Event: Jye N’s 2014 Winter Comiket Report!

January 2nd, 2015

87Yay us! This year Jye N braved the amusement park ride made of people that is called Winter Comiket this year. This post began with Jye’s comment:

I’ll report on Comiket later today. Probably just “it was huge, what the hell, I need to lie down now”. So glad all the original Yuri is on day 1 :)

To which I replied:

Haha! Day 1 is always – every time – a day to get reacclimated. I crash early and hard on Day 1. I’m not sure I’d like all the original Yuri on the first day, I’d be sure I missed something, while half collapsing with exhaustion.
I’m looking forward to your report!

Well, Senior YNN Correspondent Jye N soldiered on (you see what I did there, Jye? You got a battlefield commission!) and here is a pretty comprehensive overview of three days of madness, despair and faallen arches. Everyone, tuck yourself in with a snack and a drink and enjoy Jye N’s 2014 Winter Comiket report!

***

Day 1

I was indeed wrecked by the experience, and left after finally securing Takemiya-sensei’s autograph, at about 2:00.

Takemiya-sensei had a profoundly successful Comiket so far as I can tell, far and away more popular than the other Yuri mangaka. When I arrived at about 10:30, she had a significant queue, easily the longest in the area. I know the score, so I went to join the line by taking the card from the last person, as you do. That person needed to explain to a confused gaijin that this was merely the front section of the line, and I’d need to join the main line, which was politely off to the side so as not to block the other tables.

A kind person in that line looked after me (and called me senpai, which I found charming). When I finally got to the front I said hello to Takemiya sensei and bought everything she was selling, but I didn’t sare ask her to sign anything with the number of people behind me.

This state of affairs persisted well past 12:00! I was able to simply go up to Nishi-sensei and Amano-sensei, ask for a signature and have a chat, but not a chance for Takemiya-sensei until much, much later. As a fan of all three mangaka it’s hard for me to speculate why one of them was doing so much better on the day, it might just be Takemiya-sensei’s Love Live doujin was a shrewder pick than Nishi-sensei’s KanColle or Amano-sensei’s Aikatsu.

Not to imply Nishi-sensei and Amano-sensei weren’t moving books, because they certainly were. Both were lovely, very patient with the gaijin and his halting Japanese. Nishi-sensei signed my copy of Coleur de Bijoux d’Amour, and I was sure to tell her I loved Collectors too. I left my copy of Philosophia in Australia like a fool, so I had to ask Amano-sensei to sign “Ms Kiwi Fruit and Ms Apple”, which she was kind enough to do. Of course I mentioned how much I loved Philosophia and Watashi no Sekai. Hopefully I wasn’t too much trouble for the poor mangaka :)

And of course I eventually had Takemiya-sensei sign my copy of Omoi no Kakera 3!

Amongst Yuri circles Hatishiro seemed second most popular, I guess people like animal ears.

This time I didn’t go crazy buying as I did at COMITIA, but I still picked up a solid little pile of books and helped support my favourite mangaka, so a successful day.

Comiket in general was completely insane. The scale of it beggars belief even if you’re used to large Japanese doujin events like Reitaisai. I very nearly had my first trip to the Odaiba Gundam courtesy of the line when I finally found the end of it at about 9:00, which of course was only the line to the west hall (and as usual the “line” was ranks twenty or so abreast, and you could see other columns forming in most directions).

It was great to see a fairly even gender balance amongst attendees and creators. Of course for yuri the creators skew female and the buyers skew male, whereas the vast tracts of BL remain very much by and for women, but overall it felt like Japanese geek culture has a place for everyone, and everyone turned out. Some gaijin too, from all over the world as near I could tell.

Not sure I’ll make it back for day 2 and 3, depends on what I can find of interest in the phone book they call a catalogue. He’ll of an experience though, and every manga fan should do it at least once.

 

Day 2

So I started the day by buying a Yuri Yuri doujin.

That…wasn’t according to plan. I’m not a Yuri Yuri fan, though I do have more time for it than Erica. In particular I think Oomuroke is funnier thanks to older characters showing up more, and I’ve often thought Himawari and Sakurako’s double tsundere routine would be improved by doubling their ages. (Erica here: I agree completely!)

So when I saw a circle had gone with that exact premise my only thought was “Yes, yes, that exactly, let me give you my money.” I haven’t given “Hima Hima Saku Saku ~ 13 years after” a proper read through yet, but from a flick through it looks like the book Namori-sensei should be writing.

