A Kaleidoscope of Cosplay at Comic Market, the World’s Biggest Otaku Culture Festival
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Countless Cosplayers Bring 2D Characters to Life
The world-famous Comic Market, nicknamed Comiket or Comike, is a massive gathering where amateur artists set up stalls to sell their manga- and anime-inspired work. This year, Comike 102 was held at Japan’s largest convention and exhibition center, Tokyo Big Sight, on August 12 and 13, attracting 260,000 visitors.
The event dates back to 1975, when it was held in Toranomon, Tokyo, with just 700 participants, mainly focused on amateur manga artists who produce dōjinshi, fan-fiction based on famous characters. Over time, the range of offerings has expanded to include anime, games, music CDs, and other unique goods. Recently, professional manga artists, voice actors, major publishers, and entertainment companies have also come to take part, creating a massive pop culture event. Comike 97, in winter 2019, drew a record-breaking crowd of 750,000. The COVID-19 pandemic caused a downsizing of the event, yet this summer saw participants from 61 countries and regions, an indication that it has retained its global reputation.
Usually, it is held twice annually, in mid-August and at the year-end, when it is easier for people who volunteer at the event to take time off from work. Despite becoming so massive over its near half-century history, Comike retains its atmosphere of a gathering of kindred spirits, and thereby continues to appeal to its target otaku audience.
A major draw card is the cosplayers dressed up as their favorite characters. The number of cosplayers attending skyrocketed from the 1990s, leading to a deluge of camera-carrying spectators. Eventually, an official cosplay area was set up to help with crowd control. Cosplayers from overseas are now a common sight, an indication of the global spread of cosplay culture.
The effort they put in to preparing their outfits and props, their makeup skills, and their sheer dedication is on clear display. Many strive to mimic the moves and expressions of their characters, with well-rehearsed poses for photographs. This video captures some of the most impressive cosplayers in attendance in 180-degree 3D, so you can enjoy Japan’s biggest otaku culture festival from home!
(Originally published in Japanese. Banner photo: Vocaloid (singing synthesizer) Hatsune Miku is always a popular character for cosplay. Text by Nippon.com.)