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What Is Comiket: Going Inside Japan’s Massive Bi-Annual Comic-Con-like Anime Event

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BY April 28, 2020
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The Comic Market is Japan’s version of an International Comic-Con. Imagine if Comic-Con featured no mainstream movies and television promotion and focused on comic books alone. The Comic Market happens in a wide-open space where comic book creators sell books new and old.

Anime is huge in Japan. That’s not something that I need to explain. (But you can check out our Anime guide if you still want me to.) It’s not just a source of entertainment for its fans, but quite literally, a culture of its own. So it’s not surprising to hear that one of Japan’s biggest events happens to be a bi-yearly 4-day exhibition, known as Comiket. Comiket is an amalgamation of Comic Market, which is what the event is officially about.

What Is Comiket, Exactly?

The Comic Market is more of a trade fair for exhibitors to showcase their work, while the fans participate by purchasing their merchandise and showing their love and appreciation. But it has transformed into much much more since its inception in 1975. While there are many more mainstream Anime and Manga conventions, Comiket is unique as it relates only to non-commercial and self-published works, known as dojinshi.

The event began in 1975 as a means of an exhibition for dojinshi. It’s similar to the Indie Comics industry of the West. Dojinshi can be original content, but may also spin-off as fan fiction of original and existing mainstream Manga and Anime. The Comic Market (Comiket) is an event exclusively for the makers, writers, artists, and creators of the dojinshi industry to showcase their works for fans.

The Comic Market Prepatory Committee, an entirely non-profit organization run by volunteers, organizes the Comiket twice a year. Everyone involved in putting on this massive fan convention does so solely for the love of dojinshi and the support and community from the fandom that comes with it. The exhibition supports 190 booths from various exhibitors every year.

The biggest parallel to Comiket would be North America’s international San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC). With comics going mainstream, the SDCC now focuses more on the commercial films and televisions shows based on comic content than the books themselves. While Comiket retains its original intention and purpose..

Comiket’s Attendance Is Pretty Insane

Comiket 96 is on this year from August 9 to August 12. The event has already broken its own attendance records with 730,000 attendees in 2019. This is leaps and bounds ahead of SDCC 2019, estimated to have 135,000 attendants during its entire 3-day event. Comiket’s single-day attendance on its first day this year already beat that number, by a wide margin.

The event occurs twice a year, once in summer and again in winter. This summer, the temperatures exceeded upwards of 35 degrees Celsius, causing a scare for many fans. 11 people at the event even complained of sickness from heatstroke. Three of those 11 people were taken to the hospital, while there were no other lasting or serious injuries.

Cosplayers Are Treated With Respect At Comiket

On top of self-published exhibitors showcasing their work and merchandise, there is also an area for Cosplayers, similar to the fans at SDCC. However, unlike SDCC, Comiket has had rules in place regarding the appropriate treatment of Cosplayers by keeping photographers and unwanted behaviour at bay. Unlike SDCC, Comiket attendance skews predominantly female.

There are strict rules in place for Cosplayers, in order to ensure their safety and comfort. Cosplayers need to register and pay a small fee before the event. They also have to bring their costumes to the venue separately, and then change into them in a special area. Anyone wishing to take pictures with Cosplayers have to do it from a designated area. They are then free to walk the event at their discretion or change back into their civvies to enjoy the experience without any issues.

Comiket Is For Indie Publishers By Indie Fans

Comiket to this day remains dedicated to the exposure, marketing and showcasing of independent and self-published dojinshi content. Despite more mainstream, profitable, and well-known Anime-related events, Comiket celebrates comics and comics alone.

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Shah Shahid is an entertainment writer, movie critic (so he thinks), host of the Split Screen Podcast (on Apple Podcasts & everywhere else) and filmy father on a mission to educate his girls on decades of film history. Armed with uncontrollable sarcasm and cautious optimism, Shah loves discussing film, television and comic book content until his wife’s eyes glaze over. So save her by engaging him on his own blog at BlankPageBeatdown.com or on Twitter @theshahshahid.

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