After 40 Years, Has Comiket Outlived Its Usefulness?

posted on by Eric Stimson

Comiket is an institution in Japanese pop culture fandom. Ever since it broke off from the Japanese Manga Convention in 1975, it has established itself as easily the biggest anime & manga convention in Japan, attracting hundreds of thousands of attendees eager to shop for the latest dōjinshi and ogle the character goods and cosplayers. Dōjin circles flock to the convention to improve their name recognition and gauge their popularity and their competition on the ground.

But after four decades, is Comiket showing its age? A piece recently posted on Charapedia, a Japanese anime character encyclopedia, posed this question (its title is "Has Comiket's Role Already Ended?"). The author points out that in the 1970s, aspiring manga artists needed a venue like Comiket to incubate their creativity, meet like-minded artists, and publicize and sell their work. But in the modern age, conventions play less of a role in this respect, since they have been overshadowed by the Internet. The article points to ZUN (Tōhō Project), Type-Moon (The Garden of Sinners, Fate/stay night) and Ryūkishi07 (When They Cry - Higurashi, Umineko When They Cry) as example of creators who were launched to fame and fortune through the Internet.

The author also discusses how fan culture has morphed beyond Comiket's fixation on dōjinshi — fans may create and share their own video games, music, videos and more online. The article notes how Comiket has steadily become more about pornography and adult-oriented merchandise like hug pillows, to the extent that it's referred to overseas as "the Hentai Festival."

The author also comments that the future of Comiket may be numbered, given that the copyright protection clauses of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free-trade agreement among 12 countries along the Pacific Rim currently under negotiation, may not allow unauthorized distribution of materials based on copyrighted intellectual property.

What do you think? Does Comiket still have a cachet among anime and manga fans, or is it a relic of a less wired time? Let us know in the forums!

[Via My Navi Woman; Image from Yaraon!]

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