Tokyo’s biggest cosplay convention brings anime to life!
Comiket or Comic Market, is the largest Dojinshi fair in the world. For those who don’t know, Dojinshi is the Japanese term for self published manga. Every year, thousands of amateur artists come together at Comiket to display and sell their work. The market also doubles as a cosplay convention, with hundreds of cosplayers showing up to strut their stuff, and show off elaborate costumes.
A female cosplayer at August’s comiket 2017.
First held in 1975, Comiket began with only 600 attendees. It now pulls in crowds of over half a million people! Comiket is continuing to grow at a rapid pace. Fans of anime, manga, and cosplay gather in order to celebrate the anime and manga sub-culture, something that has spread across the world. Comiket is typically held during the weekend around August 15th, and again near December 28th, for two or three days at Tokyo Big spot, the large convention center near Ariake, Tokyo.
A look at the entrance of Tokyo big center on the day of Comiket.
Anyone and everyone is welcome to participate. Inside the main halls, manga artists come and set up stands displaying their Dojinshi. And as Comiket grows, so too does the entertainment. Comiket now spans over all three halls of Tokyo big center, where visitors can find the latest in video game releases, find free anime gear, and even catch a look at some of the most exotic cars in the world, decked out in Anime decals.
One of the exotic vehicles on display at comiket, notice the various anime decals adding to the car’s style.
Whether manga is your thing or not, more and more people are showing up for the cosplay. For a small entrance fee of 1500 yen (roughly $15 USD) you can dress up as your favorite anime character and model for on lookers. The convention has designated cosplay areas, where the cosplayers hang out an get photographed. In stark contrast to typical anime conventions in America, over ninety percent of the cosplayers are female.
Typically Japanese, though a few male and foreign cosplayers do appear. The costumes at Comiket are exquisite in both style and creativity. From anime cat girls, to princesses, to witches, the cosplayers of Comiket go to great lengths in order to become their favorite characters. It is not uncommon to see homemade costumes, painstakingly sown together by the wearer. Often costumes cost upwards of 30,000 yen ($300 USD). Colorful hair is abound at Comiket, don’t be surprised to see green, blue, and bleach blonde wigs all over the place. As well as multi-color circle lenses that change the wearer’s eye color, and props like tails or weapons.
A Group of friends dressed in a group cosplay. Comiket is a great place to celebrate anime and manga with the people you love.
Many of the cosplayers at Comiket prepare all year long for the event, and typically advertise their personal instagrams where fans can purchase prints of the models in their various costumes. If you are looking to meet some pretty amateur models who also love anime, Comiket is the place for you. Many attendees bring professional level camera equipment, and queues for some of the most popular cosplayers can get quite long.
Besides Dojinshi and cosplay, Comiket has also become a market for musicians and craftsmen. In one hall of the enormous Tokyo Big Spot center, stands are set up featuring young musicians who specialize in creating anime-esque music. They often have headphones at the ready if you wish to sample or buy their albums. I was impressed at the quality of art both in music and Dojinshi. Many of these young artists are creating works at a professional level.
An overhead view of Comiket’s Dojinshi area, the shear number of artists is overwhelming.
Next to the musicians are the crafts people, that specialize in making anime and manga related trinkets that you can use to deck out your own cosplay wear. Homemade jewelry, hats, and costumes can be found typically at a reasonable price. The best part is, they are all one of a kind. So not only are you buying a memory you can hold onto after the event is over, but you are also helping to support the local artist and their work. It is also a very nice experience to be able to chat with the artists themselves, who are typically friendly and cheerful. Be aware however, that most attendees at Comiket will only speak Japanese, so practicing your language skills before trying to converse is a smart move. I did have a few cosplayers test out their English on me, and their friendliness gives Comiket a warm, personable feeling despite the immense crowds.
Comiket draws people from all over the world. Pictured here is a group of foreign cosplayers from America.
Comiket is also a child friendly event. I saw a young Goku from Dragon ball Z, who could have been no older than five. I even spotted a few toddlers, whose parents had dressed them up as Anime characters, being pushed around in strollers.
Parents do be aware however, Dojinshi alley does have some adult oriented material. The genres are typically seperated,with the adult material being gathered together in a different section of the hall than the manga suited for a younger crowd. Still, be cautious when bringing young children to the event, as it is easy to stumble over the invisible line that separates the adult section from the rest of the manga without even realizing it. If you are alert however, the adult dojinshi section is very easily avoided, so don’t let the kids miss out. Comiket is a safe and friendly place.
Another beautiful amateur cosplayer.
All in all, Comiket offers something for everyone. If you are even remotely a fan of anime and Manga, Comiket is worth the trip. And if you are of the brave sort, throw on a costume and join in on the cosplay fun!
Oh, and did I mention? Entrance into Comiket is free!
You can participate in Comiket yourself this December 2017!
The address of the event:
3 Chome-11-1 Ariake, Koto, Tokyo 135-0063
Photos and Article by: James Byrnes