Free-to-attend, free-to-exhibit event is an online substitute for cancelled Comiket, held in virtual Akihabara.

Once upon a time, in the wildly different era known as “early in 2020,” we were supposed to get an early edition of Comiket, Japan’s massive twice-a-year dojinshi (independently produced manga and otaku content) convention. Then the coronavirus outbreak happened, and instead of the summer 2020 Comiket getting moved up from summer to spring, it was cancelled.

The winter 2020 Comiket has also been preemptively called off, with the convention’s next iteration now tentatively planned for spring 2021. But though dojinshi fans and creators can’t gather in the physical world, there’s now an alternative in the form of Comic Vket.

The online event will feature dojinshi exhibition and sales from hundreds of circles in a virtual space. Rather than just listing available content like an e-book store, Comic Vket will welcome visitors to an interactive reconstruction of Tokyo’s Akihabara neighborhood.

Using an avatar, you’ll navigate the various circles’ booths (400 exhibitors are currently signed up), where you can look through samples and make purchases of digital and/or physical copies of the material that wins over your heart/wallet.

While this makes for a less streamlined shopping process, the extra involvement is the whole point. Many of the people who buy dojinshi at Comiket and other events are motivated by more than just the desire to exchange money for goods. There’s a social aspect to attending a convention, an excitement that comes from rubbing elbows with like-minded enthusiasts and meeting content creators. The dojinshi that fans buy aren’t just collections of illustrations, but a symbolic reminder of all the positive vibes swirling about on the convention floor when they bought it.

To further recreate that atmosphere, Comic Vket will allow for real-time chat with other attendees, and also allow you to snap commemorative photos at the venue. As a 24-hour event, even otaku with inflexible 9-to-5 work or school schedules can easily meet up with friends online and go together, and some booths will even have members of their circles (in avatar form) periodically on-site to meet and greet fans.

You can also use an AR function to transport the virtual booth into your home, so you can see what those posters would look like hanging in your bedroom.

Attendance is free, and there are no display fees being charged to exhibiting artists either. Comic Vket can be attended with the VR Chat, Styly, or Cluster apps, with relevant download links here (Cluster is also the app used to attend the new Pokémon virtual theme park). Those interested in being exhibitors can find the application form here.

▼ The application flowchart is bilingual in Japanese and English

Comic Vket starts at 11 a.m., August 13 and runs until 11 p.m., August 16.

Sources: Comic Vket, PR Times
Top image: Comic Vket
Insert images: PR Times, Comic Vket (1, 2)
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