Well done, Toonami! That was everything I could have asked for when watching the Intruder II saga the past seven weeks. There was drama and even a bit of action that was intriguing to watch. I, like many others, was left speechless at all the right points and craved more after every episode. This event could not have gone any better, as I believe it will give the action block a bigger budget for the future (or at least I hope it does). Even the founder and creator of Toonamifaithful.com, Paul Pescrillo, has joked about how Toonami might have another immersion event the following year (especially since the whole event went well). While another event won’t happen for a while, Toonami made a statement with Intruder II, and a damn good one at that.
That was an incredible job of storytelling done by the staff at Toonami. Even with a few episodes clocking at a couple of minutes, I still found myself glued to the television (as did many other fans). Most television programs wish they could be as compelling with the allotted time they get, like how fans felt during Intruder II. Sometimes, series might even have a throwaway episode (according to critics), which can be a huge letdown to viewers. Toonami did not have to deal with any issue like that, considering how every episode felt necessary. That proves to me how good this saga was received by fans and critics alike. Toonami made their first break much-watch television for anime fans. I hope they were able to gain some monetary influx for advertising at that time.
But what made Intruder II the smash hit that I believe it was? The drama was probably the best part of the whole series. Once fans were able to find out the Intruder’s status (T.O.M 1 fusing with the red blob), fans instantly realized that Toonami was playing for keeps. T.O.M 5 even lost an arm during the battle, which made the event seem bleak. While the action wasn’t as non-stop as viewers would usually see in an anime series, I was entertained by the gun battle between T.O.M 5 and “Tom-Truder”. It was definitely better than the weaponry T.O.M 1 had during the first Intruder event.
However, this production wasn’t all about the action, as the plot hit home with fans as well. When looking at the storytelling/lore of Toonami, it almost has a Kingdom Hearts feel to me as we reach the climax of Intruder II (give me a chance to explain that). Toonami was able to tie in a lot of past events and videos to perfectly fit with the story the staff was trying to tell during Intruder II. There were a few scenes referenced during the many years in between this event, which would put a smile on any older fans’ faces. When you break everything they tied in down, it all fits in perfectly. Besides the whole Intruder I saga, Toonami was able to tie in another video showing T.O.M 4 talking to the current host of Toonami. Fans also received a webcomic showing how the Intruder attacked T.O.M, Flash, and D before the television event. Everything tied together seamlessly, which made me think that Toonami had the same kind of planning that the studio that produces Kingdom Hearts has (on a much smaller scale, but still rewarding). That’s a huge plus, as it limits the plot holes (if there were even any) for Intruder II. Plus it makes the overall story a lot more dramatic than I was expecting it to be.
How about all of the curve-balls that Toonami threw fans way? Fans were able to hear Sonny Strait reprise his role as T.O.M 1, which was such a pleasant surprise! Strait and Steve Blum got to work together which had to be fun considering the amount of respect both have for each other (and since they haven’t really worked together before). Then, of course, there was SARA “dying” or the belief that she was offline (Jason DeMarco and Dana Swanson played that part well). I didn’t want to believe that SARA and Swanson were both gone for good (I personally wanted her to regain a more physical body), but it continued to be a mystery throughout the entire time. I mean the secret of her status led to a lot of speculation from fans and critics alike. Thank goodness that Toonami planned to keep her around, and that she will continue to help T.O.M broadcast the best in action cartoons on our airwaves.
Plus how about those explosions? While I’ll miss the Absolution, watching it get completely eradicated was visual eye candy. Toonami Faithful Podcast host, Darrel Maddox, has discussed how much he was excited to see the enhanced special effects for Intruder II. I’m sure he got exactly what he wanted. If there’s one way to give fans an excellent and satisfying climax, an explosion will do the job just right (ask Hollywood about that). Finally, T.O.M was able to destroy his “demons” and finish off the Intruder for good (at least that’s what Jason DeMarco has told us through his ask.fm page). To me, it was cool that the story was able to finish with the enemy destroyed for good. Of course there could be more stories for Toonami to tell, but the way it ended was great.
