Although we think San Diego is the biggest and the craziest comics event on earth, all dedicated conologists know that Japan’s Comiket is actually the biggest. Held twice a year, the Winter edition just wrapped up and over 500,000 people attended the three-day festival.
The incredible thing about Comiket is that it is an amateur press show: the fans are there to buy doujinshi — fanzines based on popular manga by “amateur” creators. We know Japan is full of amazing wonders and enigmas, but the huge popularity of fanfic is definitely among them.
Anyway, the above is a video showing the crowd waiting outside and then being moved into the show hall to buy their comics. The first 2 minutes are in the dark but you can see little glimmers of people already lined up to get in. After that, day breaks and Japanese precision discipline takes over.
Although 500,000 sounds like a lot of people, it is down about 20,000 people from last year — the population of a good-sized American con all by itself — and this decline seems to have raised some hysterical “COMIKET IS FINISHED!!!” sobs (link NSFW)
Comiket 80 saw 540,000 visitors, whilst Comiket 79 saw 520,000 (the record for a winter Comiket). Summer 2009′s C76 is the event’s high water mark, with 560,000.
Organisers claim this decline is “primarily due” to “the influence of the earthquake” (this appears to be stretching things as there is no longer any discernible impact outside Fukushima prefecture), and “the strong yen” (which implies that tens of thousands of international otaku have been discouraged from attending, something which there is some scepticism about).
Strangely, the fact that Tokyo is being run by a political clique of elderly LDP curmudgeons who view the culture of young people as aberrant is not mentioned – Comiket’s organisers have apparently chosen the winning strategy of hoping their critics will go away if they do nothing hard enough, perhaps noting how effective it was in fending off the Tokyo government.
We’re not entirely sure now much of this story is inter-Otaku spin, but 500,000 still seems like a pretty healthy audience.