The big announcement finally happened, when FUNimation confirmed that they received the rights to Dragon Ball Super and will be producing a dub of the series. It seemed to be a quick move after Crunchyroll recently announced the streaming rights for Dragon Ball Super (as well as Daisuki). FUNimation decided to take things a step further, with the dub now claimed to be in the works. Fans have been waiting patiently for the next installment in the Dragon Ball franchise and will be rewarded soon. This will inevitably begin the conversation on whether or not it will air on Toonami. However, a better question might be SHOULD air on Toonami, because I don’t think it’s as clear-cut as some might think.
— Funimation (@FUNimation) November 4, 2016
The timing seems perfect for Toonami to pick up the dub of Dragon Ball Super, with Dragon Ball Z Kai (DBZ Kai) close to wrapping up the Cell saga. Unless Toonami has plans to air the Buu saga afterward, the block is going to need to look into a new series to take the torch from DBZ Kai (which feels exciting and scary at the same time). What better series to take over than the next installment of the franchise? It would continue to bring in casual Dragon Ball fans that seem to range from regular viewers to professional athletes to watch Toonami. The series has done amazingly for the block so it’d be ideal for Toonami to air Dragon Ball Super. It would be a great transition, in that it would probably force a lot of fans to tune into Adult Swim more often on Saturday nights. Brand-new adventures in the world of Saiyans would make the beginning of the block even more of a “can’t miss” event since many fans probably haven’t seen these episodes (compared to DBZ Kai).
It’s a perfect match, given how much love Toonami had showered on the Dragon Ball franchise, from the time it first aired on Cartoon Network to Adult Swim now. Many fans of the block have stated that they raced home to make it in time to watch Dragon Ball Z after school. It was a gateway anime for a lot of fans during Toonami’s heyday, even being hailed as the greatest action cartoon on the planet. In fact, the movie Resurrection F has been credited for helping Adult Swim’s Toonami get the best Saturday ratings it’s ever had. So it would make sense for the block to reward Dragon Ball fans. It feels as if anything Dragon Ball belongs on Toonami, no matter how many years have passed.
Hahahahaha!! We're back! pic.twitter.com/jxkqmYQ3tP
— Christopher Sabat (@JustChrisSabat) November 4, 2016
Adding more intrigue to the possibility of Dragon Ball Super airing on Toonami is the rumor floating around about Sean Schemmel (the English voice of Goku), who apparently said that Dragon Ball Super is expected to air on TV in early 2017 on basic cable. I know about the rumors that voice actors stated about DBZ Kai already finished (making it odd how FUNimation and others haven’t said that officially). I just find this rumor odd since normally voice actors are the last people to know before fans when it comes to these kind of major announcements. Christopher Sabat jokingly put up different statuses to say that he didn’t know about a Dragon Ball Super dub before it was confirmed. So why would he tell the fans before FUNimation themselves? Still this kind of rumor only feeds into the speculation about Dragon Ball Super premiering on Toonami.
So after all of that, why would I think it could air on a different station? Well for starters, Dragon Ball is one of the most recognizable franchise in the country. Many fans ran to the theaters when the new movies were coming out. It’s super (no pun intended) popular amongst fans in the U.S., and if other television stations aren’t thinking about adding it to their lineup it would be borderline insane. Millions of viewers would search for this series and watch day after day, week after week, which means more money coming from advertisers. It’s proven to be so successful and popular that it’s been on Toonami for a long time now, as well as a long run back during its Cartoon Network days. The possibilities are endless in thinking about potential revenue thanks to premiering English episodes of Dragon Ball Super.
Add on to the fact that Disney XD has made a play to air the newest season of Pokemon which has been a property of Cartoon Network for a long time. Disney XD alone seems to be making a huge push to add more anime to their catalog with this new addition going along side Yokai Watch and Beyblade. Adding Dragon Ball Super to go along with the latest Pokemon anime might make Disney XD the place to go for anime when dealing with a younger demographic. It’s not as if anime hasn’t aired on Disney XD before. Hoping that similar mistakes will be avoided, it could help foster more young people to learn how awesome anime can be. Then as they get older watch more mature content on Adult Swim’s Toonami. So instead of just one place to find anime on television, adding more variety at different times gives anime more exposure overall (which I’m all for).
So with the speculation of other channels making a push to air the English dub of Dragon Ball Super, that got me thinking about the legacy that Dragon Ball has in the U.S. as a whole. While it would be great if it were able to air on Toonami, why not have this show more accessible to a younger demographic? It’s a sentiment I’ve seen on Twitter and something I actually could get behind. Many older fans know and love the Dragon Ball franchise. We already know how great it can be. Older fans will forever love the series and never stray away. Why not use this series to help build a larger anime fandom in the country, just like DBZ did during its prime.
So while I’m all for Dragon Ball Super showing up on Toonami, I think it should be considered as a gateway for a newer generation of potential anime fans. I think it would be better for everyone involved if it airs on a channel or time slot that will entice younger kids to watch it. Plus, with a toyline of Dragon Ball Super reportedly getting ready in 2017, it certainly feels like another block/station will be getting it instead of Toonami. On the bright side, it’s not as if adults couldn’t find a way to stream it or record it so they can watch at their leisure. It would feel weird not having a Dragon Ball show start the block after it has been on for as long as it has been, and could make things interesting for Toonami’s future. I think there’s merit to look at other stations to make a move on this series and Toonami can focus there attentions elsewhere.
C.J Maffris is an editorial writer for Toonamifaithful.com. He would love to see Dragon Ball Super on Toonami, but wouldn’t be opposed to it airing elsewhere. Feel free to discuss all things Toonami with him on Twitter @SeaJayMaffris