Twice a year otaku from all over Japan, and even the world, make the sacred pilgrimage to Tokyo Big Sight for Comic Market, better known as Comiket. Every year as I stand in the boiling heat or the freezing cold I ask myself ‘Why am I doing this?’, and yet there I am again the same time next year. It’s an almost masochistic experience, but the pleasure and limited-edition merch gained always outweighs the pain. Read on for photos and commentary from Summer Comiket 86.
The ordeal begins as soon as you step off the train and you find yourself in your first queue of the day as you line up to exit the station. When you finally see the iconic venue standing proud in the distance a wave of relief hits – until you realize that you actually have to join a queue that goes all the away around the buildings to the right of the photo before joining the lines that actually lead inside.
When you finally make it up to the venue there’s an immense feeling of satisfaction to be had looking out at all those suckers who are still an hour away.
Unfortunately once inside the venue it’s very difficult to stop anywhere without being told to move along by the staff, unless of course you’re stuck waiting in a queue.
I noticed the guy below in the sailor outfit and wondered if he was perhaps a relative of these two?
The huge venue is a seething mass of people constantly moving, as a brief stop could potentially cause a pile-up.
The East and West halls are packed with booths mostly run by ‘circles’, the groups or individuals that create doujinshi, or fan comics. The range of fan interpretations on offer are vast, encompassing every possible genre and pairing you could think of. It’s also worth pointing out that a large chunk of these are very much NSFW.
There’s also a company section where they sell official merch including limited-edition Comiket-exclusive products. The queues for these snake along outside the venue, and you can expect to be there for several hours for the most popular companies – many people come prepared with their own folding chairs to make the wait more bearable. When part of the line is getting led into the hall, everyone in it has to raise their hand so as to not lose each other in the mass.
By Sunday many of the Comiket-exclusive goods have sold out, which is why people feel the need to sprint to try and get to them first. If you do miss out on something, you can probably pick it up on internet auction sites for around ten times the original price.
▼ More lines of people.
Along with the doujinshi and anime goods there are also a variety other booths looking to get otaku to part with their cash such as ones selling wigs, cosplay accessories, special food and drink packaged with anime characters, and this stall of art supplies and tools for manga artists.
There are a few food stalls outside, but at this point most people were still focused on shopping.
Shoppers stake out a corner of the hall to go over their purchases, but they’ll probably be moved on by the staff soon enough.
▼ There are plenty of cute girls around trying to entice you to their booths.
▼ I think this guy was advertising something, but it’s not unusual to see people wandering around draped in towels or bedsheets bearing their favourite characters.
The cosplay area was outside in the baking heat, and as well as being impressed at the many creative costumes on show, I also marveled at their superhuman ability to stand for hours on end in the glaring sunlight posing while people snapped their pic, sometimes with a rather disturbing intensity and disregard for personal space.
So without further ado, on to the cosplay photos:
The whole thing was extremely hot, sweaty, and exhausting, and on my way back to the station I was vowing ‘never again’. However, by the time I’d got on the train I was already making plans for winter. Despite how overwhelming it can be, Comiket is an event that brings many different people together over shared passions, and that’s something to celebrate, no matter how explicit some of those passions may be.