Most of the stuff on the picture above are at most 1000 yen each (except for the catalog, that was 2000yen). Essentially, at the end of the day, you will think “RIP wallet!”a lot.
Comiket 90 was enjoyable to attend, despite the scorcher of the 2 days I went to. If you appreciate fan-made works, definitely check it out. Just be mentally prepared for the long queue times and constantly bumping into people and you’ll be fine!