When I headed for kokusaitenjijo station, I regarded the comike as a kind of remote event welcoming a few otakus crazy enough to bear the heat just to see the newest anime products. I was utterly mistaken and I realized it quite soon enough. Visitors kept pouring out of the station for an hour or so, and I wondered if we could make it on time when Tate-kun, Neko-san and Sekigara-kun would have arrived. I had arrived too early for them to already be here, so I did some scouting around. I couldn’t help thinking that Kokusaitenjijo was the neatest place I had ever seen. Most of the buildings have a futurist look and could easily be space research centers. The exposition hall itself looks like a modern Aztec pyramid, and the Japanese seemed to climb the stairs just like ancient mayas would go to see religious events (well, ok… those were sacrifices). As we were waiting for Neko-san, Tate-kun told me that 200.000 persons were expected today, but that there nothing to worry about since most of the people would come early. Nevertheless, it took some time to reach the various halls, in which anybody would worry sick by seeing so many people waiting.
I asked Neko-san whether they were all otakus, he said that they were. He added that the comike was still seen a bit contemptuously by the society at large, despite dramatic improvement over the years. I guess we could say the same here in Europe – a few years ago video games were despicable, and people playing were considered as half-witted blokes. Now that the returns of the industry are skyrocketing and that more or less everyone is playing, acceptance has spread quickly.
At the comike, anime companies sell goods that can only be found there during three days. For anime fans, such goods are extremely valuable, even priceless, and they do not hesitate to come at 5.00 am and wait for five hours. Funny it is that having just landed in that hall, I felt exactly the same by spotting a Valkyria Chronicles set. Realizing that leaving without it would be worse than death, I rushed to buy it despite the high probability to lose sight of each other. Relieved by this sudden shopping spree, we followed Neko-san who went queuing for his target item. Apart from Valkyria Chronicles, most of the anime were unknown to me, but still really appealing. Despite not being a huge anime fan, I might as well have spent the whole three days because there was a lot to learn.
There were four doshujin halls (a doshujin is a manga drawn by a fan, not by a mangaka), each of them very like a gymnasium. Half of those doshujin were nearly unlawful given the level of erotic contents, and the other half didn’t catch my interest either. I guess I’m better off with the official stuff.
I would have expected more from the cosplay plaza, but it can’t be helped. It was overcrowded, and most of the disguises didn’t ring a bell. The second plaza was a lot better in terms of quality (really good ones from Evangelion, Suzumiya, Naruto…) but even more crowded and hot, so that it was difficult to advance. The cosplayers were already packing, proof that it must have been far busier in the morning. Anyway, we came to the conclusion that only ones to survive this were true otakus. Am I one? I’ll let you judge by the level of stuff I bought…