The anime convention season, usually in full swing from March through the end of summer, has been decimated by the spread of the novel coronavirus. Hundreds of events held annually across the globe, from Paris and Seattle to Toronto and Tokyo, most of which attract thousands of guests, are now canceled or postponed. Some of them won’t come back.
The cascade of announcements started in Tokyo at the end of February. AnimeJapan, usually held in March and the industry’s only major yearly trade fair, was abruptly called off on Feb. 27, one day after the government’s request to avoid large-scale gatherings.
At the time, the decision felt rushed and a bit rash. A list of performers and their stage schedules had been released, booths and flights were booked, press passes delivered. Infection numbers were not yet rising in Japan at an alarming rate, and the United States and Europe had yet to see them explode.