So now Toonami has found a new base of operations. Fellow writer Elias Jackson took fans on a tour of the new station, showing it off. I for one, love the new design of the place (even how SARA looks on the monitor now). I especially love the flag shot, due to the color scheme and how it looks like Toonami has taken over this station for good. For now they can call Shogo 162 home, and I will be interested in what the action block will do to make it feel more like home (for T.O.M that is).
It just goes to show how much a story can improve after an extended period. Many critics weren’t the biggest fans of the first Intruder series, mostly due to how nothing seemed to matter. T.O.M 1 died, so then SARA created a new T.O.M immediately, making the loss feel less meaningful (at the time). Plus part of the saga was only about picking out a new engine. It just didn’t seem like a captivating series, even if it felt cool back when viewers were younger. Intruder II exceeded expectations, and to me this proves how beautiful the action block has been since its revival. This latest event had to of received the attention of a lot of people.
The ratings for Intruder II were a force to be reckoned with and did a phenomenal job on Saturday nights. Not only did shows grow in the terms of viewing numbers, but a marathon did well in Dec. (Dec. typically has a smaller audience). That has to be one of the greatest wins Toonami could have asked for (also will probably mean more marathons in the future). But I have a feeling that these past seven weeks can thank Intruder II for its boost in ratings. Which is great, because casual fans who do not frequently watch Toonami might become regulars.
The very first show that Toonami aired was consistently at 1.5 million total viewers, which is where many people would see any of the Intruder II episodes (except for Dec. 5, which had 1.4 million total viewers). However, from the viewing numbers, it seemed like people were staying tuned into Toonami after the Intruder episode aired. So it wasn’t just people staying up to catch the latest installment of T.O.M’s battle on the Absolution. People were watching in the entire lineup! Especially on Nov. 14 where nearly every show had a million viewers (One Piece and Kill la Kill came super close).
It wasn’t just the regular lineup that performed well, thanks to Intruder II. During the two marathons that had an Intruder II episode, it also kept viewers around, which could be looked at as a surprise. Usually, hardcore viewers take a break when a marathon airs, which means the viewing numbers will dip. Instead, viewers were locked in with Parayste, and to a lesser extent Dragon Ball Z Kai. So during the tougher months to hold onto ratings (due to holidays), Toonami was able to keep its usual viewing numbers as if nothing was going on. How many networks can tout that for 2015? That to me is why I found Intruder II to be impressive.
Even better, Toonami is giving out all kinds of cool freebies thanks to the Intruder II ending. The Toonami mobile app has new ringtones and wallpapers to help promote the new station. Also, the soundtrack used for Intruder II is available for download on Toonami’s website. A few experts mentioned that Toonami will combine all episodes to make one long “movie” for fans who might have missed the series altogether. Or you could go to Toonami.com to watch each episode if you have to see it now. Just another example of Toonami sending love to the faithful out there.
(And if you are really curious, Toonamifaithful.com has a page showing some of the story boards used for Intruder II)
So yes, Intruder II was worth all the hype it received. It was exciting and dramatic to the point I was more interested in it than a new episode of Parasyte or Akame ga Kill. It was spectacular, and the writing performed by the authors of this tale deserve an enormous round of applause (or a pat on the back at least). I wanted to see how Toonami would change forever and getting a new place of residence certainly counts as a major shift. I’m curious if the action block will give fans more information about the new station with new videos and bumps, but we will have to wait for that. I’m also curious about any visual changes for the future. It was a great end of the year for Toonami, and I hope that better things are in store for fans for many years to come.
C.J Maffris is an editorial writer for Toonamifaithful.com. He thoroughly enjoyed the entire Intruder II saga. Feel free to reminisce about Intruder II with him on Twitter @SeaJayMaffris