Comiket attendance numbers are apparently in long-term decline, prompting much speculation as to why – and some scepticism about the official position that lingering disruptions from the earthquake and the strong yen driving off barbarian attendees being the main cause of C81’s “low” numbers.
According to official estimates, Comiket 81 saw some 500,000 attendees over the 3 day period it was held, making it of course the largest event of its kind.
However, these numbers appear to be declining precipitously – overall attendance is down for the second Comiket running, with 20,000 fewer visitors on the third day than on last year’s winter event (C79 saw 200,000 on day 3).
Comiket 80 saw 540,000 visitors, whilst Comiket 79 saw 520,000 (the record for a winter Comiket). Summer 2009’s C76 is the event’s high water mark, with 560,000.
Organisers claim this decline is “primarily due” to “the influence of the earthquake” (this appears to be stretching things as there is no longer any discernible impact outside Fukushima prefecture), and “the strong yen” (which implies that tens of thousands of international otaku have been discouraged from attending, something which there is some scepticism about).
Strangely, the fact that Tokyo is being run by a political clique of elderly LDP curmudgeons who view the culture of young people as aberrant is not mentioned – Comiket’s organisers have apparently chosen the winning strategy of hoping their critics will go away if they do nothing hard enough, perhaps noting how effective it was in fending off the Tokyo government.
The status of the event is also not helped by the fact police and city authorities could shut it down on a whim – most of the doujinshi featured are actually illegal as they involve gratuitous copyright infringement (although usually this requires a complaint from the copyright holder).
Japanese police have also occasionally randomly arrested ero-manga publishers for publishing “obscene” comics; the imbecilic censorship featured in such comics is supposed to protect them from “obscenity” charges, but as the only definition of obscenity is what the police decide not to allow, authorities have enormous leeway in this area.
The recent Tokyo manga ban may also technically outlaw most of the sales at the event – although Tokyo reassuringly promised that although it has banned the event and can shut it down at any time, it will not.
This has not stopped the organisers from banning various material themselves in the hopes of pre-empting attacks from the authorities – most notably ero-cosplay CDs, which have largely been driven out of the event along with (allegedly) some of the ero-cosplayers themselves.
Given the direction Japan appears to be heading in recent years, they may be the first of many to disappear from the event.
News of the declining attendance has prompted the expected otaku hysteria:
“Comiket is finished.”
“Were there really tens of thousands of foreigners attending Comiket?”
“The Gundam generation are all in their forties now. Anyone with a decent life won’t be thinking of Comiket. And with the declining birth rates attendance can only go down from here on.”
“It certainly was easier to get in this time.”
“It’s just a cosplay party now.”
“Amazing that there are 500,000 visitors…”
“I only went to day 3, but it was very clear that there were fewer people there. Like 30 or 40 thousand less, for sure.”
“Who needs doujin manga? Dlsite is far superior when it comes to doujin eroge and so on.”
“The doujinshi you get now are really nicely made though, although they are quite thin.”
“They probably only just started counting the numbers honestly.”
“The gender balance is really shifting in favour of women. Animate is just packed with fujoshi, you don’t feel nearly as much of a masculine presence now.”
“You guys don’t know anything about this business!”
“In this day and age, paper is just too finished.”