Samurai Jack is inching closer to finishing its run, and what a run it has been. It’s the continuation that fans have wanted for years and has been nothing short of amazing. But since we are getting close to the end there has been discussions as to what Toonami might do with the 11 p.m. time slot. They could very well add another series to take over or move a prominent series to that time slot when it becomes free. I’m more inclined to think that Toonami might go another route (for now) and relinquish the 11 p.m. time slot altogether, once Samurai Jack ends. It isn’t something I’d like to see happen, but to me, it makes the most sense.
Before it premiered, many believed that Attack on Titan Season Two would be the perfect series to take the throne and keep 11 p.m. for an extended period after Jack. In fact, I’d venture a guess that many Toonami fans believed that Attack on Titan Season Two would air at 11 p.m., even before Samurai Jack was in the picture. It would make sense, considering the amount of hype that surrounded the second season and how well the first season performed on Toonami. Sadly, things haven’t panned out for the series, at least if you go by the first two weeks of its traditional viewing numbers. I won’t go into much detail about that (I could write an entire piece about the diminishing viewers this season for Attack on Titan). Instead, I’d rather focus on what would make sense to move (or not move) to 11 p.m. And as of now, I don’t think it’d be the best option to move Attack on Titan from its current slot, since right now it hasn’t made me think it would do well at the start.
That isn’t to say that it wouldn’t be interesting to have Attack on Titan on earlier (just to see if could grab more viewers), but I don’t think its performance would convince those at Adult Swim that it deserves a premium slot. It hasn’t broken 850,000 total viewers, and the 18-49 rating isn’t as high as I expected it’d be (when looking at the traditional viewing numbers). Plus, if Toonami did decide to move Attack on Titan up after five episodes, it might leave fans confused about what the schedule would be for at least a couple of weeks (maybe more). Toonami prefers to keep things as consistent as possible, because of their fans’ dislike of change and also to avoid confusion that might lose viewers. It would be too large of a jump to move from 12:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. and one that I think would be silly to do now. It was either have the dub as quickly as they could on the block or wait a couple of months (or later) to then place it at a different time that might get fans crazed up.
— Toonami News (@ToonamiNews) April 30, 2017
So if Attack on Titan isn’t big enough to grab a ton viewers, is there any show that can feasibly take the torch from Samurai Jack? My answer would be Dragon Ball Super, but even that has been losing (traditional viewing numbers) to Dragon Ball Z Kai. Which isn’t to say that Dragon Ball Super wouldn’t be doing well to start off the block (because it has been fine and performed fine), but I wonder about how much fans only watch Toonami for Samurai Jack. So when viewers see that Samurai Jack isn’t on, they might change the channel and miss out at what Toonami has to offer. That could mean that the block should air something at 11 p.m. just to continue to keep things consistent. Could that mean that Toonami decides to bump up the Dragon Ball hour? Possibly, but if they don’t then I have a hard time thinking of a series that could headline Toonami besides Dragon Ball Super (or Dragon Ball in general).
Maybe that could mean a revisit of Sailor Moon Crystal, considering how recognizable the Sailor Moon franchise is. It’s still talked about to this day, and the fandom hasn’t completely died out (if at all). It would certainly be a change with that kicking things off on Toonami compared to what the lineup has looked these past five years. I just don’t know if Sailor Moon Crystal is even an option anymore for Toonami (I have no idea if a lot of fans even request this series or if Toonami could even purchase the rights to air it). I also wonder if Sailor Moon Crystal would perform well, considering how divisive the fans were about that series.
Would Toonami take a chance by picking up a lesser known anime series to start at the top and try and duplicate what Samurai Jack accomplished? It certainly would be a leap of faith, and one I wouldn’t expect. It all depends on whether the show catches on as they did back when Toonami was on Cartoon Network. Or if the fans of the new series are passionate (and work hard) enough to bring the spotlight over. I’m just not sure if there is a series that can do that. Sure, I’d love to suggest something like My Hero Academia, which clearly has the potential to garner a lot of fans here in the West. Especially with how well the second season is going (currently airing on FUNimationNow and Crunchyroll), and with it getting a dub on the same day the subtitled version is available (reminds you of Space Dandy). Having a premiere like that would be something that interests Toonami fans considering how beloved Space Dandy has become. My Hero Academia is heavily influenced by superheroes that American fans idolize (and still do), which can be a huge plus, considering how popular superheroes are in the U.S. But I’m unsure if it would catch on as much as I would like. I’d be more than willing to give it a shot at 11 p.m., but that’s easy to me to say when it’s not my money to buy the rights and not my job on the line for it to become a smash hit.
Toonami could easily go the routes I laid out or not, but I think the safest and more likely thing they will do is move away from 11 p.m. for the foreseeable future. That doesn’t mean I think Toonami will never again expand to 11 p.m. again, but I don’t believe they have anything in the works (yet) to put something at that time. Why pay a ton of money for a show that might not do as well as Samurai Jack when you can easily just start the block at 11:30 p.m. like before? Toonami has begun even later and done just fine. So instead of paying companies to play anime at 11 p.m., they can simply have Adult Swim take that time back and save money as they get ready for the future. The economics make sense, and that’s why I think it’d be better just to let go of 11 p.m. than to hold onto it by adding an anime series that will reap fewer rewards than Samurai Jack (comparatively).
With the success that the block has had starting at 11:30 p.m. and 11 p.m., Toonami will more than likely keep their options open to retake 11 p.m. (if they do plan to relinquish that time slot). Especially since they have another original project in the works with the new seasons of FLCL. Toonami can easily wait until FLCL is ready to air and then premiere another series at 11 p.m. I don’t think it’s ready to air right after Samurai Jack. In any case, it would be fun to have Toonami regain 11 p.m. for FLCL, because it’s their property and could get more eyes glued to their airwaves (whether it be from joy or anger). It’s something I’m sure they’ve talked about and we’ll be on the lookout as we continue the year of 2017, or later.
As much as I would love Toonami to keep 11 p.m. time slot, I think it might be time to give it up. Samurai Jack has been an absolute blast, and the fans love it. I don’t think any show (that’s available now) can pick up the slack once Jack is gone, and instead of spending money on something that will give very little to no payout, why not just cut their losses and begin with Dragon Ball Super, like before? That wouldn’t mean the block is in any danger, but I’d rather Adult Swim save up for more hit series, and possibly more original concepts that could premiere on Toonami. I was happy that Toonami ventured to 11 p.m., and hope that it can continue in the future.
C.J Maffris is an editorial writer for Toonamifaithful.com. He’s enjoyed Toonami starting at 11 p.m. but believes the time has come for the block to give up that slot (for now). Feel free to discuss all things Toonami and anime with C.J on Twitter @SeaJayMaffris