Then again, probably not the next one. (I’ll need time to replenish my Japan Excursion Fund after Spring 2009′s bank-busting visit.) But if they’ve got one slated for the second half of November 2010 or thereabouts, I’m game.
I’ll readily admit to having the occasional Comiket itch. The mainstay of anime blogs, convention posts and otaku news sites the world over, Comiket is to a foreign-based doujinshi enthusiast what being an astronaut is to a seven-year-old mulling over prospective careers: powerfully appealing and (for the overwhelming majority) completely unattainable. Not being a doujinshi enthusiast, I’ve never felt the pull as strongly as some, but from the time I was first exposed to it in Genshiken I’ve occasionally entertained the fantasy of squeezing myself into Tokyo Big Sight and helping myself to the mountains of fan-made merchandise on offer. Of course, the passing fancy never made it into the real world: financial considerations aside (which in any case can be surmounted after several months of diligent paid labour), the sheer enormity of the event, the practical difficulties faced by attendees and the mature content favoured by many of the participating circles all served to dissuade me from queuing up for a ticket.
But the dormant embers of my desire to attend one of these events – if only for the experience of it and nothing more – were fanned back into life by a recent piece on Anime News Network about COMITIA 90. Leaner, meaner, and supposedly cleaner, COMITIA sounds like just the sort of doujin gathering Diego can happily attend.
Most encouraging of all was the following bit of information (from the same ANN article):
While this may sound like it keeps with the stereotype that all Japanese dōjinshi conventions are filled with porn, it is important to note that beyond the adult and game sections, the presence of adult material at Comitia was mostly limited. In fact, Comitia had a few groups that I’m accustomed to not seeing at events like these: families, walking around the show floor with children of all ages.
More evidence of the same, from Daniel Lau’s post on COMITIA 89:
Comiket is more about fandom than it is about comics. What I learnt was that in a convention that permits derivative work, the majority of output seems to be 1) fan favourite characters in compromising situations, 2) fan favourite characters being repeatedly compromised by other, same-gendered characters, or 3) anything + Fist of the North Star.
Regarding the first two, I’m no prude. I support, you know, any perversion you can name. But much of Comiket was like walking through an adult video store (which is honestly what was most worrying about there being so many kids there this year, but that’s another topic).
Comitia prides itself on being all about original comics. When you take out all the fanfiction, even going so far as to ban cosplay, the bar gets raised a little. Creators have to get a bit more serious or stay home (looks like nine halls full of circles stayed home). That’s not to say there wasn’t any erotic material at Comitia, but not surprisingly it shrunk to a minority. I guess it’s no fun when there’s no love in it.
With my next trip to Japan already in its early planning stages, COMITIA’s prospects of earning a spot on my itinerary look very promising indeed. The problem is finding enough information about it in English (since my Japanese isn’t quite good enough to decipher much of what’s on the official site). Comiket has been written about to within an inch of its life in the anime blogosphere, but COMITIA doesn’t enjoy the same breadth and depth of coverage. If you’ve got any helpful tips for a prospective first-timer, feel free to sound out in the comment box or by email (animeaffairs AT yahoo DOT com – cut out the spaces and so forth). I’d certainly appreciate the advice.
Update (23 November 2009): Daniel Lau has very kindly responded to a query I posted on his blog. If you’re planning to attend COMITIA, check out the Comments section of his COMITIA 90 post for some great advice.
The Anime News Network article that sparked my interest in COMITIA.
The official site.