Animazement Suspends Convention Due to COVID-19 Concerns (Updated)

posted on by Crystalyn Hodgkins & Jennifer Sherman
Sol Press halts physical production, Viz Media continues

Animazement announced on Thursday that it is suspending this year's conventions due to policies related to the ongoing spread of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19). North Carolina's governor issued an executive order banning mass gatherings of more than 50 people, and Raleigh Convention Center is closed through May 31. The convention's staff said they are still exploring options and have not decided whether to cancel this year's event or postpone it to a later date.

Animazement was scheduled to be held at Raleigh Convention Center from May 22 to 24. Voice actor Hiroaki Hirata and rock band FLOW were slated to attend.

North America publisher Sol Press announced on Twitter on Wednesday that the company has halted all physical production. Viz Media is continuing to print and ship manga and other book releases through Simon & Schuster to bookstores and online retailers, according to a report by ICv2. Additionally, Digital Manga Inc. announced on Tuesday that "all aspects" of its Wonder 3 Kickstarter campaign are delayed.

Nintendo noted at the beginning of its Nintendo Direct Mini livestream presentation on Thursday that game release dates and other information are subject to change. Meanwhile, the official website and Twitter account for the Final Fantasy VII Remake game revealed on Friday that the game will still launch on April 10, but measures such as retailer closings related to COVID-19 may impact delivery dates. Additionally, the official PlayStation Blog announced on Tuesday that "players may experience somewhat slower or delayed game downloads," and Sony Interactive Entertainment revealed on Friday that it is expanding those measures to the United States and Europe.

In Japan, the following events are also delayed or cancelled:

  • Universal Studios Japan is extending its temporary closure again to April 12.
  • Tokyo Disney Land and DisneySea are also extending their temporarily closure again to April 20 "or beyond."
  • An Isao Takahata exhibition in Okayama is delayed from April 10-May 24 to April 29-June 21.
  • An exhibit for Yoshiyuki Tomino in Aomori prefecture is delayed. The event was supposed to be held from April 18-June 21.
  • Musical Touken Ranbu ~Shizuka no Umi no Paraiso~, the seventh musical in the Touken Ranbu franchise, cancelled part of its Tokyo run, which was scheduled for March 21-29. The musical still held performances up through March 26.

In addition in Japan, Shogakukan announced a second case of a worker testing positive for the coronavirus on Wednesday. The company then announced on Thursday that all its employees will work from home from March 27 through April 10.

In Taiwan, the Taipei Game Show is now officially cancelled. The organizers for the event previously announced in early February that the event was rescheduled for summer, but it will now be cancelled. The event was originally scheduled for February 6-9.

The first reported cases of COVID-19 were in Wuhan, China in December, and then the disease began to spread in varying rates and intensities across many parts of the globe through incubation in human hosts. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared a world health emergency on January 30, and announced on March 11 that it is classifying the outbreak as a pandemic. As of Saturday, the WHO reported that there are 571,678 infected individuals worldwide. 26,494 individuals have died from the disease.

As of Saturday, the WHO reported that Japan has 1,499 cases of COVID-19 with 49 deaths. These numbers do not include the number of cases from the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Yokohama. That cruise ship had 712 infected passengers with seven deaths.

Update: Animazement's staff announced on Tuesday that this year's event is canceled rather than postponed. Source: Animazement's website

Thanks to Daniel Zelter for the Wonder 3 news tip.

Sources: Animazement, Sol Press' Twitter account, ICv2 (Milton Griepp), Digital Manga's Wonder 3 Kickstarter page, Nintendo Direct Mini livestream, Final Fantasy VII Remake's Twitter account, PlayStation Blog, Taipei Game Show news via Siliconera, Touken Ranbu news via Nijimen

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