The opening morning of Comiket looked very different this yr, and so did the night before【Vids】

Running of the Otaku and tetsuyagumi don’t fit with the primary pandemic-era Comiket.

On December 30, Comiket finally made its long-awaited return. Ordinarily happening twice a yr, Japan’s largest gathering of doujinshi (self-published manga) fans and creators had each of its planned 2020 iterations, in addition to the one for summer of 2021, cancelled due to the coronavirus, making this the primary time for the even to be held since a full two years ago.

But while Comiket is back, the identical can’t be said for one more event related to the convention. On the morning of Comiket in most years, the exit from Kokusai-Tenjijo Station, the closest rail stop to the Tokyo Big Sight convention center, looks like this.

▼ It is advisable to turn down your speakers’ volume.

That mad dash of fans, all racing to Big Sight in hope of getting there before the limited-edition comics and merch they’re hoping to attain are sold out, has turn out to be often called either the “Comiket Dash” or “The Running of the Otaku.” On the opening day of 2021’s Comiket, though, things looked very different.

That’s downright orderly. Sure, there are just a few brisk-paced walkers, but overall there’s less velocity and jostling than you’re more likely to see from a gaggle of respectable businesspeople heading to their offices on a Monday morning.

While it’s possible the slower speeds are a results of reduced athleticism brought on by periods of prolonged inactivity throughout the pandemic, there are two way more likely explanations. First, per-day attendance at this yr’s Comiket is being limited to 55,000 guests per day. Which may sound like plenty of people, but considering that the winter 2019 Comiket drew 750,000 fans over 4 days, this yr’s crowd goes to be far smaller than the norm for the event, which suggests less bottlenecking at transportation access points.

Second, regardless that Comiket, as essentially the most otaku-ish of all otaku gatherings, has uninhibited passion for the doujinshi artform as its core, attendees are well aware of how close they got here to having no Comiket in any respect this yr. Even when the 2021 event, which is happening on December 30 and 31, was officially announced back in August, it was with the warning that “If societal conditions don’t improve as expected because of this of vaccinations and other measures, we cannot say that we are going to not further postpone the event.” A follow-up request from the organizers, made only a month and a half ago, urged attendees and participants to take steps to “protect themselves from infection and forestall transferring infection to others [and] not consider this yr as being like past Comikets,” and the heavy respiration attributable to aerobic exertion and bodily contact of pushing your way through a ticket-gate crowd are each Comiket morning norms that fans seem like having the nice sense to rethink for this yr.

One other departure from the traditional Comiket conditions was this yr’s essentially complete absence of the tetsuyagumi, or “all-night tribe,” the collective term for fans who would loiter and line up on the streets surrounding Big Sight starting the night before the convention.

▼ Big Sight on the night before the winter 2019 Comiket

While the testuyagumi strategy is officially frowned upon by Comiket organizers, requests to refrain are routinely ignored by those willing to spend an evening within the cold to be closer to the front of the road. This yr, though, attendees were willing to at the very least wait until the primary trains began running the morning.

▼ Big Sight on the night before Comiket this yr

Eventually, when the coronavirus joins SARS and swine flu as a pandemic of the past, the all-night tribe and ticket gate dash might return, and a few might even argue that without them Comiket has just a little less energy to its atmosphere. For now, though, it looks like fans are simply glad to have Comiket back, and willing to do what they will in order that the convention can begin to walk again before it, and so they, run.

Sources: Jin, Otakomu
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