As 2015 comes to a close, experts and fans of Toonami have been giving out their predictions on what series will join the action block in the following year. With Michiko and Hatchin set to end in January, that means a new show will get their chance to impress fans, and possibly gain more notoriety. There’s always a lot of buzz when a new show is about to be announced to join T.O.M and SARA. So I thought it would be a great time to put my ideas on the record, and write about some predictions I could see happening to start the new year.
So I decided to break it down with 10 shows/scenarios that I think could be a possibility in 2016. Five of them I believe are “safer bets” to predict, while another five I think will be unlikely to occur (but fun to just guess if they do in fact happen). Why not have a little fun with some crazy predictions? So here are my 10 predictions on the series that will replace Michiko and Hatchin!
*Just for reference, I firmly believe that Toonami will shake up it’s lineup depending what show it picks up. I do not think any of these shows have to strictly air at 1:30 a.m.
1). Mobile Suit Gundam Iron-Blooded Orphans
This is the odds on favorite amongst the Toonami Faithful on social media. To me, this is the “safest” choice to predict when it comes to new content on Toonami. Jason DeMarco has hinted that big things are coming to Toonami, and made fans believe the hype with the announcement that Samurai Jack will return with all-new episodes. That was a major move made by the action block, to which would be followed up nicely by Iron-Blooded Orphans having a dub-premiere to kick off the new year. Mobile Suit Gundams and Toonami go hand-in-hand, and it would be nice to have a mecha anime return to fans’ television monitors (a sentiment shared by the hosts of the Toonami Faithful Podcast).
This wouldn’t be the first time that Toonami aired an English premiere that was right along side it’s Japanese counterpart. Space Dandy became insanely popular on Toonami, and I do believe having an English dub simulcast with Japan was a huge reason why. It made Toonami feel more important in the anime world (not just the U.S.). It would be great for the action block to use that method again with a show that’s very popular with fans. The Gundam universe is one of the more popular and extensive franchises in all of anime. Plus with Toonami Asia debuting an English dub premiere (Dragon Ball Super), why shouldn’t Toonami in the U.S. have another dub premiere of their own? It sounds plausible.
It was announced at New York Comic Con 2015, that Sunrise was in fact dubbing Iron-Blooded Orphans for early 2016. That has to be a sign that the show will be broadcasted very soon. Right now the series is at episode nine, and is slated to have 25 total. I’ve written before about the possibility of Iron-Blooded Orphans joining Toonami in an unrelated Gundam article, and many fans tweeted or commented on how excited they would be if that happens (it was just a subtle line but a few were happy to read it). This series would make the most sense (to me) to add if Toonami wanted to grow larger and gain even more viewers on Saturday nights. Even if the action block doesn’t regain the 11:30 p.m. time slot for this franchise, moving it to 12:30 a.m., or dare I say midnight, wouldn’t hurt the block as a whole. Many fans would still tune in to Toonami to watch, due to the popularity of Gundam series itself (even if it took over the slot Dragon Ball Z Kai owns). Iron-Blooded Orphans would require an early time slot due to it being a dub premiere, in my opinon. I’m all for that kind of event, and that is why I think it’s the most likely outcome for next year.
2). Tokyo Ghoul
There is also a lot of speculation that Tokyo Ghoul will be the next Funimation show to replace Michiko and Hatchin (another Funimation title). The show has been a huge hit with fans. All people have to do is look at how the series performed with viewers (making a dub happen quickly), as well as the manga continually making it on the New York Time’s best sellers. The popularity of this franchise is truly staggering, to which it was explained beautifully in an article written for Anime News Network. When breaking down the article, it basically talks about the art and the characters as the biggest reasons why. The characters themselves are interesting and are drawn beautifully. In entertainment, Halloween creatures are still popular (Vampires, Werewolves, Zombies, etc.), and ghouls are now receiving the same treatment in the anime world. People who are ghouls in this series all have enticing backstories, and the struggle they face for freedom is a well thought out emotional story (it resonated with me personally).
