In a normal year, right now anime fans wouldn’t just be emptying their wallets, they’d be filling up blood vials too.

Twice a year, massive crowds gather at Tokyo’s Big Sight convention center for Comiket, Japan’s largest gathering of dojinshi comic creators. Otaku are so eager to be first in line to drop wads of cash on their favorite artists’ newest works that their mad dash from the station gates to the doors of Big Sight has become an event in itself.

At least, that’s what happens in a normal year. The coronavirus pandemic caused the planned May 2020 Comiket to be cancelled outright, and the customary December iteration to be pushed back until May of 2021. That means there was no Comiket flow of otaku cash this year, and also no flow of Comiket otaku blood.

See, for the past several years, the Japanese Red Cross Society has held a blood drive at Comiket, and the otaku community has been remarkably generous with its hemoglobin. The Red Cross usually sweetens the deal by giving donors an exclusive anime character poster for their cooperation, and the response has been so positive that about 1,500 otaku make a standard-size 400-mililiter (13.5-ounce) donation each Comiket, with organizers dispatching some 30 mobile blood donation buses to Big Sight.

▼ A Japanese blood donation bus

But no Comiket means no Comiket blood drive, and that’s especially unfortunate since right now Japan needs blood donations. In a normal year, blood donation buses and other blood drives are actually a pretty common sight in downtown Tokyo, often with signs posted letting passersby know what blood types medical facilities are especially in need of. However, when the pandemic started picking up momentum in the spring, many people began working or attending classes online from home. At the same time, caution against large gatherings prompted the Red Cross to cancel many of its blood drives in Tokyo and its surrounding prefectures.

The combined result is that between April and November, the Red Cross fell far below its target in blood donations for the Tokyo and the Prefectures of Kanagawa, Saitama, and Chiba, collecting roughly 45,700 fewer 400-mililiter donations than it was aiming for and causing its transfusion reserves to dip to 80 percent of their ideal levels.

While they wouldn’t have made up the deficit all on their own, 1,500 Comiket blood donors would have been a significant contribution. There’s still a special opportunity for conscientious otaku to help out this New Year’s season, though.

Between December 30 and January 31, the Red Cross will be rewarding 400-miliiter donors at its permanent blood donation centers with a poster set featuring virtual YouTuber Kanata Amane and BanG Dream band Argonavis.

Related: Japanese Red Cross Society
Sources: NHK News Web, J-Cast News, Japanese Red Cross Society
Top image ©SoraNews24
Insert images: Wikipedia/BetacommandBot, Japanese Red Cross Society
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