Almost 1,000 fans of anime converged to Lagos, Nigeria for the second edition of the Eko Anime Festival. Some anime fans performed on stage, and many were cosplaying their favourite characters.
Anime is animation originating from Japan. Its films and characters are part of a culture present in many more mediums like video games.
"We realised that there really wasn't any convention or festival like an anime fest in the whole of Nigeria," says Laura Ajayi, co-organiser of the second edition of the Eko anime festival.
"So, we thought why don't we start this because we have a whole community of otakus, weebs, even people that just want to dip their feet into the anime pool and so we thought why don't we just do this, everybody comes together and you know have fun and it works."
Anime has a big following in Nigeria, where most grew up with Voltron, Naruto, and Samurai X in the 1980s all the way to the early 2000s.
"I think Nigerians are interested in the anime culture because Nigerians generally love to try new things so the anime, which is an entirely different culture on its own is a new and unique thing to Nigeria so they will keep loving it because they keep bringing out different things each year which continue to hold our attention, which is very good for us," adds Ajayi.
Nigerian anime lovers say their aim is to socialise and promote the culture. The popularity of anime culture is said to have grown online in Nigeria, with many Japanese comics (manga) available on websites and apps, and fans talking about them through social media. Antonio, who is attending the festival, likes anime because of its inclusivity.
"Anime imitates life, there's an anime for everybody and everything. If you like sport, there's an anime for sports, if you like horror movies, action movies, romance, fairy tales, there's an anime for you and you just have to look at it. Anime is huge and it's for everybody."
Anime lovers are optimistic that more Nigerians will come to love and embrace the culture, and also hope to organise bigger subsequent festivals.