If I remember correctly when Dec. came up, that usually meant that movies would air on Toonami instead of their usual lineup. For me, I always found that to be a drag, because I always wanted to see new episodes of the shows I enjoyed. However, as I was getting older, I realized that expecting new content week in and week out was unrealistic for those who work for the action block. So airing movies was a way for Toonami to take a break and relax during the holiday season. Yet recently Toonami has moved away from movies, to air marathons of shows currently in the lineup. This change puts a smile on my face, because I was never really the biggest fan of anime/animated movies airing on Toonami. There are a few I liked, but I don’t normally enjoy watching movies on television (anime or live-action movies). Yet after Toonami made this move, many fans still asked and begged for movies to be played. As 2015 comes to a close, I think it’s time for fans to move on from wanting Toonami to return to that format. It was a good run, but I don’t believe movies will air on Toonami anytime soon.
During the holidays this Dec., Toonami plans to have two Saturdays set for marathons. On Dec. 19, fans will get the chance to relive Goku vs. Freeza in Dragon Ball Z Kai. Then on Dec. 26, fans will be treated to a One Piece marathon of the most recent episodes that aired. For me personally, I’ve been a huge fan of these marathons, and feel like this was the best course of action for Toonami to replace movies.
Are marathons the perfect solution to replace movies? Not exactly, but I think it’s the best thing they could have done to help the action block grow on Adult Swim. I’m sure Toonami could be a little more creative with these marathons (like someone suggested on Jason DeMarco’s ask.fm page). But it is a cheaper option for Toonami to air a marthon every time a holiday weekend rolls around.
So why would I believe that this option is better than airing new or older movies (that have aired on Toonami before)? Airing marathons shouldn’t cost Toonami anything, since they are simply replaying older episodes. That way, instead of spending money on new movies (or reacquiring older films), Toonami can save funds to acquire new shows (or to work on events like Intruder II).
What was the turnout for movies when it came to the viewing numbers? After seeing a film air the first time, wouldn’t many fans go to bed if it was just going to be replayed? I doubt many fans would stay up to watch the same thing over and over. Even if they wanted to support the action block with better viewing numbers. Of course that isn’t what Toonami has done since its revival on Adult Swim. Toonami would have a show kick off the block (like Attack on Titan), then a film would play next, and later the block would end with its regularly scheduled programing.
I did some digging, looking into the Dec. viewing numbers for the years 2013 and 2014. The numbers were atrocious in 2014 compared to what Toonami has gotten recently in 2015. In particular, Dec. 13 in 2014, had viewing numbers that were so low I had to do a double take. Attack on Titan and Hellsing Ultimate just weren’t enough to gain attention, and once Fullmetal Alchemist Sacred Star of Milos aired it only had 469,000 total viewers (and a 0.4 rating). Numbers like that would freak out the Toonami community, even though Dec. generally has low viewing numbers across the TV landscape.
However, it’s the same when you look at other Saturdays during Dec. (of 2014) when movies aired. The biggest indicator that movies weren’t performing well for Toonami, was shown by Summer Wars performance that year. While Summer Wars had a great debut in 2013 (which might of kept movies airing on Toonami alive), it bombed when it aired again on Dec. 6, 2014 (compared to the numbers it received its first run). Summer Wars is a phenomenal movie, yet a rerun couldn’t get over a million total viewers on its second run. Fans can look at that time when Attack on Titan kicked off the block before any movie aired. Nothing reached over a million total viewers (Dec. 20 and Dec. 27 of 2014)!
Of course reaction to the 2014 movie numbers might be a tad unfair (if you want to play devil’s advocate). It is true, that when looking at 2013 movies had stronger viewing numbers (Dec. 7-8, Dec. 15, and Dec. 22 of 2013). Which is probably why Toonami kept showing movies in 2014. But when the viewing numbers dropped, Toonami had to think of something quick to regain some momentum (fans don’t want to lose the action block). So with the cost of playing these movies, and how poor they did in 2014, a change had to be made.
To be fair, this is more of a personal preference when talking about movies on Toonami. However, I don’t think movies are enjoyable to watch on a television format/schedule. Movies, to me, are meant to be played completely with no commercial breaks in between (it’s not like there are commercial breaks when you are watching one in a theater). Plus a featured film doesn’t have any scheduled breaks planned in, when it is eventually shown on cable. The movie doesn’t flow well when it’s chopped up due to commercial breaks. I’m not even a fan of watching commercials when Toonami has its regular lineup airing (and this coming from someone who works for a TV News Station). But at least the shows that air on Toonami, they are formatted to where it should be broken up, instead of just randomly cutting up an episode at random points.