Then there are the action scenes that look so beautiful thanks to the ghoul’s kagune. The color and art used to animate any ghoul’s kagune look mesmerizing, and can entrance viewers to keep their eyes on the television screen without blinking or looking away. Honestly how are these fights not cool to watch? To me, I found many of these battles look and feel different from many fights I’ve seen on Toonami’s airwaves. I do believe that many of the Toonami Faithful out there would welcome this show with open arms based on the characters and fights, but those factors aren’t what I think is the series’ best aspect.
To me the main strength of this series is the story and legitimate horror viewers might feel when watching it. You see the mental turmoil that the series’ main protagonist Ken Kaneki deals with ever since “the accident”. He has to escape some pretty messed-up situations, and still fights the ghoul urges he has day-in and day-out (it’s quite the struggle). Not to mention, how conflicted CCG agent Koutaro Amom feels throughout the first 24 episodes. It leaves fans confused on who are the good guys and bad guys, which can spark a fun debate.
I have personally been sucked into this series, and cannot wait to find out what happens next (I think fans who haven’t seen the series would feel the same way). Not to mention Funimation’s own Justin Rojas has talked about how he thinks this show would be a perfect pick for the action block (inside information???). I only bring that up because it was the first show he mentioned in his interview with Toonami Faithful.
Some might argue that since the first season is the only season released for consumers to buy, that this series would have to wait before it can air on Toonami. I don’t believe that for a second, because there is a broadcast dub that is all set for Toonami to use (if they want the show). And for Tokyo Ghoul’s sake, Toonami would NEED to have the second season ready to air, if they were to air this franchise. Otherwise, many people will get pissed off (I didn’t, but I know others would). It would be an interesting step if Toonami decided to go this route, because that would mean two horror shows would be on the block at the same time (I’m all for that).
3). Log Horizon
I know quite a few people who are tired of Sword Art Online and the whole trapped in an MMORPG genre. However, those same people would LOVE to have this show air on Toonami. This series seems to have broken through the mold of subpar, trapped in the game anime. To be honest, I thought this franchise was going to be Sentai Filmwork’s second show to air on Toonami (instead of Parasyte). Unlike the earlier days of Toonami, It’s not just Funimation titles that are needed to have an action cartoon block anymore. Sentai and Aniplex USA have risen to the challenge to go up and compete with Funimation and Viz Media. Thus adding a lot more variety for anime fans. It is hard to believe that Toonami would have three Sentai titles back-to-back-to-back, but the content and story of Log Horizon warrants this to be taken into consideration.
While it’s another series where people are trapped in a video game, there are enough differences to set it apart from Sword Art Online and .hack. Besides the artwork (which I find endearing personally), they can actually die in the game and be OK! Makes life less stressful doesn’t it? Plus the characters are more interesting than what viewers have seen in Sword Art Online. I guarantee that fans will fall in love with the main protagonist Shiroe (or better known as the Villain Behind Glasses), due to his strategic mind. Characters that are smart, or better yet smarter than everyone else, can gain a huge following of fans. But to be fair, the entire guild of Log Horizon was interesting to me. The lore in Log Horizon will suck people in, because I do feel that this series tries to explore the phenomena of being trapped in the game, which is what keeps fans coming back for more information.
What’s really nice is that the first season is 25 episodes (with a second season being dubbed as this article is being written). Instead of locking up a time slot for a full year, Toonami can air season one to see if the franchise can gain even more popularity. That way if it became a hit on the action block, Toonami can pick up season two when it becomes available. Making fans wait for the next season can also add intrigue and buzz surrounding the block as to when it will return. Let me be clear that this show isn’t a repeat with what other series have done (as ANN’s Rebecca Silverman pointed out). As long as fans will give it a chance with an open mind, they will be impressed.
Let me start off by saying how I am a huge fan of this show. I am actually surprised it still hasn’t been featured on Toonami yet (but I’ll get into what the reasoning might be later on). The story in this series is it’s strongest aspect, and a new female-lead would be gracing the action block. One that I think would be very popular with fans. Akane Tsunemori is probably my favorite female character in anime. She can think up of solutions in a world that no one else could think of, as well as having some serious sleuthing strength in the series. A huge plus is how she’s able to keep her sanity no matter the situation, making her a great detective to follow along.
