Ticktank’s English Guide to Comiket (コミケット) Part 1: General Info
I know its pretty strange for a BS6 fanblog to be hosting a guide on the Comiket, along with the fact that there’s already a few good guides available on the net, (though some of them are rather old). But ever since posting about my adventures at the most recent Comiket 74, I’ve been getting Comiket related emails now and then, asking about how to go and what to expect etc. So I decided to post a mini-FAQ on this much coveted event, to hopefully be of help to those considering or have decided to attend. A particularly nice and detailed guide can be found in the Heisei Democracy website (Warning: the site is NSFW), if you’re looking for an alternative.
** Please note that some of the information is based on my personal experiences as a 4-time visitor to the event (C60, C65, C73 & C74). A terribly small number compared to most Otakus (I’m not one though), but as a foreigner who isn’t very wealthy, I think it should be adequate enough for my views to have some credibility. Also, English isn’t my first language, so do pardon the grammatical errors.
Basic information on the Comiket
Comic Market (AKA Comiket)
Duration & Frequency – 3 days, twice a year: August (Summer) & December (Winter)
Venue – Tokyo Big Sight (since 1996), Odaiba area
Attendance figures – 500,000+ for all 3 days. Constantly increasing every year
Demographics – Folks in their late teens to early adulthood. Females outnumber males
More detailed information and the exact convention dates can be found on the official site: http://www.comiket.co.jp
Whats being sold there?
Artistic productions by non-professional and non commercially-based (did that sound right?) individuals. In simpler terms – amateur, independent works. Works do not merely mean printed material (comics, or doujinshi) and hentai only, although these are the more well-known and common form of material. Works can also be figurines, dolls, trinkets, CDs, self-published games, cards, stationary etc. Basically lots of collectibles. Finally, works can be original or fan material (parody). More of this will be discussed in the next article.
Can’t these things be found on Torrent/ordered online/bought physically at Akihabara? Why spend money going then?
Because not everything sold at the Comiket will be sold again at the shops, or ever be placed online by a pirate. In fact, I’d estimate the figure to be less than 15%. Most of what you see on sale on Melonbooks and Toranoana are works done by mid level to full-time circles, who have established deals with printing presses, manfacturers and shops such as the above two (to ensure that their works have high circulation and exposure to meet the demands of their fan bases). Ironically, it is the works of these ‘heavyweights’ that tend to be the most scanned and pirated online.
The vast majority of works being sold at Comikets however are done by small-time/casual artists and writers, many of whom are essentially passionate fans of a certain genre, and who are expressing their said passions through art and stories. The works of these amateur circles are hence very limited and in some ways, very valuable in the context of its fandom. In short, what you see on sale in the shops and online as scans is just the tip of the iceberg. Such stuff is usually of better quality, but not always.
And then there are other non-monetary reasons for attending the Comiket, such as the desire to Cosplay (lol), curiosity and to meet/show appreciation towards particular artists or circles.
How much does it cost to enter?
Unless there’s a change being planned, Comikets have always been free of charge. Realistically however, you should factor in transportation costs, hydration measures, and the pricetag of the Catalog.
I’m not cosplaying. What should I wear?
That depends on whether you’re attending a Summer (August) or Winter (December) Comiket. For Summer Comikets, where it can get as hot as 37 degrees C outside and 30 degrees C inside, wear something thin and light, but not too revealing obviously (guy here by the way). Baggy trousers are good. Covered, comfortable footwear like sneakers are good choices too, as you will get trampled on accidentally once in awhile, not to mention the landmines you may have to avoid in the toilet. Do NOT wear tight Jeans. OMG biggest clothing mistake I made on my first ever visit. And expect to sweat tons and stink like a pig. You certainly won’t be able to wear the same clothes again for the next day, if you have some hygiene sense.
For Winter Comikets, bring a jacket. It can be quite chilly (20 degrees C, maybe less sometimes), but once inside, it’ll get a little warm again. I usually take my jacket off and tie it around the waist. You’ll need both hands free to buy goods, handle money and hold your maps etc.
What should I bring there?
Looks like a redundant question, but its not really so. Some preparation is needed. This is what I usually bring, apart from the usual bag, money, comiket floor maps etc.
