In the inaugural posting of the pseudo spin-off of my Toonami commentary YouTube show which I occasionally do with my friends, I’ll be discussing the recent schedule update including the arrival of Sword Art Online, the return of The Big O, and a fond farewell to Sym-Bionic Titan and ThunderCats. Oh yeah, and I mention One Piece because I love me some One Piece.

Toonami sure has kept the surprises coming this year. First Soul Eater makes a long overdue debut on Adult Swim’s action block and then they performed miracles of the television industry by getting IGPX and One Piece back. All those decisions had me grinning from ear to ear. It is a dream come true for me to have One Piece back on US television without the censorship that sabotaged it in years prior and on top of that it is also back on Toonami where it will get the respect it deserves. That’s awesome multiplied. So far the schedule changes to Toonami have gotten increasingly better without a doubt. They’ve come a long way since their humble start on May 26th 2012. Even so, they continue to tease us that even more great things are coming and that brings us to my main topic, the recent schedule announcement for July 27th.

That crafty Toonami crew announced Sword Art Online for August but will end up premiering it in late July. Nobody likes delays but I’m pretty sure everybody likes having premiere dates moved up. The bad news is ThunderCats wont finish its current run and they are losing the rights to air it. It shall be missed but maybe this is a glimmer of hope they’ve heard our pleas for a second season. I sooner suspect Cartoon Network only had a 2 year contract for the show from Warner Bros. and that would be ending in late July. Sym-Bionic Titan is leaving as well but it will finish its current run before exiting the stage and they say it will be back so I don’t mind it taking a break. In its place will be the return of The Big O. Kind of a downer that they did not get the first season of The Big O back but season 2 is far better than nothing.

There are four things I like about Big O season 2 joining Toonami in late July and they are as follows. 1) It is nicely timed with the theatrical run of Pacific Rim and that may draw new viewers to it who are looking for some more giant robot action 2) It fills the vacancy for super robots that Sym-Bionic Titan would have left in the line-up 3) Along with IGPX and Eureka 7 moving a bit later, it re-establishes and grows the mecha block Toonami has been doing ever since Titan was slotted next to Eureka 4) It’s The Big O, nuff said. Interestingly enough if there are no pre-emptions, IGPX, Big O and Cowboy Bebop should all finish their runs the same night 13 weeks from when this change happens. I fully expect IGPX to stick around for a 2nd run and Big O may get 2 depending on how it does but consider me one of the people in the camp who think Ghost in the Shell should swap into Cowboy Bebop’s slot after this run ends.

Now let’s talk about the elephant in the room, Sword Art Online is getting a 2AM premiere slot. That’s pretty brutal for a dub premiere. If they intended to play up the casual appeal of Sword Art Online then a 2AM premiere slot is kind of cutting it off at the knees. Some people see it as good thing that Sword Art isn’t in the first 2 hours of the block but I honestly thought it would at least air before Soul Eater. Then again when you have 2 hours that work splendidly it is better not to mess with it. I’m surprised Aniplex did not push for an earlier slot given it is the first dub premiere Toonami has had besides Bleach since Deadman Wonderland ended but when the competition are some of the popular anime airing on US television I guess it is better not to press your luck.

There’s no getting around the fact that 2AM is a late time slot for a premiere and not ideal for any show, but I think it will work out alright. For one thing, Toonami will probably get the streaming rights to the dub. That will allow them to stream it through video on-demand as well as their Adult Swim video gold service. That greatly softens the blow of having a show air premieres at 2AM because it gives some people the option to watch it at any time of the day. If you were not aware, Tenchi Muyo GXP actually constantly got mentioned in the Toonami ratings press releases despite airing at 3AM. Sword Art is sure to win demographic at 2AM. Having less competition is helpful in that regard.

We should not look at Sword Art airing at 2AM as a death sentence. It is the first step toward a Toonami where we could see never before aired on CN/AS premieres for 3+ hours. Those old reruns wont keep viewers forever and fresher content is assured to do better. As someone who works graveyard shifts, I don’t consider 2AM very late at all but Saturday traditionally loses viewers here and there from slightly before Toonami starts till it ends besides the increasingly common small upswing for InuYasha. On that night in particular, Toonami’s gotta front load those premieres and keep people’s attention for as long as possible. We’ve seen evidence that Tenchi GXP may have actually helped the later part of Toonami by keeping people watching after 2AM. Sword Art can at least keep them until 2:30 and IGPX, E7’s last episodes and the return of The Big O may be able to keep them until 4AM or for the whole night.

Now the question is what happens in August when Eureka 7 ends? Well if they don’t roll out that “mystery show” they’ve been teasing us with since before they announced IGPX, then they’ll probably bring in FLCL for one or two runs to fill the gap. I’m not entirely ruling out the possibility that Eureka 7 will get more than 1 run but that’s a pretty big commitment to start again even if they might still be able to play it. Having lost ThunderCats they have one less option for those post 3AM hours until they bring in some shows Adult Swim does not already have lying around. FLCL can hold that slot until IGPX ends its first run and becomes a member of that rotation of free to air shows but of course I’d rather see something fresh take Eureka 7s spot. Fresh is always better.

I think that about covers my thoughts for the upcoming schedule change. I’d like to thank @DragonPiece for the suggestion to write about this as well as @ItachiIshtar, @macattack50, @AmbientVirus, @Zerogamer and anyone else I converse with on Twitter about Toonami’s schedule updates because I wouldn’t have much to write if I didn’t get their input. Feel free to leave your comments below and if you have idea for another topic I can discuss in the future, you can e-mail me at AndrewHingson@ToonamiFaithful.com

I now return you to regularly scheduled schedule speculation. I can already hear my friends asking when the next video is coming now that I’ve stirred up their memories about the Absolution Sessions. There ain’t no rest for the wicked.
– Andrew “Sketch” Hingson

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