As many of you probably know, Comiket (or コミケ in Japanese) is the biggest bi-annual event that caters to independent artists known as Doujin, but also big name distributors who focus on Japan’s pop culture. At this prestigious event that began well over 30 years ago, the main focus is to celebrate the artistry and otaku culture of Japan. You’ll come across a plethora of independent artwork from passionate fans of their respective genre for example, and they put all of their works on sale for others to purchase and enjoy. It’s a great way for everyone to share their passion with like minded people and express their fondness for the culture they love so dearly. At Comiket you’ll of course find plenty of cosplayers who too show off their artistry, but not so much in the manga or comic book style but moreso through their hard work and devotion to creating spectacular (sometimes outrageous) costumes. At Comiket you’ll find just about anything if you search hard enough for it, and because it takes place twice a year you’ll have plenty of opportunities to run into something that catches your eye. One other thing to add is that admission is free so just about everyone is welcome to participate in arguably Japan’s biggest pop culture event.
|When it was Established|| 1975|
Comiket Official Website: http://www.comiket.co.jp/index_e.html
|Length of event||Aug 11-13 2017|
|Place / location||Tokyo Big Sight, Ariake, Japan|
|Price of Admission||Free!!|
What to Expect
As we stated in the overview, Comiket is an event that caters to the distribution of both independent and major company products, which range from anime all the way to games. Expect a lot of chaos when going to Comiket because unlike other cultural events in Japan pertaining to otaku culture, Comiket is a no holds barred event meaning that anyone is welcome to enter and show off their passion to the world. Last year’s attendance at the winter Comiket was over 550,000 which was perhaps the biggest turnout in the event’s history, but this summer’s Comiket was no slouch either. We don’t have the final numbers as of yet but we can assume that the summer Comiket brought in well over 200,000 people over the course of the 3 day event. No other otaku event can come close to that number because nothing can ever come to close to the passion and commitment these fans put into their work. There’s very little room to move in the venue despite Tokyo Big Sight being an incredibly large building, and it’s just because people are constantly coming and going by the minute. You have two ends of the event, the East Wing which caters to cosplay and Doujin related activities, while the West Wing is devoted more to the major companies like Nintendo, Aniplex and the works. All we can say if you plan to visit Comiket in the summer is have a lot of patience and expect there to be a lot of pushing and shoving.
What to Bring in Order to Enjoy the Event
Speaking of pushing and shoving, a lot of people are rushing through the crowd for one reason: to be the first in line to grab limited items. Since many items in the Doujin section of the event are limited in quantity, many fans who follow their favorite artists via Twitter or social media will scour the floor to find that artist’s location in order to pick up what they need. So while the event is free, you still need to bring a good sum of money if you truly want to experience the real otaku lifestyle. Not only do you need money for purchasing your favorite Doujin manga or anime but with so many people running around like ants and it being summer, you’ll need both liquid and food to keep you alive. We encountered a lot of souls who just couldn’t endure the heat and found them sprawled out on the concrete, sapped of all precious life. We don’t know the real reason for their demise, but it definitely had something to do with low energy, so for your own sake we recommend coming prepared with a bag full of water bottles to stay fully hydrated. Some snacks will also the trick as well, so be sure to stock up on those if you plan to attend all 3 days.
What to do While There / What is Available
Otaku Chaos in the East Side!
The otaku life is not an easy one, take my word for it. Living in Akihabara for the past 7 months now has been an eye opening ordeal because there’s just so much to soak in, despite living here now for over 5 years. You wake up thinking you know the area well only to discover that there’s a store you haven’t entered or didn’t even know existed. Comiket is kind of similar in that regard because there’s just so much out there that you never knew existed, and the only way to know is to walk through those heavenly otaku gates. Once you walk through, however, it’s a totally new world and boy, is it a chaotic one. If you thought riding on Tokyo subways during rush hour was hectic, try walking through a crowd of thousands of people who are just scurrying like ants in search for salvation. Comiket in the summer is already hot enough as it is, but imagine walking into a venue which is essentially like walking into an ant colony, body heat dispersing everywhere. The vendors are perhaps the lucky souls of the entire event because they get to just sit there and sell their products to devoted fans, but for the rest of us, we have to try and pray to the gods that we don’t get crushed by the incoming crowd.
You look to the left no exit, you look to the right no exit. The light is ahead of you but in order to get there you need to gather enough strength to maneuver around to get fresh air. When you do end up reaching your destination, you’re exasperated but deep down you’re so relieved that you managed to buy whatever you needed so you feel a little happy deep down. That’s pretty much what you’ll experience during Comiket, but that’s perhaps the joy of it all because, it’s like a big lottery and in order to win sometimes you need to invest a little effort to reap the rewards. Another plus to all of this is that once you do manage to gather all of the material you wanted to purchase, the cosplay area is such a wonderful place to just relax and watch as passionate individuals pose and work their magic for the camera. It really is a sight to see and it’s something that you can only experience at Comiket because unlike other events that do cater to cosplay, Comiket’s cosplayers bring a uniqueness to it all. Often times you’ll come across some incredible costumes and they make you contemplate if it’s all real, but then you walk a little further and see a cosplay that seemed to be cut and pasted together in the span of 10 minutes. That super contrast in artistry is really what makes going to Comiket fun because even inside, where you’ll find a cornucopia of Doujin related work, much like the cosplayers you’ll often come across some questionable designs that just make you laugh.
West Side Madness!
So after you’ve weathered the storm that is the East Wing of Comiket 92, the West Wing is where you’ll find a lot of the major companies advertising their upcoming products. Amebo was in attendance showing off their mobile app while a number of other notable booths showcased some interesting material. Unlike the East Side where you basically have to come prepared with your own bags to hold all of your purchased items, the West Wing provided all the swag for you and so they provided bags filled with little goodies to take home with you. This is more of the norm that you’ll typically experience at most Japan otaku events where companies will hand out items to those in attendance, in hopes that these attendees will ponder to buy something (which in most cases does happen). The West Wing is certainly a little less chaotic than the East Side because truthfully Comiket has always been an event devoted entirely to the Doujin lifestyle, allowing artists from many walks of life to share their love with everyone. The West Wing was more of a recent addition as a way to increase attendance and maybe buy a few items that you can’t find in the Doujin section, so in the end, it’s quite harmonious that both the independent dealers and major companies can work together to help the community grow in a healthy way.
Honey's Final Thoughts
In the end we had a wonderful time at Comiket 92 because it was an opportunity to experience something new and to meet new people along the way. One amazing aspect about being an otaku is that it’s so easy to find other like minded individuals at events like these, and despite the enormous flock of people gathering in one area it’s a lot like a big social gathering where just about anyone can express themselves openly without feeling alienated. That feeling is very gratifying and being able to just be yourself is something many of us wish for, and Comiket is what allows that wish to come true. We’ll see you at Comiket 93 this winter!
As always, for everything sweet be sure to keep it locked here on Honey's Anime!