You might already know about Japan’s famous “Comiket” or Comic Market events – the biannual doujin and fan-made goods event that consistently draws huge crowds. Maybe you’ve thought about visiting Japan during Comiket to pick up some rare or interesting goods. But as you get on the train towards the venue, you quickly realize your mistake, as you’re devoured by the sea of attendees.
FEAR NOT, there is hope. And its name is Junction Box.
Picture Comiket, but a lot smaller, and for BEMANI and music games only. That’s Junction Box. In general, the event is always held together with FEEL SO GOOD, which is the same kind of event, but limited to Pop’n Music-related items. Junction Box, however, is not. While the main focus is BEMANI, there are occasionally Hatsune Miku goods available. I have not seen any maimai or Chunithm goods, but there may be more of them at Junction Box 8, to be held on July 31st this year.
The main event is usually held at the Tokyo Ryutsu Center, which is fairly close to Tokyo Station, and is very convenient to Haneda Airport. The organizing company, Youmedia, is well-versed in event management. It’s been around since 1996 and also holds similar events for other interest such as Kancolle, Touhou Project, and more recently, Osomatsu-san and Blood Blockade Battlefront, two recent popular anime series.
Arriving at about 10am, I was greeted with the usual crowds chatting outside the venue, eating breakfast, comparing their cosplay wigs, etc. After I grabbed a donut and an ice-cold-water-only-100-yen for myself, I walked over to the sales tent and picked up my guidebook/pamphlet for a measly 1000yen (about $9).
4 other events were held alongside Junction Box and FEEL SO GOOD, carefully selected by the event’s organizer for maximum hype/profit.
Let’s take a look at some of the rules…
Most of these are pretty standard fare, with the exception of somewhat more harsh cosplay regulations. Cosplayers must purchase a ~$4.50 Cosplay Ticket and must also change only in the designated changing rooms. No cosplay is allowed outside the event space, for example, at the ATM or convenience stores. Due to Japan’s somewhat strict photography culture, videos are not allowed, and photos must be taken without anything in the background such as other people or booths.
As I turned the corner after buying the book, I was greeted with a somewhat scary-looking line…
But, luckily for me, I had pre-registered, and for an extra ~$4.50, gotten an Early-Entry ticket. So I headed inside the building and was ushered into an extremely nondescript room where us VIPs were to wait for the next hour. My guess is that there were about 100 others in line before me, with another 200 arriving after I did.
As everyone else was doing, I opened up my guidebook and checked out some of the booths I needed to visit first.
Aisles A through F and G through K were for FSG and JB, respectively, with the rest of the hall filled with the other 4 events. Each event has its own sub-division as well – for each game as well as characters such as MZD, Hinabita, Asaki song characters, and more.
Each circle (booth, or group at a table) can also provide a small image for their entry in the catalog, in hopes that they’ll earn visitors and sales.
At 11:45am, the Early-Entry Ticket holders were let into the hall and allowed to line up in front of their favorite booths. At 12 noon, an announcement and applause signalled the start of sales time, and money and goods started changing hands!
I picked up what I wanted first before it all sold out, and headed to the next booths on my list. After securing everything I needed, it was time to just walk around and browse through tables.
These handmade figures (bottom row) were not for sale, but photography was allowed:
As far as cosplay goes, I wasn’t able to get any photos, but there were plenty of characters from every BEMANI game, including JOMANDA, Shakunetsu-kun, Mr. KK, DTO, Smith, Tricoro jesters, Rasis, and the list goes on.
I met a few friends and acquaintances, got a quick lunch from the convenience store, and finished up my shopping. After one last walk-through, it was time to head home…
So, what can you get at Junction Box? The most popular items I’ve seen are original art books or doujin compilations, keychains, and stickers. But there are also bags, posters, pins/badges, and a lot more. Here’s what I bought.
Various books. Take a look at the bottom-left one. Oh…BEMANI cocktails? Yes, really. This amazing collection of recipes was done by self-taught amateur bartender and BEMANI gamer Sui, whose website/blog can be seen here along with some additional recipes.
In The Breeze is interpreted as a Ramune-based drink with shots of Blue Curacao and Passionfruit Liqueur, while the Onigo is a dark beer mixed with Cola and a shot of Ginger Ale. Would you drink these? I know I sure will.
Next up above those books was an interesting piece – “The History of BMS” by circle slappin’ beats.
One of many books available, this details, of course, the history of IIDX simulator BMS, including some interesting information from artists, programmers, and more. There was also an interesting book (which was unfortunately sold out) about PASELI and how it works from a business perspective. Their website, as well as a list of all publications, can be seen here.
Next up: An interesting book depicting all the locations used in last summer’s “BEMANI SUMMER DIARY” event.
Most of the real-life locations were around Kobe, Japan, with a few in Hawaii. The circle, KONMAI, is run by 0toba.
One other book, GOTTAMIX 7, is a yearly collaboration between various artists. This time’s theme was IIDX Copula.
The book features some artwork, mini-manga, and even tips on getting through Himiko, everyone’s favorite IIDX chart ever. The circle, cockatiel, has been around for a while, and even has some Appeal Card designs in Sound Voltex!
Above: mellow slow tea time, an extremely well-drawn Rche fanbook by Ninako.
The above book was done Hiro from Yanada’s Target Cyberspace. They are one of the biggest supporters of keeping DDR alive in Japan, and even leave a message attached in each book urging DDR fans to support the game in any way possible. Cheers to them!
The next set of items is all from different artists. First we have the deck of cards done by a group on pixiv and (sponsored?) by Amado(?) This is an excellent high-quality piece with a different piece of art on every single card. Under that we have a handful of keychains. Mitsuruko by Hikari, and three different Rasis-Grace pairs by SMITH, Hinamomo, and Kagari.
Circle nyan box created this awesome clear file featuring characters from every BEMANI series.
These Reflec Beat and BeatStream coasters, as well as this excellent Shakunetsu Beach-Side Bunny IC/pass case, were made by Yuhki Takahashi in his cafe/lab Tani6Fab. Conveniently for me, he was the only circle to offer payment by credit cards, by using a Square device on his iPad!
Speaking of Shakunetsu-kun…take a look at this incredibly-detailed keychain below from Junction Box regular POPPOYA HONPO, who makes various BEMANI-themed food items. I’d love to see a real version of this!
This one-of-a-kind Aegis tape, SigSig/smoooch/Wuv U clear file, and Aegis papercraft above were made by “Rhinitis spray” – a rather interestingly-named circle!
How about these IIDX Copula TokoToko Line button pins? They’re a great set made by SHIrO!
Need a card-sized mirror? Urico has just the thing.
Here’s one of my favorites – a sticker set of mostly L.E.D. song characters by HONOKA!
Lucky me, this year’s event was held a day before Valentine’s Day! So of course, I received plenty of chocolates and some other sweets. This helped me FEEL SO GOOD, or at least, not feel so bad as my empty wallet would like me to.
Finally, for anyone who thinks they might have some interesting goods to sell here, feel free to get in touch with me! I’d love to help you out and bring a foreign selling presence to JB! (Realistically, if 3 or so people can commit, maybe we can set up a group booth.)
And for anyone thinking of attending as a visitor, don’t hesitate to ask me if you have any questions!
That’s about it! I’ll be back again in July with a report on Junction Box 8.