Comiket at Tokyo Big Sight today, along with some other stops along the way.
Warning: if you don’t like manga, or drawings of scantily-clad women, skip this maybe? Also this is hilariously long and full of images/video. Too bad.
A’s running the schedule today so we are going to the Star Wars Identities exhibition on Tennozu Isle, Shinagawa, before going to Comiket.
This exhibition showcases pre-production and production items from all the movies, with a storyline of how identity is developed for people and the characters alike. There’s a heavy focus on Luke and Anakin Skywalker, as they’re the two major identities in the series.
You’re given an audio receiver which works over IR, transmitting to you when you’re in particular spots, and a wrist band. The wrist band identifies you to the system as you go around answering questions similar to an RPG character creation screen, developing your own unique Star Wars identity.
This is very “mood-lit” exhibition, which works for humans, but is horrible for cameras.
When the dark side beckons, which side of the force will you choose?
The first step is to choose your hero’s race. I chose a Wookiee from 11 different options. I nearly chose a Gungan.
There was some talk about the clones and the fact that they’re faceless most of the time, but small differences gave them identity… until Order 66 when they’re baddies all of a sudden.
Droids are rad. The end.
There was a small video presentation about Luke’s replacement hand becoming a real technology, where targeted enervation makes nerve connections to prosthetics possible.
Ponda Baba’s mask, one of the last remaining artefacts from the famous cantina scene. There was a load of information on how the scene came together, with main filming and the “flavour” cuts in between being filmed at very different times.
There was a small section on Jar Jar’s development, he was one of the first characters and one of the longest to develop. As much as people hate him, he’s a central part of the story. He could have looked very different…
Next, we got to select our genes, the genetic roots of our hero:
- Gender (male/female): male
- Fur colour (a bunch): blonde-ish
- Skills (creative/intellectual/strength/agility/perception): intellectual
- Jedi power level (none-extra strong): strong
Next was “How you were brought up” - strict or chill, overbearing or relaxed. I went with the Gungan path.
Most of the pod racer scenes were done with CGI, but some of them were done with traditional puppetry. The detail on these is spectacular compared to some of the other movies; necessary due to the much higher quality film production of modern times.
Next was a section about Jabba, the eponymous smuggler and all-round bad guy. They couldn’t make his puppetry work due to time until the third movie. Originally he was supposed to stand up on two feet, I’m sure we’re all glad he didn’t. The reintroduction with CGI was a bit of a mess but artists going to artist.
This concept sketch of the seconds-long droid torture reminded me of one of my favourite scenes in the series. It works on so many levels!
Luke was a farm boy, Anakin a city slave. Anakin had more experience with different subcultures. Their upbringing informed their views on later life. They talked about the 3000 Earth cultures these days and the globalisation and change, and how it changes both sides of the equation.
The original costume.
I love how this original concept sketch for C3-PO and R2-D2 makes the golden boy look so much like the robot from “Metropolis”.
There’s the question of who your mentor will be, and a video short about how mentors teach by example, rather than teachers that teach through direct lessons.
Darth Sidious has a plan, and also my vote.
There was a section on Yoda, as there must be. The teacher and mentor of Luke Skywalker, he’s still playing much more of a role than Luke ever did, coming back in the Mandalorian.
Yoda went through a lot of different versions in development. I’m glad this wasn’t one of the ones that was chosen in the end…
Yoda’s eyes were modelled on Einstein’s, a smart guy. Seems legit.
There’s a section on the influences of our peers. A and I got to put our wristbands together on the platform, joining us as co-conspirators? Lots of talk of Solo and folks in this space.
There’s a section on Chewie, Han’s sidekick throughout the movie. Turns out he’s based on George Lucas’ Malamute, who he’d drive around with when he was younger, and confuse people when they’d realise it was a dog, not a person.
There’s a big display of various ships from both sides, and the helmets of the pilots.
We got to choose our home planet (Coruscant), our community type (engineers) and what we did on holiday (escape the city for an artificial Western sea).
Next there was talk of the events we experience and how they shape us. Things like the death of Luke’s parents, and Anakin’s sale as a slaver and the treatment of his mother.
There was a questionnaire where I was asked about being crashed on a planet and how I’d act (become a trader with the Jawas, survive).
We got to choose our job, I chose bounty hunter. Seriously, sounds like fun.
