Düsseldorf, which is located in western Germany, is famous for its links to Japanese culture with plenty of Japanese shops and restaurants. It also has the highest number of Japanese in the country. It’s no surprise that the city attracts many Cosplayer and Anime Fans with what it’s offering. When I still went to school there were cosplay gatherings every weekend and I still remember attending a few of them after my language classes each Saturday.
Even though Dokomi has been around for over eight years already and is close to where I grew up I’ve never been before. I don’t know why because it’s super easy for me to get there and accommodation isn’t a problem. That I finally went this year makes it all the more exciting! Friends of mine mentioned and posted about Dokomi many times before but I didn’t completely know what to expect. I think most of you might feel the same way about the convention. So let me first explain some more about the idea behind it and why it was created and still takes place once a year.
Dokomi is the shortened version of ドイツコミックマケット which means “German Comic Market” in English. The convention focuses on strengthening ties within the Japanese fandoms while offering a platform for young adults to exchange ideas and information. This year it took place on the 30th of April and 1st of May. Three years ago the organisers moved its location to the Congress Center Düsseldorf. It’s next to the “Nordpark” which is also where most photo shoots take place. The park offers several different areas and themes. The most popular one being the Japanese garden with its cherry trees and pond.
The first thing we did on Saturday was going to the Artist Alley and browse through all the amazing artwork displayed. This year there were over a hundred artists present! I knew a few of them already and loved talking to them about their work. Even the ones I just met were lovely to chat with and I collected many business cards from artists I liked. This area definitely impressed me the most because of its variety. Everyone’s skill and passion simply blew my mind. We spent half the day talking to everyone and looking at artworks and portfolios. In the end, I bought more than planned but supporting my favourite artists was definitely worth it!
If you feel lucky and like a gamble, the artist alley will be your favourite place of the convention! Most artists have a lottery featuring various prizes. Some are postcards, posters or even original artwork. One ticket costs 1€ and for those who are as unlucky as me, it might be relieving to know there are no blanks. Usually, I’m not someone to gamble but this time, I made an exception. I didn’t win anything special but I love the stickers and postcards I got nonetheless.
Some artists open for commissions or offer conhon entries. While writing this post I realised conhons appear to be a German concept, so let me explain some more. A conhon is a booklet, usually DIN A5 but it could also be larger, with blank pages. Their outside can either be self-decorated with drawings or a store-bought notebook. Nowadays some artists also sell decorated conhons. These books work like guestbooks – people you meet fill a page with anything they want. It could be text, artwork or anything else. The possibilities are endless. They’re a perfect memento for every convention you’ve ever visited!
The fashion area was remarkably smaller but offered clothing, accessories and home decor. We didn’t spend much time on anything except for the Tinkercast booth. I’ve seen their work and cosplay pictures before but seeing the products up close was breathtaking. I might have squealed a bit when I saw their booth for the first time. As you know I’m a massive fan of everything purple and flower crown related. One of their headpieces was the perfect combination of both which meant that I had to buy it. Luckily Tinkercast and many vendors offered direct payment via PayPal. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to buy anything. I hope this will be more common in the future. It makes paying a lot easier and you never have to fear to have too little or too much money on you.
Other than the headpiece I didn’t buy anything else. Other designers had mega cute items as well but I currently don’t have any room in my flat or wardrobe. Therefore, I’m on a spending ban until I weed out some of my older belongings. The headpiece was an exception because I knew it was perfect for me. It’ll also work for one of my upcoming cosplays. To give you an idea of the other things being sold I added more pictures to the gallery and some video bits to my vlog.
To give you an idea of the other things being sold I added more pictures to the gallery and some video bits to my vlog.
I love everything cosplay related. Seeing people represent their favourite characters is one of my favourite things about conventions. There were many amazing cosplayers at Dokomi but I didn’t get to see everyone I wanted to see. I probably missed hundreds of amazing costumes but the ones I’ve seen were also impressive. My phone battery died on me early on both days which means I sadly missed out on pictures of some remarkable cosplays but I want to share the few pictures I took with you anyway! Unfortunately, I didn’t get everyone’s cosplay page name. So if there’s anyone you recognise please let me know because I’d love to follow and link them!
Dokomi hosted both the DCM (German Cosplay Championships) and EuroCosplay. One on Saturday and the other on Sunday but we only managed to catch EuroCosplay. I loved the variety, humour and talent everyone showcased. What slightly irritated me was the low number of contestants. I counted nine but many entrant numbers were missing in between. It looked as if many contestants just didn’t show up. I might be wrong though. If you know why this happened let me know in the comments! It would have definitely been more interesting to see more than nine performances.
My favourite performance was by Gouky Cosplay. She created a perfect cosplay of the 11th doctor. The Rings of Akhaten with the Lost Song and emotional speech always has me in tears. Gouky’s performance was no exception! I might be biassed because of my love for Doctor Who but the performance did the show and Matt Smith justice!!! While filming I even shed a few tears because of it. She won first place and thus, qualified for the finals at MCM in London.
Runner up for me (and the judges) was FallenWings with her Linkle performance from HyruleWarriors. Even though I wouldn’t consider myself a Legend of Zelda fan I do appreciate the franchise. I like the artworks, character designs and played a few of their older games. Her outfit is the only one I saw up close. A friend of mine asked for a picture with her and I honestly admire her neat sewing skills. The performance was the perfect mix between funny and tribute to the games. I don’t want to say too much and spoil the surprise though. You can watch her full performance in my Dokomi Vlog.
