L'Antica blood donation promotional pamphlet
L'Antica blood donation promotional pamphlet

in spotting this l’antica blood drive event coming up, I didn’t realize that campaign tech had leveled up enough for these to be done as stamp rallies now. donate blood three times in a series and you’ll get a clear file, which you’ll want to do anyway because each donation gives you a chance to rub shoulders with life-sized panels of the girls!

otaku blood is one of those developed institutions that feels like people respect as having been around for a long time, but is actually a much newer phenomenon than I think is really appreciated. comiket only started courting corporate partners to sponsor japan’s red cross beginning with C81. mobile donation vans have been a fixture of comiket for about as long as corporate booths have existed (C51, beginning in C53 the year after), and because fuyuket reliably coalesces around the new year, it’s also accounted for a majority of blood used for transfusions in the greater kanto region during this period when donations are typically at their lowest. C81 was uniquely urgent as it was the first fuyuket held after the tohoku earthquake, and so it was also the first time you could donate blood at comiket and receive a poster as a gift from one of five generous sponsors: alchemist, type-moon, nekoneko soft, overdrive, or minato soft. given that two of these names no longer exist, maybe it’s disingenuous of me to suggest that this is a new phenomenon, but I’d rather ride that line than confront the fact that I’m turning into dust. no one, not even the keepers of majikoi, can account for shifting otaku tastes.

Chart of blood donations at each Comiket
Blood donations at Comiket (exclusively Fuyuket) each year. Blue (left axis): number of total donations. Orange (right axis, in tens of thousands): number of total attendees. Note that the number of days Comiket runs changes year to year.

we don’t have to guess that this first campaign was a success because we actually have the data to prove that it was — comiket has been recording donor numbers in their after reports going back to 2001. while attendance for C81 in 2011 was flat from the previous year, hundreds more turned up to donate still, even as C79 was soliciting donations for an additional day in comparison. bonus campaigns by most accounts have been so successful that people expect to be turned away from giving blood at all, with capacity typically spoken for before a day ends. these incentives sustained a trend that was only upset when comiket had to go virtual, and only recently is it beginning to show recovery with its return to big sight, still limited by capped attendance.

by now you’ve no doubt heard that japan has been facing declining birth rates, as are other industrialized nations, and declining blood donations are only a lagging indicator in that respect. even taking that into account, japan’s donations have been on a slide that has far outpaced population decline, with donations from the youngest demographic dropping from 900k to a low of 250k each year. the reiwa era has finally seen that trend begin to reverse as the red cross has leaned heavily on promotional events with properties like spy family, kaguya-sama, and (aptly) hataraku saibou that have attracted younger crowds, along with satellite comiket campaigns at blood donation centers that have attempted to ride the momentum of comiket’s large event days, but a generational tide is going to be difficult to pull back if it’s even possible at all. this reality seems tacitly recognized by every sponsor, as unlike pilgrimage and tourism campaigns where committees stand to and often do expect to profit off of sponsorship arrangements with localities, the red cross doesn’t pay out generously for these events and sponsors are expected to bear the costs for promotion and materials themselves. frankly, this is the sort of context that really deserved to be acknowledged more honestly during the brief blowup over the uzaki-chan event some years back. there’s a reason the red cross forged ahead with a second event anyway, and it’s also why campaigns like the l’antica one are only pushing harder to turn otaku into more reliably habitual donors. just tell me you’ve got a kogane tapestry in the back and I’ll sign up for a love blood membership.