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Amparo Bertram

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06:06 pm: Comiket 2011 Trip Report
mangaroo, sara_tanaquil, wednesday_10_00, and I made plans to attend this year's Comiket. We coordinated our ticket purchases, scheduled activities for each day, and made lengthy shopping lists. We all set off for Tokyo on August 4.

Our plans started to go awry almost from the start, as wednesday_10_00's airplane was diverted due to mechanical difficulties, so she was unable to make her connection to my flight from San Francisco as intended. While that was unfortunate, it did save me from starving. I had reserved the egg/milk vegetarian meal (labeled "LACTO"), but whoever stocked the plane had instead given me the LOFAT meal, which contained a chicken main course. The flight attendants swapped it with wednesday_10_00's vegetarian meal so that I could eat. I arrived at Narita Airport at about the same time as mangaroo, so we were able to take a bus together to our hotel.

We made it to the hotel around 7pm, where we checked in and stowed our luggage. A few minutes later, sara_tanaquil arrived and took mangaroo out for some late evening shopping. When they returned, they reported that our favorite used manga store was moving to a new location. It was being packed up that night and wouldn't reopen until the new store was ready a week later. More business for their competitors, I suppose... Anyway, wednesday_10_00 made it to the hotel, though slightly delayed, and we all settled into our connecting rooms. Ikebukuro decided to welcome us by having a festival dance right outside our window.

In the morning, the four of us set out for our first day of shopping. We bought some things new, but mostly we ravaged the used manga shelves at Mandarake. Before long, we heard wednesday_10_00 utter the shocking words "I'm done shopping."

...Wait...what? So soon...?

She quickly clarified, saying that her shopping basket was full, so she would be calling it quits for the moment. Crisis averted. Thanks to that incident, however, "done shopping" became our catchphrase for the entire vacation.

The next day, we had intended to visit Tobu World Square, but the weather report warned of an 80% chance of rain, so we decided to spend the day shopping instead. We also began marathoning episodes of the anime series Tiger & Bunny. It did eventually rain...for a short while late in the afternoon. On Monday we continued the same theme, but for variety we shopped in Nakano instead of Ikebukuro. Though we were crossing items off of our shopping lists, we were also making new recommendations to each other, and we were finding things on display that captured our interest. In addition, there were several titles that all of us wanted, but that were in short supply, so in order to acquire enough copies for everyone we had to search multiple stores and keep checking back after they restocked their shelves.

On Tuesday, for something different, we set off early in the morning and took a bus tour of Urayasu. This led eventually to our arrival at Disney Sea, where we spent the day trying to avoid the blazing sun while catching the occasional ride. One of the characteristics of Disney Sea is that there are popcorn vendors scattered about the park, each with a different flavor of popcorn for sale. The vendors also sell special souvenir buckets for holding the popcorn. I saw many people walking around with an adorable Duffy basket, and I wanted to get one, but the guide pamphlet didn't mention where to obtain them. The possibility existed that it was a special seasonal item that wasn't available anymore. (Since the buckets are reusable, many people bring them back every time they visit the park, so just because people are carrying them it doesn't mean they're for sale.) Luckily, after quite a lot of wandering around, I finally spotted the one vendor that had them and was able to pick one up for myself. (For the curious: It originally held milk tea flavored popcorn.)

Wednesday, we returned to our regularly scheduled shopping. This time we went to Shibuya, where we visited Book Off and Mandarake. I actually spent some time browsing for cookbooks rather than manga, believe it or not...though that meant my companions got to all the good manga first. That night we also stopped in at Junkudou, which carries new books, and I picked up a cookbook with 135 recipes for potato salad. Afterward we hunted down Tsuki no Shizuku, a restaurant that specializes in items with tofu. It used to be located on the same street as Junkudou, but it moved to a building around the corner, so it took us a while to find it. It had also changed to an electronic menu system. Patrons order items via a touchscreen monitor. It seems handy, but the problem is that there is no way to flag down a server, because they only visit the table after something is ordered. (At one point we had to order water just to get a server to show up so that we could ask a question.) Also, on visits to the restaurant in the past, we were able to order items with the seafood removed, but that was no longer possible...so we accidentally got a plate of potatoes topped with squid guts. Yay. @_@

