Yo!!!! It hurts just being awake right now. Everything below my neck is SORE. But I’m SOOOOOOO happy because the second and final day at the VBClinics volleyball camp was AMAZEBALLS! I honestly can’t do justice explaining it. But yeah, the 5 hours of training after only 4 hours of sleep definitely did me in.

Let’s get to today’s bit, shall we. Even though I grew up watching certain Japanese cartoons, my proper introduction to manga and anime (for the uninitiated, a style of Japanese comics and cartoons respectively) happened in my freshman year of undergrad. I was sitting with a group of boys in the famous Quadrangle at University of Lagos’ Faculty of Science and I was listening to their discussion about a fight between two characters called Naruto and Sasuke. The level of passion with which they were talking got me really intrigued. I gleaned that it was a really popular anime titled Naruto and I made up my mind to start watching it at some point. I was warned to do so after my end of semester exams in a few weeks or I would be screwed. A few months later, in the first semester of my sophomore year, I saw a few friends watching episode 61 of another anime called Bleach. As someone who loved action and cartoons, I was sold.

In January of 2006, a couple weeks after watching the Bleach episode, we finally got internet connection at home. This was when my journey into the world of manga and anime truly began (and pretty much the destruction of my sleep schedule). I was confined to manga because of data restrictions, and ironically, in hindsight I’m happy things turned out this way because I’m a “books over movies” kinda guy. I totally immersed myself, starting with a few of the mainstream comics at the time: Naruto, Bleach, Rurouni Kenshin, and Full Metal Alchemist. All of a sudden my week was divided into days that new manga chapters were released and other days. It was LIT!

Over the years I have added several Korean (manhwa) and Chinese (manhua) comics and cartoons to the Japanese ones (currently following over 20 ongoing manga, manhwa and manhua). Whenever people tell me “Comics and cartoons are for children”, it’s really hard for me to not laugh them to scorn, because the level of depth in some of the stories can be pretty ridiculous. The joy of learning about East Asia’s historical and contemporary pop culture, and the level of sheer entertainment I get from these stories and art forms is just too dope. Definitely trumps any ridicule I can get for being passionate about it.

Then, there’s the community that being a lover of this kind of entertainment gives you access to. I’ve met some pretty amazing people because of my association with the Nigerian anime and manga (and pretty much all kinds of comics and cartoons) community. The anime exchange events and comic conventions are always so much fun to be at. And while in the US I’m yet to “formally” be part of any such community, the mutual love for these arts has definitely been a source of deeper bonding with some of my friends here in the States.

So today, I’m thankful for comics and animation: for the laughs, the sadness, the feels, the friendships, and all the joy they bring me.

PS: Special shout out to Kingsley Okoh, Kanny Onuekwusi, Femi Leo Irojah, Ogechi Ebere Foni Obott and Seyi Osunlaja for knowingly and unknowingly playing a huge role in my manga and anime addiction.

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