After our last day of visiting Kyoto/Osaka, we took the shinkansen back to Tokyo and took a day break in preparation for the main event of the trip: Comiket 86.
The calm before the storm: Waiting in line for Tokyo Big Sight to open it’s doors to Comiket 86 goers…
For those who aren’t familiar, Comiket (short for ”Comic Market”) is Japan’s oldest and largest doujinshi convention. It is a 3-day event held bi-annually with Summer Comiket happening in mid August and Winter Comiket happening in late December. It has in recent years been held at Tokyo Big Sight in Odaiba, with over half a million attendees every gathering. While the main focus of the convention is the selling of doujin works (unlicensed, fan-made anime parody works) by doujin circles (group of artists/writers/etc. that produce doujin and/or original works but usually not associated with a commercial entity), most of which nowadays are 18+ doujinshis (doujin manga). Despite it’s grassroots as a fan-run event, there is also a section dedicated to industry booths (keep in mind that Japan has a very different take on copyright infringement than the western world) as well as dedicated areas for cosplayers to show off (in fact, you are not allowed to cosplay inside Tokyo Big Sight, though this rule isn’t strictly regulated). All in all, Comiket is Japan’s biggest anime convention.
This was my first time attending Comiket as well as my first time really being exposed to the world of Japanese doujin circles. My first trip to Japan was the start of my figure collecting, and my second trip was my initiation for Dollfie Dreams. With Comiket being the main event of this trip, I decided that I’d venture into the world of doujinshis. I had previous done some basic collecting, mainly of TYPE-MOON stuff (Bamboo Broom, Hiroyuki, and Crazy Clover Club), but I was never brave enough to go further til this trip. I’ve seen the Lucky Star Comiket episode as well as all of Genshiken, but it’s a totally different experience being there in person. Luckily, I was going with two experienced friends who had gone the year before and registered a premium account on the Comike Web Catalog website. This allowed me to go in prepared with printed-out-and-marked booth maps, prioritized shopping list, and a full battle plan. I was as ready as I could be (or so I thought xD)
Day 1 of Comiket consisted mainly of 2 things: industry booths and KanColle (Kantai Collection). It was actually a pretty light day for us as none of us were really interested in KanColle, but it was the most important for me cause 1) it was my first time at Comiket, and 2) TYPE-MOON booth. The day pretty much consisted of me, Tsukikira, and sorrowmoon rushing the industry booths to get first in line for TYPE-MOON’s booth, try to grab the rest of our industry booth shopping list items, then explore around the main East/West circle halls. My shopping list for Day 1 was pretty small. From the industry booths, it was everything from TYPE-MOON (plus a few doubles for Strife212), a Shinobu plushie from GIFT (they sold out immediately), a Rensouhou-chan PVC figure from Aquamarine (surprisingly, they sold out of the standard version but had plenty of the exclusive version in stock), the Touhou and pixiv girls collection artbooks from Pixiv, and some ToHeart2 and White Album artbooks and tapestries from Aquaplus for thebobness (unfortunately all I was able to get was a Tama-nee-sama tapestry). The doujinshi circles list was even shorter: Railgun doujinshi from alicemiller, the whole Touhou series of doujinshis from angelphobia, and everything from the god of flat chests, Kantoku (After school of the 5th year). I also ended up picking up a bunch of Gundam mecha doujinshis (I never knew they existed!) as well as a two KanColle ones (couldn’t resist Shimakaze)… impulse buys would soon become a recurring theme this trip >_>
Getting up at 3am in the morning with schedule in hand… roughest morning I’ve ever had @_@
Gathering at Shimbashi Station to catch the very first train there (6am if I remember correctly)
Slowly approaching Tokyo Big Sight…
Even though it was the very first train, it was jam packed and we definitely weren’t the only early birds
Tokyo Big Sight, a wonderous sight to behold
Volunteer Comiket staff can be spotted with their blue arm bands and blue caps
Despite arriving so early, it looked like there were tons more early campers
Actually, a LOT of early campers. I’d guess there were at least a few thousand people already sitting outside, with the first wave area already filled
We managed to secure spots right at the start of the second wave waiting area (just past the first street crossing). I don’t normally take selfies, but this was a pretty mindblowing occasion…
Black coffee, like a boss, cause I really, really needed it that early in the morning
Lining up for the porta-potties… a sneak preview of the lining up experience that is Comiket
We sat outside for another good 3hrs or so before Comiket opened at 10am. By that time, the line behind us had stretched multiple blocks and we were plenty glad we got there as early as we did.
By sheer luck, our group got redirected into a fast track lane, so we were able to join the first wave of attendees
Going up the empty-but-soon-to-be-swamped stairs of Tokyo Big Sight. Very few people get this experience, so I took a bunch of pictures
If you couldn’t tell already, it was also really sunny and hot as hell that day, so the moment we got under the pyramids was bliss
To get to the industry booth area, you actually have to go through the West Hall and through some sections. I forgot the exact details, but we got a rare glimpse of the convention centre before it started flooding with people
To get to the industry booth, we also had to pass through a section of circle stalls (there’ll be more pics of these later). We kinda got a bit lost in our way around, so by the time we figured out where to go, people had already started populating the areas.