Though I must caution that throwing money at circles just because you approve of the premise – and the premise is usually a ship – will quickly leave you with more doujin than you can feasibly get home. I had to resist “voting” for Chie x Yukiko and other favourite video game pairings (other than the Mimi x Totori I did snap up, because I’m weak to Atelier). The simple fact is that while original yuri works and our favourite Yuri mangaka loom largest in our minds, they are vastly outnumbered by doujin focusing on existing properties. You have to be discerning, it’s simply not viable to buy everything you like the look of/validates your shipping opinions.

Particularly if you like series with gentlemen in them. Day two seemed to be dominated by gigantic doujin communities for a smaller number of popular propeties, and despite a spirited showing by Touhou and KanColle, BL had the weight of numbers thanks to Attack on Titan (my word Levi, you have a lot of boyfriends), Yowamushi Pedal and the series with an oni-looking main character whose name I’m struggling to find.

(It’s difficult to understand the sheer scale of BL and how thoroughly a female space it is until you see it. It’s certainly illuminating from a male perspective, particularly if you want to see what men being objectified by women *really* looks like. And you can understand how a male-dominated approach to lesbians in fiction could be alienating to women. But it’s not the other side of the coin to Yuri – it’s the other side of the coin to moe. (Erica again: Yes, absolutely)

Either way for good or ill it’s a working example of an enormous community of geek women coming out strong, creating by and for themselves, moving a ton of books and yen. You can’t see it and treat the idea that women are uninterested in geek media and comics specifically as remotely serious.)

I was also tempted to “vote” for my favourite Persona male pairings but I’m otherwise not into the big BL series so I was fairly safe there. I’m likewise not into KanColle (being trepidatious about it for obvious reasons), so that was a very large section I didn’t need to pay much attention to.

Touhou was a very different story. I came to Yuri fandom and manga in general via Touhou. My first Japanese con was Reitaisai. I had thought to skip today because I’ll probably just go to Reitaisai again anyway (it lines up with COMITIA and Maiden’s Garden!) but predictably I was kidding myself.

The Touhou section was very much like taking Reitaisai and stuffing it into a quarter of its normal space. It was incredibly dense with both circles and people (compounded by the miserable weather making the outdoor cosplay areas a chancy prospect). And I spent more than expected, though with excellent results.

When I first got into Touhou, I didn’t understand how doujin worked, and blithely read a ton of scanlations without the slightest twinge of conscience. As my understanding developed, I likewise developed an instinctual reaction to recognising a circle’s art style from scanlations: wallet comes out, buy absolutely everything they have for sale. A Touhou event can load me down with a lot of paper as a result, but I feel so much better. Everyone I’ve ever met at these events have been lovely, and I’m so happy to become a legitimate customer and support their work.

Comiket was particularly great because I was able to pick up collections of Miko Miko Suika, Suwakoto! (Awesome Yotsubato! tribute/parody) and reprints of some very favourite Personal Colour stories (幼女と少女。。。) that I hadn’t managed to track down at Reitaisai or mangaya.

Also scored some new Iron Attack! Albums and had a bit of a chat with the guy himself, which brings up an important point: these shows are very much worth going to even if you don’t read Japanese if you’re into a property with a strong music culture. Touhou music is amazing, and was my main draw to my first Reitaisai when I could barely speak a word.

If anything there were more people there today, and I’m a bit scared for tomorrow. Also as far as I can tell I’m going to be buying Madoka porn from Morinaga-sensei, which wasn’t how I was expecting my holiday to go.

(The Hentai can be really confronting, but on the plus side it’s always a chunk of the floor you can skip without feeling you’re missing anything. For Morinaga-sensei though…)

Finally I went to Asagaya for the Marimite exhibition but everything was closed up for new year. I…might make it back on the 9th, we’ll see. Oddly enough there was a lady and an older gentleman wanting to talk to gaijin there and take photos, which was fine but odd given the place was basically shut down?

 

Day 3

 

I did go to “Hentai Day”, and it somehow conspired to have the most intense press of humanity of the whole show.

And for reasons that are unclear to me, Morinaga-sensei and Hakamada-sensei were right in the thick of it. It’s not that their works were hentai themselves – Hakamada-sensei’s are entirely work safe, and despite a reasonably explicit sex scene Morinaga-sensei’s is certainly not pronography (no more so than Amano-sensei’s…anything, really). But they were right in the crush, surrounded by circles hocking stuff with a much more questionable (but enthusiastic) grasp on anatomy.

I bought my doujin and beat a hasty retreat. As much as I’d liked to have found out which mangaka was which and let them know how much I’d enjoyed their professional works, it was just an intimidating mass of people.

There was even significant jostling, unusual for the exceptionally well behaved Comiket crowds, and staff running traffic control in the aisles!

