Monday, December 31, 2012

Adventures at Comiket 83

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I wouldn’t exactly call attending Comiket fun, per se, but in a way I do think it’s sort of (stay with me here) inspirational.


I think I played up the sheer terror of Comiket in my mind so much that in the actuality of the thing, it really wasn’t all that harrowing.  I attended on the second day as well as today, and it’s possible that the rain yesterday – as well as the banning of all Kuroko no Basuke circles (yes, I saw the giant empty space where they were supposed to be) held down attendance some.  Today was busier and make no mistake, it’s an endurance test – a marathon ordeal with massive crowds of people.  But if you’ve been to a concert from a big-time artist or a public celebration for a sports team, you’ve basically got the gist of it.  Mind you, I can’t see anything convincing me to drag myself to Big Sight in 95 degree heat for the Summer version – you either need superhuman endurance or to be a massive “M”, and neither applies to me.  I’ll wait till CC85, thanks.

Some things struck me about the experience.  First, how different the feel in the corporate hall is from the doujin halls.  The former is very much an anime convention – loud music blaring and big-screen video everywhere, people scrambling for tote bags and queuing for Type Moon and the other headline booths.  Among the amateurs (though that hardly applies to some of them) it’s completely different – almost a hushed silence by comparison.  Of course in that subset there are some huge differences too – and the feel of the place was very different yesterday – where most of the space was given over to yaoi and Touhou – and today, where it was mostly R-18 otaku material.  More on that in a minute.

Here’s what I mean by inspirational.  The thing is, what really hit home for me as I left the corporate area in West Halls 1-2 and headed to the first doujin/fan creation area in West 3-4 was what a massive display of raw creative energy it was.  Huge hangars full of people selling comics, LNs, art, clothing – all of their own creation.  Without question Comiket is the greatest expression of pure otaku culture in the world, and it’s a bit awe-inspiring even if much of the material isn’t your bag.  It’s remarkable just how many really, really talented artists there are in Japan – the quality of the doujin work is exceptionally good – and how urgently they need to express themselves (and make a few bucks).  That’s something I understand on a totally fundamental level – though I lack any artistic talent whatsoever, the compulsion to express what I’m passionate about is something I’m familiar with, and it’s why I blog anime and manga.

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I sort of see Comiket as a kind of “Choose Your Own Adventure” game for fetishes.  It’s pretty much all covered – loli is effectively mainstream, but the first day was given over to shounen-ai and shotacon along with sci-fi and sports, and  walking through the East Halls (which are all fan creation centered) you’ll stumble into a “Furry” section, a chubby-chasers section…  And of course whole areas dedicated to specific fandoms – the standards like K-On, Nanoha, etc., and lots of Little Busters! stuff, with the fujoshi having huge areas dedicated to every Shounen Jump title under the sun (even a little Hunter X Hunter one).  The sheer variety is amazing.

What I wish I hadn’t done is finished my two-day swing by hitting the East Halls this afternoon, because that was easily my least favorite part of the event.  Basically it was a bunch of otaku racing around trying to hit every circle on their list before it sold out – joyless, brutal, desperate and very rough around the edges.  Having now experienced both I can say this: setting preferences for material aside, I’d rather be surrounded by a huge crowd of fujoshi any day, no matter what Jinrui says (though there’s something meta about seeing Jinrui doujins at a doujin fair after watching the series).  They’re far more civil towards each other than otaku, and there was a much more fun atmosphere in the East Halls on Saturday, and today in the areas where fandoms were mixed.  Day 3 at Comiket is all about having a bankroll and an agenda, and not about having fun – and given that I have no money and my knowledge of the doujin world is strictly dilettante, it wasn’t an enjoyable experience in those East Halls.

Some other random observations:

