Comic Market 90 Impressions

It’s my first visit to Japan and so it was natural to attend Comike as well, which ended just a few hours ago. Seeing Tokyo Big Sight for the first time up close in person was a bit overwhelming, I honestly didn’t expect it. But I put off this moment for far too long, I’m glad I finally decided to go.

Everything about the event is true. The crowds are so big it’s hard to imagine, yet human traffic stayed orderly on the premises and all the way along the Rinkai train line. Porn and PG-13 content balance each other out, with the latter having more interesting stuff to look at. I’m sad I didn’t take a proper photo of Arduino and other boards with VOCALOID characters printed on them, it was the coolest shit ever.

Also, Comic Market history records don’t lie – both men and women are equally represented at the event.

The cosplayers, I didn’t pay much attention to them, but people who are into that around here appreciate a very strange aesthetic. Most professional-looking cosplays – the ones every other Japanese cosplayer aspires to reach – were just boring (see here). You had perfect replications of fictional characters on a human body, yet they all looked so jarring. Perhaps they got too close to uncanny valley? Perfect cosplay like that can hardly fall under cuteness aesthetics of Japan. This is something I’ll have to think more about.

More on matters of porn, works like Genshiken and recently SaeKano have helped to create an image of a Japanese otaku who doesn’t judge others for their unorthodox tastes, because hey we all have a kinky fetish or two, right? However, I’ve overheard enough “kimochi waruis” in porn sections of East Hall to say that there is no respect. Japanese otaku just keep their opinions to themselves a bit more than their western counterparts do. But I guess that’s as much as you can expect from society.

Other than that, it’s an event for mostly shopping and small talk with creators, so it’s hard to say it’s otaku paradise. Industry booths had new anime trailers and lots of overpriced merchandise, but you know all that already. The people that make the event, the creators, cosplayers, and volunteers have the most fun, and unless you have a battle plan ready and lots of cash to spend – basically you create a game for yourself – Comike might as well just be an overcrowded shopping mall.

I was moved, impressed and disillusioned by the event all at once. But I’ll probably go again, next time paying more attention to circles of interest prior to the event.

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