It wasn’t all Hentai, of course. Vocaloids and original music were huge (I picked up a lot of CROW’SCLAW and Pizuya’s Cell CDs, kind of cool to see them selling on their own fame as opposed to Touhou specifically). Love Live was enormous (work-safe and otherwise). And like the first day some very niche interests were represented – I saw someone selling what appeared to be a moe guide to TypeScript of all things.

There was a reasonably substantial Fate section, dominated by BL pairings. I probably would have gone a Saber x Iri or Saber x any female character or even Gilgamesh x Iskander but I didn’t see anything that caught my fancy artistically.

Likewise I really wanted to grab some doujin from Daioki-sensei and Dowman Sayman, but they had serious lines and I can just order sme of their tankobon from home.

So very hot and tired, despite it being a short stay on a winter’s day, I went home.

No, I’m not that smart, I went to Akihabara to plug some holes in the doujin collection left by the prodigious productivity of Takemiya-san and others between COMITIA 108 and C87. I’m sure Erica is already well aware of this but a word of advice to others: don’t go doujin shopping in Akihabara during or just after a major event unless you’re willing to endure crowding almost worse than the event itself. These ships are not roomy to begin with, fill them with doujin hunters looking to remedy gaps in their event acquisitions and you have serious traffic problems. I did however manage to pick up Amano-sensei’s “Bombshells”, which collects a few years’ worth of her (slightly insane, where are Red Riding Hood’s clothes?) doujin.

Some final thoughts/advice on Comiket for those thinking of going:

– It’s amazing and you should go. The scale of it needs to be seen to be appreciated.

– I suggest lining up early on at least one day, probably the first. This is mostly to experience the line itself, which is a phenomenon in its own right. You may want to hit the bathrooms at Shimbashi on your way through though, you’re going to be in that line for a while.

– Otherwise you can show up at 11:00 and skip the lines, though not the crowds.

– Know what your top picks are and do your best to buy them early. The lines for individual circles can get big fast, and popular circles do sell out. I don’t think that’s a huge risk for most of our favourite mangaka, but Takemiya-sensei definitely seems to be a sell-out risk these days. I’d buy from her as soon as possible, say hello, but come back and have a proper chat/get things signed later. And if you like a popular circle making doujin for a popular property, gods help you.

– Twitter is probably more useful than the catalogue. Mangaka usually put their table number for their next event in their Twitter name, so you should be able to quickly make a shortlist by scrolling down your Twitter feed.

– If you are looking for someone in the catalogue, a rudimentary knowledge of hiragana/katakana goes a long way.

– Likewise, while everybody you meet will be lovely and very patient, and you can certainly get away with very little Japanese, you won’t encounter many fluent English speakers. Every bit of Japanese you can muster counts. Also they will very politely insist that your Japanese is wonderful no matter how bad it is (thanks, Takemiya-sensei ^_^)

– If you’re asking for signatures, you might want to have your name written down already for the mangaka’s convenience, particularly if you have the sort of name nobody gets right in English either!

– Have your own bags. You can buy various bags at the event, or get free ones with some purchases, but you’re much better off coming prepared. Most Circles do not have bags to give you.

– Unless you’re significantly more jaded than I am, prepare to be confronted by the hentai. Just move along, at least this way you can skip a fair chunk of the floor.

– it is so much hotter inside the halls than outside. For Winter Comiket layers come off and on a lot as you move around. Summer must be brutal.

– Most people were actually quite smartly dressed. Don’t let the otaku/fujoshi stereotype fool you, it’s probably worth taking some care on your appearance for the event.

– It’s amazing and everyone should go.

I’m sure I’ve left out a thousand details but I’m done. Time to go look at mountains, shrines and castles for a while!

Erica here once more: Yes, a thousand times yes, especially “you should experience the line for itself”. Line management at Comiket is a thing of wonder in and of itself and really everyone should experience it once.

Thank you Jye for helping me relive some of my most favorite, most exhausted experiences. Should we ever be at an event at the same time, let’s make sure to catch a can of coffee at the magic Lawson of food and drink in the middle of Big Sight and trade war stories. ^_^

Send to Kindle

18 Responses

  1. lester says:

    I await the day Yuri doujins takes over a similar amount of the floor as the BL doujins.

    • Jye Nicolson says:

      I have good news and bad news.

      The “good” news is as far as I can tell original Yuri is already bigger than original BL and I’m not even sure there was original ML there (with the caveat that Comiket is so big I could easily miss a genre bigger than all three combined). That’s only good because if one of them had to be bigger I’d prefer it to be Yuri but it’d be nice for all three to flourish.

