Watching Toonami

May 20, 2015
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During elementary school, my parents would often drop my brother and I to my grandma’s house. Like almost all of my grandparents, she was on dialysis and could only speak a mutter of Cantonese. We would spend hours at her house, not understanding anything but the unprecedented rule to be quiet when she slept. Days at my grandma’’s house consisted of manufacturing some sort of entertainment from the environment around us. My brother and I would find ways to amuse ourselves with about anything - scratches in the wall, dust bunnies under the couch, the pictures the nightly Cantonese channel made; we were that bored.
I think some part of my grandmother understood our boredom because one day, after a long thirty minutes of rolling a sock back and forth to each other, my grandmother sat up from her wrinkled, green armchair, grabbed a remote with her wrinkled arms, and changed the channel. It switched from the humdrum of old foreign dramas to the wild amusement and rapid gunfire of slapstick cartoons. Out of the tired television burst characters with color - flaming hair, glowing outfits, and big, bright eyes bigger than the shows that my brother and I have seen. Amazement came with the sounding of blaring trumpets, pounding drums, and ecstatic visual cues of the Japanese. With it, any semblance of boredom was lost.
My brother and I immersed ourselves in the shows, the characters, and the plot. We watched characters yell, scream, shout, and power themselves into a battle, night after night. We watched them transform into their secret identities, assume their celestial powers, and then revert back to normal people in the daytime. Some of them would be magical creatures, fighters-in-crime, sometimes the criminals themselves. No matter the show, my brother and I always never failed to laugh when a character got hit and flew out of the air, or burst in tears with each spastic expression characters would make when they got caught. As we clapped and laughed at the blinking television before us, I saw our grandma laugh along with us too.
I learned years later, after my grandmother fell sick and couldn’t take care of us anymore, that the program we watched was a segment called Toonami on Cartoon Network intended for older kids. Some of the segments of the show was considered too violent and gory for my brother and I to watch. But my grandmother couldn’t possibly know that - she could barely read english - and most of the time, my brother and I, as seven year olds, could hardly understand what was going on. Even so, we all enjoyed it anyways. I think what makes Toonami so special is that it gave a bond that both my brother, grandma, and I could understand without any translation: the feeling of family.






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