Tag Archives: Doujin

C89 – Winter Comiket 2015

16 Jan , 2016,
Levin Tan
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Comiket is just awesome!

Comiket is war. Anyone without a mission, without a strategy, will accomplish nothing on this battlefield.

After C84 with Arvin back in 2013, I certainly was raving to go for another one, so when I finally got another opportunity, I went back to Tokyo once more – for C89.

I cannot emphasise enough how big Comiket is. If you’ve been to one before, you’ll know. If you haven’t, it’s unimaginable. Even my memory of C84 had gotten kinda hazy and I was still amazed at how large it was this time. For comparison, take US’s largest similar convention: New York Comic-Con. They have over 170,000 attendees over 4 days. At Comiket, a single day has more attendees than Comic-Con for all 4 days, totaling at over 590,000 over 3 days! And these are only the attendees who queue at the opening. Those arriving after noon are not counted.

Back in C84, I didn’t care much about doujins and circles, and just went for the commercial booths. My Japanese was quite bad, so I couldn’t understand much even if I did buy doujins. But this time, I upped my level, and really prepared for war. Before flying to Tokyo, I had already met up with a group of friends to discuss our plans, routes, and strategies. We had a Facebook chat group and a Whatsapp group for communications as well.

I took the first train from my hotel down to the Tokyo Big Sight. But when I got there, there were a number of people already ahead of me! Ok, I thought, it doesn’t look that bad. That was until the sun rose and I could see everything…

picture of queue into Comiket on day 1

Everyone in front of me and to the left are ahead of me in the queue! (Day 1)

Queue for Comiket

Nice sunrise while queueing. (Day 2)

The only level up from here is to queue overnight, which is what one of my friends did. You have to be prepared though. This is winter, with temperatures around 4C or lower in the middle of the night. Summer is easier, and that means more people queue overnight too.

Marker for end of queue

This marks the tail of the line. It takes skill to find this fast!

Queueing is almost like what Comiket is made out of. You do that for everything – from getting in, to buying your stuff, to use the vending machines, toilets, everything. And usually, from the tail of the queue, the head is not visible, and vice versa. This can leave people confused as they search for the tail to join the queue. No doubt, with experience, this gets easier.

This year’s comiket was divided into (mostly) Day 1 – BL (and Gundam), Day 2 – Kancolle, Touken Ranbu, and Touhou, Day 3 – iM@S and LL!. I was targeting the commercial booths, Kancolle, and iM@S, so this was pretty much perfect scheduling. The people who arrange these things are very knowledgeable about the fanbase and content, so they try their best to schedule it such that most people can get what they want.

Now, knowing what you want to get isn’t sufficient, you also need to plan how you want to get it, because…

Hall crowds at C89

Multiply this view by exactly 10 times for the total indoor crowd at any time.

That booth you want to visit is a high school classroom sized table located in there somewhere! You aren’t going to get to it without planning! Also, check out the flow of people between halls:

Crowd flowing

When crowds are this thick, people behave like liquid flowing…

Another thing to be amazed at is, despite the colossal crowd, everything runs superbly smoothly! It is crowd management at its finest. You have to give it to them:

Comiket volunteers in orange caps and armbands

These are the volunteers of Comiket who help things run really smoothly.

There are 3,500 of these volunteers who help out on minimum 2 of the 3 days in Comiket. I asked my Japanese friend, and he said that all these people get is a free Comiket catalog (worth ¥2,500), a free meal, and get to keep their hats and armbands. That’s it! And yet, each Comiket has more applications for volunteers than they accept! So why would they sacrifice being able to buy stuff? Well, apparently these volunteers have enough connections that they can get what they want from their friends.

You might be wondering now, how did I get all these photos, wasn’t I located in a battlefield rushing for my own stuff? Well, see, Comiket almost ends at noon. By the time you hit around 11.00am, the most popular booths sell out:

Booth Utsura Uraraka, by Eretto sensei.

Day 1 booth Utsura Uraraka (A61ab), by Eretto sensei. Sold out!

The popular booths then sell out around 1pm, and by 2pm, you are basically left with all the non-famous/popular ones. That is not to say that they are not good, just not as well known. For instance:

FNP from Singapore!

