Here it comes, Comic Market 91! Finally the doors to the venue are open. What is waiting for me inside, heaven or hell? I, the fearless otaku writer Ayumi, will report my experience in Comiket in full length! Inside I was joined by the editorial supervisor of MANGA.TOKYO and together we stormed the doujinshi otaku seas. What will happen to this excited pair!? I am sure that after reading this, you won’t be afraid of going to your first Comiket!
Comiket is not just an official commercial booths and goods event. In fact, the main focus are doujinshi, also called ‘thin books’ (usui hon), as well as doujin goods. Doujin basically means ‘indie’. Doujin items are self-published and self-produced books, games, and any other type of merchandise. There are a lot of things here in Comiket that aren’t published ‘officially’ because of copyright issues. Only a small selection of these works is sold on a commission basis at shops like Animate and Comic Toranoana!
Tokyo Big Sight is the perfect venue for Comiket. It has lots of big area spaces like this.
There are 8 buildings on the east side and 4 buildings on the west side (around 265,751.63 m2,) so it requires a lot of energy and time to visit them all. It’s more spacious than I expected… Otaku from all over Japan were gathered here. It was spectacular.
I used the map with the booth numbers that came with the catalog, and marked the places I would find the books I wanted, and the booths of my favorite writers. The doujinshi circles’ booths are displayed as [the building number · katakana · number]. For example, if the circle is [East 5サ 26,] it means [it’s at number 26 in the サ row, in the 5th eastern building.] Some writers announce their booth numbers on Twitter, and all the booth numbers are in the catalog, so if you find yourself lost in Comiket, just check the numbers!
It was very difficult to find the books I wanted, since I had to navigate through big waves of people. The treasure map was so useful. There were way too many people, and the staff was too busy guiding lines as needed.
My coin case and Velcro wallet helped me smooth my purchases. They look incredibly lame but I prioritized functionality. At some point I had bought so many things that I felt like my shoulders were ready to fall off. The bag was full of books, so it was super heavy.
My most precious treasure map and my full-of-books bag.
While joining our target circles, we were possessed by the monster of Comiket, ‘That one also has a nice picture… That looks interesting…’ We spent a lot of money in no time.
(The monster of Comiket: Coined word. It’s an invisible monster which makes you spend all your money. The monster always reminds you that if you don’t buy the goods now, you’ll probably never find them again.)
‘KABE’: The Most Popular Circles at Comiket
Although most of the booths are doujin (indie) , it’s common sense that the popular circles will get long lines! It’s an unwritten rule in many conventions and events that the last person of a line holds up a paper sign which says this is the tail end. When someone comes behind you, they’ll take the sign by saying ‘I’ll take it (jp: kawari masu).
This is a loooooong line. Shutter kabe saa are very popular.
Great popular circles that generate the longer lines are called ‘kabe saa’ because they are placed near the walls. This is short for the Japanese word ‘kabe saakuru’, which means ‘wall circle’. The biggest sellers among the ‘kabe saa’ that generate even longer lines that go outside the venue are called ‘shutter’. This is the line for a shutter kabe saa. It’s not a line for commercial goods. It’s a long long line for books by doujin writers.
Sometimes, even professional manga artists participate in Comiket. For example, Ume Aoki from Hidamari Sketch, and Fumi Yoshinaga from What Did You Eat Yesterday? participated in Comiket 91. In the past, Arina Tanemura, known for Phantom Thief Jeanne, also participated! She sold spin-offs which she couldn’t publish in commercial manga, and doujinshi in different genres.
Comiket is an amazing opportunity to meet artists you admire! Of course, professionals like them are usually treated as ‘kabe saa’ or shutter.
Meanwhile at the west building (commercial booths), where MANGA.TOKYO had their booth… Below you can see the lines for the booths of Kadokawa Shoten, Cygame and Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha.
The lines for the booths of Kadokawa Shoten, Cygame and Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. It looks more like a concert crowd than a line.
What an overwhelming line… How long do these people have to wait…?
Everyone’s got their own battle at Comiket. I feel there is a kind of beauty in how religiously otaku endure those lines, no matter how cold and hard it may be.
Food at Comiket
There are a lot of restaurants and cafes in Tokyo Big Sight. Since a lot of people visit Comiket, they’re always full! However, few people linger, perhaps because they’re busy with shopping and taking pictures. I could get a hot meal by lining up for just a few minutes. It was pretty good.
This otaku had to replenish her strength!
For those who don’t like having a proper meal among the crowd, you can get food from a convenience store or eat at the food stalls outside of the west building. There’s some space beside the food stalls where you can sit and eat something.
The convenience store made sure that all items kept getting restocked.
The variety of food stalls. Things that are easy to eat, like kebab, are very popular.
This is the must-have item! It’s for your sake; bring it with you! Imagine yourself sitting comfortably as people pass you by. You enjoy your meal and see good-looking guys and beautiful girls. It might be the best seat in the venue.
Comiket has no food problems; they had cafeterias, convenience stores, restaurants, and food stalls.
There are no Connection Issues at Comiket
Apparently, a decade ago, phones tended to have connection issues due to the many people attending, so it was hard to contact each other. However, nowadays you’ll have no problems thanks to these car! Phone companies have mobile reception dishes, so that everyone can enjoy the event without getting frustrated by a lack of signal.
The phone companies collaborates with popular anime! I could use email, LINE, and phone calls without any problem. It’s really helpful in Comiket where you can easily get separated from your friends.
The Comic Market Goes On!
This is only a few items I bought. The clear folder is full of doujinshi. Books can be crumpled while you walk in the crowd, so if you want to buy a lot of doujinshi, you need this kind of clear folder to keep them safe.
At some point our bags weighted just under 20kg. They can become that heavy before you even realize it! How terrifying the monster of Comiket is… But, maybe this is just the weight of happiness? I don’t regret it at all! However, the battle never ends!
My next article will be a summary of my three days at Comiket! I’ll show you a little bit of the nice commercial booths and the things I got there. Stay with me a little longer! Don’t miss it ♪
I'm a good-for-nothing otaku who works as a freelance web writer.
I live in Kyoto, Japan, but I am so often in Tokyo for anime-related cafes and products that people frequently misunderstood that I live there. Yowamushi Pedal helps me overcome all difficulties. I'm also a huge fan of Touken Ranbu! In order to deliver to you the latest otaku info and trends, I'll keep dwelling in the 2-D world. Thank you very much!