|Synonyms:||doujin sokubaikai, sokubaikai, event, ibento|
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A doujinshi convention is a type of fan convention that centers on the exchange of doujinshi. Most doujinshi conventions are held in Japan, but they also take place in countries such as China, Malaysia, Indonesia, France, and others. This article is about doujinshi conventions in Japan. Doujinshi conventions are usually referred to as sokubaikai (即売会, literally "display and sale event") or ibento (イベント, from the English "event").
According to Doujin.com, several thousand doujinshi conventions are held throughout Japan every year. Many of them are indicated on various convention calendars online, like Doujin.com and Circle.ms. Most conventions take place on Sundays, with a smaller number on Saturdays and holidays. Some conventions are regularly recurring events, while many others are organized only once or infrequently.
Recurring conventions are repeated on a set schedule, for instance yearly or twice-yearly. Comiket and COMITIA are famous examples of recurring conventions. Although these large and regular conventions are the most well known outside of Japan, the majority of doujinshi conventions are much smaller, with a few dozen to a few hundred participating circles and a few dozens or hundreds of other participants. Most large conventions are multi-fandom.
Conventions that focus on one particular source work, character, or pairing are called "only events" (オンリーイベント, onrii ibento), or also "only doujinshi markets" (オンリー同人誌即売会, onrii doujinshi sokubaikai). Single-edition conventions usually have a specialized focus, such as one source work, one character, one pairing, and so on.
Sometimes a themed "only event" takes place within a larger convention, with the organizers of the "only event" reserving space and signage for their smaller event in a hall shared with other "only events" and often a larger umbrella event. These conventions-within-conventions are also called "petit only" (プチオンリー, "puchi onrii"). They can focus on the same themes as the "only events" that occur outside of a larger convention.
Depending on the size of the convention, doujinshi conventions are organized anywhere from rooms in hotels or community centres to large exhibition halls. Tokyo Big Sight, the largest convention centre in Japan, frequently hosts several large regular doujinshi conventions (such as Comiket, Comic City, Reitaisai, and COMITIA) that are among the largest events hosted at the centre. The rent of a convention's venue is usually paid via through the participation fees that circles contribute.
All conventions have their own rules about who can participate, although most are open to all. Age rules are among the most common restrictions: some conventions require the representative member of a circle to be a legal adult, while others forbid participation by some age groups entirely. Other conventions permit entry to minors but forbid anyone under eighteen (the legal age of majority in Japan) from viewing or buying R18-rated materials, and circles sometimes ask for age verification before selling an R18-rated work.
Circles pay a fee to take part in a doujinshi conventions. The fees are usually around several thousand yen. Attending doujinshi conventions as a general participant (buyer) is usually free of charge, although buying a catalog either beforehand or upon arrival at the convention site is sometimes a requirement for entry. The catalogs of very large conventions such as Comiket and Comic City are also sold in selected bookstores.
Staff at conventions are mostly volunteers. Support services such as parcel delivery and catering are sometimes provided by companies, depending on the size of the convention.
Companies sometimes take part in doujinshi conventions through sponsoring or by setting up a booth inside the convention site; this happens particularly often during very large conventions. Participating companies can range from distributors of art supplies to anime and manga companies.
Other participants can include media companies or other companies relevant to fannish interests. Doujinshi conventions sometimes attract attention from the press, but photography and newsgathering inside convention sites is usually tightly regulated to protect the privacy of participants.
Months before the convention, organizers begin soliciting participants online and via flyers that are distributed for free at other conventions and in doujin shops. The pamphlets contain information about how many spaces are available for circles, how many cosplayers can apply, and so on. Interested circles and cosplayers can usually apply by filling in the form attached to the pamphlet, or by using an online application service like Circle.ms. Cosplayers need to apply beforehand because they aren't allowed to come to the convention site already in costume; they need to change on site, and the changing rooms will hold only so many people. General participants usually don't need to apply before attending an event. The pamphlets may also mention how many circles can participate through consignment sale instead of by attending the convention directly.
If more circles apply than there are spaces available, the organizers may select the lucky participants through a lottery. Once all participants have been selected, event organizers distribute circles' spaces through the convention spaces, taking care to put circles with the same fandoms or pairings close together.
A catalog or flyer (both are referred to as "pamphlet", パンフレット or パンフ) is prepared to guide participants around the con and help buyers find the spaces of their favorite circles. This is a necessity especially for large conventions that may have hundreds or thousands of participating circles, and catalogs for larger conventions are often hundreds of pages long. Comiket's famous catalog is about 1400 pages long.
All catalogs include basic information about the convention and circle cuts, rectangular images the size of a big postage stamp in which circles can advertise themselves via a picture and whatever other information they can squeeze in. Depending on the convention, catalogs may also include fannish meta, Q&A sections, fandom news, and advertising for other conventions and doujinshi-related organizations (for instance research organizations) and commercial companies (for instance doujinshi printing companies and dojin shops).
Conventions are advertised in the catalogs of other conventions, via flyers distributed at other conventions and inside manga, anime and doujinshi stores, and online via convention calendars and other fannish channels.
Most conventions center on the sale of doujinshi. Frequently, other fanworks such as music CDs, accessories, and cosplay pictures are also sold. Some conventions include cosplay events, while others forbid cosplaying. Some conventions also include stage shows or debates among fans and sometimes academics.
Conventions are seen as places for fans to socialize. While extremely crowded conditions sometimes make it difficult or impolite to loiter in front of a circle's space, fans frequently take the opportunity to chat with their favorite circles, give small gifts of candy to show their appreciation, and so on. Participating circles may also leave their spaces for a short time to visit the spaces of friends and exchange free copies of both circles' newest works.
More organized socializing takes the form of "petit only" (プチオンリー, puchi onrii), "only events" within a larger con, and after-parties, some of which are organized by the con itself (in case of cons with a relatively small number of participants).
Some doujinshi conventions also operate physical and online shops throughout the year. These shops serve as outlets for doujinshi and sometimes as physical locations where organizers can meet participants in between editions of the conventions. A few examples of convention-affiliated shops are Comiket Service in Tokyo (affiliated with Comiket) and Gataket Shop in Niigata (affiliated with Gataket).
- Comiket permits entry to all ages. Comic City forbids entry to anyone under six years of age.
- Comic City, for instance, forbids all photography inside the convention site. Comiket permits photography only to members of the press who have registered for a press pass beforehand, although photography or information-gathering for non-commercial purposes is allowed. It is common to blur faces of participants in photos published online and in the Comiket catalog.
- Some exceptions, like Comiket, sell their application forms as well.