For us who literally drown in fandom culture, doujinshi are one of the essential fangirling materials that we would always seek out. Now that it’s easier to have access to buy doujinshi from Japan through proxy services, most of us don’t have to desperately wait for scanlations to come up on the internet anymore. We can actually buy them now! Except not all of the new works of our favorite doujinka in our favorite fandoms could be bought through proxy services. So of course, a chance to attend doujinshi events and conventions in Japan is something precious—we could finally get the latest doujinshi of our ships!
But wait, where do we even start? What do we do at a doujinshi event, and how do we do it? What do we have to bring and prepare? Fret not, fellow fandom dwellers, we at Honey’s Anime have a simple guide on how to strategize for your doujinshi event and convention in Japan. Calm down and check up on your doujinka’s Circle, and get to prepare for the doujinshi event without stressing up too much about it!
Get to know the event, venue and route
These are, of course, basic information that you need to remember by heart. First thing first, you need to know well what doujinshi event you will be attending. Japan has a doujinshi event nearly every week; most of them are called (Fandom-name) Only-Events, which are usually doujinshi events for a small number of specific fandoms being held together in one place. These ones are smaller in scale, and if the fandoms aren’t that popular, they’re usually much less crowded. However, there are also the large-scale ones; the largest being the famous Comic Market a.k.a Comiket, which is only held twice a year in the summer and winter, and basically hosted all active fandoms in Japan. Another example of a large-scale event is the various COMICCITY, organized by Akaboo, which basically combined a lot of fandoms under one doujinshi event and is almost like a mild-version of Comiket.
The next thing you have to know is where would the doujinshi event be? Is it in Tokyo, Osaka, Hokkaido, or even Fukuoka? If it’s in Tokyo, is it going to be in Tokyo Big Sight, Ikebukuro Sunshine City, or Tokyo Ryutsu Center? How will you get there, and how long would it take for you to get there? If you’re a first-timer, try buying a pamphlet for the event at stores like Animate or K-Books before the day of the event. It includes a map of the venue, which would come in handy to strategize and plan the night before the event.
Additionally, especially if you have experience in going to doujinshi events before, stay updated with the doujinka’s Circles you’re targeting, and keep an eye out because your particular fandom or ship might be having a petit event (popularly known as puchi events in Japan). This is a good chance to not only get a lot of doujinshi and fanmade goods but also to get the petit event’s prizes! Most petit events hold either a paper rally or a stamp rally, which means you’d be getting a bonus paper or a stamp for each table you buy doujinshi at. A certain amount of these papers or stamps would enable you to participate in a lottery for petit event limited fanmade goods, usually held around midday of the event. Prizes range from things as silly as stickers to normally expensive things such as necklaces or suitcases! Of course, different petit events have different rules, so make sure to read up and know them by heart too if you’re planning to participate!
Know your fandom and ship’s popularity in Japan
Why does this matter? Because this will determine how early you would have to come and line up for the event. A lot of popular Circles (a circle is the name or the group of the doujinka) selling doujinshi of very popular fandom and ships tend to have their works sold out in the first two-hours of the event, and most circles tend to run out of novelty bonuses under one hour. If you’re still lining up outside when the event’s already begun for an hour, the chance of getting your target purchases is slimmer.
The more popular your fandom and ship is in Japan, the earlier you would have to come and line up before the event even begins. For example, if your purchase target for the day are doujinshi of the ship Minashiro Soushi/Makabe Kazuki from the fandom Soukyuu no Fafner, it’s probably still safe for you to arrive at the venue and line up an hour before the event starts. But if you’re aiming to buy doujinshi of the ship Akai Shuuichi/Amuro Tooru of the fandom Meitantei Conan, you better take the earliest train to the venue and line up as early as possible if you don’t want miss most of your targets! There are people who come to line up as early as six in the morning!
If your fandom and ship is insanely popular in Japan, you might want to consider buying the early-entry tickets for the event. It’s a bit more expensive, but by doing this, you’d be allowed to enter the venue a bit earlier than most of other people. You can check the event organizer’s webpage for the particular doujinshi event and look up how to buy early-entry tickets. Having them doesn’t mean you can slack off and come an hour before the event begins, though, because a large number of fans would have thought the same and bought the early-entry tickets as well, and lining up late would mean rendering the early-entry ticket useless.
Plan your purchase and map out your event route!
