This is only the second time in my life that I find myself traversing the halls of the Tokyo Big Sight in search of many sagashimono, but the process already feels familiar–dare I say “routine”. Unlike Otakon, which takes years of attendance to figure out how to balance one’s time between events, Comiket is about one thing and one thing only: Buy. Buy, buy, buy. That isn’t to say that Comiket doesn’t require a certain skill set to navigate: Those aiming for shutter circles need to chose their battles wisely, and those with sizable shopping lists must prioritize. I, however, have narrow interests. My shopping list is determined by the pixiv users in attendance, and the tables selling doujinshi for the few series I’m interested in. Shutter books can be bought later.
The pixiv tables actually prove to be something of challenge. I immediately want to praise the artisan sat behind their mountain of books, until I realize that their offering centers around a series like Nanoha, or is in fact an anthology of poor illustrations that the artist in question just did the cover for. Once you talk to them you’re basically locked into buying something, which isn’t good for someone like me on a budget. While I do manage to secure a number of items from my pixiv list, it’s less than expected. What I end up buying is mostly full color artbooks, chock full of illustrations that fill my wannabe artist heart with envy.
Series hunting proves to be a lot easier, with the only challenge being cutting my way through the hordes of sweaty nerds, as if traversing through an uncharted jungle with a machete. Comiket’s organization makes series hunting easy, as all the K-ON! books are with all the other K-ON! books, all the Zetsubou Sensei books are with all the other Zetsubou Sensei books, and so on. Time is spent between running up and down rows examining the offerings based on the few shows I’m interested in, and skipping past rows at breakneck speed in order to get to what I want before the artists leave, or the clock strikes 16:00. Day 3 is the heaviest day–a nonstop search for erotic parodies of the aforementioned K-ON! and Zetsubou Sensei, as well as Bakemonogatari, Denpa Onna, and The iDOLM@STER. While I come up short on the Bakemonogatari front, I make out quite well on all the others. And what I don’t buy in dirty books for Bakemonogatari is made up for in buying lengthy non-erotic Bakemonogatari gag doujinshi. I’m sure I’ll be able to read them. Eventually.
On the second day I randomly end up in the midst of cosplay circles–uncharted territory for me. I end up buying a CD chock full of cheesecake Hatsune Miku cosplay, and another CD containing a really well done series of Bakemonogatari photography. I also manage to wander into the cosplay photography area for the first time. Despite forgetting my camera, I still enjoy looking at the various cosplayers who are all presumably sweating away their life away in the 35 degree heat surround by hordes of scary photographers and fellow cosplayers. I make a dash for some shaved ice, then hit the road.
Events such as Comiket are great opportunities to talk to your favorite artists. When attending Wonder Festival in 2009, the vendors were more than eager to speak to foreigners, oftentimes striking up conversations more so than I was. People seemed less talkative at NatsuKomi 2009, and that remains consistent now. However, in 2009 Comiket marked the end of my time in Japan, so my language skills were quite decent. Seeing as Comiket is the beginning of my trip this time around, I myself am not feeling all too conversational. However, I do offer compliments to a couple of artists I like. I stop by Hitomaron’s table in order to come face to face with a great artist that I love but have never been able to meet. Sat behind the fort of Zetsubou Sensei doujin (along with a few WORKING!! and Strike Withces books) is an older woman doing all the exchanging of money. I’m somewhat shocked at the fact that Hitomaron may indeed be an older woman, but after buying most of her wares, I offer compliments. Upon hearing this, the older woman directs me to a younger woman who was up until now hidden behind her display. She’s quiet, shy, and dressed like any given fujoshi one finds in the onna muke doujinshi section in Mandarake. That’s more like it.
One artist I get to speak at length with is Shimetta Seiya, a Most Dangerous internet personality that loves anything that airs on Sunday mornings, and tweets about such things vigorously in real time. I am surprised to see that he recognizes me from Twitter, and we have a nice discussion about Anyamaru Tantei Kiruminzuu. He’s a younger man–probably in his early 20s, clad in a loud pink Kiruminzuu shirt, with his table adorned with books, and the Zhu Zhu Pets he often tweets about. While he’s certainly exuberant on Twitter, in real life he’s more reserved. Kind of like myself. Can’t wait to see him at another event! Puniket, perhaps?
Upon reading that he’d be behind a table on the second day, I decide to spring a surprise on one of my old Sophia kouhai. At first he’s confused at the sight of a random foreigner at his table, but after a few moments wheels start turning, and he lets out a loud, “Masaka…!” As usual, I can’t understand half of what he says between all his slurred langauge, but it’s nice to see him all the same.
I also visit Tamaki Nozomu’s table with the intention of saying hi, but when I arrive he looks as if he’s running on empty, and a friend of his is handing the exchange of money. As such, I just buy a few of his wares–one being a charity doujinshi–and go on my way. I had meant to bring my English edition of Dance in the Vampire Bund 10 for him to sign, but I forgot it back at my hotel.
On two of the three days, I sit down for lunch with kransom. On the first day we dine at a curry place in Akihabara called Party Party Carolina, which has a decor as loud and as showy as the lettering on its sign. On the third day, we eat at Hong Kong Express in the Big Sight. I assume it’s the Japanese equivalent of Panda Express, but at least it feels a little healthier. I’m also at dinner with kransom on two of the three days, one day with Vocaloid superfan Masa, and the other with Vertical’s Ed Chavez, and a few other industry people. These are primarily Japanese-language-only affairs, but kransom acts as an interpreter for any areas where I find myself confused, and a good time is had by all. Among the many things we talk about, I learn what the world shinshi means amongst this country’s otaku masses.
Apparently, I am one.
And since no Comiket report is complete without loot photos, here’s the stuff I managed to cop. Of course, some of the following photos are “X-Rated” so proceed with caution.