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It doesn’t take much to bum out a fanbase, and those who were patiently awaiting good news about SWAT-KATS Revolution were just punched in the stomach. Due to a recent setback, it looks less and less likely that this series will air on Toonami. There was a thought from some in the Toonami community that if this show was picked up by Cartoon Network (or, more importantly, Adult Swim), that SWAT-KATS would return to television. Sadly, that won’t be the case, at least not as soon as their fans would have wanted. But this doesn’t mean that SWAT-KATS is completely out of the picture. Still, I wonder what this could mean for other American action cartoon series projects as far as making it on Toonami.
It was announced by co-creator Christian Tremblay on the series’ Kickstarter page, that they were passed on by Warner Bros. It is very disappointing that the studio turned down the project, considering how many people seemed to support it. Whether or not it turns out to be a solid series, people wanted this project to move forward. The Kickstarter page asked for $50,000 for their goal and demolished that by racking up a total of $141,500. Those results should mean that the series will find a home elsewhere, but having an opportunity taken away certainly hurts.

Getting rejected by Cartoon Network isn’t the nail in the coffin for the series. Tremblay stated that it was specifically Warner Bros. that passed on them, not Williams Street Production. So if Adult Swim finds this project worthwhile, there could be a chance it makes it on Toonami (or on Adult Swim, which is fine by me). I wouldn’t say that I’m doubtful for that outcome because we don’t know what exactly Adult Swim or Toonami is planning. There could be many other projects in the works, to the point where they can’t take on the SWAT-KATS Revolution yet. Meaning that the series will have a longer time to find a home. So since SWAT-KATS has been rejected by Cartoon Network, what could it mean for other projects that the Toonami Faithful have been keeping their eyes on for the block?

One other big project that Toonami fans have been closely following is Cannon Busters. This series exhibits aspects of Eastern and Western animation influences (which you can tell by the group of artists who are working on this project) that gives off a fresh new look for American action. At first glance, the series looks like a steampunk version of Trigun, which could gain a huge following if executed well. It has all kinds of aspects that fans of Toonami like to see, making the wait very exciting. However, if Adult Swim does indeed pass on both SWAT-KATS Revolution and Cannon Busters, how much optimism can fans of American action cartoons have?

While I have no evidence to back this claim up, it certainly seems like American action cartoons are an afterthought when it comes to entertaining a young demographic. I look at two highly promoted shows on Cartoon Network, Teen Titans Go! and the rebooted Power Puff Girls, and both are considered more as comedies (in my eyes) than action shows. Additionally, they do not feel similar to their predecessors (here’s an example), which bothers me and probably their fan base. They aren’t receiving positive reviews from fans and critics who have watched the original series of both shows. Seeing these two series turned into comedies gives one the feeling that action is no longer the type of genre that television channels are targeting toward a younger audience. Maybe that has something to do with Saturday morning cartoons going extinct, and that networks are worried about how parents react to violence shown on kids’ television. Whatever the reason, it looks like American action cartoons has been on the decline for some time.

For those interested in SWAT-KATS Revolution, this probably means that a website like Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime will look into green-lighting the project. That isn’t at all a bad thing because ultimately the goal of the series being available to fans is reached. It will just cost extra for those to see it if it’s on a subscription website. I’d rather it be on television for free (as I’m sure other fans feel), but as long as it is shown somewhere legally than there’s nothing to complain about. One negative is that being on one of those websites might limit the audience, which would be disappointing. Not everyone has the resources or internet connection to view it, plus if it is on a site like Netflix, their marketing of new series leaves a lot to be desired, making me believe that the series could go unnoticed. But with the recent resurgence of Young Justice on Netflix, it makes me wonder if that’s where a lot of these shows will end up. I’ll still hold out hope that Toonami remains in the picture to pick up these projects, but it looks less likely as the days go by.

It’s not as if Toonami has given up completely on American action, taking into account other series they have broadcast (Megas XLR, Justice League, etc.) and what’s coming down the pipe later this year. New episodes of Samurai Jack will also be arriving later in the year, which gives Toonami’s lineup even more variety. Adding more American action could give Toonami more appeal to those who aren’t strictly anime fans (or not fans of the genre at all). Many are psyched about Jack being back, and this gives Toonami a chance to amass an even broader audience. That’s why I would like more American action to join the block in the future. I felt this way back when the block was six-plus hours (which isn’t the case now). While the block has shrunk, I would still welcome more American action to take over once a series ends.

Will studios continue moving away from action entertainment for their younger demographic? It seems as if comedy is the more popular genre at the moment. That leaves American action series in limbo in trying to find a network. It’s becoming more common for action shows to be on VOD or streaming websites as opposed to traditional television networks. That isn’t bad because it at least it’s available, but I for one would like to see a larger audience for these American action cartoons. So I hope that Adult Swim will seriously consider these shows and put them on Toonami, because I believe they will be welcome additions. But I’m also willing to contribute to a subscription service like Netflix to support these projects, if only to make sure the action genre continues to be available.

C.J Maffris is an editorial writer for Toonamifaithful.com. He was upset at the setback SWAT-KATS Revolution faced but has hopes that the project will be showcased at some point. Feel free to debate about the state of American action cartoons with him on Twitter @SeaJayMaffris

2 COMMENTS

  1. I really don’t get why WBA gave up on the show just because CN said no. Unlike Cartoon Network Studios, they’re not specifically part of Turner, so they’re not limited to CN and Boomerang. Besides [as], for which they already make Mike Tyson Mysteries (which has done very well, even), they’ve been increasingly buddy-buddy with Netflix. I mean, think about it. They added Animaniacs just over a month ago, they’re rumored to be considering uncancelling Young Justice now that CN wants nothing to do with it, and they’re already working together on an Ellen DeGeneres-produced cartoon based off Dr Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham. Hell, Jerry Beck recent confirmed that WBA’s making a show for Disney XD, of all places. So to me, for WBA to drop Swat Kats Revolution just because their main pipeline said no just reeks of pussing out.

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