Admit it. There has been a time in your life when you felt that an anime you just watched was the best thing you’ve ever seen. You didn’t care about specific elements that plagued said series; you were all in. You felt as if it was perfect for others to enjoy and perfect for Toonami to air. Then, by some coincidence, the impossible dream became a reality, and the show airs on the block. However, many other fans are either uninterested or don’t see why it was hyped up as much as it was. Rinse and repeat.d repeat.
It’s a cycle that happens all the time, and it’s something that I fall into at points (don’t get me started with My Hero Academia). But Toonami fans do this to an extreme, compared to general anime fans who keep up with simulcasts. When a colossal show is rumored to air on the block or when a new show that is popular is announced, fans start to scream with joy about how this is huge for the block and how traditional ratings are going to skyrocket. We here at Toonami Faithful have fallen into this as well. But then, as things progress, that doesn’t happen. Shows don’t take off with casual fans like some thought it would, and that leads me to wonder: Are Toonami fans overrating the shows that air on the block?
What sparks this prompt is how much the casual crowd of Toonami fans leave once the Dragon Ball hour is over. I don’t find that to be a bad thing (unlike some) because I’m just grateful these fans show up at all to watch something they love. Other great shows air after Dragon Ball, but none could retain that crowd as well as One-Punch Man or Bleach. We can all agree that both have their strengths and weakness (some more than others), but I’d certainly put JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure (JJBA), Hunter x Hunter, and even Black Clover at a similar level of intrigue that the shows above have. But none seemed to be able to resonate with casual fans, whether they like anime or not. Nothing seems to be able to retain the audience like Bleach and One-Punch Man did. Which makes me think that while shows like Hunter x Hunter and JJBA have their fans, maybe it’s a much smaller fanbase that just happens to be loud on social media. Perhaps the general Toonami crowd overrate at how popular these shows could be.
I say overrated because of how much I hear that these shows (JJBA and Hunter x Hunter for example) are the pinnacle of anime, according to many fans including myself at times. I hear bickering about how Adult Swim and Toonami screw shows due to where they are placed in the lineup and how they’d do better if they were shown earlier. That line of thinking has some merit, in the sense that if they were on earlier more people would be awake to watch. But what I’m theorizing is that you could move these shows higher in the lineup and I doubt much of anything would change from what we see now. If Hunter x Hunter was placed earlier, say after Dragon Ball Z Kai, I doubt it’d do any better than Black Clover. Heck, maybe it would perform even worse. It just doesn’t interest as many casual fans as fans of the franchise would like it to (whether that franchise is Hunter x Hunter, JJBA, or others), which is fine. I don’t need Hunter x Hunter to all of a sudden become the next legend of Toonami like Dragon Ball Z did back when it was on Cartoon Network. But if a show doesn’t perform at the same level as Dragon Ball then the fans who overrate it become angrier at the situation, and at the community for not noticing how great it is, which only leads to horribly rude discussions.
It’s ok to feel as if a show could become the next big thing. Each season of My Hero Academia, you can see how I believe it will become legendary on Twitter. I’ve made the pitches to air that show on the block countless times (before I realized that Hulu has the English dub rights) because I felt that many fans would either love it (if they discovered it on Toonami) or return to watch it because of how awesome it is. But with how well shows have been doing after Dragon Ball, I doubt it’d do any better than Black Clover, or Attack on Titan Season Two. Especially since I’m sure that many fans would stream that particular title to see the very latest episode at their schedule instead of the television’s schedule. This is generally how I feel about a lot of the “big” simulcasts that are announced. I’d love for more dub premieres to end on Toonami, especially if they are a “Simuldub.” But I think that expecting it to be able to retain the Dragon Ball audience might be a thing of the past (until One-Punch Man Season Two or a new Bleach project).
And I don’t blame Dragon Ball or Toonami’s decision when to air them whatsoever. Without it, I wonder if Toonami would’ve been able to do other projects, such as finishing Samurai Jack or creating two new seasons of FLCL. It was a necessary move and one that I’m thankful for in the long run. I’m glad that Toonami continues to see excellent traditional numbers (compared to other channels) because of Dragon Ball. It’s just the nature of the beast. Poll 10 people and I guarantee that at least nine have heard about Dragon Ball. The same can’t be said for other shows like Hunter x Hunter or JJBA or a lot of other shows you think highly of. Because those shows pale in comparison to the widely talked about shows like Bleach, Naruto, One Piece, etc. Because back when those shows were beginning to gain exposure in the U.S., there weren’t many outlets to see anime. Times have changed, and now there are a ton of legal streaming options to go along with Toonami.
So yes, I do think fans of Toonami tend to overrate shows that are coming to the block. It’s a trend that occurs in cycles (and can be perpetrated by staff at Toonami Faithful as well). I think now more than ever fans need to begin curbing that excitement and using it more constructively. Be happy that your favorite show is airing, wherever it is. Keep tweeting to make other aware (because that’s a whole different issue with Toonami fans). But don’t think that because “show X” is coming in then the block will be “saved.” I would ask, saved from what? Toonami has been in an excellent place for a while now and seems to have stabilized, thanks to shows like Naruto, Bleach, One-Punch Man, and yes Dragon Ball. We are still waiting for some announcement from the block (for Outlaw Star’s replacement), so it does seem like a potentially significant new show will be coming down the pipeline. But I’d say for the sake of your sanity you might just want to save the enthusiasm for it airing on the block, more than thinking the block can now be rescued.
C.J Maffris is an editorial writer for Toonamifaithful.com. Feel free to follow C.J on Twitter @SeaJayMaffris