Let me start by saying I’m not terribly worried about the viewing numbers for last Saturday. While they were lower than what I would have liked for Hunter x Hunter’s dub premiere, this is by no means something that Toonami fans should go crazy about. However, for the sake of argument, I wonder about the viewing numbers overall, and if the block would benefit by premiering a new series at midnight. In other words, would it be a good idea for Toonami to play the first episode ahead of everything else on its debut?

What prompted me to think about this question were the ratings for April 16. They were lower than I would have liked (considering what I have seen in the past) and it appeared that Hunter x Hunter didn’t get the broad audience that I expected. While it’s tough to keep a million total viewers  at 1 a.m., Toonami has done it in the past. And with a show that’s new to this specific audience (and it being a dub premiere), I thought it would be good for 1.2 million total viewers or more. Of course, Dragon Ball Z Kai had 1.3 million total viewers and nearly a million with its 18/49 rating, so I believed that it should have set the table nicely for Hunter x Hunter. Instead, I felt that the April 16 DBZ Kai episode underperformed, which could hinder the entire block in attracting viewers. Now would 1.2 million total viewers be enough to thread the needle and make a huge difference (when dealing with advertisements)? No, probably not, but it certainly seemed troubling.

Of course, I have to take into consideration other programs that were on at the time, like the NBA and NHL playoffs. I know that these types of events will steal some eyes away from Adult Swim. I don’t necessarily think it’ll be a lot, but more than some people would expect. And the way that viewing numbers are recorded is not an exact science and can’t be regarded as the most precise way to calculate an audience (Nielson uses statistical sampling). So while the figures provided seemed small (recently it looks like they’ve dipped), there might have been more people watching Toonami during this premiere than we think.

Given that it was competing with other programs and was placed third in the lineup, Hunter x Hunter was most likely thwarted in their goal of achieving a larger audience during its debut. This led me to wonder what the numbers would have looked like if it had been the lead show for Toonami during its first weekend. And should that be what the action block does in the future? Whenever a new series is set to join the lineup, it would be interesting to see it kick off the block, assuming that a new series brings an extra level of excitement. Although fans always look forward to their favorite shows that are already established, having something brand new can be even more rewarding. So I wonder how the new series and the block as a whole would look if it kicked off Saturdays on its debut weekend.

But I don’t really think it would make that much of a difference, and might make things worse overall. The new series itself might gain a larger audience, but I think the block as a whole would suffer for a few reasons. One is that the viewers would feel confused if the very first episode started at midnight and then moved somewhere else on the block after that. Consistency is key, and disrupting that might be less appealing to the audience. Toonami might lose eyeballs if it is assumed that the show won’t be broadcast if it was suddenly moved from its initial time slot. It could just make things confusing.

So what if every new series started at midnight and stayed there until a new series is set to join? That would also feel weird, due to how the lineup is constructed now. The current sequence has Dragon Ball Z Kai starting things off, with 12:30 a.m. and 1 a.m. set aside for newer and more popular franchises. The 1:30 a.m. time slot is normally used for older series, followed by two other long-running shows that are consistent (Naruto Shippuden and One Piece), and finishing the night with a rerun that feels beautiful and complete. If Toonami just stacked show after show with no regard to how the lineup is built it would probably leave fans more frustrated than anything. Plus that would assume that every new show is capable of grabbing a huge audience to kick off the block. As much as I enjoy Hunter x Hunter, I don’t think it could do that for a long time.

In fact, I believe that there are only a few shows that have what it takes to take the baton from DBZ Kai to start off a block. It would have to be a series that has a large enough fandom and is viewed as mainstream. Dragon Ball Z is a franchise that is known by such a large contingent that it makes sense to have it lead off the block. Even Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacey has talked about the show. It has mass appeal, and it’s hard to find another series quite like that. Maybe Attack on Titan Season Two or Sword Art Online Season Three (if this series is even made) could be the next series that can begin the Toonami block, because this franchise (Dragon BallZKaiSuper, etc.) can only go so far. I’m sure there are other franchises that some people think could take over for DBZ Kai (like One-Punch Man or JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure). Toonami needs to make sure they pick a show that fits into their lineup at the right spot, and that top spot isn’t something that should be chosen in a random fashion.

To make my point, you only have to look at Toonami’s best Saturday, viewing numbers wise, during a  series debut. That would be the night that Akame ga Kill premiered last August, which is attributed to Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’ being out in theaters. When Akame ga Kill premiered, it became the most successful premiere on the block. And Dragon Ball Z Kai was able to get the single best ratings of any series on Adult Swim’s Toonami run. Now if we flip-flopped Akame ga Kill with DBZ Kai that day, I highly doubt the numbers would have been so astronomical. In fact, I think Akame ga Kill (and Sentai Filmworks) should thank DBZ Kai for allowing them to grab their largest audience. It can be inferred that the fact that DBZ Kai kicked off the block while the movie hype was in full force, that things worked out better for Akame ga Kill. Having that series begin and hoping that other fans might stick around as a game plan seems to have a better result than to showcase something new straight off the top. It might also add a little more intrigue if fans have to wait to watch, especially if it’s a series they have never seen in English (or in general).

Again, I consider the idea of leading off Toonami with a new show an idea that sounds interesting in theory but is unrealistic. Programming blocks need a staple to draw fans in and hope that it can do its job to hold viewers’ attention on their particular channel for a longer period. I certainly don’t think that Hunter x Hunter is a bust or that Toonami is failing. Far from it. Yes, the viewing numbers have been down, but those numbers could just as quickly move back up. I think that having premieres past the midnight hour might be asking a little much from newer fans of Toonami, but it shouldn’t discourage anyone about the block’s future (especially after the warm reception Hunter x Hunter had following its debut). It might have been fun if Hunter x Hunter got the red carpet treatment on Toonami last Saturday, but it’ll have plenty of time to shine in the future.

C.J Maffris is an editorial writer for He enjoys thinking up random ways to spice Toonami up, even if it doesn’t turn out to be something practical. Feel free to follow C.J on Twitter @SeaJayMaffris