A great way of ending the year is by going to an anime convention, this is one of many ways of course. Comiket 91 took place on the last 3 days of 2016, a year that shall never be forgotten.
January 1st landed on a Sunday this year, so Comiket 91 took place on the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, allowing people to party long without having to worry about another convention day on the Sunday. If you don't already know, Comiket takes place twice a year, August and December, at Japan's biggest convention center (and one of the biggest in the world) the Tokyo Big Sight.
The new addition this year was the construction of the "New East Halls" (completed in Oct 2016) which granted an additional 15,000 square meters of indoor floor place. I never did get to explore it, but with an event as big and as busy as Comiket, it's impossible to explore everything. The lines at the event simply blew my mind this time around, maybe it's because I've never fully witnessed them, to my rough guess they seemed to carry a minimum of 100,000 people. The lines were thick, and long. I took some footage, but it was difficult to gather it all because there were several lines in different areas. Despite their size, they moved relatively quickly, I was in line for maybe half an hour.
As enormous as the convention space is at over 250,000 Square Meters, there is simply no place where there aren't any people. Everywhere you look, there are tables, exhibits, people walking, people sitting, cosplayers, lines, etc... The traffic flow of the convention is rather good though. Getting from point A to point B might take a while because of the distance and the course it takes, but I've never had to stop and wait for anything. The only area where it gets competitive is in the artists' hall, where all the doujinshi is sold. Absolutely packed, a few times I was swept around in a circle by the flow of the dense crowd. This is not an area for the faint of heart. The warm-body attendance for Comiket is estimated around 600,000 for all three days, but it's difficult to pin-point the exact number. This figure is about 5 times larger than Fan Expo, and almost twice as big as Gamescon, based on the numbers I could find.
I attended the con for only the Friday and Saturday. Though the nearby multipurpose park was open on Friday, it didn't appear to be on Saturday. It seemed like a great place to divert cosplayers, photographers and any congestion! I always marvel in the PSNJ acts in the photo above, you'd never see one quite as big on the convention ground. But here in the park, it seemed to have spawn about 150 photographers that I could count.
Cosplay quality varies at all conventions, with newcomers and experts in the mix. I enjoy funny and creative costumes as much as well-crafted costumes, Comiket has no shortage of either. I saw an interesting amount of Bleach and Naruto cosplay this year. Of course, most costumes I don't recognize, many are idols, and others are from RPG games which I have no knowledge of.
At Japanese cons, it is customary to line up and wait your turn to take photos of a cosplayer, as you begin both parties say おねがいします ("Please"). Upside is that you'll get their full attention to yourself (I typically keep my shooting to 1-2 minutes, but I've seen some obsessed photographers spend almost 10 minutes with a whole line waiting behind them). Downside is that you do have to wait in a line and it limits how many cosplayers you get to photograph. Almost every cosplayer has a little sign with their nickname and any social media handles written on it. Again, this is something you don't see at NA cons. Most also carry business cards to, which they'll kindly hand to you with both hands.
It was fortunate enough that the weather was rather pleasant, sunny days with temperatures going around 10 or so degrees. You could clearly go shirtless. The convention is open between the hours of 10-4pm, unlike other cons, there is no evening/night programming! There are 3 subway stations right by the convention center, and special arrangements are made on these days with the subway lines to help transport the hundreds of thousands of people out of the area. Access to taxis and buses is also easy accessible on the ground floor. The best part is there are seemingly no bottlenecks anywhere. What I appreciate is that this area was built to support the enormous amount of people it does, there are several access points to the building, each one being quite spacious. And this is impressive for a city that is normally considered quite cramped in general. Cellular network companies even bring in mobile trucks to help with the data congestion, I had a solid signal anytime I used my phone.
If you ever get a chance to time a trip and check out Comiket at the same time, go for it. It's on a scale that can't be contained, but is still very organized and fun. Best of all, it's free!
Below is the photo gallery.