Besides Tsunemori and the rest of Public Safety Bureau, the show itself has a major cult following amongst anime fans. With how popular Ghost in the Shell was on Toonami, Psycho-Pass can easily warm it’s way into the hearts of anime fans with how similar it is to Ghost in the Shell (cyber-punk rocks). You get to see futuristic weapons and tools used for solving crime, which can attract many viewers.
However, out of all the shows, I see this one facing the most scrutiny to air on Toonami. Namely there are two reasons why I think Psycho-Pass might face some issues with fans. First off, it’s action scenes are limited compared to its predecessors. Do I think Toonami needs non-stop, balls-to-the-wall action? No. But I do worry if Psycho-Pass might lose fans if it isn’t able to keep fans interested with just it’s story and cool gadgets. Plus the show can give off the pretentious vibe. The literature and theories used in this series absolutely deserve a college degree to at least comprehending what any of the characters are even talking about (I’ve had to do some research on my own). When fans are up late watching anime, a lesson in classic literature is not what people want to listen too. But in any case, it does fit the mold of shows like Michiko and Hatchin, and can easily fit in that time slot.
Out of all of the shows mentioned as a possible replacement by the experts at Toonami Faithful, this was the series that I had no idea about. After it was mentioned by the founder of Toonami Faithful (Paul Pescrillo), I decided to do a little investigating myself. I was absolutely enthralled.
Now to be fair, I’ve only watched the first two episodes. However, those said episodes were enough to make me a believer that Jormundgand would be welcomed with open arms. If you feel you were watching an alternate universe of Black Lagoon or Michiko and Hatchin, then you aren’t alone. I immediately felt like this was just a continuation of these series. It’s just Jormundgand is a lot more fast pace than Michiko and Hatchin. Right at the beginning you see bullets fly and car chases! Who doesn’t like a good car chase? I’m sure the series slows down, but from just those two episodes, it looked great to me. It has solid humor and great voice actors that definitely gives off a Toonami vibe. Plus I have a feeling that fans will love Koko Hekmatyar (she’s awesome).
The wrinkle that will keep me away from believing this series will be added to Toonami, is that it’s not a well-known series. That doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, but when Jason DeMarco is teasing fans with big announcements, Jormundgand doesn’t quite fit that bill. However, considering how long Paul Prescrillo has been doing what he does at Toonami Faithful, I have to feel that this is a serious contender.
So those are the five choices I feel are at least the more likely to occur (and watch them all be wrong). However, considering that no one thought Samurai Jack was coming back with a new season, I thought it would be fun to also bring up five very unlikely scenarios that could also surprise fans. What’s the point of making predictions without taking a little risk, right? So I have five longshots that sound crazy, but could work.
6). One-Punch Man dub premiere
I can already hear Sketch screaming to the heavens in excitement. This would be HUGE, if it’s pulled off. This series may have began in Oct., but it has already been considered one of the top shows of 2015 (including by me). Broadcast dubs are becoming normal for dubbing companies, after Funimation experimented wit it. Aniplex USA has been broadcast dubbing Durarara!! season two as well, which leads me to believe that there is a possibility that One-Punch Man could be Viz Media’s first attempt at a broadcast dub. It certainly would be the perfect show to experiment with.
It certainly feels like One-Punch Man is a show made for Toonami. With all the superhero movies and trailers coming out recently, this parody of the superhero genre is a welcomed sign of the future in entertainment. The show doesn’t exactly take itself serious with it’s humor, but it does have amazing action scenes. I did think it would tough to draw interest in fights that would end with just one punch, but this series has been doing a fantastic job. It would be fun to see it premiere on Toonami.
7). Assassination Classroom
This was another series that became very popular in 2015. It has been a very successful franchise with the anime, manga, and featured film. Many people were excited when it was announced that it was receiving an anime (and now a second season in January). People love the characters in this series, especially the all-mighty and cunning Koro-Sensi. And a huge plus s that a show with a large “main cast”, every character seems important (and not just in one episode).
