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The Changes Coming to Comiket 98 Aren’t Looking Good

Summer 2020 is shaping up to be a very busy period for Tokyo, with the city playing host to the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The importance of those international games means that it takes priority over every other event, including one Summer Comiket. Unfortunately, the changes announced for next summer’s Comiket 98 to accommodate the Olympics don’t exactly have me, and many others, feeling very optimistic.

The first of the big changes announced for 2020’s Comiket 98 is that of dates. Instead of the usual end of August, Comiket 98 will now take place at the beginning of May, from May 2 to 5.

This continues the four-day expansion that is set to begin this year, but next year’s dates also fall right in the middle of Golden Week – Japan’s beloved period of consecutive public holidays.

Now, it’s not unusual for events to be put on during Golden Week – rather, the fact that most people will be off work during Golden Week means that special events are often put on to take advantage of people’s spare time to increase footfall and encourage consumer spending. Detective Conan and Avengers: Endgame even teamed up during this year’s Golden Week to encourage people to use that time to go to the movie theatre.

Detective Conan Avengers crossover

But Comiket doesn’t exactly need increased spending, nor increased footfall – in fact, attendance to the event has been rising every year, surpassing 500,000 across three days last year. With rising numbers also comes rising attendees willing to spend money on catalogs, goods, and, of course, doujinshi.

In reality, the fact that the event has always taken place during a normal weekend, from Friday to Sunday, and not on a public holiday has probably meant that attendance has been lower than it could hypothetically be; after all, taking one day out of a long series of holidays takes less commitment than it does taking one day out of a two day weekend.

Placing Comiket 98 during Golden Week will, most likely, see attendance rise dramatically, as almost everyone will be off work and school, and will have lots of free time to make the journey over to Odaiba in Tokyo. Considering that Comiket already has a pretty notorious problem with congestion, I’m not exactly looking forward to that prospect.

Even so, another big change announced for Comiket 98 could mitigate that problem. Due to the usage of Big Sight as the main press center for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the event will only be able to use a portion of the convention center and will be forced to split the event into two venues – again carrying over the change made for this year’s Summer Comiket.

The problem is that the second venue that Comiket has been using is located almost 1.5 kilometers away from Big Sight, in the Aomi Exhibition Hall. What’s worse is that the Comiket organizers have decided to place all of the industry booths over there – meaning that you’ll have to make the 1.5 km trek between the two venues if you want to pick up both official and doujinshi goods.

Project route for Comiket 98

While this venue splitting might not be a problem for this year’s comparatively smaller, more dedicated crowd; the kind of crowd that Comiket 98 might end up attracting thanks to taking place during Golden Week might make it so next year.

Navigating the numerous doujinshi circles in Big Sight is good fun for anyone committed enough to buy the Comiket catalog and do a bit of strategic planning beforehand, but more casual attendees have always been overwhelmed by this task and have, historically, simply browsed the industry booths.

Furthermore, there is also a section of the more dedicated crowd that only care about the official, often limited edition goods, who also line up early on Friday morning to get their hands on them.

This means that, by both holding Comiket 98 during Golden Week and separating the event into two venues located far away from each other, one of two things could happen; either, the doujinshi circles are overwhelmed with unorganized numbers of casual attendees, or commerce for the doujinshi circles is drastically reduced by physically moving the industry booths, and therefore those attendees interested in them, away from the main Big Sight building.

Either way, these Comiket 98 changes certainly aren’t encouraging. While we’ll have to wait and see just how the venue split affects this Summer’s Comiket 96, I’m certainly not optimistic about the event’s future. Some industry participants also certainly seem to share my lack of optimism, with 07thExpansion not attending the event this year.

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