A few days ago, one of my online friends brought up the fact that I had gone to Comiket 95 back in December. They were wondering if I may have some tips to Comiket as they will be going for the first time in a few weeks to Comiket 96. I gave some general pointers and reflected a bit on the experience and he told me I should probably write an article about it as it could help his other friends he is traveling with as well. I will also likely write a reflection article regarding the entire trip. Having been a bit busy lately and recently coming back from another trip, I’ve had less time than I would like to write on here.
First, let’s go a bit more in detail about what Comiket is. People have a lot of preconceived notions for what Comiket is. (I know I certainly did.) Most people know it as kind of the mecca of Japanese anime, manga, visual novels, and other otaku goods. Although this is mostly true, there is more to it than just that. People also see it as a convention of sorts and again they would be partially correct. One thing I learned was how different it was from a regular convention. (I won’t lie, I read some articles and did some research.) It was unlike any other convention, I had previously ever been to. Don’t get me wrong, you can certainly approach it as a regular convention and still enjoy it.
From my experience, I would say getting back to the root of where the name Comiket is derived from gives a good sense of what the event is. I mean, it does stand for Comic Market after all. One of the main parts of it is the doujin section where artists come and display their latest works. Of course, they also sell their works and that in itself could be an article just going over some “👌 art”. Comiket also has a separate section for industry and larger companies including anime, gaming, and visual novel companies. Lastly, there is also a separate section outside that features cosplay.
Comiket is normally a 3-day event held from Saturday to Monday. However, due to renovations at Tokyo Big Sight for the 2020 Olympics, it will be held in a reduced portion of the venue from Friday to Monday for C96, C97, and C98. There will also be a 500 yen entrance fee for each day to control crowd sizes as they expect a large number of people while hosting it in a smaller venue. For reference, C95 had an attendance of over 470,000 people. You can buy wristbands for entry at the door or beforehand at various bookstores and hobby shops. In addition, if you plan to go all four days, you can pick up the paper catalog which will come with four days of entry.
Another major change is the venue location. The main industry booths will actually be set up at Aomi Exhibition Halls which is more than a kilometer away and literally a station away. (This would be Tokyo Teleport or Aomi station.) So logistically, if you plan to go to both, extra care will be needed to schedule well which is one of the topics we will go deeper into.
The first suggestion I have for attendees is to be prepared and to have the right mindset. Funny story, I actually didn’t really expect what I walked into and was not prepared for day 1, to say the least. So much so that my friend, puddi, was not pleased with me, to say the least.
So, how does one prepare for Comiket? There are a few things to prepare before heading out to the actual event. I’ll list the major ones here:
- Prepare a battle plan.
- Bring the right type of equipment.
- Research transit and how to get to the venue.
As I’ve stated previously, Comiket stands for Comic Market. It doesn’t really hit you until you enter the venue, no amount of pictures or reading can really prepare you for what you’ll experience there.
Prepare a battle plan.
This was something I hadn’t thought too much about before going. It actually came back to bite me on day 1 of the event. What I expected was to be able to waltz in without a plan and pick up some of the goods I wanted. This was a mistake and I ended up getting very little of what I wanted.
Most things sold out really quickly and since we headed inside later in the day, most of the major items were already sold out. I also didn’t really have a plan or even make a map of where I needed to go. Although the layout of Comiket is fairly simple, there is a lot of distance to cover and not having a detailed list makes it difficult to navigate. This is on top of having literally thousands of people walking around with you.
What I ended up doing for day 2 and day 3 was to create a list of circles and products I wanted. The list at first was not very organized, but then I started grouping circles that were close together. Next, I went through them by priority and weighed the chances of things selling out and how much I wanted them. Just a quick tip, the bigger circles usually have more supply but also have higher demand. Most of them are located on the edges of the halls and the lines run outside the venue. Most circles will also post when they sell out of certain items on their Twitter, so be sure to follow them for the latest updates.
Bring the right equipment
As they say, you should always bring the right tools for the job. Comiket is no exception that rule. If you’re planning to buy a lot of different things ranging from sets, games, and doujinshi, you should probably bring a bigger bag with you. A lot of sets will come in bags as well, but chances are you don’t want to be carrying 20 different bags with you. I personally suggest bringing a duffel bag that can be slung around your shoulder. Trust me, you’ll thank me for this one later. I personally used a regular laptop sling bag for regular sized doujinshi and books. The duffel bag was used for larger items and sets. I have seen people bring in whole luggage pieces to buy items. One person was probably running a store outside as I saw them max out on each of the items at a card supplies booth. (Pretty sure they bought over 100 playmats and sleeves.)
Not only should you bring enough storage space, but you should also be sure to dress appropriately. There will be a lot of walking so be sure to wear something you can walk in all day. In addition, make sure you’re dressing appropriately for the weather. This is especially true if you plan to wait in line before opening. Make sure to hit up the local convenience store and stock up a bit on at least a bottle of water and a light snack. You’ll likely be on the go for the entirety of your time there. For reference, on day 2, we were in line from about 5AM and managed to enter the venue at around 11AM. We were there until 4PM when they closed.
Research transit and how to get to the venue
As you can see above, it gets hectic when the first train arrives from Kokusai-Tenjijo Station. This is a constant stream of people from when the first train arrives. If you’re planning to do the morning line up, be sure to research your route to getting to the venue. The other station nearby is Ariake Station on the Yurikamome Line.
Other possibilities are to drive in or take a taxi. We chose to stay at one of the nearby hotels for our trip. It might be a bit on the expensive side, but it was worth every single yen. We could get up just before the first train and head down to line up and also had the convenience of heading back to the hotel once Comiket ended for the day. Not only is there a constant stream in the morning, but there is also a constant stream of people leaving once Comiket closes for the day. Be sure to head out a bit earlier if you don’t want to get squished in a train.
One of the great things about Comiket is how well it is organized. People start lining outside early in the morning. However, you are allowed to leave your stuff in the lineup area and walk around to stretch your legs. In our case, we grabbed some coffee and took some pictures of the beautiful sunrise. Of course, this was still December and it was as cold as 0c at one point. We made sure we had toques and scarves as well as a warm jacket.
You are allowed to bring small items with you in order to keep comfortable. If you don’t want to sit on the floor, you can bring a small blanket. I also saw some people with mini folding stools. Camping gear is not allowed, so don’t bring a tent and camp outside. For summer Comi, you will want to bring water and ensure you stay hydrated.
Once you finally make it inside, you’ll have to make a decision and go to the first booth you want to line up for. Hopefully, you’ve made that battle plan and get straight to where you want to go. This time around, things will be different as the official booths are located at Aomi Exhibition Hall which is actually at Tokyo Teleport station.
Most of the official booths will have order forms and product listings. You can just indicate what you want from the form and make your order. Just be prepared and count out exact change. It makes the transaction smoother and give you more time to get to your next location.
Just a few more closing remarks. Remember, at the end of the day to enjoy yourself. I mean you’re there to have fun and hopefully get to meet some of your favorite artists while picking up some sick merchandise. You will probably want to learn some rudimentary Japanese or bring a friend that knows a bit more than you. It may seem daunting at first, but once you’ve done it for a day, you’ll get the hang of it.