A Walk through Comiket

December 27th, 2006

Yes. I’m stalling.

I have a perfectly good reason for stalling on the 2006 Top Ten Yuri list. I have no idea whatsoever to put on it. There. I admit it. Happy?

In the meantime, as I stall, I thought I’d walk you through Comiket a bit. Unlike American anime/manga cons, where people feel free to block an entire passageway while they take endless of pictures of people dressed in armor made from Mountain Dew boxes (and no, I am not making that up) at Comiket, one cannot randomly walk around taking pictures. Of course, people do anyway. The exception to the rule is that photos are allowed in the cosplay area on the roof during the hours set aside for cosplay. But I want you get a feel for how HUGE the whole event is. So I’m going to try and walk it with you.

First of all, Tokyo Big Sight. It’s situated at the end of one of the islands built into Tokyo Bay (Babylon Project is not fake, my geek children – it’s been in the process of being built for about 400 years at this point) called “Odaiba.” Odaiba is home to many other things of interest, you can read about some of them if you look for the Tokyo Journal category of Okazu. Fuji TV, Venus Fort, lots of malls…a maritime museum I’ll probably never go to… ^_^

You get off the Yurikamome monorail or the Rinkai train line and follow everyone for blocks and blocks, while you wonder what you have gotten yourself into…and you wonder at the hints of funky clothes peeking out from under coats and think, “Wacky fashion sense or cosplay?”

When Big Sight first appears, it doesn’t looks as big as it is, because you’re looking at it up a set of stairs, so you really can’t see how freaking BIG it is.

I am told that people line up the night before to get in – I can’t imagine why. The line moves pretty quickly and okay, if you’re collecting from impossibly popular circles, there might be some waiting time to get anything, but seriously, with the internet making purchasing doujinshi easier than ever, and me being such a slacker, I think that you’d have to be really mad to line up the night before.

To navigate Comiket without madness, one should get a copy of the catalog, in which is contained the Map of Comiket (This picture is a teeny little piece of the map, showing one of the halls, East Hall 6.) The Map is actually three maps, one for each day. One goes through the catalog, which has all the many thousands of circles listed in little one-inch boxes. Then one marks the locations of the circles one wants to find on the map. Each circle exhibits for one of the three days. So, as big as the place is, you can’t “come back tomorrow”. You buy *now* or forever rue your choice.

The map allows one to navigate a little more easily. Go back to the map picture for a second – notice the teeny little boxes. Each box represents a circle’s table. The tables are about 3′ long. They are arranged in blocks, and the blocks are addressed by letters of the Japanese syllabary and American alphabet.

So, an address will read something like this: East Hall 6, Row “Shi” (Kana), Table 20ab. I marked this “Kana” because the syllabary rows are marked in Hiragana and Katakana. If you can read Hiragana and Katakana, it’s really quite easy to find a circle’s table. (BTW…anyone want to guess what circle has the address I quoted above? I’ll give you two hints – the circle will be there on Sat. Dec. 30 and it’s not Yuricon/ALC. I’ll also tell you this – there’ll be a line.) And if you can’t read hiragana or katakana, then wth are you doing at Comiket anyway?  (Q: How many times can you ask your friend who is studying Japanese “what does this say?” before you get annoying? A: Three.)

Okay, so armed with your map, a pocket full of insane cash, because no, they don’t take credit cards, and a bag to haul your loot back with, you start up the stairs.

And you walk.

Then you walk.

Then you walk some more.

And eventually, after while, you find yourself in something that looks kind of like a mall. Or a space station. Pass through the restaurant area, into this great big straight hall. On the lower floor there are entrances to the East Halls, and the lines snaking out of the ladies’ rooms. You decide to go into a Hall, and you are confronted by something that looks unnavigably crowded.

Go to it friend. Find your circle.

First look at the walls. Notice what section of the syllabary/alphabet you’re in. Find the row you’re looking for, follow the map, or stand there with your eyes whirling in your head. Whichever.

There are 6 Halls that look like that on the East side. ^_^ On the West Side there’s, I think only four in a sort of squarer layout.

Now, remember this – you have, at most, 6 hours to find all your circles. Comiket official opens at 10AM and closes at 4PM. And about half of the circles you want are, of course, in East Hall 6 and the other half in West Hall 2. It just goes like that. ^_^

This is a picture of our own Rica Takashima at the Yuricon table at Summer Comiket 2005. The reason she is not smiling is that it was like 100 degrees out. I’m surprised she’s even talking to me after that. ^_^;

Imagine me sitting next to her looking like I want to die, because jet lag is my own personal hell. That will be this year’s picture.

Did I mention that Big Sight isn’t “inside”? All the halls are open to the elements, although they have some walls and ceilings, they are, by and large, open-air. So if it’s winter, you will be wearing your coat, and if it’s summer, you will be hot.

The corporate booths are upstairs in the Galleria. They have mini-shows and idol/seiyuu appearances and giveaways so its always crowded there.

Now, I mentioned the cosplay area and time. Again, unlike American cons, where young men and women dress inappropriately day and night, frightening the locals outside the con and myself in it, at Comiket one does NOT come dressed up. One goes to the changing rooms at Big Sight and changes, appears in the appropriate location and at the appropriate time, has scores of fanboys take inappropriate pictures that will shockingly appear on the internet and in magazines and then it is over. Of course, this too is a myth and there are many exceptions to the rule. People selling will sometimes dress up in remarkably good/bad/weird/inappropriate costumes. And when I went the first time, two large, rather hairy men were gathering much attention for walking in boldly wearing Azumanga Daioh school unforms. They were dressed as Sakaki and Chiyo-chan…and it still worries me that I knew that.

To find the cosplay area is easy-peasy. Go the the center of Big Sight, the Conference Tower, and get on the unbelievably long line that wraps around itself like an Ouroboros. It will eventually dump you on the roof where you too can pay attention people who like to have attention called to themselves. ^_^

Then you have to follow the long line back down and steel yourself for another bout of buying. It has to be done.

There are quite a few places to purchase refreshment in Big Sight. Most work on cafeteria style, otherwise you’d be waiting as long as the day to get served. But let me tell you, you’ll need the break.

Re-reading all of this, I know I simply have not conveyed how freaking huge this place is. And I’m sorry about that.

I promise to have a Year’s Top Ten tomorrow. Really. Then I’ll see you in Tokyo!

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One Response

  1. Rich says:

    You know, I saw “maritime museum” and misread it for a second as “marimite museum” and got excited for a second there. XD

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