Booth: FNP (Day 2, J03b)
A doujin circle from Singapore!

Circles not from Japan can be found participating in Comiket. I did come across several from China as well, and they sell good stuff too!

On day 3 usually, you can find circles dealing with electronics. Anime, manga, and electronics are somehow related as proven in Akiba, and here is no different:

Home-made headphone drivers

HAL900 (circle name) selling home-made headphone drivers.

Comiket is not just about doujins and merchandise, but also about cosplay. Here’s a shot of one of the several cosplay areas:

Overlooking the outdoor cosplay area

It can be hard to find your cosplaying friends here!

Gochiusa, short for Gochuumon wa Usagi desuka? (Is the Order a Rabbit?) is the biggest thing in Akihabara currently, and I was glad to be able to find a full cast of cosplayers here at Comiket!

Gochiusa Cosplayers

Is the order a full cast of Gochiusa cosplayers? Cosplayers: Cocoa, Chino, Takahiro, Rize, Sharo, Chiya

If you’re looking for more cosplay pictures, check out our C89 Facebook Album!

The spirit of Comiket is meant to be a community thing, as you might find in the official brochure and website. There are no “customers”, but only participants. This is something everyone understands. And while it gets really crowded and disorienting, the whole convention proceeds in a very orderly fashion. Even during one incident I witnessed where a cosplayer wasn’t happy with the way someone was photographing her (rather *ahem* angles) and things got a bit heated, everyone helped to ensure that the photographer didn’t run away and a staff member was called to help. The photograph was deleted, and all was alright.

At the end of it, Comiket leaves you with a tired but wonderful feeling, as you go back to count your loot (which can’t even fit in one picture). I can’t quite describe how that feeling is like, but it’s something of awe, satisfaction, amazement, and accomplishment. Comiket is an amazing experience that will keep you going back for more! However, as you leave, there’s always someone to remind you…

This way to reality.

“Reality, this way ->” is what the sign says.

International Cosplay Day & A Certain Magical Event

27 Aug , 2011,
Crimson
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The 27th of August saw two events happening – the worldwide International Cosplay Day,  and A Certain Magical Event (A.C.M.E.) III at Suntec City Convention Hall.

To quote International Cosplay Day founder Jennifer Alice, “This 27th of August will be a day like no other. You will wake up. You will put on cosplay (you will hopefully shower before hand). And you will live without regulations. It WILL be bold. It WILL be daring. But know that out there in the world, others will be joining you on this epic endeavor.”

A casual check of the event fan page revealed that there were some 8,000 participants worldwide (though there were only a token number from Singapore), so this blogger decided to throw his hat in the ring, and tossed on a casual cosplay wig for the day to celebrate the occasion. XD

But while International Cosplay Day was a non-event, A.C.M.E. III proved different. The character goods and otaku merchandise fair saw hordes of anime and manga fans thronging to the foyer of Suntec City Convention Hall’s third level, outside Halls 320, 325 and 326, where highlights included Bushiroad and Touhou Hisoutensoku tournaments, as well as booths stocking a plethora of products and merchandise.

Here are some photos from the event:


We’ve also managed to set up an interview with Collateral Damage Studios, so look out for our article soon, when we delve into the doujin publishing scene!

Until then, cheerio!

Rockin’ the Comifest – Part Deux

6 Jun , 2011,
Crimson
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It's Comifest 2, and it's a riot of people and exhibitors!

The weekend was jam-packed with two cosplay events – the second Comifest and the quarterly Haru Bazaar at *SCAPE. With my tight schedule, I could only choose one or the other, so I opted for the former, rather than the latter.

It’d rained all Saturday morning, so it was with a fair bit of trepidation that I stepped into the Civil Service Club at Bukit Batok. From pictures posted on the Comifest website, I’d half expected the event to be little more than a buncha stalls placed around the pool area with scant shelter, making for a rather wet and humorless event indeed.

Fortunately, the rain had petered out by the time I arrived, and the weather had taken on a passably balmy (well, actually hot) quality. Exhibitor stalls were neatly spaced along the sheltered walkway on the third level, affording ample room for visitors and cosplayers alike to mill about and browse. It was certainly an improvement from the first incarnation, which happened awhile back.