Good thing that a broadcast dub has been made for the first season, and it is ready to be used if Toonami feels like going down that route. It would make sense to me if it could join the lineup due to its growing popularity. Not only would the franchise gain more notoriety, but I believe it could make Toonami more popular as well. Plus Toonami has been known to showcase quite a few Shonen Jump titles (which Assassination Classroom is). The action is limited like Psycho-Pass, but I think this is a series Toonami can take a chance on.
8). A Yu Yu Hakusho or Rurouni Kenshin return
Personally I would love if either show could get a reboot like Hunter x Hunter received in 2011. Both Yusuke Urameshi and Himura Kenshin were stars back on their first run on Toonami. Both series are still beloved to this day, and would be welcomed back by fans. Plus this would be a huge surprise if either came back to Toonami. However, to me, it would probably be better if the block ended with either show if they returned than at 1:30 a.m.
These two shows are part of the 90’s nostalgia that anime fans still talk about. People still love these type of series just like Cowboy Bebop, Trigun, or Big O. Believe it or not there’s still a large crowd that wants either of these shows back on Toonami. It be an interesting idea if either show returned to the action block, because a TON of older fans that might of stopped, would return to view an old favorite show (not to mention have older fans even more hyped for 2016). But with no new episodes in the future, I don’t think either has a huge chance of returning. I’m sure the executives of Toonami would rather look forward than go backward.
9). More mature anime series joining
Considering the time that Toonami runs, I’m a little surprised that more mature shows haven’t aired on the block. I was legitimately shocked that Kill la Kill was able to air, due to the wardrobe characters had (male and female). Not to mention how Black Lagoon aired with it’s violence as well as constant cursing. Having both of those shows air, proved to me that Toonami is at least interested in more mature content. Considering how their audience has grown through the years, it’s not that far off to think a mature show would join the lineup. I’m just wondering how far they would go when it comes to a mature series. While I’m not thinking of a show like High School DxD or Sekirei, why not Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt or Freezing? I mean Toonami could even give Medaka Box a look (if they wanted). As long as there is action in a mature anime, fans will enjoy it (at least I believe so).
10). Long-running series like Hunter x Hunter or Fairy Tail
I’ve already written about the problems that a long-running series could cause for Toonami. And to be fair, I’m not really thinking Hunter x Hunter is a viable option for January. It was announced at New York Comic Con that Viz Media was going to dub it, so that might be a little to late for people to have an English dub ready for January. This is more a case for the hit show Fairy Tail.
Next to One Piece, Naruto Shippuden, and Bleach, I can’t think of a more popular long-running series than Fairy Tail. It has literally every aspect that Toonami looks for when it comes to adding shows. It has action, humor, sexy characters, and some pretty impressive music. So why hasn’t Toonami added Fiore’s strongest guild yet? I know it has its flaws, that are more apparent because of how long it is. However, it’s the fourth most popular franchise (by popular opinion) and has over 200 episodes dubbed. To me, it might be time for Toonami to add this series to see how fans react. It certainly would be a surprise to me if show is added.
Those are at least 10 different scenarios I could see happening when January kicks off. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if none of my predictions came true, and Toonami surprises the entire anime world later this month. However, I do believe that one of them might be right (I’m hoping I’m right). In any case these are just guesses, and should be fun to find out what Toonami has in store for fans for the new year. Toonami is becoming stronger and stronger, and this is time to capitalize.
*I would like to point out that The Seven Deadly Sins will not air on Toonami due to it being a Netflix exclusive. Also I do not believe Toonami can gain the broadcasting rights for other Aniplex USA titles like Fate/Stay Night, Magi, and Aldnoah Zero. Sadly I don’t think JoJo will join either unless the price drops.
C.J Maffris is an editorial writer for Toonamifaithful.com He enjoys speculating about news shows that could arrive to Toonami. Feel free to debate with him on Twitter @SeaJayMaffris