Here is the most crucial preparation that must be done, at the very latest, the night before the event! You need to plan your purchase and map out your movements once you get in the event venue. This is necessary to make sure you’d be able to buy all the books you have your eyes on and not have some of them sold out before you could reach the Circle’s table.
Get out your pen and paper and make a simple list consisting of four things: the Circle name, the Circle’s table number, the titles of books and goods you’d be buying in each Circle table, and the price of the books and goods. Then go and check your favorite Circle’s Twitter or pixiv account, where they usually have their oshinagaki, or list of things they would be selling at a particular event. Jot down all information needed on the list. Be careful not to get the table numbers mixed up!
Once you’re done, break out the stabilo markers and open the venue’s map in your event pamphlet. Mark up all of the table numbers you would be visiting so you could get an idea of where you need to go once you get into the venue. When you’re done, turn back to your list of Circles, and mark up all the popular Circles. These are the Circles you need to prioritize and get there before you get to everything else, especially if you want their novelty bonus, because those tend to run out fast. If you’re not sure which Circles are popular, then prioritize Circles whose table numbers begin with A, あ, orア. Circles whose table numbers begin with these are set separate from the rows of table inside the venue due to their popularity to make it easier for staff to manage the lines for these tables. So make sure you get all your targeted purchases at those tables before getting the rest of the list. When you’re done with all your target purchases, that is when you could take it easy and browse around the venue as long as you want.
What if you’re aiming to buy doujinshi in more than one fandom? Keep in mind that tables are organized by fandoms, even if sometimes you might find a stray Circle selling their new work in a different fandom area. Your other fandom might be located in a different Hall entirely. If you’re experienced and able to move fast between tables, you might be able to handle all your purchases by yourself. However, if you’re a newbie in going to doujinshi events, if you’d be participating in a petit event or a stamp rally, or if your other fandoms are also popular, you might want to ask a friend to help you with purchasing stuff in other fandom’s area. Buy them a drink or a meal when you’re done with the day, because purchasing doujinshi in a doujinshi event is a war of its own!
Things you should bring. Also, get comfy!
Let’s get to packing things you should bring with you to the venue, then! The more prepared you are, you’d be able to stay more comfortable and easy to move around the event venue. This is important especially if you’re going by yourself, because you will have no one else to help you with your things!
One thing we would recommend highly for you to bring is a standard-sized tote bag that could fit twenty B4-sized books. No matter what sort of bag you’re planning to bring your haul of the day in—whether it’s a drawstring bag, a rucksack, or even a suitcase—having a tote bag would be very convenient to temporarily put your purchased books in while you move from one circle to another. It’s easier to do that rather than holding all those heavy books in one hand while fumbling with your wallet as you try to pay. Later, when you’re done with a targeted section of when the tote bag is getting full, you could go to the side and out of people’s way to properly put all your hauls in your actual bag or suitcase!
Next, make sure that you have enough money for all your target purchases, and that your money is in one-thousand yen bills instead of five-thousand or ten-thousand yen bills. Not all circles would have enough change for five-thousand or ten-thousand yen bills, and using one-thousand yen bills would make the payment-goods exchange smoother and much faster, which would work to your advantage when you have a lot of doujinshi to buy. So break down your five-thousand and ten-thousand yen bills before you reach the venue!
If you’ve already bought your event pamphlet from Animate, K-Books, or any other stores, make sure you bring them because they usually double as entrance ticket (unless if you’re going to Comic Market, because it’s free to go in). If you’re going to be lining up for two hours or more, don’t forget to pack in the necessities; bring your portable phone charger, a bottle of water, some light snacks, and things to alleviate your boredom such as books to read or handheld game consoles to play. Some people even bring the tiny folded chair or something to sit on because you might just be sitting in your line for a long while. Remember to keep everything light, easy and quick to repack and move around!
Lastly, make sure you wear comfortable clothings! Dressing up is cool, but make sure you would be able to easily move around in it. If you have itabags, this is a perfect occasion to show off your merch collections, so go ahead and bring them with you, since they could function as the tote bag mentioned earlier. Make sure you’re dressed properly according to the season, because you will be waiting outside for a while. If it’s summer, wear light clothings and don’t forget to put a hat on. If it’s winter, bundle up as warm as you can, and buy some of those magical pocket heater kairo at the convenience store to bring with you. Last but not least, remember to eat something for breakfast, because depending on how long you spend in the event, you might not be able to get anything to eat until well into lunch.
Move fast and be considerate!
