I slung my camera over my shoulder, ready to invade the world of cosplay for the first time at this year’s summer Comic Market 80 at Tokyo Big Sight.
Independent comic book artists sacrificed sleep to get their small publications just right for the big event. Similarly, cosplayers labored over costumes and dedicated themselves to putting forth their best images of cartoon and comic book characters.
The exhibition is known familiarly as “Comiket,” and it is held twice a year in summer and winter. A Cosplay Area is set up on the parking lot and courtyard of Tokyo Big Sight, and the venue bustles with brilliant cosplayers and photo buffs milling about to get the best angles and shots. This summer’s three-day Comiket was said to draw 15,000 cosplayers.
I arrived at Tokyo Big Sight on Day 2 in no big hurry, even though I knew that Komike was expecting over 150,000 visitors that day. It was easy to get inside, but not easy at all to get where I wanted to go.
I wanted to go inside the East Hall, but a long line snaked around the building. By the time I finally got to the East Hall nearly 50 minutes later, I was bathed in sweat. I thought it was hot outside, but the hubbub and feverish excitement inside was even hotter.
The number of photographers running around the Cosplay Area surprised me. There were already lines of them in front of cosplayers, and there wasn’t a single place to go that didn’t require waiting in a line. If one place got too crowded with people taking pictures, event staff would come by and begin counting down.
“Five! Four! Three! Two! One – DISPERSE! Please clear the area right now!”
The group would break up but reassemble seconds later for more pictures. Then, the staff member would break them up again. And again. And again. The cosplayers’ costumes were that enticing and intriguing. I was drawn in by their outstanding and obsessive attention to the even most minute details in reproducing their favorite characters.
In the end, I feel like I got just a taste of what photo buffs feel at cosplay events.
Bravo to the cosplayers and the people who helped put on Comic Market 80!