I finally found some time to sort through my pictures and scrape together enough content for a short post. This is a report of the first two days of Comiket 73 to give you a general idea what it was like.
I will be posting a more detailed report only after I return from Japan, mainly because I don’t have a lot of photos yet and I will only be able to take more tomorrow. (Photography is technically prohibited in all areas except the designated cosplay zone.)
Comiket is held at the Tokyo International Exhibition Center, more commonly known as the Big Sight, or “that pyramid thing”. The nearest train station is Kokusai-tenjij-seimon (国際展示場正門) on the Yurikamome monorail that goes around Odaiba.
On the night before Comiket Day 1, we took the last train to Ariake to camp overnight. According to various online sources, overnight queuing for Comiket is prohibited by the organizers. From Wikipedia:
Lining up for hours before the convention is forbidden, as pre-convention “parties” have drawn complaints from local residents in previous years.
We found out that this is all a huge lie perpetuated to fool the naive. By the time we arrived at Ariake, the queue had already reached there, stretching about 500m from the steps leading up to the Big Sight.
It was frigging cold. The temperature was close to zero, it was windy and on top of that it started to rain too. Many people took shelter in the nearby Family Mart and those guys probably make a ton of money selling gloves and hot food stuff.
There were already hundreds, if not thousands, of people queuing up at 1am in the morning. The event officially starts at 10am.
After a long wait, the organizers slowly directed the queue onto the clear elevated area in front of the trademark inverted pyramid. This formed the front of the main line for the regular participants.
I managed to get some sleep (about 2-3 hours) in a sheltered area under the inverted pyramid. We were not prepared for this at all and didn’t bring any foldable stools or picnic sheets, so I made do with a 500-yen poncho from 7-Eleven. Did I mention that it was fricking cold and the ground was all wet?
The initial rush is crazy, especially for the commercial booths. How crazy? Let’s just say that if you happen to drop your camera, you’ll never see it again.
The main queue is divided into two separate queues, one for the doujinshi halls and one for the cosplay area and the commercial hall. The doujinshi queue is then split into three queues, one for West Halls, one for East Halls 1-3 and one for East Halls 4-6.
The Japanese have basically perfected the art of queue management. Instead of forming long and chaotic queues inside the convention area, blocking everyone’s paths and encouraging queue-cutting, the queues are divided into more manageable segments. Only the front-most segment queues in front of the booth itself. The rest queue outside, where there are additional signboards to indicate where the end of the queue is and what the queue is for. One (or more) staff member will regularly come to bring the first ten or so people in the queue outside to join the small queue inside the convention hall. Popular booths have external queues that are so long that they have to be subdivided into even smaller mini queues.
This is why you’ll often see signs that tell you that it’s not the end of the line, even though it looks like one. Kyo-ani’s line actually stretched one entire round around the commercial booth. Type-Moon and a few other popular studios have special queuing zones in a parking lot nearby.
Popular doujinshi groups can be almost just as bad. I queued two hours for Hiro Suzuhira’s latest releases (pictures when I get home and finish unpacking). I also queued one hour for ５年目の放課後, the artist who drew the blushing Haruhi on my old banner, only to have stocks run out with just seven people left in the queue in front of me. :(
I took a few cosplay shots today, but it started to rain (again) and the cosplayers all left. It’s crazy what these girls wear in near-zero temperature…
Comiket has over half a million participants in three days. I estimate that about 5% of them (including circle participants and event organizers) cosplay while they are there. That’s a lot of cosplayers to take pictures of, and not much time to do so due to all the queuing that needs to be done.
Anyway, I should have some better pictures to show for my next Comiket post. I’m getting a press pass tomorrow that allows me to take pictures anywhere (and enter the venue early via a special express queue to boot). I don’t have to try to hide my DSLR anymore! Yay!