Whew. Looks like things have settled down a little, which is a blessing. I got home on the anniversary of my grandfather's death, which meant a lot of family gathered at my house. Then came unpacking, catching up on work e-mail (I shudder to think of my MT e-mail right now) and distributing tchotchkes amongst friends.
But that's getting far ahead of myself. Last I wrote, it was december 29th of this report, and I need to at least get to the new year before this rant is over.
So, it was the 29th and after an interstitial stop in Akihabara to pick up a few extra toys, Mikelurker and I headed off to Tokyo Disney Sea so that he could worship his mouse god.
I'm not sure when I really fell off the Disney wagon. I mean, like most kids in my generation, I was nursed by the Second Golden Age of Disney animation. I can still recite most of Beauty and the Beast verbatim, with the notable exception of the stuff added in the latest special edition. One of the few ways you can get me to break out my long-retired falsetto is to sing Ariel's part in The Little Mermaid. I remember Anaheim mornings spent waiting in line for the Matterhorn, riding the Matterhorn, getting back in line for the Matterhorn, and repeating the process. But some time before high school, I just stopped caring.
Maybe it was because Disneyland meant 8-hour drives down particularly boring portions of I-5 in badly ventilated cars, nights spent shivering in overly air conditioned rooms, and standing in line for 4 hours the next day.
Maybe it's because Disney movies started sucking. Right around Pocahontas and The Hunchback of Notre Dame I washed my hands of the studio and never came back.
Maybe I just felt like I got too old for it, and tossed it aside in a rush to seem more grown-up (not that it worked, since I think I'll always be a 14-year-old boy inside).
Regardless of the reason, Dec. 29th was the first time I'd set foot in a Disney theme park in over 12 years. In an ideal story, this would have been the part where the lights and the music would revive my youthful joy, followed by a slow montage of me running through the streets with a childish grin on my face.
What really happened was that I stepped through the entrance and shouted to Mike: "HOLY CRAP, THIS PLACE IS ONE GIANT WIND TUNNEL!"
It was freakin' cold in there, and while the architecture was nice, it gave the wind a nice little funnel to rush through.
After wandering the waterways for a bit, Rice Suki called from the monorail, and we joined up. That was the highlight of the day, since I only get to see Rice Suki during AX, and he's usually either stressed out or passed out. So it was nice seeing him with actual energy (not that his average energy level is that far above comatose, but it's still a marked improvement) for once.
Acting more like disinterested tourists on a picture hunt than Disney kids, Rice and I accompanied Mikelurker as he showed us various sights and points of interest. And honestly, if you want to see some fascinating architecture, Disney Sea has a lot of it. The place is definitely well-constructed, and while I wouldn't be able to find it again with a map and a flashlight, I recommend finding the orrery in Fort Exploration.
It was a pretty nice place to be, all in all. I just wish I'd dressed for the coast in winter, because I felt like I was constantly under attack by the Big Bad Wolf.
So, the evening of the 29th ended, and we all staggered our way back to Asmodeus' pad to pick up precious little sleep before heading to the diametric opposite of Disneyland, Comiket.
Thanks to Asmodeus, the three of us were able to avoid the massive lines and get straight into the convention center before the doors opened - as he put it, the tickets we got were "printed on platinum," and sold on the secondary market for upwards of $300. Not being much into the theme of day 2 (which was pretty boys bumping uglies with other, wussier pretty boys), we mostly acted as interested observers. As veteran staff of American conventions, the three of us were fascinated by the sheer scale of Comiket, and the sheer efficiency with which the whole event moves.
Let me give you an idea of the scale of Comiket. 300,000 is a really big number, but you don't really grasp how gigantic it is until you see it in action. I'll put up a link to some pictures that Mikelurker and I took of the lines when they aren't 500K bandwidth-killers, but suffice to say that there were a LOT of people. The space as huge, too - as Mikelurker and Rice and I stood around in one of the bigger halls, we didn't notice the sheer volume of gay porn surrounding us because we were too busy staring at the cavernous hall space and estimating how many football fields could fit in each hall (the answer turns out to be something like 2.5, and there are six halls).
