I bought only one doujinshi at Comiket (also known as Comic Market, Comike, etc…) this year, which is in sharp contrast to when I first visited Japan when I couldn’t pull them off the shelves fast enough. In fact, the very first time I went into a store, I didn’t notice the big laminated sign on the front that said ‘sample’ and rushed the comic to the check-out. The person at the register had to read out the doujinshi’s pornographic title over the intercom so a member of staff could bring me a proper copy from the rack.
Comiket is an event dedicated to doujinshi (fan-made comics) and is held twice a year, in summer and winter. My advice is pretty much the same no matter which one you’re attending.
Summer Comiket: Bring water. When I went last year, all the bottled water was sold out and I ended up queuing for half an hour only to have to buy Pepsi Nex, the only thing that was left.
I’ve cosplayed once at Comiket and, knowing the basics already (i.e. you have to pay and you can’t arrive or leave in costume), it was pretty easy. I used to laugh at them, but I now recommend those mini-suitcases on wheels, particularly if you’re wearing an uncomfortable costume.
First off, go to the changing rooms. The place that used to be the cosplay area is now being used to contain the queues that result from the official booth room. The cosplay area is in a small garden area, which is better for photos. The changing rooms are close by.
Line up, pay your money (800 yen) and you’ll receive a small pamphlet. It looks like it’s just useless information, but it’s a record of your payment and gives you permission to cosplay. You’ll be asked to show it on your way out of the changing room and when you enter the cosplay area. Don’t lose it.
I don’t know what I was expecting from the changing room, but it was chaos. It was just a big room with barriers marking a loose path. Everywhere you looked, there were people changing and there wasn’t much space left. There’s also a big sign that said in English, “Do not use color spray or moose.”
Japanese cosplay seems different from Western cosplay in that there’s a bias towards brand new shows and characters. There are a few cosplayers doing characters from classic anime (Evangelion, older Gundam series), but mostly are cosplaying characters from shows recently aired. Having said that, I saw two people cosplaying Ronald McDonald this year, so if you want to dress up as Sanzou from Saiyuuki, go for it. One more thing — if you are female, pretty and wearing a maid outfit or something similarly girly, be prepared for a lot of excessive attention once in the cosplay area. Some of those photographers creep me out and I’m not even their target!
Which day? (Summer 2010 (Comiket 78))
Each day of Comiket has a certain general theme and only doujinshi that fall under certain genres will be sold on that day.
First, search for the magazine your favourite series appeared in (you do know it, right?) and then double-check to see if there’s a specific listing for the creator or series. For example, Inu Yasha was serialised in Weekly Shonen Sunday, and Takahashi Rumiko has her own listing. So, if you wanted to buy Inu Yasha doujinshi, you’d go on day two. (Note: Information is correct as of writing for Summer Comiket 2010 only. All data taken from Comiket Official Site.)
Day 1 (“Anime and Yaoi Day”)
General: Seiyuu, anime songs, anime and game-based news, overseas anime, magical girl anime, original BL games, one-girl-many-boys dating sims, Neoromance, American comics, and anime for young children. Games covering the genres of action, simulation, adventure, puzzle, sound novels, arcade games and pachinko. Also includes board games, tabletop RPGs, card games, collectible card games, play-by-mail RPGs, play-by-web games and online gaming. This is the day for sports, martial arts, gambling, RPS, pop idols (w-inds, WaT), Takarazuka, Tenimyu and other stage productions and musicals.
Specific series: .hack (including games), Akatsuki Denkou Senki, Arcana Heart, Atelier, Bikkuriman, Biohazard, Black Matrix, Circadia, Code Geass, Dead or Alive, Devil May Cry, Digi Charat, Digimon, Dragon Quest, Evangelion, Final Fantasy Online, Final Fantasy series, Fire Emblem, Front Mission, Gakuen Heaven, Garou: Mark of the Wolves, Gensou Suikoden, Grow Lanser, Guilty Gear, Gundam, Gunparade March, Gyakuten Saiban, Gurren Lagann, Heart no Kuni no Alice, Hetalia, Inazuma Eleven, King of Fighters, Kuuron Youma Gakuenki, Lamento, Langrisser, Lord of Vermillion, Lucky Dog, Majin Gakuen, Megami Tensei, Monster Hunter, Musou OROCHI, Nintama Rantarou, Ogre Battle, Ore no Shikabane wo Koete yuke, Persona, Quiz Magic Academy, Phantasy Star Online, Pokemon, Pop’n Music, Ragnarok Online, SaGa, Saihai no Yukue, Sakura Taisen, Samuraidamashi, Sangokushi Taisen, Seiken Densetsu, Sengoku BASARA, Sengoku Musou, Senjou no Valkyria, Senkou no Ronde, Shining Force, Shinra Banshou, Shin Sangoku Musou, Smash Brothers, Spectral Force, Street Fighter, Summer Wars, Summon Night, Super Robot Wars, Tales of Phantasia (etc), Tekken, Terra e…, Togainu no Chi, Tokimeki GS, Valkyrie Profile, Virtua Fighter, Virtual-On, With Her, Xenogears, Xenosaga, Yuukyuu and Zelda.
