I was able to participate with a circle ticket on the third day of Comic Market 72 under the auspices of Xiarobo, and together with eima we traversed what has become a well-worn path to the Big Sight on the morning of the 19th. I never thought I’d reach this point, but with my tenth Comiket the thing is almost starting to feel habitual… – just when it shouldn’t, as the potential for the entire doujin scene to disappear in an instant lurks menacingly on the horizon. Reflections below:
Those who’ve been reading HD event reports for awhile now will be familiar with the flow of the day. A four o’clock alarm call followed by a drive into Tokyo, punctuated by breakfast at Sukiya; we parked in Akihabara this time around and took the Yurikamome monorail line to the Big Sight, arriving at around nine. The time ’til the event opened at ten was spent making the rounds of acquaintances’ circles and staying out of Xia’s way as he set up.
Being rather short on funds I did my own shopping pretty quickly and headed back to the Futanaya table where I hung out through the early afternoon hours. Over the course of the day I met up with Animaestro, 3pyon, Phil, and the Hendane fellows, and around three we packed up and called it a day. I made it home rather earlier than usual.
Points of interest included Akiba before and after the event, the Moetan sign in the JR station, and the only unguarded itasha I could find (there was a great Lucky Star one in the parking garage but it was being zealously guarded). The event was incredibly crowded, though for me the biggest difference was an increased cognizance of the number of foreigners there; the parts of the hall I traversed on the third day didn’t feel much worse than usual.
By far the most weighty issue at the event among doujin artists was talk of the recently instituted stricter printing policies governing the labeling of adult material. My friend Xiarobo was issued his first ever “yellow card” (notice of suspension of sales pending review) on one of his books, which was happily cleared up before the event opened, but it seems both doujin printing companies and event organizers are really stepping up the consistency of their rules enforcement.
I should clarify from Zepy’s post that the proper labeling of adult material has been an enforced standard for at least the five years that I’ve been on the doujin scene. I’ve had friends in the past who’ve found themselves applying “18+” stickers to their books before Comiket or drawing black bars over naughty bits with magic marker. The difference this time seems to be that printers were actually refusing to print books that didn’t meet the standard, and the Comiket staff were checking a bit more assertively than usual for the blatant display of adult content (posters put on flagpoles to stick above the crowd and advertise circles’ books have gone from full upper body nudity to nippless in the past couple of years).
I think all of this is fine, and indeed overdue – tightening controls over adult material to keep it away from children, or at least making a vague fig-leaf pretense of doing so, is vital to the continued existence of the hobby in the face of increased agitation against it in the political classes. What bothers me though is the news that the inner content of books itself may be threatened by these tightened restrictions; no concrete evidence to this effect has yet emerged, but myself and a lot of other people are watching very closely. The threat against the right to free adult speech in Japan is a real and present danger that as fans I think we would all be wise to acknowledge.
I may have the opportunity to test the limits of free speech myself come Comiket 73, provided my circle application isn’t thrown out on a technicality and I make the lottery (which seemed stacked against maniac circles this summer, so I’m not incredibly optimistic…). I’ll be documenting the application process as it proceeds, as well as any further news on the potential abrogation of free speech in Japan as it affects the rights of law-abiding citizens to draw bizarre erotic cartoons.
Finally, the obligatory [NOT WORK SAFE] day three loot pic:
This just about ends our coverage of Comiket 72, unless KoF2000 feels like writing up something on his doujin music quest when he gets back from vacation. C73 is just around the corner (December 29-31st, 2007) and we’ll be bringing you the latest developments on the event as they happen, so stay tuned!