KOF 2000 embarked solo upon a thoroughly wallet-emptying M3 adventure last weekend in pursuit of nearly unhealthy quantities of doujin music CDs. Confusion, merriment, claustrophobic pathways, and gaijin representation ensue. Read all about his inexperienced experiences, a first-timer’s opinion of the event, general commentary, and more!

So what is M3, exactly?

M3, or Music + Media mix Market, is a semiannual doujin event occurring in the Tokyo area (though there appears to be an annual event in Osaka as well) organized specifically for the amassment of scads of doujin music CDs and games. Whereas Comiket freely allows for the vending of eroge and other voyeuristic material, however, I detected no such offerings at M3 and so am under the impression that M3 either

A) Doesn’t allow for the sale of media containing nudity or
B) Allows such material to be sold, but no circles were present

Nevertheless, despite being open to both music and games, from perusing this year’s offererings and the list of circles present at other years, the game aspect has a very small presence and music comprises a vast majority of the share of doujin goods available.

My M3 Experience

I honestly had no prior knowledge of anything concerning M3 (not even what it was) until a month ago, when at which point my brother expectantly questioned “You’re going to M3 this year, right?” and then summarily put me under his imperative to go and obtain doujin music CDs to fatten his collection. And that marked the start of my adventure. Not wanting to come out of the event personally empty-handed, I began to assemble a list of desirable items for myself, though ho-hummed until less than a week before the event before hastily going through the list of 300-some expectant doujin circles (hence the lack of prior announcement -_-‘).

Equipped with my trusty map, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, an anko donut, and a fat wallet, I thus set off for my inaugural M3 experience Sunday morning, April 29, at 7:00 A.M., after staying up much later than I should have frantically chicken scratching both my and my brother’s list due an unexpected printer unavailability.

Based off my C71 music-garnering experience, I pretty much expected beforehand that the number of M3 attendees would be rather low. The doujin music section was the least populated area of Comiket (aside from maybe the handicraft and bibelot division), and I honestly could have easily gathered all my desired CD’s there last December within 30 minutes if not for the desire to take it slowly and absorb the sights, sounds, and smelliness that define it. If I had to field an initial guess at the number of people that I predicted would be at M3, then, I would have placed the number at around a respectable 1,000. Imagine my surprise, then, when I approached PiO and saw only a scant few people strolling around the area. “Was it cancelled?” “Am I really at the correct location?” Thoughts like those started to race through my mind and, disconcertedly bewildered, I took out my map to assure myself that I actually WAS at the right location, only to have it in no unequivocal terms prominently show me that indeed I was. And so I proceeded.

Emerging onto the actual “plaza” itself greatly relieved any previously conceived worries, as M3 posters and sign wielders dotted the grounds and the line of anxious collectors came into sight. Since a catalog is the price of admission, I immediately made my way to the admissions table (which was in no ways starkly obvious, snuggled against the entranceway of the building and obscured by ambulating attendees) and proceeded to find a spot in line. I was quite certain that I had cut in line (the later order of entrance progression proved that I had), not having any sort of fathom as to how the multiple waiting lines had been established, but I was a gaijin and who was going to try to bother? I’m quite certain that they were more impressed with my presence, me representing the entirety of the gaijin population there, than with having qualms over where I deposited myself in line. Besides, I was wearing my Pirate King shirt and what mangy landlubber would dare bend me ear with words of contention?

One and a half hours of waiting later, at 11:30, the doors finally opened, I proudly raised my catalog to submit proof of attendance, moved with the flow of my fellow cohorts, and stepped inside.

The sellers’ floor was quite ample for the number of doujin circles in attendance, being, by my assessment, slightly larger than the floor space for music CDs at Comiket. Despite the size, however, the number of people perambulating it made for cramped quarters when navigating anything but the periphery of the room. Unlike Comiket, where people wander to and fro from hall to hall in search of a miscellany of doujin goods and where, at any point in time, a census of the buyers will yield different results when compared with a different point, the people at M3 are there with very specific intent and never leave the hall, exiting only when they’ve fulfilled their consumerist demands. Thus, M3 is packed and remains packed. I noted before that I expected around 1,000 people to be present; that was probably an accurate headcount to the nearest 100 without having anything to go off other than the size of the line just prior to the door opening.

The Bounty

As mentioned, I went into this event shopping for both my brother and myself. Below is the massive list that could put even the most devoted of Japanese doujin music fans to shame and also to which one doujin circle, after catching a glimpse of it, expressed their awe:

All About Namcot – Valkyrie-tan’s Great Adventure
AntiquE:UnknowN -Daremo Shiranai Mukashigatari-
Battle of Seven Tusks
Blue Planet, Requiem
The book of boyhood, Message from innocent world -In the air to night-
Dazzling, Last Breath
Equinox -Limited Time-
Hane Yasume~Wings a rest
Jill’s Project -the expansion-
Journey Through the Brilliant Days
The Last Testament
LunA SymphoNica
Music Fantasy Tactics 1, 2, 3
POLYCHROMA re-distribution
Route 79
Shallow Kingdom
S.H.O. Tsuushin Vol.1
Shiro no Pirugurimu-Initial00:Bookmark Welts-
Songs of the Seasons
Terra Forming earthtear, Shangri-la Storm
Touhou Mix
Touhou Cherry Bud in the Spring Breeze
Yume no Mayu Tsumugu Moumoku Rinbu

Alas, I did not manage to snag every item from this list. As expected, the lyrical doujin CD’s are always the most popular, draw the biggest crowds, and are the ones to sell out the fastest. The lines for the premier lyrical titles were much too long for me to even consider waiting with my fellow ilk, so I opted instead to go for quantity AND quality, at the expense of knowing that I was going to miss out on a few CDs. The CDs that I wasn’t able to obtain, either due to the doujin circles not showing up, sell out, or unavailability, were

Message from innocent world -In the air to night-
Shallow Kingdom
Touhou Mix

And now, enough talk. Let’s break out the loot:

The fruits of my labor

The four quadrants

Let’s see how they stack up…

If anyone happens to be interested, the stack on the left is mine and the stack on the right is my brother’s. Jo’s just in there to make things look good. And maybe for size reference~ :)

Final Words

For the curious, if I had identify which specific CDs were in fact the hottest items at M3, they would have been POLYCHROMA re-distribution, *Rotate*, totsu-kuni, and YUA. On the other hand, such a subjective judgment is dubious at best coming from me, because I’ve never been much to occupy myself with lyrical material. The only time that I spent in the identifiable “vocal” section was limited solely to the stealthy (is it even possible for me to be stealthy with my gaijin-ness?) in and out job that I pulled to pick up some albums for my brother. And my modus operandi for assessing popularity (basing it purely upon the emptiness of a circle’s booth or the length of the line behind it) is also questionable, for who’s to know the number of CDs that any given circle had pressed for the event?

Overall, I found the M3 experience to be much more satisfying and rewarding than Comiket, at least in terms of euphoniousness. I’m finding more enjoyment from the CD’s that I purchased here than the ones at Comiket, though that may only be because I had a lot more to look forward to going in here than I did there. And despite the cramped quarters, M3 also felt less rushed and much more relaxed than Comiket. Although I knew no one there, the pure fact that everyone is there mostly to buy doujin music lends some perceived solidarity to the crowd that doesn’t exist at larger-scale, multiple medium events. It’s an experience that certainly won’t be the last, and I look forward to the next one~

KOF 2000 is currently listening to Battle of Seven Tusks…again…and promises to review some of these CDs before C72 rolls around.