You’ve heard the jokes, seen the memes, and read the articles. The year of 2016 was a brutal one, with untimely deaths to huge celebrities. Add in an election that divided this country to the point where a civil war might have broken out. Despite all of that, last year was a remarkable one for Toonami regarding growth, exposure, and of course: anime. Toonami’s great year has me believing that the block will continue to grow to further heights in 2017. Here’s a look back at all the major news and acquisitions fans were able to experience last year on the greatest action cartoon block on the planet.
Toonami acquired six new shows, ranging from old classics like Samurai Champloo to new fan favorites like One-Punch Man, with many other shows in between (Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans, Dimension W, Hunter x Hunter, and JoJo’s Bizarre Adventures). Toonami upgraded its lineup with many of the series they added. Beloved series like One-Punch Man and Hunter x Hunter all made English dub premieres, as well as JoJo’s Bizarre Adventures getting a chance to air on Toonami. While all of these series left great impressions on fans, it was Hunter x Hunter and One-Punch Man that became the favorites of the year. And there have been whispers of bringing Hunter x Hunter earlier in the night, due to how much positive response it’s gotten from fans.
I find these latest acquisitions fascinating, partly because of how much VIZ Media has been a part of Toonami this year. That hasn’t always been the case. Some wondered if VIZ Media would have another series of theirs besides Naruto Shippuden (Shippuden) that would air on the block. Or would VIZ Media stay away? I’ve talked about this before, how they didn’t have the shows that fit Toonami (nor were requested enough) and so they just patiently waited before fans were rewarded. And boy did they ever! Three new series of theirs joined the lineup and all are commanding a ton of attention. It was a VIZ Media takeover, which certainly added some diversity when it comes to distribution companies.
Earlier in the year, the block took some risks by “replaying” Samurai Champloo (even though it aired on Adult Swim and not Toonami), as well as getting the chance to premiere the English dub of Dimension W before fans could stream it on FUNimation.com. There was a bit of a controversy among fans, considering that many already had the chance to see the timeless classic, but I for one thought it was great to give it the Toonami run it so richly deserved. And it wasn’t as if everyone has already seen this show. I noticed a lot of fans saying that they never got around to watch it and were viewing it for the first time. Plus, the risk they decided to take with Dimension W worked out well in the end despite its mixed reviews. It had a promising start, and while it faltered towards the end, many fans look back fondly on the anime. That might mean that Toonami will get more broadcast/simuldubs by FUNimation in the future, which I’m all for, considering the quick turnaround new series will get here in the U.S.
Adult Swim also bumped up the block earlier by a half an hour, which was a pleasant surprise for those who like to sleep. It gave fans a sense that expansion is possible with all of the new series that are coming Toonami’s way in 2017. The staff realized the quality of shows they acquired in their arsenal (One-Punch Man, Iron-Blooded Orphans, etc.) and felt that they could move up to an earlier time to bring more fans great action cartoons. Sadly, during the holidays Toonami was pushed back to midnight, but starting this year Toonami will once again begin at 11:30 p.m. This makes expansion all the more likely as more shows come through the pipeline.
Even movies were reintroduced to Toonami during daylight savings time. Thanks to the lovely people at Sentai Filmworks, they were able to provide fans with the film Children who Case Lost Voices. Movies still seem to be missed by fans, and many would like to have them back for the holidays (not so much by me). It doesn’t look likely that will happen again (due to cost, and a limited audience) so being able to bring back movies was a pleasant surprise for fans who crave more anime films. And it was incredible to have Sentai Filmworks back on the block. They are still missed since Akame ga Kill and Parayste the Maxim aired.
Fans were given another Intruder story, which did very well the last time a side story aired. While Intruder Three seemed misleading with what we’ve come to expect from Toonami, we now have a new “fairy/pixie SARA, and a new ship for T.O.M and the crew. I felt this should have been more of a tie-in from the last Intruder series, and that they should save the name Intruder Three for something larger, but getting a new ship and crew mate is just as enjoyable (sounds like One Piece).
Sadly, it wasn’t all good for Adult Swim, with the untimely death of C. Martin Croker. Croker, who won over the hearts of many Adult Swim fans, voiced beloved characters in shows like Space Ghost: Coast to Coast (Zorak, Moltar, Raymond), The Brak Show (Zorak), and Aqua Teen Hunger Force (Dr. Weird, Steve). He was also the first host of Toonami as Moltar during the block’s infancy. Many tributes were made in honor of Croker from Adult Swim, and we here at Toonami Faithful were deeply saddened by his passing. It created huge shock waves in the Adult Swim community.
So what is there to look forward to as we begin the new year? How about the premiere of Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters? And finally, the speculation about Buu Saga was put to rest at the end of 2016. Now those hoping that Toonami will finish its run of Dragon Ball Z Kai will get their wish starting at midnight Jan. 7. Is that enough new for you? How about more Dragon Ball, with Dragon Ball Super, set to premiere on Toonami the same day! The series that many fans were asking about will finally be seen in English for the first time, which has to make a lot of people pumped for the future. It just recently began streaming legally in the U.S., proving that fans still crave new Dragon Ball adventures. Even Toonami Asia’s English dub (produced by Bang Zoom!) looks to be ready to air soon (if not already), meaning 2017 might become even more supercharged than we think.
Not everything about 2017 will be about Dragon Ball. Gundam Unicorn will also premiere, along with the new double dose of the Dragon Ball franchise at 1 a.m. This latest acquisition makes me believe that Toonami will be holding onto a time slot for a Gundam series for a while (season two of Iron-Blooded Orphans is being dubbed as we speak). It was announced that in Feb. Ghost in the Shell would take over the 3 a.m. time slot just in time for the live-action movie. And in March Toonami will premiere a micro-series directed by Mamoru Oshii (Ghost in the Shell, Patlabor), done by the talented staff at Production I.G. It will be a five-part, 25-minute short film called Sand Whale and Me. We don’t know what to expect, but it will be exciting to see because it will be part of the 20th anniversary of Toonami.
Speaking of series that Toonami has been working on, while they haven’t aired yet, both FLCL and Samurai Jack are in the works (possibly late this year). Samurai Jack will turn out to be a 10 part, five-hour movie broken up, with getting two new seasons totaling 12 episodes. Fans cannot wait to see how both of these series turn out. If anything, this proves that the block has been profiting with these two new projects in the works.
Looking back, Toonami was consistently excellent, which is all fans can ask for. Six shows premiered, an Intruder story was made, and the block started earlier. There was a show for every fan, and add that in with all of the new bumps, music videos, etc. I cannot complain about what the block provided. I’m now more excited to see what 2017 will bring us, but it’s nice to look back and remember what made Toonami a better block this past year. The foundation has been built, and Toonami should be ready to branch out even further with some of the new assets that are coming. So here’s hoping 2017 is as great as we are expecting, and thank you to all of the Toonami Faithful out there who were along for the ride.