Next was somewhat of a personality test, asking questions like:
- how inquisitive you are,
- how you feel with social interactions,
- your diplomatic skills,
- your attention to detail,
- how level-headed you are,
- how artistic or intellectual you are,
- how energetic/physical you are,
- your impulsiveness,
- your temper/mood.
This all feeds into the Holland Code/Career Test, which is real and all about occupations and the people who they best suit… there’s a lot of talk of Padmé here, being born into politics and working for her people. Unsurprisingly, my results are hilariously close to my career, so I’m OK with that.
We got to choose our view on the world, such as “universalism, power, tradition, hedonism, achievement, benevolence, security” etc. I went with “universalism” as my driving force. One level for everyone, fuckit. Let’s just be.
Vader was the centrepoint of this part of the presentation, with side areas about the Emperor and some of the other Jedi and their costumes.
Fisto, what a guy.
At this point we were presented with our final choice, the light or dark side. I went with light. The lighting’s better, and my eyes are bad.
At this point we were presented with our “final form” and given the option to email it to ourselves.
I was raised on the city planet Coruscant, where members of my community made their living engineering and building skyscrapers . On holidays my best friend and I would traditionally abandon the city for the shores of the artificial Western Sea.
My parents gave me independence and not much by way of support, but I suppose I did inherit my strong set of intellectual abilities from them. Later on I spent some time with the one and only Darth Sidious, whose guidance left me with knowledge I still use every day in my job as a bounty hunter.
I remember this one time when I crash-landed on a strange planet. I didn’t let this affect me too much, though; instead I became a successful trader of scrap metal and found a home among the Jawas.
People often tell me I’m a generally adventurous and curious person, I also tend to be organised and prepared. But the most important thing to me is universalism: after all, as they say, equal rights for all and special privileges for none.
I have pretty strong powers with the Force; I guess that’s why the Emperor came looking for me. When he offered me limitless power in exchange for my allegiance, I fought the urge to join him and his evil minions and rejected his offer.
The gift shop was good. The DVDs were maddening, only ¾ of the movies and all in different cases… I’d have bought the “first” three (3-4-5) if they were in those beautiful metal cases.
I did buy the guide, and a manga of “lost stories”.
On to Comiket!
The visitors site warns to catch the first train and staying overnight is not permitted, but also that over 200,000 people will visit per day. Dang. That’s like. 1/5th of my state’s capital city all turning up to the one place. That’d take a sign saying “unlimited free beer” on a Sunday or something.
A quick train ride to the local station, which had a very heavy private security coverage controlling the traffic flow of thousands of people. First job was to find wrist bands… 250m later, after a single sign we ended up in a car park. Bit of a line. In the sun.
There’s a fair bit of old information on the site so we didn’t know that it would have been easier to buy tickets in Akihabara yesterday… whoops.
They really know how to build a building around here. The Tokyo Baycourt Club Hotel. I’m pretty sure we’ve seen this in movies. I like the little crane.
OK maybe I just like buildings with funky features and cranes.
I was a little bored in the line. Holy shit though, they know how to building. The Fuji Television HQ building looks pretty amazing from this side, but you should see it from the bay! Also, I should. I haven’t yet. Next trip for sure.
That wasn’t the worst bag check I’ve ever been through on the approach to the ticket counter but it was close, akin to “yes, you clearly don’t have that pocket you showed me full of big guns.” Not sure why they were checking at that point, perhaps worried about us taking the money? If I was doing that, I’d not have waited half an hour in the line, that’s for sure.
Half an hour later we stopped for snacks. I was a little sun-affected at this point.
We kept thinking we were in the con, but then we were just in a hallway, or an approach, or a mezzanine… then we were in the huge atrium of the big sight.
Oh. My. Lord. So much manga. So many people. Cosplayers of all kinds.
The Doujinshi halls were massive and packed with people. A distinct lack of tentacles 🐙. The internet lied to me about Japanese culture! (note, a lack, not an absence)
It was agreed between us that the most concerning tables were the old ladies with black and white printed books of… who knows with just text on the front cover. 😂
I didn’t grab many useful/interesting photos here. I didn’t want to take photos of random people sitting with their art, because I can’t ask nicely to do so, and photos of lots of people sitting with their art, with other people standing around them, get really boring quickly.
I bought some Evangelion Moe for the giggles. I’ve already packed it in my luggage as we’re leaving Tokyo tomorrow, but it was pretty high quality drawing and cute. Also came with a nice paper cover.
I’m not sure what they’re selling, but I normally like tex-mex food. Seems legit, yeah?
