If there’s one thing that Toonami has a lot of, it’s fans. The lifeblood of the block has been its dedicated fan base that will go through leaps and bounds to make sure they catch every episode that airs. Whether that be weekdays after class (in its early Cartoon Network days) or late in the night during its current run on Adult Swim, fans show up. But there does come a time where fans might get worn out, whether it be because of the late hours and lack of sleep, other responsibilities, or making plans to see friends. And you know what, that’s fine. It’s O.K. if you decide to take a weekend off or more from watching Toonami. The block was meant to be enjoyed, and if it becomes a chore to watch Toonami (or you are stressing out about things that are out of your hands), maybe it would be better if you took a break.
I often see this type of discussion after a change is made on the block. Most notably, back when One Piece was dropped, and Tokyo Ghoul was set to join. Some fans were distraught over the news. There was all kinds of discord on Twitter, where many would argue for or against the changes. Some were being critical, some were not, and it led to some fans thinking it was time to give Toonami a break from the aggression of its fans. This would then lead into a discussion about if you stopped watching Toonami due to one change then you weren’t a fan of the block to begin with. Which I would argue is one of the most elite things anyone could say about Toonami. Toonami isn’t meant to be some cult meeting where fans have to show up right when it starts and leave once it ends. Not watching every Saturday doesn’t mean you have to turn in your fan card at the door and never return. Toonami is supposed to be shared between veteran anime fans and those who are unsure if they even like anime (and action cartoons). Those who don’t watch every week or just look at a few shows are just as much a fan as anyone else. Due to my work schedule, I miss the first three shows of the block; does that mean I’m less of a fan than others who watch every single show? Not in the slightest. Fans of all kinds support the block by watching one show or sometimes tweeting about it. The interest stays alive, and it’s fine if you’ve watched it since its inception or if you started last weekend—everyone matters.
I start to wonder, for those who feel that Toonami is this exclusive club that only “real fans” can enjoy, if they think watching Toonami is a chore at times. Because if they do, I can see why other fans can get burned out and depart from the fan base. Watching Toonami shouldn’t be a chore. It should be fun! On days that I live-tweet with other fans, I have such a sense of enjoyment and happiness knowing that other people are watching and we are having fun seeing the shows that are on the block. Doesn’t matter to me if they only just stick for Dragon Ball or if they finish the block without me. It’s just a grand time chatting with fellow anime fans.
I feel the same way for those who seem to have aneurysms after a change is announced, or when the traditional viewing ratings are released. Sometimes I hear opinions that this decision will “do Toonami in” or that “we should worry about how low the ratings have looked recently.” If you feel like that, maybe it would be best to take a little time away from the block to become less stressed out. What’s the point of worrying week after week about ratings when it has very little to do with an individual fan? This can even include the people that I work with at Toonami Faithful (as I know sometimes ratings dominates our random discussions on and off the podcast). I admit that the ratings are a huge reason why I’m writing this piece now. It’s something to talk about (whether it’s us, other websites, or fans), considering it’s one thing that changes week to week. Personally, I wouldn’t mind making it a talking point if there was something to worry about, but I don’t think that’s the case now. Are the traditional numbers low? If compared to a previous year, yes they are. But Toonami is expanding by adding Cowboy Bebop, so things must be fine for the block. Or at least the people who work on Toonami aren’t giving fans any indication that they should be nervous.
Recently, a few fans have been wondering why I’ve been absent from live-tweeting with them when Toonami was on. Most of it has been due to my job responsibilities, but there have been Saturdays where I simply decided to take a break from the Toonami grind. Part of that had to do with the Overwatch World Cup taking place and my wanting to see that live at the expense of watching Toonami. A break did feel nice, considering how consistently I’ve watched the block. Returning last Saturday was refreshing and reminded me why I enjoy watching Toonami in the first place. However, just because I took that break doesn’t mean that I’m any less of a fan than I was before. I just felt the need to step back, knowing I could come back and Toonami would still be around.
THANK YOU to all the #toonami fans who came to see us at Dragon Con! You made us so happy. Hope you enjoyed part one of COUNTDOWN.
— DUKE TOGO DEMARCO (@Clarknova1) September 1, 2017
If you think the tediousness of scheduling your day to fit Toonami in is getting to be too much, then stop. Even if you don’t always watch, it’s fine. That still makes you a part of the Toonami crowd. Let me preface this by saying this is not an “attack” toward any one person or group of people. I believe this topic isn’t something that is talked about a lot and it does deserve to be mentioned. We all fall into this trap of “hot takes” and stress about the block, myself included because we are passionate about Toonami. That passion isn’t a bad thing either. That passion should be used in a more constructive way, and not in a way that tires out the community. Taking a break is O.K. Getting anxious over the ratings is something that needs to be reduced, because it’s nothing you can control. Toonami isn’t some club that was meant to exclude others from joining or returning to. If you stick around for a few shows or the whole thing, no matter what you do, you are a real Toonami fan. I advocate taking a break if you aren’t enjoying it as much and I do hope you return, because of the hard work that Adult Swim puts into it. The Toonami crew pour a lot of effort and love into the block, but that doesn’t mean you always have to like it as is. I’m all for a healthy debate about the block. But there does come a time where someone could take things a little too seriously. If you need a break then don’t hesitate to take it. Toonami will always welcome you back and so will the fans!
C.J Maffris is an editorial writer for Toonamifaithful.com. Feel free to follow C.J on Twitter @SeaJayMaffris to talk all things Toonami.