  • Two things I saw that should never be brought to Comiket: kids and big suitcases on wheels.  It’s not a place for children – not because of the material but because of the crowds and lack of decorum.  And seriously, what are you thinking with those wheeled bags?  In that crowd?  All you idiots who brought those fail at life.
  • Mandarake was doing a “Tsuritama Koji” event at their booth, where you buy a ticket for 600 yen and get a random prize.  Mine was a Haru face towel – cute, though I was hoping for the alarm clock.
  • There was a small display set up to promote the new H x H movie, where they were selling H x H CDs (sold out) and the feature item was Hisoka bedsheets for 9000 yen.  Still available as of 1 PM.
  • On another H x H note, I was having a brief recuperative moment with a cup of coffee in an alcove when I looked over and saw Chrollo Lucilfer next to me, fixing his makeup.
  • In the corporate hall the series getting heavy promotion are the usual suspects: LB, Haganai, VRO, and to some extent Pschyo-Pass, among others.  I was pleased to see a booth set up to promote Tanaka Romeo’s work: seems as if Aura has a bit of money behind it.
  • Speaking of which, what’s the deal with not taking cosplayers’ pictures without asking?  I admit I don’t know jack about cosplay, but it seems to me that if you spend a lot of money on a costume and spend hours getting ready, it’s implied that you want people to look at you.  If it was me, I’d be thrilled someone wanted to take my picture.
  • One of the last areas I saw was a section of row after row of manned tables featuring nothing but pictures of food.  Ramen, tonkatsu, all different kinds – what the heck is that all about?

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12 comments:

  1. I'm glad to see that you did post some pictures of the event. I know you said you were strapped for cash, but did you end up buying anything?

    It is a huge relief to hear feedback from your experience--I particularly like your random observations, like the coffee moment--given your rather grim send-off tweet :D While the corporate area would definitely be on my checklist, I would probably have spent most of my money on the fan created works.

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  2. Kuroko no Basuke's circles were banned? Why? Because of the threats?

    How does it hold up compared to the experience presented in Genshiken?

    And don't sell yourself short. I'm pretty sure you would be able to write a doujishi light novel, considering how prolific you are with your posts.

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    1. You know, I'd pay in advance for that one. Just sayin'. ;-)

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    2. I'll start taking offers for commissions right now. Hit me.

      Yes, KuroBas was banned because of the psycho-terrorist. Although I think Kurobas is a pretty silly show - though quite harmless - it really incenses me to see the fandom banned from participating because of this nut job. Why the hell can't the police catch him?

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  3. About cosplayers, even if they expect to have their picture taken, they still own their image, so it's more in accordance with the law to ask for permission (and of course, it's also more polite). The point of cosplaying in convention is to show it to people and I'm sure cosplayers are thrilled when they got attention, but that doesn't mean you can treat them like displayed dolls.

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  4. Thank you for sharing your experience.
    If I had the chance I don't know if I would go, I'm not used to big crowds and can't say I'm particularly fan of doujinshi (the +18 mainly).

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  5. "Speaking of which, what’s the deal with not taking cosplayers’ pictures without asking? I admit I don’t know jack about cosplay, but it seems to me that if you spend a lot of money on a costume and spend hours getting ready, it’s implied that you want people to look at you. If it was me, I’d be thrilled someone wanted to take my picture."
    Your syntax is a little weird here, are you saying why do cosplayer raise a fuss if someone takes their photo without asking? Because it's fucking creepy! I've cosplayed for years and found photos online of myself when I didn't know they were being taken (I wasn't cosplaying anything sexy or well-known so I'm really confused by all of this) and people, if you ask cosplayers will say yes! And we'll pose, I swear the photos will look better! But, just like in any other sphere of life, finding your photo online later (or worse, knowing a photo was taken and never finding it) really makes you feel skeeved out.

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    1. I understand that, but who's to say someone doesn't ask to take your picture, and then posts it online? Posting it online is a completely different issue from the asking of permission to take the picture.

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    2. If someone asks to take my picture I assume it's ending up online (since that's what I do with all the ones I get, post them online and then post links in the tumblr tag and the various forums so the cosplayers can find them, coming from the US perspective this is normal and expected). Honestly I don't even want to know what's happened to all the photos taken of me over the years that don't end up online, they're probably in someone's fap collection or the like, so my beef isn't with people posting pictures online per say, it's people who lack the social skills to understand that taking photos of someone without permission is not okay (which sometimes end up online and then I know about them and then other times never do and I have no idea it even happened).

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    3. It's common courtesy at conventions and the like to ask to take pictures of cosplayers as opposed to following them around, taking pictures of them in secret, and making them feel really uncomfortable (my friends who cosplay have had this problem). As for the internet thing, people appreciate it if you credit them for their hard work so they can get more online exposure. My friends have equated it to asking an artist if you can alter/translate/post their work elsewhere and crediting them properly. Just generally being respectful of other people.

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  6. Hmm yeah I've always hear horror stories about the crowds at Comiket but looking at the pictures, it really doesn't seem much worse than what I deal with every year at Coachella. Seems easily manageable if one was into this particular branch of the fandom enough to want to go.

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