As many of you may know, Reitaisai moved from the West-4 hall at Tokyo Big Sight last year, where from all reports the event was crowded and ridiculous and chaotic beyond anyone’s imagination, to the larger East 4/5/6 halls this year.
What was not announced was that the Reitaisai organizers also rented the East 3 hall, for the purpose of line control. Yes, they rented a 3.5 million yen/day hall for the purpose of making the event less of a living hell by lining up the first x thousand people to show up inside the event hall. Upon discovering this hall, I felt a little less bad about having to spend $19 on an only-event catalog. I took it somewhat easy, getting up at around 6 and arriving at the hall at a little past 7, and just barely made it in the nice climate controlled room where many thousands of other Touhou fans were, many of whom probably were hanging around the Big Sight all night.
As at all doujin events, there is a page in the Reitaisai catalog and all related materials that states that you SHOULD NOT line up overnight, or even get there really early in the morning, suggesting that you instead arrive at an hour when normal people will be awake, in other words, when you won’t bother them. Of course, a lot of people don’t actually follow this rule, creating tensions between the rule-breaking overnighters (徹夜組), the on-the-fence first trainers (始発組), and the rest of us plebes who more or less follow the rules and wish grave harm upon the first group and mild harm to the second.
Most conventions state that there will be some sort of vague penalties for showing up early. I’m fairly sure Comiket isn’t actually able to follow through with this threat, and they’re already pretty well equipped to deal with the crowd. Reitaisai last year, on the other hand, didn’t hand out any penalties, and the event was pretty chaotic. Sunshine Creation was fairly well known for actually dealing these out, moving some people to the back of the line, or I believe in one case making the overnight folks shovel snow if they wanted to keep their place in line. Of course, this can always backfire, as apparently at last Comic1, the 100 or so nerds who were cordoned off as a penalty by 5 staff members decided that their collective inertia could not be stopped by these 5 staff members if they all moved together, and basically just plowed into the event hall. tsk tsk.
Back to Retaisai, though. Like I said, I just barely made it in east-3, and I could hear people around me mumuring about penalties and whatnot, some calling the building we were in a ペナルティほいほい, “Penalty Hoihoi”, a play on the Japanese for “roach motel”, “Gokiburi hoihoi.”
Well, it turns out they were right! At 9:45, 15 minutes before the event started, the periodic announcement by the cheerful female announcer reminding us to please buy a catalog if we hadn’t yet was replaced by another announcer, this one male, and much less cheerful. He informed us folks in the hall that we all probably knew that lining up early was expressly forbidden. In classic Japanese chewing-out style, he let us know how much of an annoyance we must have been, partying outside all night when there’s a hospital with a giant cancer ward just next door, and that we should probably feel bad about ourselves. Oh, and there would be some changes made to the line.
Without even a “have a nice day”, the PA clicked, and everyone went from being dead silent to excitedly talking to their friends. The guys around me seemed half-scared but half-thrilled, because we sort of followed the rules by showing up after the first train, and even if we did get hit by a penalty, we had already showed up late enough that it wouldn’t reaaally make much of a difference.
At 9:55, our line, 6 wide and 90 deep, and only our line, started to move. We all started freaking out, wondering if we actually were going to be the first regular attendees in. They lined us up right in front of the entryway to the event, and held us there for a little bit, telling us that we shouldn’t run under any circumstances, that we should have our catalogs out, and that we should have our shoelaces tied. When 10 came around, everyone started clapping, as you normally do at these events.
Oh, except for the people who had stayed overnight at the Big Sight. Apparently they weren’t too thrilled about the entry order to the event of East 3 being completely reversed.
as they say on 2ch, 徹夜ざまあ wwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww
Anyway, I ought to go now. Need to install my Seirensen demo!