Sadly, sara_tanaquil had to cut her trip short due to circumstances at home, so she changed her return ticket and flew back. We shopped at the K-Books used manga store, which had finally reopened, though there were far fewer items remaining on our lists. mangaroo and I spent the afternoon in the sweltering heat of the nearby coin laundry. We all got together to study the Comiket catalog that night to plan which tables we would visit. We were discombobulated to discover that there was no section for Tiger & Bunny fandom. We checked through the catalog twice, to no avail. We resorted to looking up individual circles that we knew produced T&B doujinshi, and they were scattered all over. We concluded that, though it is explosively popular, the fandom was so new that it hadn't been assigned a section at the event yet. The circles had to register for some other fandom and sell their T&B doujinshi on the side.

Friday was the first day of Comiket, and it went as well as expected. Hot sun, long lines. I picked a few things up in the G-Defend section, but there wasn't really much I wanted. We returned to Ikebukuro, fortunately catching a rapid train that went all the way without making us transfer lines, and caught a bit of rest. In the evening we returned to Nakano for some shopping before going to our customary vegetarian Indian restaurant for supper. When we were paying our bill, I was delighted to discover that the restaurant now had its own cookbook. I decided immediately to buy it, and ran into a complication: Though I could pay for my meal with my credit card, I had to pay for the book with cash. Um, what? Oh, Japan.

Saturday we skipped Comiket and spent the day shopping. We also watched more T&B and planned our attack on Comiket the next day. Sunday morning we arrived early enough that we got inside at a reasonable time and didn't have to wait too long at any of the tables. We didn't run into any problems involving the authors selling out of popular titles, as we had last time we attended two years ago.

At this point we were practically done shopping, so we decided to tally up our acquisitions and pack some away to get an idea of how much luggage space we would have available. wednesday_10_00 and I built manga forts with our purchases. mangaroo turned on the TV while she worked, and she happened upon a station doing a countdown of the Top 20 Anime Theme Songs. We never did manage to go out for karaoke, but at least this afforded me the opportunity to sing along to the theme song from Evangelion (which placed at #14).

We then proceeded to spend the next three days shopping. We had other items on the schedule, but we decided to forgo them.

Packing was a challenge, as usual, but I managed to fit everything into my luggage without excess weight fees. The trip back was delayed by about 90 minutes, but was otherwise uneventful. (They even had the right meal for me, thank goodness.) I was bringing back some leftover cheese and bread that I hadn't eaten at the hotel, so I declared it on my customs form. The officer at primary inspection was going to refer me for inspection, but then he recognized me and changed his mind. I also walked past the roving agriculture specialist and the canine officer without any problems. However, the officer at the exit checkpoint waved me into the agriculture line. ~_~ Luckily, I got out with only a verbal interview, so I didn't have to lift all my bags onto the X-ray belt.

While I was gone, megory had re-grouted the tiles in the kitchen and painted all the cabinets, and my dad had nearly finished rewiring the entire house. Best parents ever? I think so.

I only managed to sleep three hours that night, and I had to work Friday. Perhaps taking an extra day off would have been smart, but it was great to see Benny again, and it wasn't too difficult to get through the day. Hopefully I will be more recovered from jet lag for my shift tomorrow.

Comments

[User Picture]
From:wednesday_10_00
Date:August 21st, 2011 03:31 am (UTC)
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Yay, trip report! (I'm going to be last, aren't I?)

I thought you had Saturday and Sunday off work, poor thing! I was a total zombie yesterday, so I can't imagine having to work. Feeling better today, but still had to take a nap this afternoon. Maybe I'm just a total wuss about jet lag...? Good luck at work tomorrow!
[User Picture]
From:spacealien_vamp
Date:August 21st, 2011 11:01 am (UTC)
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I thought you had Saturday and Sunday off work, poor thing!

I picked up an overtime shift so that I wouldn't have to work the 28th. Now I have three days off next weekend. It will be a challenge getting there, but I'm sure I'll enjoy it.
[User Picture]
From:mangaroo
Date:August 21st, 2011 03:56 am (UTC)
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Oh, I like how your report traces the theme of going off schedule (from W_10_00's plane adventures, to the closing of K-Books, to the total abandonment of not-shopping activities). Nicely done!