- Water - Don’t underestimate dehydration, even during Winter Comikets. Its difficult to buy your hentai if you’re unconscious. I recommend bringing just one big bottle. And have some sense NOT to consume sweet drinks. It’ll only worsen the thirst. If you’re into umm…engineering, you could bring a modified beer cap.
- A small plastic/paper fan – Because the heat can get unbearable at times, and the air doesn’t move…
- A second, foldable bag/sack – The books can get thick and heavy, especially if you’re on a spending spree. I recommend buying one of those compactable bags that can be zipped up and stored inside your main bag pack easily.
- Towel – Oh yes this is a must. Have a clean dry towel ready, and if you can, bring a spare. Put it around your neck and use it to wipe your face as necessary (it’ll be often). Should the stench of the crowd became nauseating, put the towel near your nose and breathe. Smelling your own sweat can actually be less unpleasant sometimes. Whats that? Look weird you say? Are you there to get stuff you like, or to look pretty in front of everyone? (Skip this question if you’re a girl. You have my sympathies). No one has the time to bother about how you look.
- Clip board with sling- Unless you don’t mind having your maps wet (with sweat) and in tatters, clip them onto a board, and tie a string around it so that you can sling it around your neck for easy reference. As per above, no one gives a fuck how you look with a board around your neck (or slung like a handbag). You won’t even look half as weird as some of the people cosplaying outside, trust me.
- Umbrella or Raincoat - Small ones that can fit into your bag obviously.
- Good manners – Don’t cut queues, don’t whine (aloud), don’t bargain. If a stampede or riot breaks out there, you WILL die.
What should I NOT bring there?
The list is fortunately much shorter…
Spectacles - Try not to wear them during Comiket days, and use contact lenses instead. The sweat and heat will really muck up your glasses really quick, and wiping them with your greasy shirt is not going to help at all. And pray you don’t actually drop them…
The Comiket Book Catalog – Its been said before in other guides, and I’ll say it here too. Seriously, don’t bring that heavy paper monster with you. It’ll only tire you out. You should have planned your route and priority lists way in advance. If you MUST refer to the catalog, look for the information booths. They usually have several copies on their tables for you to browse for free.
Messy, wet food – By all means bring food for lunch if you must eat, but try to make sure its easy to pack and not the messy type. Your backpack will get squished every so often by the crowd as you navigate through the halls.
Any unnecessary additional weight - You will be standing, waiting and moving for most of the time there, so why not make things easier for your legs?
How much money to bring? How much do doujinshis cost?
Comics can cost anywhere from 100 to 3000YEN, with the majority of them costing around 500~1000YEN. CDs, figurines, PC games and ‘set’ packages may cost more. I’d recommend bringing at least 10,000~15,000YEN for each day to be comfortable. I usually spend up to 18,000YEN per day on average. For all the time, money and sweat you’ve devoted to get into the convention, you might as well be a little more liberal than usual when spending. Also, bringing the stuff back yourself is tons cheaper than paying online stores to ship them. If you’re a straight guy who likes hentai and isn’t shy about it, you’ll probably want to spend only a little on day 1 (girly/yaoi day) and save up for day 2 and 3.
Should I spend time lining up to get goods from the heavyweight circles e.g. T2 works?
I can’t really give an answer to this one. It depends on your objectives, and how much of a fan you are of the said artist/circle. If your intention is to snap up stuff that can sell well on Ebay, then yes. (Never went with this mindset before though). What I can say however is, NEVER line up simply because other people are doing it i.e. because its popular. Don’t be a lemming and succumb to peer pressure. Time utilization is critical at Comikets, so you’ll have to weigh the cost and benefits of spending an hour lining up for something you don’t really have a *liking* for VS spending that hour browsing and buying comics on genres/circles that you really like. And believe me, there are plenty of amazingly well-illustrated works done by obscure and low-profile circles in the main table areas, some of whom you will never discover until chancing upon them during the convention itself.
I’ll talk about how to plan and read the Comiket catalog in the next article. Hope this post has been helpful to aspiring visitors. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to post them, or email me (address can be found in the ‘About Me’ page on the right column). Further sections of the guide are linked below: