PASOKET (Aug. 22nd, 1993 at the Harumi International Exhibition Center)
[This article was originally published in 1998 as an entry inside Doujinshi: The Alternative Publishing Medium of Japan. The content of this article was revised prior to being reprinted in this blog.]
I had the lucky fortune of visiting Pasoket, a doujinshi computer software marketplace after visiting Wonder Festival. Pasoket combines the word pasokon (personal computer) with Comiket (Comic Market) to indicate that it is a doujinshi marketplace for personal computer enthusiasts. Pasoket was much smaller than the Comic Market at perhaps 50 circles (publisher groups) participating and possibly about 500 people attending. Pasoket was very comfortably held in one of the smallest buildings in Harumi. Still, Pasoket was fun and lively. Admission to Pasoket requires you to buy their exhibition guidebook. As I borrowed a guidebook from a friend, I can’t say how much it was.
The set up was fairly simple. People who come up with original software at home make a whole bunch of duplicates on floppy disks and come to Pasoket to sell them to those visiting the event. Much of the packaging suggests most of the software contains erotic images, but as I did not go through all the circles carefully, please my observation with a grain of salt. The variety of doujins available was quite limited compared to Comiket Market but I did not mind. After all, Comiket itself started from very humble beginnings. Unfortunately, I do not own any common PC system (e.g. NEC PC-8800/9800, Sharp X68000 or X-1, MSX systems, Fujitsu FM series system are the most common systems right now) buying the software did no good for me. There might have been some MAC and IBM compatible software there, but I didn’t see any. Luckily for me some groups were selling books too.
It appeared to me that many, if not most, of the books there actually were the overstocks carried through from Comic Market last week. Most of the books were either companion books to the erotic software packages and/or spin off stories utilizing the characters featured in the games itself. There was considerable diversity in the game formats. Some were fairly simple: Collections of computer graphics illustrations and custom icons for you PC. Others were much more elaborate: War game simulation systems, adventure games, adventure games, and shooter games. Most were in the middle: Jigsaw puzzle games, Tetris type games, and other types of simple puzzle games were prevalent.
Since I could not play the games on offer, I cannot really say how the two match up against each other. Judging from looking at the sample CG images featured in numerous Japanese erotic computer software review magazines, I would venture to say that the commercial ones have better graphics and more elaborate game functions compared to that of non-commercial ones, but I would be careful with that generalization. You never know. What you see in the magazines are only samples of a small number of products representing only a small portion of all that are in existence.
Unfortunately, the repercussions left behind by Black February [1991 police crackdown on doujinshi selling commercial bookstores] were apparent here too. As suppression of anime/manga erotica accelerated, the Japanese police force went after the commercial adult software manufactures as well. This sent many amateur erotic software makers into disarray and the result was massive self-censorship among both commercial and non-commercial erotic software. I do not know in detail what was the extent of the self-censorship over the content of games at this time, except one small but very important detail in the graphics. Many ceased to render details of the pubic area. Some say there are special software codes that permit the censored areas to become “uncensored”. [Later, the Japanese police would go after software programmers that enabled images to be pixilated and unpixilated.]
Something that surprised me about Pasoket was the fact that there were a fairly large number of young women there. Interestingly enough, it seemed that a good portion of them were there on the behalf of the individual software makers, possibly attempting to boost sales by enticing buyers, most of were male. Dressed in fancy intricate clothing (for the most part the emphasis was on trying to be cute and adorable as opposed to daring and revealing) they were calling out to the shy attendees that were passing by their tables. I had the chance to observe some of the girls making purchases as well. I even witnessed a few who claimed they were selling stuff they had developed. It was strange to see such an influx of women into the field of personal computing, which has been until recently considered to be with the domain of introverted young men. It seems that the availability of the technology is contributing to the erosion of this stereotype.
Hopefully I will be more knowledgeable about computers and learn more about Japanese domestic computers before I go to another Pasoket.
[Postscript: By the time Windows 95 was introduced, native Japanese personal computer standards started to fall by the wayside and the IBM or Mac compatible systems quickly gained dominance. Pasoket and other doujinshi software marketplaces eventually disappeared as many doujinshi software circles distributed their software via online platforms. As far as I know, Pasoket itself continued on until 2005. (Pasoket web archive link here.) Please note that while doujin software marketplaces have largely disappeared, many larger doujinshi marketplaces continue to feature numerous doujin software circles. Generally speaking, doujinshi marketplaces accommodate those who wish to sell software along with printed media.]