Toonami: One Year Later
By MacAttack(Writer For Toonzone.net)
As this article should be published, it’s been roughly a year since Toonami officially began gracing our airwaves once again. After Toonami’s demise on September 20, 2008, nearly everyone thought Toonami was done for good. Why wouldn’t they? After all, Cartoon Network was so determined to move in its new direction that they death-slotted Naruto, which was still the highest-rated show on the network. That speaks volumes about how badly Cartoon Network wanted to change directions at the time.
Well, guess what? Toonami did eventually return. It took three-and-a-half years but it did come back on April 1, 2012, for a particularly memorable night of nostaglic awesome. In hindsight, this wasn’t really a “joke”, it was more of a present than anything else, a present to those of us who love action cartoons and loved TOM and SARA and everything else pertaining to the block. It may have also been a test to see if using the Toonami branding was viable for Adult Swim Action, which had been lurching around for the last couple of years, existing on Bleach and maybe one or two other anime a year.
Whatever the case, the response was strong enough to bring Toonami back. And they brought it back fast. On May 26th, 2012, Toonami officially returned, now no longer a joke. Granted, it was starting off with three hours and still reliant on Bleach, and it had a really low budget, though Toonami got a lot of mileage out of about ten seconds of TOM motioning with his hands.
The original lineup was Bleach, Deadman Wonderland, Casshern Sins, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd GiG, and Cowboy Bebop.
Now it’s a year later. Look at what’s premiered since then. Samurai 7, Eureka 7, Tenchi Muyo GXP, Naruto, Sym-Bionic Titan, Thundercats 2011, Inuyasha (with new masters) Soul Eater, Evangelion 1.11, IGPX and finally One Piece. That is a lot of stuff. All of that has run on the block over the course of a year, many of those shows airing with adjusted deals to minimize costs to Toonami.
And now, of course, we have a new TOM, and a new SARA, and a new Absolution. We’re also going to have a new webcomic to tie everything together, including why TOM 3 went to TOM 4 and also why we now have TOM 5 (and why SARA hasn’t been around). We have six hours of varied programming, leading off with the Shonen Jump Trinity of Bleach, Naruto, and One Piece and continuing on from there.
Sleep is for the weak indeed.
We had Toonami used to promote the sci-fi action movie Oblivion. Toonami viewers trended Oblivion the nights Toonami promo-ed the movie, one week Oblivion was actually the highest thing trended. That movie premiered at number one at the box office as well. It would be a gross exaggeration to say Toonami’s advertising is the only reason why, but Toonami likely helped get the movie more cash than it would have without the advertisements.
Toonami is also trend-setting by embracing Twitter where much of its fanbase is situated. Twitter helped spread the word on April Fool’s Day about Toonami being back on the air. Twitter has helped boost the Nielsen ratings for Toonami so Toonami is consistently higher than Adult Swim Action in the ratings department. Twitter is potentially the future of the Internet, and it was important for Toonami to board this train when it did and the block has successfully done so.
We started off with a slightly refurbished TOM 3 and maybe twenty seconds of animation, many reused bumpers from 2004-06. Now we have a brand-new TOM, lots of variety in the animation, SARA has returned with a new voice (although said voice botches Naruto’s pronunciation a lot). We have a brand-new Absolution too. As Toonami’s ratings have gone up, so has the block’s budget. We would not be having so many new shows or new animation if the block’s fortunes were not looking up.
The Toonami crew has worked exceptionally hard, they’ve been doing this for free when they’ve finished their other projects for Adult Swim. We have had a ton of new content over the course of the last year thanks to them and their efforts. New promos. New interstitials. New music videos. Some have been humorous, others deep and meaningful. Steve Blum has recorded a lot of dialogue for TOM as well at a reduced rate, and that says a lot.
So what happens for Toonami’s second year on the air?
The lineup’s probably going to be stable for a while. Eureka 7 is the next show due to leave the air and that won’t be until the end of summer. We’ll probably get a ton of cool interstitials and music videos in the interim, however, and don’t be surprised if Toonami runs another movie in the wake of Evangelion 1.11‘s success. Jason DeMarco has hinted they have another show and are just waiting for the right time to air it, so there’ll be at least one more premiere before 2013 is over.
But I think, with a stable lineup, I think it’s time to stop fretting over the block’s shows and the block’s future, or whether we’ll ever get that coveted 11 PM hour or not. Let’s take the summer to kick back and relax and enjoy the ride. Don’t worry about what might have been or what may come. The time to worry about all of that is soon enough.
What we have from a quality standpoint is one of the strongest and deepest lineups in Toonami’s history, from classic shows to cutting-edge programming to three of the most popular anime on either side of the Pacific running back-to-back-to-back. Regardless of how slow Bleach‘s pacing is, or whether Naruto will keep running that annoying “Rise” opening, or why Cowboy Bebop continues to linger for an umpteenth run, this is an awesome lineup. And instead of complaining about it (we had justification to while Tenchi GXP remained on the air) we should just enjoy it, and keep spreading the word about how awesome this lineup is while we still have it.
This lineup will not linger. Things will change. Eureka Seven will leave at the end of summer. Soul Eater is gone in the winter of 2014. Even Bleach will be gone by September 2014. Who knows what will be airing by that point, or how long Toonami will be, or whatnot.
Let’s not worry about it. Let’s not worry about anything. Let’s enjoy the moment and look forward to a great second year as Toonami, with its own Adult Swim-centric identity firmly established, continues onward.
It’s going to be fun.
And that’s what we should be thankful for most of all as Toonami Faithful.
That there is something fun, legitimately fun, in this era of regurgitated mass-market lowest-common-denominator TV.
And hopefully, I will be saying the same thing again next year.
That Toonami is still fun