      The bad news is that original Yuri is a tiny, tiny fraction of the while BL ecosystem and I don’t really expect that to change. While I’m sure many women from all walks of life enjoy Yuri, I’m not sure it offers up the same visceral thrills as pairing up already popular boys to such a large proportion of them. You get a fairer fight if you include all the Touhou, KanColle and Love Live etc circles (and there are a lot of them). That’s somewhat legit as I get the impression there’s a smoother gradient between those fandoms and core Yuri than say Yowamusha Pedal and ML.

      Not least because our favourite mangaka are huge nerds and create for those properties too. So you have people buying a Love Live doujin from Takemiya sensei that is in of itself legit Yuri, and also picking up her originals (my favourite is Chocolate Orange, which is about a professional confectioner being cool but also displaying terrible professional irresponsibility over a girl, a trait I’m always forgiving Takemiya-sensei’s adult characters for >_>)

      • I was thinking something along the same lines. If you count parody series pairing, there probably is parity, but it’s not “equivalent” so it’s not going to look the same. Yuri parody of guy-focused series really don’t read “Yuri”, they read “hentai”, while, to us BL and Bara all looks like BL and Bara.

      • lester says:

        “The bad news is that original Yuri is a tiny, tiny fraction of the while BL ecosystem and I don’t really expect that to change. While I’m sure many women from all walks of life enjoy Yuri, I’m not sure it offers up the same visceral thrills as pairing up already popular boys to such a large proportion of them”

        What about the guys? There has to be a way to convince more guys into Yuri and be on par with the hetero hentai stuff.

        • We don’t need to convince people to like Yuri – we want to convince people who like it to support it. ^_^

        • Jye Nicolson says:

          Well that’s really about original vs fan doujin. There are a hell of a lot of guys buying Maki * Nico doujin, Touhou romance stories and KanColle slash. And I think Erica is mischaracterisng a lot of it as Hentai, a very large proportion of it is stuff that could be published by Manga Time Kirara or even Yuri Hime as-is. It’s often derivative and tropy, Sturgeon’s Law applies, but I think it legitimately overlaps with Yuri on a venn diagram.

          And I expect that’s where a fair chunk of the male original Yuri buyers originally come from. How to get them to cross over in bigger numbers? I don’t know. Original doujin is always going to have a discoverability problem. Probably also not the business of random gaijin to solve anyway :)

          On our side doujin is a huge pita to buy original or not, hopefully we’ll see it increasingly available digitally in venues that will take our credit cards. There is a hell of a long tail there.

  2. Jye Nicolson says:

    Thanks for compiling that Erica! It was an amazing experience and I’m glad to have it enshrined on Okazu.

    You did refer to me as Jin in the last paragraph though, which as Freudian slips go is pretty good :)

  3. dm says:

    I think the oni-looking guy is probably Hozuki from Hozuki no reitetsu: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hōzuki_no_Reitetsu — it seems very successful in Japan (it’s available streaming on CrunchyRoll).

    My first trip to Japan I am doing temples and gardens in Kyoto, and decided not to face the challenge of Comicket. Sitting where Basho may once have sat will just have to do.

    I am spending an inordinate amount of time in bookshops, though. I saw the issue of Eureka with Erica’s article in it! Thanks to Erica, I now have a stack of Kuzoshiro’s manga to try to fit into my luggage.

    • Jye Nicolson says:

      That’s the one! Very popular indeed based on the number of circles pairing him up with various other gentlemen :)

      Have fun in Kyoto, I expect you’ve seen some of the temples and shrines in the snow (judging by how much of the stuff was around when I went through a couple of days ago). Must be beautiful!

  4. Jye Nicolson says:

    @Erica – ah I see! I’m glad I wasn’t around for the bad old days :)

    (Though if I had started learning Japanese when I was 22 I’d be so much better off >_>)

  5. redfish says:

    For new visitors, if the sign at the end of the line says 「列の途中」(retsu no tochū) that’s the middle of the line, the end says 「列の最後尾」(retsu no saigobi). That said, everyone (including me and the locals) makes the same mistake occasionally.

    Touhou might be losing ground under the massive Kantai Collection onslaught (there were 1.5 halls of Touhou and 1.5 halls of Kankore), but it was nice to see that Touhou was still drawing huge crowds. For some definitions of nice, since many corridors were occasionally impassable on both sides.

    I went to see the Marimite cafe before New Year. It was nice, with lots of color illustrations to see and a few goods on sale (the usual files etc. and a lapel pin gachapon machine). I got a Shimako theme latte too. The Bluray box isn’t actually a terrible price for Japan (somewhat under 40k for all seasons I think), but still not quite impulse purchase grade. They were showing the first episode on a projector and image quality wise it would be worth the purchase I think.

  6. “For some definitions of nice” yes. ^_^ I love it but not everyone does.

    We’ll have a full report on the Marimite event on Sunday, please feel free to give your perspective in the comments!

Leave a Reply