Strategy Entertainment showcasing their Romance of the Three Kingdoms inspired card game.

Dream Walker, now onto its third book.

The key exhibitors were local doujin group Comix Pandora and TCZ Studios, but this time, Strategy Entertainment and Cherry Credits had a presence as well. There was even an exhibitor from Thailand (and his work was awesome, by the way).

The latest Cherry Credits MMO, Dragon Nest, was definitely a crowd stopper. It’s crisp, clean graphics, action based gameplay, and cut scenes were pretty incredible, and even a diehard gaming purist like me was impressed.

One thing that Comifest did different this time was with the inclusion of seminars.

Taking a leaf outta foreign cons’ books, the organizers invited speakers to conduct talks and demonstrations on a variety of topics, ranging from cartoon drawing to game creation.

It was definitely a step up, and in the right direction too, judging from the crowd the sessions attracted.

The Cartoon Drawing Seminar - Even cosplayers were in attendance. XD

There were myriad cosplayers at Comifest too, together with the requisite (and proverbial) wall of photographers, spicing up the event with their Bleach, Naruto, Reborn and Vocaloid outfits.

It’s a bit of a shame that I couldn’t stay longer. I had a Dungeons & Dragons session that afternoon, so I had to leg it after about 2 hours. Still, it was a pretty cool event, and I sure hope there’s gonna be another Comifest next year, with more exhibitors and independent artists!

Here are some additional snaps from the event. XD

Photographers and cosplayers doing their thang.

Preview of Dragon Nest and its character creation mechanics.

Hui Xian, the creator of Dream Walker doing a live art demo.

The Thai doujin artists and their kickass artwork.

A closer look at their "Everyday Fantasy".

Rockin' the Comifest

7 Mar , 2011,
Crimson
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A crowded Doujin booth. It's obvious that Singaporeans don't mind merchandise. XD

I dropped by Suntec City over the weekend to check out the Singapore ComiFest.

Organized by Fullhouse Communication and Wee Tian Beng’s homegrown TCZ Studio, ComiFest was touted as a mini convention for anime, comic and game lovers.

The event promised two days of freebies, fun, and an eclectic spread of Doujin merchandise from local artists.

Furthermore, it sold itself as a cosplay friendly event, which accounted for the droves of costumers there to parade in their newest togs and strut their stuff.

As it turned out, ComiFest sparked a storm of controversy amongst cosplayers and photographers, especially those frequenting the SGCafe forums.

Many questioned the organizers’ rationale for sharing the Concourse with a wedding fair, the exhibition layout, crowd control measures, and purportedly, unoptimized use of event space.

The ever present wall of photographers. A staple at any event.

All in all, the event wasn’t that iffy.

Sure, while I did notice the relatively narrow aisles and the clump of Doujin booths sandwiched in between wedding planners, it certainly wasn’t the end of the world.

There was enough breathing space (at least more on Sunday anyway) if you didn’t mind jostling with cosplayers, photographers and generally curious members of the public.

It was also refreshing to observe that Singapore has something of a future in producing comic books and manga, if the quality of the exhibitors was to be believed.

If there’s one thing I regret, it’s that I didn’t get to snap very many pictures – just enough to paint a vignette of the event. I was totally in himbo mode, spending more time preening in my new stage costume for FightSaber, and stunting with my Ophion blade. XD

Doujin artwork for sale. XD

Despite all the negativity surrounding ComiFest and my own mixed feelings about the event, I’m actually kinda hoping that the organizers will pick it up and attempt something bigger and infinitely better next year.

ComiFest might be off to a small start now, but any event at all is still affirmation for the local Doujin publishing scene, eh?

With a Dream and a Prayer

22 Jan , 2011,
Crimson
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It’s awesome when you’ve got a friend in Japan. It’s even more awesome when he’s willing to hit up conventions for you just to get ahold of exclusive releases like Ougon Musou Kyoku, 07th Expansion’s doujin fighter based on characters from “Umineko no Naku Koro Ni” – a popular visual novel and animation series famous for it’s deeply involved storyline, complex plot twists, and supernatural themes.

