I was an undiagnosed ADHD child growing up in the 1990’s. This means a lot of things for a child who doesn’t know they are living with a neuro-developmental disorder. I was creating and inventing my own coping mechanisms, getting in trouble for being myself, hyper focusing on anything that was interesting to me, not really fitting in with my neuro-typical peers. There were a lot of things to navigate in my mind let alone everything else a child has to think about.
I was 10 when the cartoon TV series Sailor Moon aired on New Zealand television. I remember the first day I discovered the program. It was one of those mornings where I was up later than usual, about 7:50am. I had to be on my way to school by 8:15am to walk there before the first school bell rung to start the day. Like a lot of children in those times I ate breakfast while watching the line up of kids cartoons on the Television in the morning. This particular morning I happened to catch the last 5 minutes of this really cute cartoon that reminded me of some of my other favourite child hood programs & movies such as Rainbow brite, Lady lovely locks and The last unicorn.
At that moment of the credits rolling I swore to myself I was going to get up early enough to watch this tomorrow. The next day rolled round, I got out of bed, did all the stuff I needed to do before I had to leave for school that way I could watch this program uninterrupted. The clock ticked over to 7.30am. And the rest of my life began. I watched Sailor Moon every day it was on, it became my new hyper fixation.
Not only did Sailor Moon become my new favourite everything – it lead me into another passion of mine (and still is), Astronomy. I became obsessed with space stuff, star gazing. Anything related to the planets and the stars. I would read endless books about Astronomy dreaming of space. I even wished to be smart enough to be an astronaut! I wanted to go to the moon!
A year later, Sailor Moon was finally taken off air. I was literally devastated. I remember choking up flipping through the TV guide to see it had been replaced by another cartoon. Sailor Moon was never dubbed in full from the original Japanese version into English. How would I ever be able to enjoy my favourite cartoon ever again. Funnily enough it sabotaged my morning routine. I wasn’t as driven any more to get out of bed and do what I had to do, I took my time, slept in. I no longer had the TV show that motivated me and kept me accountable.
Sailor Moon was hot topic for me, I used to try desperately to draw it from memory in my school books when I was struggling at school. Doodling and drawing through all my school books was my self invented coping strategy. Especially when I was bored or missed the instructions. I used to do it to look busy or keep myself entertained. Everyone in my class knew me as the girl who liked Sailor Moon. I used to talk about it to anyone who would listen.
Later that same year, we had dial up internet set up at my house. We were one of the first families in my town to get the internet. Dad was always interested in the new and latest thing. And in the town I was in, we were lucky enough to have a few people really interested in technology and had set up a local server provider we could connect to. It wasn’t the first thing I did but eventually I had the bright idea to search for Sailor Moon.
As you can imagine, instantly (in dial up time), I had access to my favourite cartoon again. That’s when I learned all about Anime. And that Sailor Moon wasn’t the only one. I read fan fiction by other kids like me. Waited for Fan art to load. I spent a lot of loading time actually copying pre-loaded images and drawing them, trying to get better and better, creating my own Sailor characters. Our whole hard drive was filled with Sailor Moon gifs, pictures from the Manga and Midi files of all the songs. I finally got to know how the series ended. This gave birth to a life long passion for drawing, Anime, Japanese culture and my extensive Sailor Moon collection. I also kept up my love with space. I got my first telescope when I was 14.
So what was it about Sailor Moon that had me hooked in the first place. Well there were a few things going on, I think it was novel and interesting at first. I had never really seen a Japanese cartoon before. All the main characters were good people, heroes who were all about love and justice. But most of all the main character Serena (in the English dubbed version) also known as Sailor Moon – was a lot like me. She slept in, got in trouble in class, was bit of a goofy character, she was clumsy, liked to eat all the things, would get bad grades, struggled to do her homework, is forgetful and spaces out when her friends are talking to her, had so many silly antics that I related to and thought – Hey! I do this too.
I was a pretty lonely kid. I had no friends at intermediate school (middle school). I kept to myself for almost for 2 years, I was friendly with some of the girls in my class but we didn’t spend time together really. But I wasn’t truly alone – every day I would go home, go online and read and draw and talk to other people who loved Sailor Moon as much as me. I made my first ‘fan page’ all about Sailor Moon when I was 11. By the age of 12 I could write basic html. This interest of mine had taught me many skills. I always had something new and fun to focus on because of Sailor Moon. And my parents wouldn’t mind the time I spent online because they were so impressed at how good I had become at computers and art.
It wasn’t until recently that I was thinking about ADHD and it’s representation in media. Are there any movies where the main character is confirmed diagnosed with ADHD? What about TV shows and books. Not really many or any at all. It sent me on a train of thought about stereotypes and stigmatized characters that we do associate ADHD with:- Tigger, Bart Simpson, Dory from Finding Nemo. And I was trying to think of characters that perhaps I related to and thought, do they have ADHD? Then it hit me like a lightening bolt. Sailor Moon! Is the correlation too coincidental? Maybe not. Maybe what hooked me into this cartoon all along was that sameness, I saw something in this character that was just like me. That validated me. And I am so grateful for it!
And that’s how I decided that Sailor Moon is my favourite canon ADHD character. Sailor Moon has been one of the most positive aspects of my child hood and I am so happy we found each other. It has been the influence behind one of the most productive coping mechanisms I had developed. It gave me hours of entertainment and happiness. It led me into my passion of art which became my Adulthood hyper focus of study at various points of my life. It’s how I met my best friend who also loves Sailor Moon as much as me and we even spent time together in Japan! I timed my holiday to coincide with a Space Museum and Sailor Moon collaboration event in Tokyo. It was a dream come true! I don’t think I will ever stop loving this cartoon and grateful for it’s impact on my life ❤