Outside, food stands were ready for combat
The industry booths were on the upper levels and were to be accessed through the outside stairs that looped around the cosplay area. Each industry booth also has it’s own line. Not sure which industry booth was No. 111, but it had a long, long line already…
Guess TYPE-MOON wasn’t as popular, cause we were able to just walk all the way up
One thing you’ll notice is that the Japanese are ridiculously amazing at keeping lines tidy. Despite the crowdedness of Comiket, never once did I see any line cutting and people always tried their best to keep the lines straight and orderly.
TYPE-MOON line poster located!
Poster with all the Comiket-86-exclusive goods. The limited supply item was the Apocypha material book (usually only a few thousand copies). The booth line was only ~50 people long at that point, so exclusives secured! :3
The industry booth gates had been opened and booth lines started filing in. The TYPE-MOON line went through a side door, direct to the booth.
Pics of the inside, where it’s free roaming once you leave the lines (i.e. after you’re done with your initial lineup). Needless to say, it was super crowded.
The TYPE-MOON both, complete with sparkles. Unfortunately, long gone are the days of TYPE-MOON as a doujin circle, so you definitely won’t spot any public Nasu/Takuechi appearances here (and if they did show up, I doubt anyone will be able to recognize them).
This year’s TYPE-MOON Comiket theme was “Eden on earth”, featuring Saber (Avalon) and Gilgamesh (Babylon). Of course, I got both sets :3
The loot of two Saber fans (sorrowmoon and Tsukikira) and one Arcueid fan (me). Gilgamesh is my boy too.
A look of the booth from outside the line (well, at least the top visible part of the booth). I was actually kinda disappointed at the lack of flair/visuals.
Other booths, on the other hand, had plenty of TV CMs/other visuals to advertise it’s IPs
While the others continued browsing the industry booths, I headed down to East Hall for some doujinshi shopping
Keep hydrated with moe Comiket mascots! They’re actually just rebranded Pocari Sweats at the cost of 50 yen more per bottle, but I think I ended up buying and drinking like 10 of these throughout the 3 days of Comiket (and keeping/bringing back 5 empty bottles as souvenirs).
Eventually found signs to East Hall and started following the mass of migrating people
Finally in the circles area. Comiket areas are arranged as rows and rows of back-to-back tables. Each circle gets its own table (or two if they are big enough), with buyers walking up to/lining up in front of the table to browse/purchase the latest books. More popular circles get corner tables (and hence more lining-up space) and the most popular circles get the room perimeter spaces (where lines will usually extend to outside the building). Circles are sorted alphabetically, with the exception of circles at the corner tables and outside perimeters.
alicemiller was one of those perimeter circles (A-row), so I had to line up outside for a bit. Those at the end of the line will hold up a sign with the booth number and circle name, then pass it on to the next last person in line. Long lines are often chunked off into multiple sections to avoid blocking traffic (part 1 infront of the table, part 2 alongside the building walls, then part 3 outside the building), so a line may have multiple signs for it (some of which usually get hand-written by Comiket staff when they realize the line’s too long. Here’s the end-end of the line, outside.
Part of the line that’s against the side of the building wall
The final part right before the booth
Walking between East Hall 123 and East Hall 456
Oh-shi— is that Gundam mecha doujinshi that I see? ZENBU, HITOTSU ONEGAISHIMASU!
Time to take a break and refilling on Pocari Sweat (the Comiket specials were too far away)
Somewhere in the middle of the convention centre was the souvenir shop, where you can buy merchandise featuring the C86 mascot. I ended up getting a black T-shirt from here later on.
It was time to gather up for the day and I was done with my Day 1 shopping. We decided to meet under the domes, which turned out to be a very common meeting/resting place for Comiket attendees.
We left around 3pm, mostly to avoid the closing rush, and so we could all get back home and catch up on sleep.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video must be worth books. The general vastness of Comiket is very hard to express in just photos, so I took a number of videos of the crowd and general area. If the above photos weren’t enough for you, click on these to see the scenes in video form.
Marching toward Tokyo Big Sight
And here’ the loot for day 1 of Comiket 86, starting off with the TYPE-MOON C86-exclusive goods :3
Pixiv artbooks, Rensouhou-chan figure, Kantoku set, and a freeBonta-kun headband
Day 1 18+ doujinshis, NSFW of course
And so ended day 1 of Comiket 86. Despite not actually doing much shopping, it was a tiring first day and definitely a new experience for me and totally lots of fun. Coming up, day 2 of Comiket 86: cosplays, cosplays, cosplays!