In the evening we returned to Nakano for some shopping before going to our customary vegetarian Indian restaurant for supper.

I...forgot this. I mean, I didn't forget that we went to the Indian restaurant for dinner on Comiket Day 1, but I have no memory of going to Nakano on the way. (And no receipt to indicate I purchased anything. That's just WRONG.) Was this when W_10_00 first wanted to look for the figure she passed up? (Non-buyer's remorse: it's the worst.)

I can't acknowledge your parents as the best ever, but you are one lucky kid and homeowner to have them.
[User Picture]
From:spacealien_vamp
Date:August 21st, 2011 11:05 am (UTC)
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Nicely done!

Thanks!

Was this when W_10_00 first wanted to look for the figure she passed up?

Probably? I'm pretty sure that this was also the trip when you made the cheese comment regarding the billboard on the Nakano station platform.
[User Picture]
From:mangaroo
Date:August 21st, 2011 03:19 pm (UTC)
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Argh! My billboard of shame.

Question: how did you get home from the airport? Did your parents meet you to help wrangle your luggage on public transit, did you take a van...?
[User Picture]
From:spacealien_vamp
Date:August 22nd, 2011 11:12 am (UTC)
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Question: how did you get home from the airport?

Taxi. It's expensive ($25, including tip), but convenient and fast. Public transit would have meant BART → Caltrain (no way all those suitcases would fit on the bus), which would leave a mile walk from the station to my apartment.
[User Picture]
From:wednesday_10_00
Date:August 21st, 2011 03:22 pm (UTC)
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Was this when W_10_00 first wanted to look for the figure she passed up?

I think so, yes.

Non-buyer's remorse: it's the worst.

It is! I just finished Hidoku shinaide 2 last night, and now I'm suffering from non-buyer's remorse re: Yasashiku shinaide 5. :(
[User Picture]
From:mangaroo
Date:August 21st, 2011 03:31 pm (UTC)
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I'm going to take this opportunity to complain about the Yasashiku shinaide compilation I bought not having chapter markers and not being reprinted in the order they are listed on the back. Now I know why Sara buys individual doujinshi for all her compilations. I can't TALK to you about Yasashiku because I don't know what bits are Yasashiku and what bits are "Shinaide plus" and "¥0-Priceless."

I wish I had known why you thought you didn't/wouldn't like Hidoku shinaide before we went to Comiket. I'm bouncy with delight that I managed a successful pimp (gosh, I hope s_vamp likes Swiss Cheese), but it's so sad when you miss an opportunity to get a doujinshi new and cheap. Next time, let's bring a time machine.
[User Picture]
From:wednesday_10_00
Date:August 21st, 2011 03:53 pm (UTC)
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not having chapter markers and not being reprinted in the order they are listed on the back

Well, that's annoying. :/ My specific remorse, though, is that Yasashiku 5 is the only one printed after Hidoku 2, so I'm thinking that it takes place after the happy end...? (Not that they aren't funny when Nemunemu is being totally clueless, but.)

Next time, let's bring a time machine.

It should be required on all vacations.
[User Picture]
From:mangaroo
Date:August 21st, 2011 05:03 pm (UTC)
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I'm thinking that it takes place after the happy end...?

I do believe you're correct. Fortunately, Nemugasa manages to remain largely clueless anyway (because cluelessness is part of his appeal).

I think we need to go back in December. Win the lottery.
[User Picture]
From:wednesday_10_00
Date:August 22nd, 2011 12:33 am (UTC)
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because cluelessness is part of his appeal

Part?

Win the lottery.

*adds "lottery tickets" to budget*
[User Picture]
From:mangaroo
Date:August 22nd, 2011 06:39 am (UTC)
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Hey, he has glasses and lots of smex. That is also part of his appeal.
[User Picture]
From:sara_tanaquil
Date:August 22nd, 2011 02:22 am (UTC)
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This whole conversation is amusing me; clearly I need to go on Yahoo-Japan and remedy my lack of Hidoku Shinaide doujinshi. Ironically, I have liked this series from the beginning, even though the characters spent so much time being stupidly mean to each other. You would have had no trouble pimping the doujinshi to me!