Just like any other conventions in the world, doujinshi events have unspoken rules for its attendants. As one of them, you need to be careful and mind your manners, but at the same time, be efficient enough to be able to get your hands on all your target purchases. In this section, we’d be listing down a few important things you have to keep in mind when you go to a doujinshi event so that you don’t accidentally be a bother to everyone around you. Keep in mind, a doujinshi event, for its attendants, is a war of its own!
- Move fast. The faster you can move, the more tables you could cover, the slimmer the chance of having some of your target purchases sold out before you could get to their table.
- Keep moving. If you need to stop walking and check on something—anything, be it your phone, your list, or your map—get out of the tables area, find a corner or a sidelines where you wouldn’t be obstructing people’s path. Do not stop and dilly-dally in the middle of the aisles between rows of tables, especially in the first hour and a half of the event. Be considerate of your surroundings, keep in mind where you’re standing and what you’re doing!
- Don’t stand in front of a Circle’s table for too long. This is important to remember, especially in the first hour and a half of the event, and if there’s a line for the table. Try not to hold up the line long; which is why you should have decided on what you want to buy before lining up. Even in the later hours of the event, when you’re going around simply to browse and maybe buy some additional stuff, don’t stand in front of the table for too long since other people might want to take a look, too.
- When you browse around and you want to take a look at a book, it’s never too polite to ask the person behind the table if you could look at it. Most tables usually have a copy of their doujinshi intended for this exact purpose.
- If you want to take pictures, ask for permission first. This applies to anything—other people’s itabags or plushies, the person attending the Circle tables, their actual table and the things they sell, or even the decorations they put on the table. Keep in mind that some events don’t allow you to take pictures of cosplayers in the venue, so if you bump into fellow attendants who cosplay, you might not be able to take their pictures, sadly.
- Do not push. Physically or figuratively—don’t run and push other people no matter how fast you move, and always spare one second to be nice and say sorry if you accidentally bump into someone. And remember, when people tell you that no, they can’t let you do what you ask them, don’t nag them about it. Simply say sorry and thank them.
- No commenting negatively about the doujinshi in front of the actual artists. This might sound like common sense, but you’d be surprised at how many people do that without realizing it. Your comments could hurt their feelings, even if it’s not intended.
- Pay attention to the staff and volunteers around you, especially if you’re in a line. Sometimes, due to the amount of people lining up, staff and/or volunteers have to move and rearrange the line, and if you’re not aware, you might either a) causing inconvenience for others or even b) lose your place in the line. Likewise, if you hear a volunteer asking people to open the way, it means they’re moving a big line somewhere, so you should steer away and not stand on their way!
- Some tables would have really long lines that might be separated in order not to block up the way, so make sure you’re on the correct line by looking at the sign held by the last person of the line. The sign would usually have the table number indicating that this is where the line for a particular table is. When you line up, just tap the shoulder of the last person on the line and take the sign from them. Hold the sign above your head until the next person to line up after you come to take the sign from you. If that line is only a part of the line and the rest of the people lining up is standing elsewhere, don’t worry, the last person holding the sign would definitely point you over to where you should be lining up.
- Have fun! When it comes down to it, this is the most important thing: to enjoy yourself and have fun. When you’re done with your list of target, there are still a whole lot more to see, so go around and enjoy the event like you would a usual convention in your own country!
Say hi or give gifts to your favorite doujinka!
Doujinshi events are more exciting when you have doujinka you adore and admire. Of course, the prospect of seeing them in person and talking to them is intimidating, but most doujinka are always extremely happy to talk to fellow fans of the fandom—especially fans of their works! So don’t be shy to tell them that you love their works! Even if you can’t really speak Japanese, you can still use simple English phrases that are easy to understand to tell them that you love their works. It’s also socially acceptable to hand them gifts, which would show them your appreciation better! Just keep in mind not to do this when there are people lining up behind you. It’s better to leave with your purchase, and come back later to your favorite doujinka’s table when they have no line!
For first-timers, doujinshi event and conventions could sound so intimidating to go by yourself. And while it is true, especially if your first doujin event and convention is a large-scale one such as Comiket, you don’t need to be scared to go. As long as you have a clear game plan, stay calm, and be considerate to your surroundings, you would be able to go through it without any major problems! Doujinshi events and conventions are really fun to go to, especially because you can talk to people who create fanworks you’ve adored through Twitter or pixiv all these times.
Have you ever gone to a doujinshi event or conventions before? Are you planning to go to one in Japan? Share with us your experience or concerns in the comments!