Also, during these tween years, it is a big step between childhood and adolescence. It is very important for eleven-year-olds to put away the toys and to begin enjoying the more grown-up things in life... Like "Clarissa Explains it All" and "Lizzy McGuire" instead of "CatDog" and "Rocko's Modern Life".
It's important to note, also, that I have two older brothers... One is 6 years older than me, and the other is 4 years older than me. They both were in high school at this time, and always proving to me in any way they could that they were stronger, smarter, and cooler as well. (Not to mention stinkier!)
Well, every day after school, I would come home around 3:30 or a little bit afterwards, and they would already be home due to my oldest brother David having a car (I had to take the bus). They would be in the living room with Cartoon Network's Toonami on, playing loud, and watching these silly cartoons where the mouths wouldn't match with the words!
It was obvious to me that these guys didn't know that cartoons were for children, and not to mention the good ones usually matched the words coming out of mouths of characters. And every day, I would walk by the TV saying, "You're watching this stupid show again?"
The next day, would be the same thing, "Look at this stupid show, is that guy flying around? How childish!"
The next day, "Wait, that guy with the funny hair, he died and now they're going to bring him back to life with these dragon balls?"
And soon enough, I was hooked. It was the first experience I had that was a TV show that actually had a plot line that continued from one episode to the next instead of starting from the same place every episode. I was officially hooked to the Toonami schedule.
4:00 pm EST - Sailor Moon
4:30 pm EST - Reboot
5:00 pm EST - Dragon Ball Z
5:30 pm EST - Thunder Cats (I usually walked out on this one...)
I very soon fell in love with Sailor Moon. Her story was one that I liked above all others because of how inspiring she was. She made me feel empowered... AND she was a thirteen year old girl, officially two years older than I was and that meant that this cartoon was meant for girls older than me.
Well soon enough, I watched the first and second seasons all the way through before Toonami started looping it back to the first episode again. Through my research, however, I knew that this beautiful story about growing up and conquering your fears for the purity of love and justice continued past the second season, and I learned that the only way to continue was to watch Sailor Moon in Japanese with Japanese subtitles.
But wait! When I went into the world of the Japanese version of Sailor Moon, I discovered something horrible and beautiful at the same time! The American version of Sailor Moon actually cut episodes, change story plots, and adapted the show to meet the American standard of childhood cartoon TV! That meant that the true, pure version of Sailor Moon, of which I grew to love, was one I had never seen before!
What's the big deal, right? How much could they have changed? Well, for one so young, craving to be older and more mature, Sailor Moon definitely has a dark side and even a controversial side to it. First, Sailor Moon is openly acceptable to gay and lesbian relationships and in the first season changed a male character into a female character by having the voice actor be played by a woman. Secondly, at the end of the first season, all of the Sailor Soldiers/Scouts die -- not pass out as depicted in the American version. This change in the plot meant deeper messaging and a more dire situation for my hero at the critical part in the story.
Also, the reason that they had not released the third season in America was due to a lesbian couple that was to be introduced! Oh the scandal and the taboo! The true story behind it all! I fell victim to the Japanese version of Sailor Moon and learned more than I could have imagined.
In my journey through the renewed story, spoken in a different language, the characters I thought I new took on new personalities. The characters talked about these customs that I wasn't aware of. They went to a high school that had school uniforms and they had these cute little lunches that they would take to school, with food I didn't recognize.
I would start to pick up on some Japanese words here and there like, "hai" (yes) and "yatta" (yay) and "ganbatte" (do your best) and things like that. And just like my grandpa's chest of mysterious treasures... I learned that I didn't know much at all about this fascinating world I live in...
And I knew that I wanted to know more.