The year 2019 has been one of the most turbulent years of Toonami since 2014. From the start of the year until this publish date, we’ve had a whopping nine shows announced (Sword Art Online: Alicization, The Promised Neverland, Lupin Part V, Food Wars, Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin, Fire Force, gen:LOCK, Dr. STONE, and Demon Slayer), eight of which have already premiered. Also, a fair amount of the block’s longer series have ended or are coming close to the end (Hunter x Hunter, JoJo Part 4, Dragon Ball Super). This influx of brand new content is, without a doubt, much appreciated and doing a fantastic job at keeping Toonami fresh and up to date. Although, with every new schedule that comes out, that means something has to get pushed back. So, the question that many fans are asking: is having an all-premiere block worth someone’s favorite show premiering at the dead of night?
Everyone has their own “perfect” version of the schedule. That’s the joy of Toonami.
— LORD DEATH DEMARCO (@Clarknova1) August 17, 2019
The first thing to look at is why a particular show gets pushed down. There’s a myriad of case-by-case reasons that people outside of the TV business will not see or understand. A show could be underperforming in its current slot, and it may be switched out for another property at a later time or a new incoming series. Sometimes, a show’s premiere might not be considered as “high priority” as other series, and is given a later premiere slot (possibly the case with Gundam: The Origin). We, as common viewers, won’t get all the minute specifics. What we should keep in mind, though, is that Adult Swim doesn’t push your favorite show to the bottom of the block because they hate it (or hate you). A show getting a later start time doesn’t mean it’s a failure, it’s doomed, or they’re mistreating it. That’s an entirely different discussion that’s been done to death.
Like they said, next week #lupinthe3rd will move to the bottom half of Toonami's schedule. Prepare for no sleep boys and girls.
— Ren Gonzalez (@PreachedEarth1) August 18, 2019
An all-premiere block isn’t a foreign concept for Adult Swim-era Toonami. After the schedule cut in 2015 (when the block went from six and a half hours to three and a half), it became more manageable for the Toonami team to keep fresher content in rotation more regularly. With many shows coming in and out this year, some relatively “older” shows (series that aired within the past five years or so, e.g., Food Wars) could finally find a home on the block. With the few long-runners the block currently has, Toonami has numerous opportunities to look into bagging the cream of the crop of Japanese simulcasts. Alternatively, they could pick up some overlooked choice cuts for added variety. With this recent approach of obtaining more of the currently airing hits, fans that shy away from streaming services will be exposed to the series that dozens are raving about. The more fans a show has, the better the chance for that series to land a second, third, or maybe even a fourth season. The fans like more of their favorite shows, right?
On the flip side, perhaps the most common complaint I’ve seen from Toonami fans is how their favorite show to watch gets preempted by another they don’t necessarily care to watch. If they’re staying for the long haul, that means either having to sit through series they don’t like, struggling to stay awake, and/or find something to do until their favorite airs. Depending on the schedule dip, that result could be a negligible 30 minutes to an hour or so. For the more dramatic drops, most recently seen with My Hero Academia and Lupin Part V, some eager fans might have a two or three hour wait, prompting them to give up rather than risk a messed-up sleep schedule. While an altered sleep pattern may seem relatively insignificant in the grand scheme of things, not every Toonami watcher is built the same. Some fans’ lives aren’t “easy like Sunday morning,” as they may have a job to work or various religious obligations the next morning. Others could also be incapable of surviving the deeper parts of night and crash earlier.
Now that Toonami will have 9 premieres airing before 2am, should they premiere anything at 2am anymore?
— Sketch (#PrayForKyoAni) (@Sketch1984) September 20, 2018
Herein lies the dilemma of the heavy-eyed hardcore Toonami fans: “I want to support the block and watch all my favorite shows, but can’t stay up long enough. What do I do?” Luckily, a few contingency plans are available. DVR, Video On-Demand services, and access to the Adult Swim video vault are available to those still hanging on to cable or satellite TV. To those without any cable or live TV that still want to support the anime industry, a lot of the current shows are available to stream on legitimate sites like VRV, and FunimationNow. Of course, not everybody has access to these options, but at least there are alternatives for those who aren’t able to stay up late.
I align closer to the pro side of this argument. I love the quick cycling of new content and the feeling of freshness Toonami has right now. On the other hand, it is a bit of a pain when my weekly nighttime routine gets switched up as drastically as it sometimes does. Admittedly, one of the reasons I stopped keeping up with Boruto and Hunter x Hunter was due to their later airtimes conflicting with my need to sleep. At the very least, I’m glad that the block isn’t 6+ hours long anymore. The smaller lineup helped my Saturday nights to be more compact without the fear of missing out on episodes of my favorites. Regardless of how the lineup’s layout is structured from here on out, the Toonami crew deserves props for continuing to deliver the latest and greatest in action cartoons to the airwaves.
With both sides laid out, we want to hear from you all. Would you prefer Toonami staying the way it is now: strictly premieres only with minimal reruns, or should they go back to filling in the later time slots with reruns? Let us know what you think here or on our social media!
As fans do you prefer an all premiere Toonami lineup, or would you like to have more reruns later on the block?
— Toonami News (@ToonamiNews) August 26, 2019
Alien.Renegade is a writer and reviewer for Toonami Faithful, a Toonami-styled video editor, and the creator of many Toonami-inspired tracks. You can follow him on Twitter @AlienRenegade