First Time at “Comic Market”

Comic Market 91 (Comiket) was held at Tokyo Big Sight last year from December 29th to the 31st. It was one of the biggest yet, with 550,000 people attending. This is our report!

“Comic Market 91” – View of the Exhibition Hall

■ First time attending!

This was the 91st Comic Market, a huge event for anime, comic and game lovers alike held twice per year. This time the exhibition hall included the newly built East Wing numbers seven and eight at Tokyo Big Sight and was the largest scale that the event has ever seen. (Starting this year, construction will begin in preparation for the Olympics so this large of a scale was for this time only.) 550,000 people attended the event over three days (third most number of attendees in history for this event) and has surely become one of the most prominent events of its kind in Japan.

 

This was my first time attending this event.

At first, I was mainly surprised by the number of people. The exhibition hall was roughly broken into three areas: the Corporate Booth Area, Doujinshi Area and Cosplay Area, and all three were a whirlwind of people. The lines of people waiting to purchase their desired specialty goods in the morning was particularly amazing.

The exhibition hall was huge and complex. It spread out across Tokyo Big Sight’s East and West Wings, as well as onto an outside exhibition hall. It even included the fourth floor and rooftop exhibition area, spreading out both wide and high.

There was only a very general area map and there were things like elevators which only staff could use and I was left wandering to and fro.

There were 182 companies with booths in the Corporate Booth Section this time and I heard that the number of small rooms was up to 269, 40% more than last time! Big names like NHK as well as anime, game and app manufacturers lined up with a wide variety of goods for sale. The line for these booths was so long that it didn’t even fit into the exhibition hall and had to be continued in the outside plaza.

Waiting line outside.

think some of the biggest lines I saw were for Yuri on Ice, Matoi the Sacred Slayer, Harmonia and Shinkukan Dolls.

Each partition in the Doujinshi Area was very small and there were quite a few of them, making the crowd seem even more amazing. There was a map of the exhibition hall on the website but, to be completely honest, it wasn’t very easy to use for someone not used to the event. It was hard to try and search for areas on my phone and navigate around. The areas were separated by genre but, not only was it crowded, the exhibitors changed every day.

The Cosplay Area spread out onto the outside and rooftop exhibition areas. There were many colorful cosplayers on the grounds as well as lines and lines of photographers waiting to take pictures.

I asked some of the attendees what they thought was the appeal of Comiket and some of the opinions I heard included “I enjoy the festival atmosphere,” and “I finally got the goods I wanted and that makes me very happy.”

What surprised me in the midst of all this chaos was that, despite the halls overflowing with people, there was still an order to everything. Even the photographers wishing to take pictures of cosplayers waited patiently for their turn and those cosplayers responded politely to each photographer. When it came time for a “clump” of people waiting outside for the corporate booths to enter, the person in front would say “coming through!” and the rest of the line would raise their hands and line up like soldiers to pass through. There was also a no-running rule, as well as a rule against walking on the escalators, and everyone minded their manners quite well.

I also didn’t see many people who looked like they were lost. I was asked where the catalog was by a fellow reporter one time but that was about it.
With this many people, you would think that there would be a lot of first-timers as well but everyone looked like they were used to the event.
When I asked a few people about this, they said that they had researched all of the Doujinshi ahead of time as well as in what order they would go about buying goods and what route they would follow to do so. This was even true for the first-timers. There was an enormous amount of information exchange going on on online communities so that all participants could come to the event prepared. Using that information, along with help from their smartphones, they quickly navigated through the booths.

The participants were mainly in their teens and 20s. It once again made me feel that this generation of otakus, community-oriented transmitters of information, are really quite skilled at working between the imaginary and the real.

■ First time exhibiting!

At this event, not just participants, but many corporations and doujinshi authors are first-timers as well.
When I asked a first-time doujinshi author about why they came to the event, they said that they originally liked coming to Comiket and thought that they would like to participate as an author as well. However, they were a little nervous that no one would come to their booth and said that they advertised on social media like Twitter and pixiv.

I also spoke with some of the first-time corporations.

◇FURYU

FURYU Corporation decided to participate in the event with the first year anniversary of their sexy monster musume RPG “Monmusu Harem.” Mr. Onoki, from the World View Corporate HQ, said that they had brought a special photo sticker machine just for Comiket and were hoping to draw in guests and make their company more well known through this event.

 

 

 

FURYU Booth

“Monmusu Harem”© FURYU Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

Photo sticker machine at the FURYU booth

Comiket Limited Edition Photo Sticker© FURYU Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

◇Nippon Kakejiku (Koyo Limited)

From the area with the largest production of “kakejiku” (hanging scrolls) in Japan, Gifu, came Nippon Kakejiku. According to Mr. Takahashi, their CEO, they participated in the event with the hopes of sharing the charm of hanging scrolls with the younger generation. They had to think quite hard about what kind of collaboration to do for the event but, because it was popular with girls, who hold the greatest diffusing power, they decided to go with the popular work “Touken Ranbu.”

 

“Touken Ranbu” hanging scroll

“Touken Ranbu” hanging scroll

◇Akatsuki

Akatsuki Inc.’s booth focused on their smartphone games: “Thousand Memories,” “Cinderella Nine” and “Cinderella Eleven.” According to Mr. Miyamoto from their Social Game Division, as it was their first time attending the event, they weren’t sure how to draw in customers and it was quite difficult. However, over the three days of the event, they made their reception area more easy to understand and changed around their register area to make the flow of customers more smooth. They also, upon discovering that a group of “Thousand Memories” fans had formed a circle (=community) nearby, they partitioned the area so that people would not walk through this community.
Next year, they hope to use a large monitor and work on their guidance map a little more.

 

Akatsuki Inc. Booth

Comiket is often said to be a sacred event for both participants and exhibitors. And, with all the zeal of both sides colliding in this space, it truly is such an event. The desperate tactics of the attendees as they push their way through the sea of information transmitted by the exhibitors, paying no mind to the rather unkind guide maps, may only seem appalling for a first-time visitor. Next time I go, I’m certain that I will be able to dive into the whirlwind as naturally as the rest.

“Comic Market 91”
http://www.comiket.co.jp/index_e.html
http://www.comiket.co.jp/info-a/TAFO/C91TAFO/cmkfor.html

(Article: Ken-ichi Nakamura)

Fields Research Institute (FRI) conducts research in entertainment.
This article was written by a member of FRI, through the original coverage of his/her interests observed in their daily lives.

 

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