Popular doujinshi fair Comic Market returns in the coming year! On May 2-5, 2021, the 99th Comic Market (often stylized as Comiket) will take place in Tokyo Big Sight. According to the Comic Market Committee’s announcements, the convention will utilize Big Sight’s West and South Exhibition Halls, but not the Aomi Exhibition Halls. The committee also indicated that they might use a lottery to determine who gets to participate in the convention, as the attendee count will be severely limited by Comiket 99’s decreased capacity — most likely as a precaution against the ongoing pandemic.
In addition, the committee plans to enforce COVID-19 safety measures like requiring masks, and recommends that all attendees use the Japanese government’s coronavirus contact-tracing app while the event is ongoing. People hailing from prefectures with higher COVID-19 risk and from countries that cannot distribute visas will not be able to attend.
Comiket stands throughout fan convention history is THE biggest convention, drawing in hundreds of thousands of participants. For example, Comiket 97 tallied around 750,000 attendees, with nearly 200,000 arriving each day that it was open. Because of the convention’s popularity, the cancellation of Comiket 98 in 2020 came as quite a shock — though an understandable one due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, that cancellation marked the only time in recent history that Comiket ever had to be shut down.
Comiket has often been hosted twice a year, in August and then in December. The August convention is usually called NatsuComi (Summer Comiket) and the December one FuyuComi (Winter Comiket). They primarily feature the sale and distribution of doujinshi, self-published and non-commercial works ranging from comics to video games, music, clothing, and plushes. A lot of these goods fall in the category of derivative works, though there is plenty of original content.
Cosplayers also flock to Comiket, as well as photographers looking to snap one of the largest and most eclectic collections of people dressed up as anime characters. Plus, corporations like video game studios and manga publishers get to host their own booths along with celebrity meet-and-greets.
But, most of all, Comiket allows the nerdiest segments of society to share their interests. It presents a few days per year for fans of anime, manga, and games etc. to indulge in what still is frowned upon in many segments of society. And it develops a sense of camaraderie as consumers of otaku culture get to interact with and support otaku creators — whether via face-to-face meets or via buying creators’ products.
At Comiket, the otaku community can thrive on a shared adoration of franchises, which goes hand-in-hand with that interaction between creators and consumers. Community creators make and distribute fan-works of franchises (like Vocaloid and Detective Conan) they’re interested in, and that catches the eyes of consumers who share that interest. The result: a bonding process — and lots of publicity as well for those franchises.
For these reasons and more, the otaku community eagerly awaits the return of Comiket, not just so they can bring home a giant haul of Ichigo and Makoto Tachibana body pillows, but so they can find validation and friendship beyond their immediate societies.