During elementary school, Katie Johannes would wake up before dawn, creep down to the other end of the house, turn the television on low volume and watch Sailor Moon on Channel 7 before getting ready for school. She would then hurriedly get dressed and run to catch the bus, jealously eyeing her sister’s small Hello Kitty backpack as she ran out the door. She would draw doodles of Keroppi, Hello Kitty’s amphibian friend, when she was bored during math. She would run home to make sure she did not miss the beginning of Toonami, the three hour block of anime programming on Cartoon Network. She then would fight her little sister for first dibs on Pokemon Snap, since it was only rented from the video store and the time to reach the level with Mews in outer space was limited. Around dinnertime, she often begged her mom and dad to take the family out to eat at the Sumo Steakhouse and Sushi Bar, her favorite restaurant.
She was never the quickest thinker, but it took Katie years before she realized that all of these favorite programs and products were Japanese in origin. Katie, now considering a minor in East Asian Studies, knows that desperately wanting long hair (and secret lunar celestial crystal tiara powers) like Sailor Moon when she was seven may have played a small role in her decision to take Japanese 101 in her freshman year. It allowed her to understand parts of her old favorite shows in their original language and, more importantly, taught her more about the country that was able to permeate her childhood without her knowing it.