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Essay by Yumeko

It all started one summer in the mid-1990ís. My sister and I didnít have a bedtime during the summer, so we would stay up to all hours of the night, playing and watching late-night TV. One night, we actually managed to stay up until morning, and while doing some channel surfing, we came across this strange-looking cartoon called Sailor Moon. My mom, who was getting ready to go to work, commented that it looked like it was a Japanese cartoon.

It was not exactly my first exposure to anime. Back when we bought our first VCR, one of the very first videos we bought was called Hans Christian Andersenís The Little Mermaid. It wasnít until later, however, that I learned that it was actually the dubbed version of an anime originally titled Anderson Douwa Ningyo Hime. Sailor Moon was the first anime I watched knowing what it was, and it was love at first sight.

Especially when Nephrite -- or Neflyte, as he went by in the dub -- appeared on the screen. Even though he was the villain, my little pre-teen heart went *pitter-pat* over his dreamy looks and deep, sexy voice. His death a handful of episodes later devastated me almost as much as it did Naru/Molly, but it also shocked me, because characters rarely died on the American cartoons I had grown up watching. With that episode, I knew that this show was going to be something special.

It did not take me long to become absolutely obsessed with Sailor Moon. Even when school started back up again, I would wake up at 5:30 in the morning -- far earlier than I needed to -- just so I could watch it. I also began collecting Sailor Moon merchandise: dolls, toys, lunchboxes, cards, etc. If it had anything to do with Sailor Moon, I had to have it, leading to a rather extensive collection that I still have to this day.

Unfortunately, Sailor Moon was not to last on network TV. Iím usually horrible at remembering dates, but the day I woke up and discovered my beloved Sailor Moon had been replaced by another cartoon is eternally etched into my mind: September 9, 1996, which happened to be my parentsí wedding anniversary.

The cancellation did little to end my love affair with Sailor Moon, though. I still collected merchandise, bought all the videos (and later DVDs), and discovered the Sailor Moon manga thanks to a manga anthology magazine called Mixxzine. The manga, especially, renewed my love for the series, since it allowed me to be introduced to the mysterious Outers and my number-one fictional crush, Priest Helios. (Yes, Nephrite may have been my first love, but Helios will always be my true love when it comes to anime and manga.)

It took me a while to discover the online fandom, however. I didnít have a home computer at the time, so I had to use the school computers whenever I wanted to research more about Sailor Moon. Luckily, my sophomore year of high school, I joined the school newspaper staff, and as long as we got our articles in time, the advisor let us goof around on the Internet as much as we wanted. Needless to say, I spent a lot of time searching for Sailor Moon websites during class. (Donít worry; I always submitted my articles on time!)

The first time I encountered fanfiction actually wasnít at A Sailor Moon Romance. It was at this site called The Meatball-Head Page, and the story was called The Destiny Series by some author I canít remember. Looking back, I realize it wasnít that great of a story. It was a dubfic that had the villains going after the Sailor Scouts by giving them ďairborneĒ AIDS, but at the time, I thought it was totally awesome. The idea of writing stories about other peopleís characters seemed like a lot of fun.

It wasnít until a couple of years later, though, that I gave it a shot myself. My senior year of high school, my parents finally decided to buy me and my sister a computer for Christmas. I discovered ASMR fairly quickly and fell in love with one story in particular: superkateís Galactic Sailors series (which, to this day, still remains one of my all-time favorite fanfics). The story was about a new team of senshi made up of the original cast membersí daughters, fighting a new evil. I liked the whole ďnext generationĒ concept, so when I began writing my first piece of fanfiction (Sweet Dreams), I decided to borrow it, creating the Sailor Neo-Soldiers, and later, for the sequel Star-Crossed Lovers, the Sailor Dream Soldiers.

I officially joined ASMR on April 25, 2002 under the pen name Heavenly Pearl, which I had chosen from the meaning of my real name, but on the boards I mostly went by Yumeko, the name of a character in Star-Crossed Lovers that I took as my own (even though she was not a self-insert). I instantly felt at home there, surrounded by people who adored Sailor Moon (and anime in general) as much as I did. In real life, I have never been that good at making friends, but thanks to ASMR, I met some awesome people, many who I still consider my closest and dearest friends today. (I wonít list them all, because Iím afraid Iíll leave somebody out, but you know who you guys are.) Itís also where I grew as a writer, from getting feedback from my editors and readers, editing stories for other authors who I admired, and the thought-provoking discussions about fanfiction that were held in the fanfic section of the board. In fact, one of the highlights (forgive the pun) of my time at ASMR is the first time Aphrael recommended one of my stories (Tick Tock) in her weekly ďHighlightsĒ column.

ASMR truly was a huge part of my life. I still miss the boards, but Iím so glad Dejana has decided to restore what she can of the library -- home of some of the best Sailor Moon fanfiction ever written -- for future generations. Sailor Moon may no longer hold the top spot on my favorite anime/manga lists, and Iíve begun participating in other fandoms in addition to SM, but for as long as I live, I will consider myself a Moonie.

May the moonlight carry the message of love, forever.