Continuing outbreak causes organizers to call off dojinshi event for the first time in its 45-year-history.

Twice a year, Tokyo’s Big Sight convention center hosts Comiket, Japan’s largest celebration of dojinshi (self-published comics) and anime otaku culture. Ordinarily these take place in August and December, but this year’s summer Comiket was moved up to spring, since priority at Big Sight was being given to media crews covering the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

But now comes the sad news that instead of getting to go to Comiket early, fans and creators won’t be going at all. On Friday, Comiket’s organizers announced that Comiket 98, which was scheduled for May 2-5, has been cancelled.

The statement, posted to the official Comiket website, says:

“Since March 15, we have been carefully monitoring announcements from all involved parties, including the national and Tokyo municipal governments while still examining the possibility of holding Comiket. However, with the extension and strengthening of government requests to refrain from holding large-scale events, we are unable to estimate when it will be safe to do so. With barely more than a month remaining before opening day, and taking into consideration the spread of new-type coronavirus within Japan and reports such as those from the government’s committee on new-type coronavirus countermeasures, we have arrived at our decision [to cancel Comiket].”

The statement goes on to reiterate that the decision is a bitter one for the Comiket staff. Since its inception in 1975, this is the first time for Comiket to be cancelled. The spring event would have been the convention’s 98th iteration, but the decision to cancel it is undoubtedly a wise one.

Comiket is a beacon for otaku from all across the country, most of whom spend their time at the repeating the process of waiting in a long line for limited-quantity dojinshi then dashing off to another line as soon as they’ve made their purchase. Tokyo Big Sight gets so packed with bodies that they create their own weather, and local train stations and buses also turn into packed choke points for the flow of humanity, all of which is a potential nightmare at a time when a highly contagious disease is going around and people in Tokyo and many nearby cities are being encouraged to not even set foot outside their houses.

But wait a second. The 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which bumped Comiket into spring, have been postponed, so maybe Comiket will just slide back into its regular slot?

Nope. The cancellation statement says that there are currently no plans to attempt to do so, likely in order to avoid having to cancel Comiket again if the health situation remains uncertain through the early part of summer. What’s more, even the 2020 winter Comiket is in jeopardy. The organizers say that although December 29-31 had been set aside for the 99th Comiket (and is also the date listed for winter Comiket on the now-cancelled spring Comiket catalog), they are currently reevaluating whether that time, as well as the Big Sight venue, will be feasible, and will make an announcement regarding if, when, and where this year’s winter Comiket will take place.

“Aside from continuing to do our best for the place called Comiket to continue, there’s isn’t much we can do,” the statement says. “But our hearts are always with everybody. We’ll be doing everything we can to continue holding Comiket in the future, so to all our participants and other involved parties, we ask for your understanding and cooperation.”

It’s a sad turn of events, but a necessary decision, and at least we’ve got our cosplay memories of previous Comikets to help ease our pain while we wait for its return.

Source: Comiket official website
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Insert image: Comiket officia website
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