That’s why I get annoyed when watching movies on television (anime or live-action). When the film gains some momentum and captivates me to see what comes next, it is quickly cut by a commercial making me lose all interest. It can lose and frustrate fans who have to then wait a few minutes to continue the story. If viewers had issues with the pacing of shows like Bleach and One Piece, then having to wait to finish a movie on television has to be just as annoying.
It’s not as if all movies are created equally though. Depending on what movie aired, I would “struggle through” to finish it. I did enjoy seeing Cowboy Bebop: The Movie as well as Summer Wars when both aired on Toonami when they did. I was just annoyed on how it was broken up. This isn’t anything against the people at Toonami, since many television networks cut up movies to fit their allotted time (USA Network, TNT, TBS, FX, etc.). It just wasn’t as atheistically pleasing (to me) when a movie was chopped up. And I feel the same regardless what network and movie I happen to be watching.
It’s not as if I think movies in the future wouldn’t do well anymore. Evangelion 3.33 as well as Dragon Ball Z Resurrection F and Battle of the Gods would garner a lot of attention from viewers. Especially with how popular Dragon Ball Z has been in the U.S. Just looking back at how much the movie premiere affected Toonami’s numbers is proof enough. Plus Resurrection F is in the top-ten of highest grossing animated movies in the U.S. of all time. The Toonami Faithful out there who didn’t see any of the films I mentioned would be delighted if all three (or at least one) were to be broadcasted for one night. On a day where the action block would normally air a marathon, maybe showing these films would be in their best interest (next Dec.). Although I think Toonami is perfect with what they plan for holidays now with marathons.
So the question I have is what’s wrong with Toonami’s alternative to movies? Honestly? Why is there a loud minority (or larger community) that dislike having one show marathon for a Saturday? Some might state that they would prefer Toonami to marathon better shows, like Parasyte or Attack on Titan (or insert your favorite show here). But there’s nothing wrong with Toonami taking a break and having a recently acquired series showcased for those who aren’t normal Toonami fans. Especially with how well marathons have performed this year. The viewing numbers have seemed pretty similar or better to what movies have done in 2014. So it makes much more sense to have more marathons. Seeing how DBZ Kai and One Piece perform this Dec. would be a nice bow to wrap up the year, and find out if marathons can perform well in Dec. (thus strengthening the marathon argument).
Yet there has been a lot of negative feedback with marathons, especially during the Akame ga Kill one on Halloween. So from where I see it, it mainly depends on the show that receives a marathon (considering how well the Parasyte marathon did this past Thanksgiving weekend). If it’s a show that has a huge following (and a favorable response from fans), then the marathon is a good idea. If it’s a show people enjoy to bash like Akame ga Kill or Sword Art Online, marathons are bad.
It really is unfair for Toonami to gain backlash for airing marathons when other networks do not broadcast new content every single week of the year. Andrew “Sketch” Hingson of Toonami Faithful has talked about this very topic on the Toonami Faithful Podcast. CBS, ABC, and NBC allow their hit shows to have hiatus to give producers time to film another season, and to give the production staff a break. However it does make me wonder if people send any of these networks hate mail for not having 52 straight weeks of new episodes like some fans have with Toonami?
Plus replaying older episodes of a show can make the holiday season less stressful for the Toonami staff. During this time I’m sure the crew will have to write up a budget proposal for the new year (as well as balance the books for 2015), set up a game plan on the new shows they want to acquire, as well as other little nuances that many of us will never know about behind the scenes. So instead of searching for new content that would cost more and stretch their budget even more thin, replaying older stuff gives the staff at Toonami a break and saves money. Those are two major positives from where I’m looking at.
Let me be clear in the fact that I don’t hate animated movies. I enjoy watching plenty of them on Netflix or Funimation.com. I especially enjoy purchasing a movie to view with my family and make a special night out of it. However, when I’m watching television, I just want to stick to a regular television series format. Many fans still wish that movies will join Toonami for a night (or return to what it once was), but from what it sounds like from Jason DeMarco, I’m not so sure. Fans will just have to wait and see until an announcement is made at a later time, but I wouldn’t hold your breath.
C.J Maffris is an editorial writer for Toonamifaithful.com. Apparently he’s been against fun this week, but his mood will probably be better next week. Feel free to tell him you miss movies on Toonami on Twitter @SeaJayMaffris