After I got over our awe of the venue size, I then looked around at the vast sea of humanity. The full flood of fangirls and non-conventional fanboys was still a half hour from coming into the hall, and yet the area was a buzzing hive of people desperately trying to present their work in the most attractive manner possible. It was around then that the sheer amount of preparation time required for Comike hit me.
As a rough estimate, let's say that an average doujinshi or collection of fan-made merchandise takes, let's say about 80 man-hours. Many are more, some are less, I'm just throwing out a number for purely hypothetical reasons. Maybe I should ask Fred, but given his pace, his number would be more around two hundred hours for a 24-page book.
Anyway, 80 hours of work on your book or your CD or what have you. Then you factor in another, say, 5 hours of preparation as you rent your dolly, set up your booth, and in some people's cases, run laps around the convention hall to spread your promotional flyers like a fish laying eggs. So we have 85 hours, and then the actual 7 hours that the booths are open. So our estimate is at about 92 man-hours per booth, not counting booths manned by two or more people.
There are approximately 35,000 booths at Comiket. Multiply that by 92 hours per booth and you have an incomprehensibly large number. You could move mountains with that many people doing that much work. It's difficult to wrap your mind around.
Awe aside, Comiket has no illusions about its role: it's a giant freakin' swap meet and showcase. Given the day's theme and my status as a very conventional fanboy, the three of us wandered off to the commercial booths, which get their own separate hall because the lines are truly massive. There were almost a thousand people lined up on the roof who formed the end of the line for the Type/Moon booth, and there were at least two or three lines who could boast similar populations.
I don't have it in me to wait for two hours in line to buy bedsheets, so we just waded our way through the throng that filled the commercial space. Me being a figure fanboy and all, I picked up some special event-only goods from CM's corp, and spent more time gaping at the giant crowds for everything.
After that came the last stop on our survey of Comike, the cosplay space. Mikelurker, Rice Suki and I spent some time geeking out over people dressed as our favorite characters as well as some of the more random costumes. I'm always a fan of the completely random costumes, and Comike Day 2 didn't disappoint - we saw a giant cigarette (I like to think that he was dressed as Mr. Butts), Ronald McDonald and Colonel Sanders, and a traffic cone.
Oh, wait, never mind, Mikelurker took a picture of an actual Comiket cone, not a guy dressed as a Comiket cone, which would have been awesome in its lameness.
The best part of the cosplay space was definitely the pair of guys with Gundams made from duct tape, foam, and cardboard. One was a Gyan, and his costume was pretty good. But the crowd favorite was the Acguy. If you know your Gundam, the Acguy is the rough equivalent of Bumblebee from Transformers - it's just so pathetic compared to everything else around it that it's kind of lovable in a pathetic way. True to form, the man in the Acguy suit first helped his Gyan friend get into costume, and then almost fell over while trying to get into his own costume. The transfixed crowd burst into encouraging shouts of "Ganbare, Acguy!" (You can do it, Acguy!) and I may or may not have been the guy who started the chant. There was a lot of fun to be had, and even Asmodeus took a brief break from his staffing duties to come out and sing his praises of the Acguy (or maybe he just watched him in the changing area, which is a possibility I don't want to think about).
After that, the three of us wandered back to the international office and fell into old convention habits: namely, sitting around and shooting the breeze with staffers. We sat around for two hours just talking to everyone, and learned a whole lot about Comike in the process - we also learned, to my mixed mirth and dismay, that the third day of Comiket was dubbed Otoko matsuri, literally "man festival." In other words, the next day was dedicated to all kinds of porn aimed for a conventional fanboy audience, and was going to be a complete sausage fest.
With that in mind, we then called pixiebell, who was still a little distressed at being sighted in Akihabara. Her apartment in the luxurious Roppongi Hills area was our next stop, and after saying our thanks to the Comiket folks, we ran off to join her.
Next time: Roppongi Hills, that's where I want to be.