Now I know why Sara buys individual doujinshi for all her compilations.

Now that you mention it, that is indeed one of the major (if not the most important) reason(s), though I had kind of forgotten it in the craze of collecting.
[User Picture]
From:sara_tanaquil
Date:August 22nd, 2011 02:18 am (UTC)
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Yay, trip report! I don't know whether I am amused or horrified or sympathetic that you decided to forego all the non-shopping-related activities. (I kind of... suspected that would happen.)

Kareoke for sure next time! FOR SURE! I will practice.

Good luck weathering the jet lag. Having to work while jet lagged sounds like hell, but I hope it at least saves you from the dire consequences of the Unplanned Nap.

My parents are up there in the ranking, but I think yours can safely be voted Best House Fixer-upper Parents Ever.
[User Picture]
From:mangaroo
Date:August 22nd, 2011 06:34 am (UTC)
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I don't really think the world revolves around me, so I'm not going to take full responsibility for the decision to forgo Fuji-Q, but my lack of enthusiasm about paying ¥10000 for the round trip (do I have that right, or am I doubling the number and it was only ¥5000?) might have had something to do with it. We just...never rescheduled Tobu World Square and the plastic food district. After you left, Comiket hit us in the face, then there was the post-comiket remorse shopping.

I think the optimal trip schedule for the link between my wallet and my psyche would be 2 days of shopping, 3 days of Comiket, 3 days of Tobu World Square/Disney/Fuji-Q, 5 more shopping days. That way, I don't have any worries about running out of cash before Comiket and I'm pulling back on purchases rather than experiences in the last days, when my money is running low.

I take no responsibility at all for the lack of karaoke, since I think everyone knows I don't enjoy it and am happy for y'all to do it without me.
[User Picture]
From:spacealien_vamp
Date:August 22nd, 2011 11:17 am (UTC)
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do I have that right, or am I doubling the number and it was only ¥5000?

It was 2500 each way, so 5000.
[User Picture]
From:sara_tanaquil
Date:August 22nd, 2011 04:58 pm (UTC)
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Well, that's good to know for future budgeting. (How much would admission have been, anyway? I completely failed to budget for Fuji-Q in my trip budget ahead of time.)

I entirely sympathize with the choice of post-comiket remorse shopping over foot-tiring tourism, but I just hope my upheavals didn't get in the way too much. Personally, I didn't care one way or the other about Tobu (though I'm sure it would have been fun) and had already been to the plastic food district once (I'm sorry s_vamp didn't get to shop for cooking implements there...). I was sad about "missing" Fuji-Q, which I really want to see someday, but I kind of suspected it would end up getting scratched after Comiket. ^_^

PS, because I can't edit a comment after it's been replied to: I do know how to spell karaoke. Really. >.<

Edited at 2011-08-22 04:59 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
From:wednesday_10_00
Date:August 22nd, 2011 05:17 pm (UTC)
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How much would admission have been, anyway?

Assuming we wanted to go with the "free pass" (for unlimited rides), it's ¥5000. So ¥10,000 for entrance and transportation, plus food (and, for me, Mt. Fuji souvenirs), etc. It's not an insignificant amount.

I would like to keep it on the calendar for 2013; assuming it's open in December, I think the cooler temperatures will make it a much more pleasant trip.
[User Picture]
From:mangaroo
Date:August 22nd, 2011 05:28 pm (UTC)
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I just hope my upheavals didn't get in the way too much.

For the record: not at all. The displaced events could easily have been rescheduled (or, in the case of the plastic food district, even paired up with post-comiket remorse shopping). They just...weren't.
[User Picture]
From:spacealien_vamp
Date:August 23rd, 2011 01:03 am (UTC)
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The plastic food district shopping trip will be better next time than it would have been this trip anyway, because by then I will have a place to display my purchases.

Speaking of which, I just bought an Asian-style china cabinet on sale, and it's gorgeous. I can't wait until the house is fixed up enough to start decorating.
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