Comiket 86 – Live (sort of)

IMG_1289 IMG_1294 IMG_1300

Love it, hate it or both, there’s nothing like it.

Cramming 600,000 people into a convention center over three days in Tokyo summer weather sounds like a recipe for Hell.  And in many ways, it is – even at its best Comiket is an exhausting experience.  I much prefer the winter version, which is slightly smaller and graced with far better weather.  But winter or summer, it’s a unique event – the undisputed epicentre of worldwide anime, manga, LN and VN culture.

I wanted to take a few videos this year, although Comiket is a terrible place to do so.  The crowds are so massive that it’s really almost impossible to stop anywhere and film without causing a massive disruption, and there are a lot of people who don’t want their pictures taken.  Friday is traditionally “ladies day”, in that much of the floor space given over to doujinshi is dedicated to those that target the female demographic.  Saturday tends to be Touhou-centric, and Sunday to focus on anime and VN that target hard-core otaku.  That usually means Friday is the least brutal experience, as women at Comiket are as a rule both less violent and less odiferous than men.  But the boundaries seem to be blurring somewhat – there were quite a few otaku-centric doujin circles, and some of the big ladies favorites are on-display tomorrow.

I’ve described Comiket as a “choose your own adventure game for fetishes” and the first hall I visited (West 1 and 2, doujin circles) is a perfect example.  The various sections of the hall were geared towards Sherlock, military, cats (not catgirls, actual cats) and train otaku.  The East Halls are entirely doujin circles and artists, and they were a mix of various parody and original material, about a 50-50 split between those targeting men and women.  I can say for certain that the Tiger and Bunny phenomenon shows no signs of abating – it had the largest footprint of any series, though some big guns like Kurobas and Haikyuu!! hit tomorrow.

I had entertained thoughts about going back tomorrow – it’s free apart from the ¥450 each way train fare to Odaiba – but I’m pretty spent.  And to be honest, the industry halls (West 3 and 4) were so depressing that I just don’t feel like I can face the place again.  They’re always the loudest and most jam-packed sections of the event, but I can usually find at least a few booths that are pushing something of interest.  But more so than at any time I’ve attended, it was a whitewash of straight-up otaku marketing – almost nothing notable for anything except moe and sex.  Looking at the Fall schedule already had me in a deep despair about the state of the industry – we seem on-track for one of the worst anime years ever – but I’ve seen a real transformation over the last four Comikets in that industry room.  It’s less diverse and more monotonal than ever (even the stuff targeting to female otaku was few and far between).  I’ve never been less optimistic about the future of anime – but that’s a topic for a dedicated post…

On the way back I stopped at Aqua City, one of the big malls on Odaiba (next to Diver City, where the giant Gundam lives).  They still have a NoitaminA store there (the Shibuya one closed), and it has a cafe and screens videos.  There was also a large Psycho-Pass pop-up on the first floor, so if you’re a fan you should swing by while you can.

IMG_1287 IMG_1288 IMG_1290
IMG_1291 IMG_1292 IMG_1298
IMG_1302 IMG_1304 IMG_1306
IMG_1308 IMG_1309 IMG_1310
IMG_1311 IMG_1312 IMG_1313


  1. v

    Were there many cosplayers around? I'm thinking of dropping by over the weekend to photograph them. But the thought of jostling with the crowd for shooting space is making me reconsider my weekend plans.

  2. There are gajillions of cosplayers all the time at Comiket. I never mess around with trying to photograph them but if you do, make sure you ask them first and thank them after. If you're so inclined, there is an overhead walkway where you can sort of take group shots of the whole cosplay area.

  3. H

    "Saturday tends to be Touhou-centric" Seriously, it's still so big that it dominates an entire day of Comiket? Daaaaaaamn.

  4. R

    Never, EVER underestimate Touhou when it comes to fanworks.

    Some people were debating if the crown has fallen, but from personal experience I'm pretty damn sure it's still firmly on the gigantic franchise head.

    Touhou fans can be really scary sometimes too @_@ (although I've met plenty of nice ones)

  5. I see no evidence whatsoever that Touhou has declined, never mind lost the crown. And yes, they are that big – Saturday is mostly their day. Touhou is unique in terms of fandom and Comiket – they're like a hybrid between the industry halls and the doujin halls. They're not technically corporate, but they've become so huge that they have their own franchises and recurring characters, their own retail outlets and their own Comiket halls.

  6. D

    In terms of losing the crown, it can be argued that Kancolle has overtaken it, at least in the short term. This comiket is the first one in 6-7 years where Touhou doesn't have the most doujin circles compared to any other individual series.

  7. o

    Wow……the comiket is always hugely crowded each year huh whether it's in summer or winter, I would love to go once, just to see and feel the atmosfer myself. Thanks for the nice coverage (and the video, too) anyway.
    A bit off topic, but since you're a big fan of Moribito series, I just want to ask whether you already know that there's going to be a live-cction tv dorama in 2016 for Seirei no Moribito? I'm not particularly fan of Japanese manga-live action adaptation, but the good thing from it can already seen from this week LN sales where the Moribito novel series back on charting again on oricon chart and gain 5K boost even before the dorama aired next year. If it can keep up this performance until the dorama finished airing, then I'll be very happy since I want to see The Moribito series gets a bit of success again, though I don't particularly have high hopes for the rest of the story to be animated one day since I doubt there's going to be any producers willing to fund this kind of project in Japan, unless the Japanese Government willing to fund it again just like the one and only tv series (that we got), but nahhh….I'm doubtful…sigh>.< Well, dorama usually has more of mainstream appeal to the public in Japan, so hopefully it can increase the novel sales a whole lot more. I know you're not also a fan of Japanese live-action/dorama of manga/novel adaptation, but since this is Moribito series, I'm wondering if you at least going to check the 1st ep of the dorama when it air next year?

