Buying a present for a loved one can sometimes be an incredible challenge, as we try to pick out what we think would be the perfect gift. Nia Evans can certainly relate to that, as she had an ambitious plan for her boyfriend Obinna Victor’s Christmas present in 2016. However, after opening the gift, he burst into tears.
Residents of Fort Washington, Maryland, Nia and her boyfriend Obinna Victor both have aspirations in equally creative fields. The former is a budding model, while the latter had hopes of creating his own anime as a teenager. Back in 2012, Obinna started working on a story that he called Nirvana, spending the next four years writing and refining the idea.
“A young man from Nu-Tokyo named Amidamaru Yukimura has gained the powers of an enlightenment user,” reads Nirvana’s synopsis. “With the guidance of his master Koru Kyuseishu, Amidamaru goes through coming of age quests and adventures to become the next king of the United Global Monarchy. Along the way he befriends, defeats, and learns from other enlightened members of humanity.”
However, despite all his hard work over that period, there was one major issue. “[Obinna] had everything together but he didn’t have any visuals for his story,” Nia told Mashable in December 2016. So with that in mind, she devised an incredibly ambitious plan in late 2016 ahead of Christmas.
As the pair sat down together on Christmas morning, Nia handed her boyfriend a box and a card, filming his immediate reaction. “So read [the card], turn [the box] over and open it?” Obinna asks her, to which she responds “Yes!” Following his girlfriend’s instructions, he opens the card, but doesn’t seem too impressed.
“This card is a**,” Obinna says jokingly. “There’s no money in it!” After reading the card, he then flips the box over and starts to tear off the wrapping paper, with Nia unable to contain her own excitement. “I’m so nervous!” she admits, as Obinna starts to rummage through the packaging inside the box.
A few seconds later, he pulls out a comic book in a black cover, titled Nirvana. Momentarily stunned into silence, Obinna then mutters, “Stop,” several times, to which Nia responds “Open it. Just open it!” After composing himself, he then opens the book to discover that his story has been fully visualized by an artist.
“Stop!” Obinna says one more time before bursting into tears of joy, bringing the video to an end. Nia subsequently posted the short clip on Twitter later that morning. “For Christmas I got an artist to draw my boyfriend’s anime characters for a story he’s been working on since he was 16,” she wrote in the tweet. “[Safe] to say he loved it.”
However, not even she could’ve predicted what happened next. Obinna’s reaction soon went viral, with the video earning more than three million views on Twitter. Meanwhile, Nia’s message was retweeted more than 70,000 times and earned more than 170,000 likes, clearly striking a chord with those on social media.
“That was great!” wrote user Tamica Sears on Twitter. “I totally want to buy the book! Please send the link. The next story will be about the book’s success!” That feeling was reiterated by fellow user Craig Campbell, who wrote, “So you gotta post this, I want to see the story. So freaking amazing you did this!”
As interest in the story continued to grow, Nia then recalled how she put her ambitious plan into action. “The gift process started in early November,” she told British newspaper Metro in December 2016. “I had the idea but wasn’t sure if I could do it, so I interviewed [Obinna] about what he would want his characters to look like.”
“Once I had that information I asked every person I know if they knew any artist,” Nia continued. “I had a few fall through but at the end of the November I found an artist and she was perfect.” A few hours after posting the initial tweet, she then made another one, including some of the artwork used in Obinna’s book.
However, it didn’t end there, though. With people now showing a real interest in Nirvana, Obinna created a GoFundMe page on Boxing Day in 2016, hoping to reach a total of $2,000. That money would then be used to help him finish the story’s first volume.
“Some of you expressed interest in purchasing the story which is not yet available,” Obinna wrote on GoFundMe. “I would like to have the first volume completed by Summer 2017. However if given the necessary infrastructure, I will start and have the first volume completed by mid-Spring 2017.”
That post generated several comments on Obinna’s GoFundMe page, with one standing out in particular. “Best of luck,” wrote user Rachel Stevenson Fox. “Your girlfriend obviously loves and supports you and your dream. Best of luck with your dream career.”
In April 2017, Nia offered an update on the situation via Twitter, revealing that she and Obinna were working with a new artist on Nirvana’s storyboards. However, something changed a few months later, prompting the aspiring writer to head back to his GoFundMe page.
“I’m so sorry for going so long without an update,” Obinna wrote on the crowdfunding website in December 2017. “I have struggled to find an artist who can dedicate time to the task of making Nirvana come through. I am not giving up and instead invested the money into art lessons and distribution venues.”
From there, Obinna made a frank admission about the process, before delivering some more interesting news. “I vastly underestimated the task and instead will bring Nirvana [out] in a different format than originally planned,” he continued. “Which will be revealed in future (and more frequent) updates.”
Despite those unfortunate setbacks though, Obinna made a vow to the people who had donated to his cause throughout the year. “I deeply apologize for the huge delay,” he added. “But everyone who invested in me will still get what they were promised.”
Present shopping can be a hazardous endeavor at the best of times, but Nia Evans took a different approach to finding her boyfriend the perfect gift. Indeed, thanks to some creative thinking, she accomplished her goal and then some, reigniting a long-held dream in the process.