Friends don’t let friends…

BY STEFITH

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A poor attempt at a hipster photograph of the AFA stamp on my hand.

…go to conventions alone.

Okay, sometimes we do. Sometimes I do, because I look at my assignment load and have no choice but to send off a pitiful “sorry dudes, too much work :c” text to my friends.

But if there’s one convention I’ll never miss (things like illness or death or some kind of imminent doom notwithstanding), it’s Anime Festival Asia,  better known as AFA.

Now, AFA is big- it’s bigger than my inflated ego. Even people who aren’t fans of anime and manga know about it. It’s pretty much the anime event of the year, and it’s one of the events I’ve been attending regularly since 2010. Change is an inevitable part of life, and AFA is one of the few constants I have, alongside with death, taxes, and my brothers annoying me.

For those who don’t know, I used to cosplay when I was younger. Looking back, it was really quite fun, though I never did have the dedication to it like some of my friends do. In retrospect I guess I was always a bit too lazy. I suppose that’s why my interest kind of fizzled, and I’ll be honest, I go back to AFA every year for one primary reason- to see my friends.

Yes, I still enjoy looking at the booths and buying merchandise, but the biggest draw is seeing my friends.

It’s the one time a year my pals are gathered in the same place. Otherwise, trying to meet up at any other time of the year is like trying to get blood from a stone- it’s impossible. It gets harder every year, because everyone gets so busy with school and work, and, well, AFA is the one time a year I get to catch up with friends from way back when.

Maybe “way back when” is an exaggeration, but it’s nice seeing people I first befriended in 2011, which now seems like a part of my life that was lived by someone else. It’s especially great to see how everyone is doing- a lot of my friends have since enlisted into the army (or are about to), and it’s lovely seeing how while they may be more tanned and have less hair on their heads, they’re still the same nonsensical dudes who never fail to make me laugh.

And of course, the fact that these chaps can still blow hundreds of dollars at AFA never fails to astound me- it’s the one time a year they spend more than me, what with my shopaholic tendencies.

So while I may go back to AFA more for the social aspect than anything else, this love for anime and manga is something that bonds my merry group of friends. After all, there are many different ties that bind, and this just so happens to be one of them.

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