  8. Wow – thanks for that, I hadn't heard. I'll certainly check it out, though my experience with doramas hasn't been good. If they get a woman to play Chagum, I'm out.

  9. D

    Thanks for the coverage. It's nice to get a look at Comiket like this, because while going there seems nice in theory, I know myself well enough that I wouldn't be able to stand the crowds for more than half an hour in there. Kinda sucks but oh well. And the fact that the otaku-marketing is so monotone doesn't surprise me, lemme guess, freaking Kancolle everywhere? It seems we live in a time where companies sure like to chase that one bubble till it pops and destroys them… Christ, it reminds me of the obsession with the mobile market in videogames.

    Though I wonder what made you so upset about the Fall season so far. Sure there's crap, but you've got plenty of interesting sequels like Mushishi, Log Horizon and things like Yowamushi Pedal (which I don't care about but others do), old manga finally getting an adaptation like Parasyte, and maybe some new stuff. Though this year really hasn't been anything special so far, I agree – no season has been as terribad as Fall 2013 or Summer 2012 yet, but everything has been getting stuck at 'good but not great' at most. There has been no equivalent to Uchouten Kazoku or Watamote this year yet, and I doubt there will be. Hopefully next year will be better (something I can say for every freaking hobby of mine).

  10. Kancolle isn't big in the corporate halls, actually, and the circles weren't scheduled until the weekend. The depressing thing in the industry hall was the new series that they're pushing. Comiket is just the icing – the quality of new series has been getting worse and worse, and the confirmed announcements for Fall or later are almost unimaginably depressing. Even the top tier writers and directors are being forced into cute girls being cute shows now – it's clear everything else is being squeezed out completely. Apart from female-equivalents like Free and the occasional good sports series, mecha or WSJ adaptation, the dream is pretty much over.

    As for Fall specifically, well – sequels don't do much to encourage me, though they're better than nothing (and I find LH to be indescribably dull, BTW). The most discouraging thing for me is that original series, which were once the beacon of hope on an anime schedule, are now the most depressing element – completely monotonal. Yes, you have sequels like YP and Mushishi, and yes, there's Parasyte. But apart from that it looks utterly desolate.

    2014 is on track to be very bad. Based on early returns, 2015 looks like it could be worse. The degradation in new series announcements over the last couple of years is astonishing, and it's really evident when you see the evolution of what's being promoted in those industry halls at Comiket. Diversity is being strangled out, and the splinter audiences that hold the industry hostage being catered to more and more exclusively. And if you want to look to theatres for hope, a studio like Ghibli can't survive financially despite having the top-grossing film of the year. Sorry to be a downer, but I just think it's a case of the corpse still twitching.

    My advice for fans of quality in anime? Become a manga fan.

  11. D

    Yeah, I can see where you're coming from. Original series have been getting noticeably worse and for the most part, are the least guaranteed to be good nowadays. While there's still people like Watanabe doing their own thing, there really aren't enough of them. They're rarely succesful too, to make it even more depressing. New series, and the industry in and of itself, are getting less diverse by the minute and I feel like certain genres are getting rarer and rarer. Hell, it directly influences other industries, like the figure industry. The lack of diversity at this year's Wonfes was all too obvious (freaking Kancolle!) and I think it's because of the same reasons (same audience, after all).

    But. I'm not willing to write off the whole industry as a twitching corpse yet though. There's still plenty of talented people working in the industry, young and old, and I still haven't seen a season that had *no* good shows whatsoever. Even terrible seasons like Fall 2013 still had around five (including quirky titles like Kyousougiga). Shows where it's clear people put effort into them, shows that put a new spin on old things, shows that were a riot to watch. Call me stupidly optimistic, but as long as shows like that keep getting made, I'm not willing to write off their best efforts as a mere twitch. Comiket may be painful to watch as the place where all the popular guff gathers, but there's always a light of hope somewhere else.

    Not to mention I also feel like personal taste is a big part of it as well. You may write off shows like No Game No Life as soulless, and Hanayamata as one of those cute girl shows, but both are more than the sum of its parts. Now I won'll tell you to like them, but I do feel that easily dismissing shows like that as more of the typical guff only serves to reinforce a negative impression you already had. Basically, I feel that the depth of the industry's decline is still subjective. It's hard for me to feel that way when I can still easily fill a schedule with fun shows every season. And conversely, you'd probably be happy if there were suddenly plenty of shows like Tsuritama going around. Me? I'd be a grump, because I'd be as bored with them as I was with K-On.

  12. Even if you feel like shows like NGNL and Hanayamata are good at what they do, that still doesn't address the issue of disappearing thematic diversity. If the best we can hope for is well-executed examples of the minute number of formulas that otaku deem acceptable, that doesn't offer me much hope.

  13. D

    True, true. Now I will never completely write off the industry as long as at least those well-executed examples still exist (difference in viewpoint, I suppose), but if that's all we're getting in the future it'll be a dark period for anime indeed.

Leave a Comment