The other Cosplays didn’t ring any bells for me. I also don’t want to comment too much on the quality of outfits or performances I don’t know the origin of. Some other performances are a part of my video as well though, so if you’re interested to see more make sure to take some time and watch it!
Maid & Host club
There are a few noteworthy highlights Dokomi has to offer. The most remarkable ones being the Maid and Host café called Lucky Chocolate and Sweet Spice. Their main focus is not food or drinks though. Instead, Hosts and Maids entertain their guests in different ways depending on their talents. It could be dancing, singing, taking pictures or playing games with their guests. This type of café is popular among Anime Fans and they’ve become more and more popular all over the world.
On Sunday, I was lucky enough to join up with some of my friends who had already made an appointment for Sweet Spice. [Thank you for bringing me along ❤] Openings are limited and they are generally fully booked after a few hours. It’s necessary to buy ‘meal vouchers’ for the amount of food you want to order because it’s not possible to pay inside. I chose melon pan, a cocktail named ‘Alice Madness’ (I had to with that name) and Kakigōri which is a shaved ice dessert with syrup.
The pastries were all delivered and made by Bakery My Heart which is my favourite Japanese bakery in Düsseldorf. Located just around the corner of Immermanstraße (street name) it’s rather well-hidden. It’s definitely worth a trip though for delicious Japanese baked goods. As always they were worth every cent but my clear favourite was the Kakigōri. I never tried it when I was in Japan, thus finally getting another chance was an amazing opportunity. It’s not beating my favourite Ben & Jerry’s ice cream but as a small treat on hot summer days this might work really well. I really want to try making it myself once it gets warmer again.
Our chosen host was incredibly entertaining and forthcoming. He also told us about his plans to offer a concert for his guests. We missed this years’ because it was on Saturday but they’ll try to offer more opportunities next year!
On Saturday Dokomi hosted a Cosplay ball which is super popular and quickly sold out every year. I wasn’t there because I attended the FFXIV Fan Gathering with my friends instead. The people I talked to were excited about going though. The Dokomi team arranged practice lessons to give everyone the chance to brush up on their ballroom dance skills or be taught the basics by professional dancers. If you’re planning to go it’s important that your outfit complies with the dress code because if it doesn’t you aren’t able to attend even if you have a ticket. You can get your outfit approved on Saturday afternoon. If you’re unsure or have any questions it’s best to ask the team beforehand.
For those who don’t know anyone who’d like to go with them, there’ll be maids and hosts available to dance with. As someone who often ends up going by myself I love this idea. Nobody has to be scared to attend because they don’t know how to dance or don’t have a partner to go with them. This system makes it impossible to end up alone in the corner not being able to dance because of the lack of a partner.
There are a few other things Dokomi offers which I don’t want to leave out. They’re noteworthy but I either didn’t see much of them thus can’t comment on it or they wouldn’t fit in the other categories.
- Bring & Buy: Bring your old Anime/ Manga merchandise, set a price and let the team put them on display for sale
- Gaming area including companies like for example Nintendo and Square Enix
- Signing sessions, e.g. Thomas Astruc, Liui Aquino and Toshio Maeda
- Various fan projects
- Japanese Food Corner
- Cosplay stage with performances, concerts and lolita fashion shows
- Workshops about cosplay, lifestyle and gaming
- A system which makes it easier to find people with similar interests
- Kyudo (Japanese archery) demonstration
- A ball pit, laser tag & a card game area
Dokomi 2016 – yay or nay?
Dokomi was on a weekend while I was struggling a lot with emotional baggage like I already mentioned in my Deponia Doomsday Tour post. I nearly dropped out of going but looking back now I’m glad I didn’t. Seeing my friends again after a while in such a welcoming environment was a good way to forget about everything negative on my mind.
Dokomi focuses on selling, buying and celebrating the love for Japanese culture. The Artist Alley and Fashion Area dominated the convention while the large new extra hall offered dozens of anime and cosplay merchandise. The additional hall for Dokomi was a good decision and the extra room made dividing the crowds easier. As a result, it didn’t feel too crowded compared to other conventions. The workshop rooms, in contrast, were too small for the number of people interested and it wasn’t as enjoyable sitting cramped in.
The tickets were quite expensive compared to bigger conventions like Gamescom. I paid 30€ for both days which doesn’t include travel costs for the area. The idea to offer visitors the chance to donate money for more star guests etc. is a good concept which helps Dokomi grow. If I had to choose between Gamescom and Dokomi though I sadly have to say that Gamescom would win. Gamescom offers more for less money (including travel expenses in their ticket price). They do have a slightly different focus but if you’re not too keen on the artists, special guests and workshops Gamescom will offer you a similar experience.
I realise that my summary sounds more negative than positive which isn’t my intention. Dokomi offered many amazing opportunities but with a limited timeframe, I couldn’t catch them all. Thanks to Dokomi I had one of the best weekends this year so far (except for RPC)! So even though I mentioned a few negative things, it’s a convention I would always recommend. In case there’s anything else you want me to cover feel free to mention it in the comments. I’m already working on a second Dokomi post talking about the artwork I bought and artists I’d love to introduce you to!
After having read all my experiences at Dokomi what do you think about it? Have you been before and/ or do you maybe want to attend next year? If you’ve been, I’d love to hear about your experience and thoughts, what you really liked or what you would improve in the future. For those of you who aren’t from Germany: do you have similar conventions in your country or area? I’d love to read about different conventions all over the world, so feel free to share your stories in the comments!