While many products of Japanese culture are internationally recognized, otaku culture surly boasts the largest and most enthusiastic group of followers. It seems like on any given day, somewhere in the world there is a convention celebrating anime, manga or some other facet of Japanese geek culture—the sun never sets on the Otaku Empire.
We recently returned from one such event, Comicup, a large dōjin convention held on May 27 in Shanghai that is said to be China’s largest.
For those unfamiliar with the term, dōjin refers to amateur, self-published works that are often based on popular anime, magna or video games—though many original works also exist. A dōjin convention, therefore, is a place where individuals or groups can get together to sell their works under one roof.
The convention was held in the building used for the African Union Pavilion during Expo 2010 Shanghai China and was attended by 670 dōjin circles and 30 vendors.
This year marked the 10th anniversary of the convention and both presale and same-day tickets sold out for a final count of over 10,000 visitors.
The convention was very similar to Japan’s comic market and we’ve collected our thoughts and photos from our time at the event below:
・Japanese anime is going stronger than ever
While not all the groups who attended the conference base their work on Japanese titles, they certainly held the largest presence to the point where it felt like we were at a regular dōjin convention in Japan. There were several groups that dealt exclusively with single Japanese works, such as Touhou Project, Fate/Zero and Vocaloid. We also saw groups working with Tiger & Bunny and Shirokuma Café, as well as a number of people cosplaying as Japanese characters.
・But original Chinese titles are on the rise, even in the ‘Boys Love’ genre
While original Chinese anime and manga have traditionally been few and far-between, it seems that trend is changing now that the generation that grew up under the influence of Japanese otaku culture has grown older and begun creating their own works. Just the other day Japanese publisher Kodansha launched a new manga magazine in China featuring manga from original Chinese artists, and some of these titles, such as Daomu, have already become the subject of ‘Boy’s Love’ (Yaoi) derivative works. Could this be signaling a shift away from a predominately Japanese anime and manga market in China?
・A standard otaku convention, but with that slightly suspicious China twist
The event went off with out a hitch, though we couldn’t help notice a few items being sold that seemingly had absolutely nothing to do with anime and manga, such as Japanese and Chinese idol photos. Controlling resale and the selling of fake goods at an event like this is no easy task and, with it being China and all, it wouldn’t have been surprising to see a booth selling fake iPhones.
Still, as far as we could see, most of the people attending the conference were there to enjoy the event and celebrate the culture. Most of the younger crowd actually seemed to steer clear of rip-off goods and booths selling items of questionable origin never seemed to have too many customers. Perhaps it’s only a matter of time before those just looking to make a cheap buck are weeded out and Comicup becomes a genuine gathering of anime and manga fans.
▼The event center
▼The waiting line was said to loop around the entire building
▼Inside the event
▼Plenty for sale
▼Most dōjinshi were around 30 yuan (US $4.72)
▼ The Daomu Boy’s Love circle
▼Dōjinshi featuring famous Chinese poets Li Bai and Du Fu
▼Plenty of coplayers as well!
▼All resale, of course
▼Even with the original price tag…
▼Never seen AKB at a dōjin event before…
▼Drawing sketches for attendees
▼You can even get a custom-drawn umbrella!
▼Chinese otakus: doing it right!