It's been a long time coming, but here's the inaugural otaku blog post, and we begin with a report from Comiket 79!
For those who aren't familiar with the event, Comiket is basically the biggest otaku convention in the world, with well over half a million attendees flocking in from all over Japan to the Tokyo Big Sight twice a year. The main purpose is the sale of doujinshi, which are basically fan-created manga, songs, games, etc. As you might expect from otaku culture, much of it is devoted to ero (hentai) content, so be wary of viewing the pictures following at work.
The day starts very early, with people starting to line up the night before. I was there at a far more reasonable 5am.
At around 8am, a couple hours before opening, they'll stand everyone up and start compressing the lines to prepare for entry.
As opening approaches, they'll start moving the line into the Big Sight grounds, splitting people off into East and West Halls lines.
The Big Sight is divided into two major buildings, the East and West halls. Usually only one or two halls would be rented out for any given event, but the sheer size of Comiket requires all 10 halls.
Pretty much every hall gets completely packed. You can see the West-3 sign at the top, marking one of the corporate booth halls.
Comiket is held over 3 days, and circles will only show up on one day, usually grouped together by genre/theme (Touhou/yuri/BL/etc.) You're a seasoned otaku if you can name this circle.
The exception are the corporate booths, which are always in West 3/4 and remain all 3 days. This is the Dengekiya booth, showing off lots of Oreimo + Index goods.
If one word describes Comiket, it would be "lineups". There are lineups for circles, for getting between halls, for using washrooms, even for the cosplay area. Everyone brings a DS or PSP or something else to do while waiting.
On day 3 it took me around 45 minutes to traverse the 100 meter path adjoining the West and East Halls. Insane.
You've probably already noticed that there are a ton of people at this event, but pictures really don't do the sheer mass of otaku there justice. It's really hard to imagine a crowd so dense that you get literally swept along if you lose your grip on the ground unless you've experienced it yourself. So while pictures may not convey what 550,000 people looks like, maybe a video can:
Pardon the camera handling; I'm not exactly pro at it and being constantly jostled didn't really help either. Here's the corporate booths in the West Halls. Can you pick out the Oreimo PV playing as I pass it?
The corporate booths are popular because they tend to sell limited edition goods that are only sold at that Comiket, so if you want your hands on them, that's the only time to get them.
You probably know that dakimakura are "love pillow" covers, but did you know they also made curtains?
Towards the end of the day, a lot of booths hold special seiyuu/developer events where special guests will appear and do interviews.
This is the cosplay area. The average cosplayers at a Comiket alone easily outnumber most American conventions.
I don't usually spend much time in the cosplay area (because it would reduce precious lineup time for circles and booths) but I went down this time to take a look. Here's a Touhou crew.
This Reimu had 30 people around her taking photos the whole time. Notice the suitcases - you're not allowed to cosplay to or from Comiket, so everyone has to bring their costumes, then lug around their baggage the whole time.
At 4:30 the announcement goes out over the intercom that Comiket is over for the day, and everyone starts making their way outside.
It's December, so it's already getting dark by the time it finishes, and the sun's about to disappear.
So there you have it - Comiket it a nutshell. Afterwards there's a huge rush for the second hand doujin shops like Melonbooks and Toranoana where people try to get any ones they missed (at an inflated price, of course). I'll cover that in my next post, which will focus more on otaku culture in general. Feel free to leave comments/questions!