You can call Charlene, 36, an OG fan of Japanese pop culture. She first started with Sailor Moon when it showed on TV in the early '90s. Back then though, Japanese animated shows were almost always "headlined by a guy." "It was kind of normal for me. I didn't see anything wrong with that," Charlene tells Cosmopolitan. But then came Sailor Moon on ABC 5 and everything changed for her. "[She was] this klutzy 16-year-old student who all of a sudden is tasked to save the world, and she actually does it!" she gushes. "It totally blew my mind when I was young, parang ako lang siya. So kung kaya niya, kaya ko rin."
From then on, Charlene's interests spread out to Gundam (she actually makes mobile kits!) and Final Fantasy (she's an active member of their online communities). Although she's not much of a merch collector and only has a few prized items, Charlene absolutely loves going to Game Cons. "Probably the best thing about it is that it feels that you're among your people," she says. She further expressed these sentiments when she recalled how isolated she felt being a fan back in the '90s. The internet not being so widespread back then played a big factor, yes, but it really boiled down to these fandoms not being ~cool enough~: "Back then, liking manga or anime or games wasn't cool. And I was bullied for that and I was ostracized for that and it wasn't a fun experience."
Fast forward to 2021 and it's a totally different landscape with so many communities and platforms to find like-minded individuals! Charlene shares this nugget of wisdom she's learned from being a longtime fangirl: "Now, fans are so lucky to always be connected, specifically the Sailor Moon groups. They're very supportive of its members because Sailor Moon stands for acceptance. It doesn't matter who you are, where you came from, who you love. It's just all about belonging. That's what's great about these fandoms: You find a place that you can call home."
More amazing stories about Charlene's love for Japanese pop culture are in Episode 27 of the Fangirl Diaries below:
Are you also a fan of Japanese pop culture? Share your faves in the comments section!
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VIDEO PRODUCED BY: Jacinda A. Lopez, Andie Estella, Lily Grace Tabanera, and Louise Ferrer
VIDEO EDITED BY: Zelda Carreon