Ougon Musou Kyoku - Opening Sequence

Initial Impressions:

Aptly titled “Symphony of Golden Dreams”, the biggest draw about this game has definitely got to be the score, hands down.

From the outset, you are blasted with solid, orchestral music and smooth vocals that play compliment to the mind-blowing introduction sequence.

Again at the character selection screen, you’re regaled by the game’s female ensemble as they vocalize a catchy, if sinister tune, nevermind that its in ear-grating Engrish, and this trend continues throughout the game, as you play through seven stages (called Movements, in true musical fashion) of intense, arcade fighting action.

Character Select - Take your pick!

Gameplay:

Ougon players get their pick from a plethora of characters from the franchise, including Battler, Ange, and Beatrice,  as well as the Lucifer, the leader of the Sisters of Purgatory, Beatrice’s manservant Ronove, Kanon and Shannon, and the enigmatic Virgilia.

This line up might seem a little skimpy at first, but like all doujin games, there’s little doubt content patches will introduce additional characters and options in months to come.

The controls are easy enough, and fairly intuitive. Ougon Musou Kyoku works with three primary buttons corresponding to a Light Attack, a Medium Attack, a Heavy Attack, as well as a Tag button for you to switch between your primary and reserve combatants, as well as a taunt button for health recovery. Pressing two or more buttons in tandem with specific keypad commands initiate enhanced attacks, and pressing all three Attack buttons at once activates Meta World mode.

The real mechanics come from how battles are structured.

Each bout is team based – you pick two characters, who share a common health pool, with an additional caveat – you don’t stock up your own power gauges each time you deliver an attack. You stock up that of your reserve partner’s. This forces players to master not just one character or play style, but a good mix.

Tag System

Tag, you're it!

Each time you tag in and out, your character also enhances their partner with a short lived buff.

Battler, for example, has the power of Resurrection, which recovers a small amount of health, while Eva-Beatrice increases the damage your character inflicts, if only for a short while.

Lucifer prepares to unleash her Meta World attack.

The Meta World:

Activating Meta World mode causes the background to subtly shift and gives you a quick boost for some 20 seconds, but there’s an additional benefit.

With at least 3 stocks in your power gauge, you can also deliver your most devastating attack.

This attack not only wipes out three quarters of your opponent’s health bar, but also comes with requisite cut-scenes, flashing lights, bells and whistles and magic circles as well.

How cool is that?

Characters & Graphics:

While the character designs for Ougon are true to the anime, and a lot of work was put into the animation for enhanced moves, rush supers and Meta World ultimates, there’s little to set them apart mechanically from similar, fireball tossing, uppercut inducing archetypes in the genre.

Battler plays like a typical, balanced protagonist with his four moves – a projectile, an anti-air move, a downward attack from mid air, and a charging attack, while Chiester410 is a projectile spamming turtle with an uninteresting moveset, rather than a cuddly gun bunny (or precisely because she’s a gun bunny). The game’s witches, such as Ange, Beatrice and Virgilia are a little more dynamic, but there’s truly little to write home about.

Despite slipping up a little on the mechanics aspect, Ougon redeems itself in every other way. Character sprites are crisp and beautiful, stage backgrounds are detailed, and little things like wisps of smoke and butterflies that flit about as you beat the crap out of your opponent is always a plus.  All in all, it’s visually top notch, and it’s hard to imagine that this is 07th’s first fighting game. It certainly looks like they’ve been doing this shtick for years!

Conclusion:

My real grouse about this game is a purely technical one. It’s just not keyboard friendly. Enhanced moves, Meta World Activation and the like require you to jam two or more buttons together, and these buttons, such as those defaulting to Z, X, and C on your keyboard, suffer from something called Keyblocking. This means, of course, that you’re best served with using a controller pad, or a console controller pad with a USB adapter or you’re at the mercy of the keyboard gods and bereft of your most potent moves.

Otherwise, it’s a fairly good buy. It’s something new and fun, and if you’re a fan of the franchise, something to tide you over till your next Umineko fix.