Saturday, 14 January 2012

Japan trip - C81

I have returned from my travels. Actually I've been home for a few days now, but I came down with a rather nasty cold in the process and haven't felt up for much. Although it's a bit late by now, I have a bit to say about how it all went.


Day 1 didn't start too early for me. I only wanted to try for a few of the company booths and I was still feeling pretty stiff from the flight, so I decided to get up at 6:30am or so. I got to Comiket, and had to promptly turn around and walk about a kilometre away from it just to get to the end of the line. It was about 8 by this stage, so I only had to wait a couple of hours before the line started moving. It felt like it took forever to get anywhere, although I was inside in about half an hour. The whole time there was a helicopter circling around overhead - I was a bit curious how the news story would have looked. Nothing positive I'm sure.

Outside the east halls, as seen from halfway through the TYPE-MOON queue

I got in, looked around briefly, and in the spur of the moment decided it was worth lining up for the TYPE-MOON booth. This would turn out to be a HUGE mistake, and I'm still not sure why I thought it would be a good idea in the first place. I had to walk outside the hall where the company booths were, along two sides of the raised open area outside (this is all four storeys up), down the vehicle access ramp to the ground floor, back along its length on the ground level, around two sides of the west halls, then out into the carpark. You'd think the sheer length of the queue would have discouraged me, but I stubbornly lined up anyway. I waited, shuffled forward, waited, then shuffled forward again. This process repeated itself for over an hour and a half before I finally made it back up the top to the booth itself, where they had naturally long since run out of the  TYPE-MOON calendars that I wanted to buy. I bought the Saber tapestry and the Carnival Phantasm boxset anyway (the boxset mostly for the new Melty Blood, which came bundled). 

With this ordeal over, I looked around the other booths on my hitlist. Unsurprisingly Shaft had completely sold out by now, and ufotable had sold out of one of its sets with a huge queue remaining, so I figured it wouldn't be worth my while. I looked around a few smaller booths but didn't buy too much and ended up heading down to the halls to see how they were looking. 

It's still kinda busy, although it's the quietest day and people were starting to pack up around this time. If I tried to take a picture on day 3 it'd just end up showing a sea of black hair.

Day 2 was an earlier start, and I was in line at around 7am. Even with four layers of clothing, a hat and gloves on, a parking lot right next to the Tokyo bay in the middle of winter is pretty damn cold. I got in fairly fast, and lined up straight away for a couple of Touhou doujin games (the Genius of Sappheiros sequel and that Youmu RPG). I had to line up for about an hour total for those two, but it was smooth sailing for the rest of the day and I picked up everything I was after and a fair bit of stuff that just caught my eye while walking by. I didn't get too much music, but I did grab the Cafe de Touhou albums since I quite liked the first one.

One of the cosplay areas I believe, I didn't find the time to queue up for it myself.
I was hesitant about this earlier, but after finishing for the day I decided that I would in fact go to the /jp/ meetup that had been mentioned in threads leading up to C81. The meeting place was by the big saw, and there were more people than I thought there would be, maybe 10 in total. We headed to Akihabara, got some hot pot for dinner, then walked around, had some drinks and ended up in a maid cafe. Most of us ended up ordering the Imouto Cocktail, which was apparently "whatever" in a blender, everyone got something completely different looking. Mine was some sort of citrus. We then went to another bar where there happened to be a 2ch meetup at the same time, which was interesting, but I didn't stay too long because it was getting late and I needed those precious few hours sleep before the final day.

I'm really not sure why there is a big saw there

Day 3 was a 4:30am start, since I wanted to get the first train. I was prepared this time, with heat packs to stave off the cold, and a portable mini-stool to keep me somewhat comfortable. Even though I got there on the first train, I still ended up in the 50th queue area (each section of the queue is cordoned off and numbered), so I estimate there were still some thousands ahead of me who'd stayed the night or taken an early taxi. After the doors opened, we slowly started moving towards the entrance. The mood was a lot more competitive today, with plenty of pushing and shoving as the queue got funnelled through smaller areas on the way in. I hit up tabgraphics first, which was an hour wait even this early, then ran through the rest of my list, though I gave up on a few things because certain areas of the halls were just that damn busy that it didn't seem worth wading through the masses of people to get something I could likely get in Akiba afterwards. I ran into one of the guys from yesterday's meetup at the Katawa Shoujo table, where we were both picking up the artbooks there. Apparently it was fairly popular with the foreigners.

Later in the day I was approached by a film crew (TV cameras, mics and all) with one of the guys asking me in English if I'd be able to give them a few minutes for an interview for some national TV channel. Needless to say, I politely but firmly declined. Being ridiculed on Japanese TV wasn't particularly high on my list of priorities.

I kept going until most of the circles were running out of stock and packing up, then I headed off myself. Three very long days with starts at various ungodly hours, but I bought a LOT of stuff. Most of it was good, although there was one time at the end of the day when I took a look at a Penguindrum doujin with a good cover - the insides were pretty bad but there was no one else around and the guy was looking at me with such expectation that I felt obliged to buy it. Sadly, it didn't make it home.

The trip back to the hostel is always a bit awkward since every day I was holding a number of big paper carry-bags that I'd gotten along with some of my purchases, each emblazoned with a number of anime characters. The further away you get from the Tokyo Big Sight, the fewer other people there are with them until at last you find yourself on a train with a lot of very professional-looking businessmen looking at you with some amusement. I couldn't bring myself to care that much though, it's all part of the experience I suppose. The early starts, queuing and all were definitely worth it for the stack of loot I picked up there.

I have a few photos of Akihabara and other such places, but I think this post is getting long enough as it is so I'll save them for next time.


  1. I was expecting a larger number when you said there was a lot of people at the /jp/ meetup, but I suppose that's to be expected.

    How much did the whole trip and spending end up taking out of your wallet?

  2. Ohgodlol.

    Jeez, at least you got better at this every time. I hope you managed to find a lot of decent loot. You should take pictures of the loot for the hell of it. Also, congratulations for making it to C81, a lot of us probably don't have the money or time to even go. >:

  3. My jelly is overflowing. You got some of the major stuff that I would've gotten if I was there. Except for the T-M calendar.

    >Needless to say, I politely but firmly declined.

    A wise decision, accepting such a plea would be suicide.

  4. You're a brave one for attending that /jp/ meet up. Unless I knew the people online for some time, I wouldn't be able to go to meet ups.

  5. I wonder what happened to that penguin doujinshi.

    Typically the rule is to get there as early as possible for company booths, especially on day 1.

    Sounds like you had fun and survived which is most important.