[REPORT] Summer Comiket 2013
It’s that time of year again! Time for the bi-annual Comiket fan-made comic (doujinshi) convention! Held twice a year, this convention is the largest of its kind in the world, with this year’s 3-day attendance a record-breaking 590,000!! Over half a million people poured in to the Tokyo Big Sight center this year to enjoy what they love with others who love it.
Now, Tokyo Big Sight is…big. As you might have gathered from its name! Comiket is held in the 6 east halls and 2 west ones, for a combined floor area of 69,140 square meters of space–or roughly the size of 13 football fields. That’s 13 football fields worth of doujinshi–and that’s just on any one day. The event is held over three days, so when all is said and done, nearly 40 football fields’ worth of unique doujinshi have been vended. It’s a rather large event!
And for this large event–you need a lot of people to make it worth your while! Each year, Comiket welcomes more and more people, topping half a million in recent years with no signs of slowing. “But–isn’t it kind of crowded with so many people?” YES. VERY CROWDED. The halls open at 10, but people start lining up as early as possible, so you’ll often face up to a 2-or-more-hour wait in the baking August sun if you’re not careful about your timing! Every year, dozens of people have to be treated for heatstroke, and you can literally see a fine haze inside the halls from the thousands and thousands of bodies evaporating sweat and moisture. The smell, as you can imagine, is also pretty pungent if you’re not careful XD;
Here we have a shot of some of the lines. The waiting areas are divided up between those bound for East and West Halls, and these people are waiting to get into the West Halls. Halls are divided up by series, with circles selling the same or similar items clumped together, so visitors will check the catalogue (a thick telephone book detailing which artists will be selling pieces where) in advance to figure out which halls they need to hit. The catalogue even contains maps of the halls, with detailed spaces to help visitors form an “attack strategy” so they don’t get lost and know exactly which tables to hit up first. Given that the more popular artists routinely sell out within an hour or less of opening for limited-edition goods and books, this can mean the difference between scoring something awesome and not!
This is a shot from the long trek from Kokusai Tenjijo station (the main station servicing Tokyo Big Sight during Comiket) up to the entrance–as you can see, it was bright and sweltering this day (Saturday, August 10–the first day of the convention). It’s difficult to get lost on the way to Comiket because there are so many people going the same way–so take heart if you ever attempt it!
But the fun starts before you even get out of the station! With no intention on missing out on the tens of thousands of visitors flowing through the station each hour, Japan’s major publishing houses put up huge posters and banners to attract attention to their latest and popular works. Comiket is not a dealer’s convention; it’s for fans to sell fanworks to other fans. But Japanese publishers tend to turn a blind eye to the selling of doujinshi for profit so long as that profit isn’t ‘too great’, as they deem it, and instead choose to take advantage of the free publicity as you can see here!
The escalators this time were lined with huge posters from publishing houses like Kadokawa Shoten–as you can see advertisements from authors like Nakamura Shungiku and Abe Miyuki–while the main foyer had banners for series like Karneval. Comiket isn’t a BL-only convention, but the vendors are by and large catering to this market, with nearly 2/3 of all circles made up of women despite the fact that only 1/3 of visitors were female!
If you manage to make it inside the halls, though, be prepared to fight your way through a constant stream of human bodies. Here we have a shot of the media between the East Halls–with Halls 1-3 on one side and 4-6 on the other. Both the upper and lower decks are packed throughout the convention.
The West Halls aren’t much better, as you can see in this shot! The halls on the west side are both connected, forming a kind of horseshoe arrangement with a huge foyer in the middle where everyone congregates to take a break and check out their swag.
Day 2 of the convention caters more to artists vending original works–and as luck would have it, Otome’s Way’s own Tokita Makoto-sensei, author of In the Palm of Your Hand, was present as part of a group selling a book she contributed to–and she was doing some promotion for OW as well! She loaded us down with all kinds of great goods from her table and let us snap a picture (but being the shy thing she is, you’ll have to be satisfied just with a bit of her face!). Thanks, Tokita-sensei!!
Know who else sells their own original works at Comiket? BL mangaka! Some of the biggest names in BL manga were present at the event, selling their personal pieces that aren’t released by publishing houses. Many artists have their main pieces published as books you can buy from bookstores and then release little extras on the side as well. We stopped by Zaou Taishi’s table to check out her new pieces and received this free flyer as well–featuring her fanart of the swimmer boys from the new summer anime Free!
But it’s not all fun and games at Comiket — outside on the way back to the station, you could see demonstrations being held in an effort to rally the population who would be most affected by their cause: in this case, this individual was trying to speak about their opposition to the tightening of regulations restricting publication of illustrated works. Japan is experiencing quite a bit of conflict from older, more conservative politicians who seek to censor materials on the grounds that they are “harmful to youth” (despite these materials already being marked as adult material and never sold to minors) and younger adults who feel they should be free to purchase what they want and decide for themselves if something is detrimental to their sound mental development. Several books every month are removed from distribution under the Tokyo Youth Ordinance, including some BL manga, so it’s something to keep an eye on!
Well, that’s our Summer Comiket 2013 report! Hope you enjoyed it–and we’re always happy to field any questions or comments, so let us have ’em!