They had a whole section in the corner for people to use a courier company to send their purchases home. Now that is organised. Also, totally enabling bad habits. I’m going with organised.
After that we headed to the “commercial” section, which was two big halls full of stand selling merch.
I’ll totally admit it, I was there to gawk and just bask in the kawaii fun. I’m a simple creature.
There were people queueing for ages just to buy merch. I couldn’t imagine being that much of a fan of anything.
Sometimes we’d see a queue, and turn around only to find a sign showing that the next queue was a queue to queue for the other queue. They really know how to line up for things here.
We were given a paper slip cover thing advertising Square Enix Manga Up! Magazine. My favourite part, she’s saying “peel off” and it’s just a bikini underneath. Such troll. Nice one SE.
The place was just… so many stands, so many things handed to us, all selling merch and desperate for our attention. I can totally understand the culture, but so far I haven’t fallen into it due to lack of exposure/access… yet ^_^
After a little over three hours wandering aimlessly through Comiket we were done. Had we lived in the area we’d probably have known more about it, been able to understand most of what was on sale, and also turn up on a day when “our” content was being sold, but we don’t don’t and couldn’t, so we turned up today and it was fun.
Next we wanted to go visit the Doraemon store. Cute character, new store, close, etc. Seemed fun… until there was a 90 minute wait. Nope.
There was a Hello Kitty store right next to it, which was fun. Everything within two stores smelt of “sweet”. It was all very cute. I’m not sure why they sold salt.
What’s that? Gundam store? Sure, let’s go check that out. If you’re into gunpla, this seems to be a great place to go. There’s a bit of a history show on the way in, and a huge collection of sets from all sorts of different collections.
There were even quite a few only-available-at-this-store sets. I hope sets is the right name.
Someone even made a gunpla showing the gunpla manufacturing process. It’s part of a greater display about the process, with injection moulds, the machines and design diagrams. There’s official sets of the injection moulding machines, so I’m guessing that’s a whole sub-sub-sub-culture.
There were quite a few display cases with world championship creations. I have to say the artistic talent put into these displays is mind boggling.
About as mind boggling as the life-sized head in the middle of the store.
Or the complete, full-size Gundam Unicorn outside. I’d heard about it, and written it off for visiting because it was out of the way. Completely didn’t remember it until I noticed it on a map of the building as we were trying to leave!
I’m not much of a Gundam follower, never having had much access to it, but who could refute the awesomeness of a transforming multi-story tall robot?
Or its booty?
We weren’t there at the right time, but I’ve seen videos of the regular shows it puts on, and it’s pretty cool that a TV show would last for 40 years and generate that much love.
We had remembered that the TeamLab Borderless light show was down the road, so we staggered our way in that direction, and came to the terrible realisation that our travels had been for nothing - because it was one of those “limited tickets per day” things - we didn’t have tickets. It was an hour and a half to two hour wait at that point, even if we did have tickets, and I wasn’t up for that much standing around again today.
Hunger set in, so we scouted for food and ended up in what looked to be a giant Toyota showroom. Turns out it’s the MegaWeb Toyota City Showcase. This place is incredible! There’s so many “city” sized Toyota vehicles downstairs, and upstairs there’s a bunch of different concept and high-tech cars being shown. I quickly checked out the Mirai fuel-cell powered car…
… the “power sharing” concept vehicle …
.. and the Toyota/Lexus safety tech demos. One of which was a Lexus car, connected to an external display, with the suspension reacting to the virtual world and the driver’s inputs. Ain’t drive-by-wire amazing?
There was also a more kid-friendly virtual safety system demo …
We finally made our way to Menya Kukai Venus Fort for a late lunch/early dinner. I had the “special” Tonkatsu, and it hit the spot just fine.
I’m sure there’s no link between the sign and the cabinet full of meat, but it was a little disconcerting. (The shopping centre had about ¼ as many dogs as people, it was pretty amazing).
After that it was time to make our way home, with a quick stop in the lower level of the Toyota facility, checking out a whole load of their smaller vehicles and grabbing photos of them and their pricing/stats. That’ll be a whole post for when I have a lot more time, but damn I really want some of these cars to make their way to Australia. They’re mostly hybrids if they aren’t plain EV, and they’re a lot more practical for their size than the corolla and some of the uglier incarnations that we get.
Just take a look at that grille!
I really love the Japanese train signs. I’m sure I’m not the only one collecting photos of the ones that really hit home. This one really screams “Japanese Respectfulness”.