Specific studios: Gainax and Sunrise.
Game developers: Atlas, Nippon Ichi Software and Square Enix.
Day 2 (“Manga and Yaoi Day”)
General and Miscellaneous: Home recordings and movies, cosplay goods, music CDs, Vocaloid, drama CDs, internet, blogs, mascots, desktop mascot software, 2ch, Futaba, Niconico Douga, Sound Horizon, Mukashinagara no Seinyuu Shitate, doujin games, independent software developers, retro games, works based on doujin games and commentary and news. If something doesn’t fit into a recognisable genre listed here, it’s probably on this day.
Specific series: Death Note, D.Grey-man, Eyeshield 21, Fullmetal Alchemist, Ghost In The Shell, Gintama, Hikaru no Go, Houkago Play, Higurashi no Naku Goro ni, Initial D, Kateikyoushi Hitman Reborn!, Koukoku no Shugosha, Kuroko no Basket, Kuroshitsuji, Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro, Maria-sama ga Miteru, Mr. Fullswing, Natsume Yuujinchou, Naruto, One Piece, Ookiku Furikabutte, Rozen Maiden, Slayers, Suzumiya Haruhi series, Tennis no Oujisama, Toriko, Umineko no Naku Goro ni and Yu-Gi-Oh
Specific magazines: Afternoon, Bonbon, Birz, Business Jump, Champion RED, Comic Blade, Comic Gum, Comic Punch, Comic REX, Comic Rush, Comic ZeroSum, Corocoro, Dengeki Daioh, Dragon Age, Evening, Gao!, Jump Square, Morning, Shonen Ace, Shonen Champion, Shonen Magazine, Shonen Rival, Shonen Sunday, Shonen Sirius, Super Jump, Ultra Jump, V Jump, Weekly Jump, Young Animal, Young Gangan, Young Jump, Young King, Young Magazine and Young Sunday,
Specific creators: Amano Kozue, Araki Hirohiko, Azuma Kiyohiko, CLAMP, Fujisaki Ryuu, Fukumoto Nobuyuki, Higuchi Daisuke, Ishinomori Shoutarou, Kawaguchi Kaiji, Kubo Tite, Kurumada Masami, Nakamura Hikaru, Minekura Kazuya, Yasuhiro Nightow, Shibata Ami, Takahashi Youichi, Takei Hiroyuki, Tezuka Osamu, Touhou Project, Togashi Yoshihiro, Yude-Tamago and Takahashi Rumiko.
(Note: I’ve romanised all names in accordance with the kana with the exception of ones with well-known Anglicised variants.)
Day 3 (“Hentai Day”)
General: Original works for boys, original works for girls, original june (BL/yaoi) works, manga clubs, original literature and poetry, commentary and news, original works ‘for men’, anime ‘for men’, games ‘for men’, R-18 hentai games, strip mahjong games, love sims, daughter-rearing sims and historical works on topics such as the Three Kingdoms Era or kabuki. You can find reading material for a wide range of ‘otaku’ hobbies on this day — garage kits, trains, bikes, buses, anime figures, dolls, accessories and cameras.
Game developers: Alice Soft, AQUAPLUS, August, age, Circus, Leaf & Key, Nitro Plus, PULLTOP, TYPE-MOON, UNiSONSHIFT and Windmill.
Specific creators: Nasu Kinoko
Games titles: AIR, Akai Ito, Amagami, Aoi Shiro, Baby Princess, CLANNAD, Comic Party, Dousei, DREAM C CLUB, Fate/Stay Night series, THE iDOLM@STER, Kanon, Koihime Musou, Little Busters, Love Plus, Lyrical Nanoha, Melty Blood, Miracle*Train, MOON, ONE, Sister Princess, Tokimeki Memorial, Triangle Heart, Tsukihime, Utawareru Mono and White Album.
The photo was taken by Jasohill, who made it available via Creative Commons.