For the past few weeks, it seems as if Toonami has hit a lull with fans. Sure there’s plenty to get excited about, with the new shows airing and future plans, but it certainly feels like Toonami has lost a bit more of the shine then I can remember. Now, this isn’t to say that the earlier Toonami was better than what’s airing at this moment. Each iteration of Toonami has strengths and weakness. But I have been hearing more and more people say that they’ll take a break from the block than ever before. That has left me wondering where the fans are when it comes to looking at the block.
I want to know what fans feel when they hear the word Toonami. Do fans feel the block is in a great spot right now with little to improve, or is there something missing that makes it feel more like a chore to watch? Has Toonami moved away at what made fans flock to it? I asked how fans felt about all things Toonami and received a ton of responses (for which I thank all of you), and it left me with some interesting feedback.
TOONAMI IS HEAVY ON RERUNS
Seriously though, Toonami feels pretty good. I question the need to bring back Cowboy Bebop yet again, and that late to boot, but meh.
— Josh Knighten (@KhakiBlueSocks) September 15, 2017
Yeah I agree w/ you on both counts. They're playing stuff most of the viewers have already seen. I like it, but there's no surprise factor
— Happy Kuro Kitty (@HappyKuroKitty) September 15, 2017
As of right now, Toonami is airing four shows that are reruns (shows that have aired on Toonami before, whether it be on Adult Swim’s version or Cartoon Network’s). Cowboy Bebop, Outlaw Star, Dragon Ball Z Kai (DBZ Kai), and Attack on Titan Season Two are all playing on the block after a pretty successful first run. We can thank Cowboy Bebop for this more recent expansion (bringing Toonami to a place it hasn’t been in a long time), but bringing back another show that has been seen by MANY fans here almost makes me wonder what the point was? Is it just to make Toonami a little bit longer at a cheaper price? Which to me, seems a little silly considering Toonami was just fine as to how long the entire block ran. I’m all for expansion, but I’d prefer it being series that haven’t gotten the chance to air on television.
It’s not as if I have a problem with Toonami rerunning popular anime titles. They are popular for a reason. I’m glad that Outlaw Star can make a comeback, considering it’s a huge fan favorite for Toonami fans. Plus, fans will get the chance to see it in high definition, which is always a positive (just like when Toonami brought back Deadman Wonderland). Same with Cowboy Bebop, and both paired together makes a ton of sense. Both feel as if they could be happening in the same world. I personally just wonder if there was a need to do this, and fans feel the same way. It doesn’t cost Toonami much, if anything, to play Cowboy Bebop again, and it’s not as if it’s a terrible series (quite the opposite). But with the amount of exposure it has gotten, I don’t see much of an incentive to stay up and watch it on Toonami.
Believe it or not, fans aren’t as caught up on anime as hardcore fans make it seem. Toonami is still a great gateway into anime. With all the reruns and nostalgia shows that are on the block (and have been for a while), the fresh feel that Toonami can have felt like it has faded a bit. Even with the English dub premieres of long-runners like Hunter x Hunter and JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Stardust Crusaders (Stardust Crusaders), the block feels like it’s stuck with these shows for a while and won’t be able to transition with newer shows that could become significant with Toonami’s audience.
FANS WANT TO BREAK UP THE DRAGON BALL HOUR
Eh I'm bored with DBZ hour. Super is newer technically despite Japanese episodes being like 80 episodes ahead but everyone has saw Kai b4
— Allison T (@meowth900) September 15, 2017
Shows are fine, I just feel like it isn't paced well. Break up DB hour and have 2 shows in between. Other than that, it needs One Piece back https://t.co/YZXltoM856
— David A. Velazquez (@CrownTuba08210) September 15, 2017
This is a complaint that I hear all the time, and I get it. Many who watch Toonami now have seen Dragon Ball Z (DBZ). It was/is Toonami’s staple show. It’s been called the greatest action cartoon on the planet, and the two together go like peanut butter and jelly. The ratings (if you want to focus solely on the traditional numbers) show that fans still tune in to watch Dragon Ball. That was more evident with how well the marathon of DBZ Kai did this past Labor Day weekend. Nothing seems to hold an audience like Dragon Ball. But for fans who have been watching Toonami week after week for years, it feels redundant seeing the two shows back to back.
I do find it silly that fans are annoyed with the double dose of Dragon Ball, but then also chime in that Toonami should get Boruto with Naruto Shippuden (Shippuden) still airing. Now if you are saying that Toonami should drop Shippuden to air Boruto, then we can have a conversation. But it makes me wonder why it’s fine to double up with one franchise and not the other. Especially when the show that many fans want to break up has performed the best on the block. With DBZ Kai set to end next year, I don’t think any split is in the future, and many fans will have to deal with the Dragon Ball hour. And the dubbing in DBZ Kai is much improved compared to DBZ, so at least we are getting a better overall product with an arc that hasn’t been seen legally in the U.S.
FANS MIGHT BE GROWING TOO OLD FOR Shōnen ANIME
In terms of premieres it's fine just kinda wish there was more verity besides Shonen series also I wish they'd space out there DB shows
— Sam Starwind (@szuniverse) September 15, 2017
I'm mostly asleep through it now but the current lineup for me doesn't really set my world on fire though the Bebop/Outlaw hour is sweet
— Toonamette (@Toonamette) September 15, 2017
This wasn’t something I thought I’d hear, considering that shōnen anime tends to be the most popular genre in anime. The big anime titles that everyone knows are mostly shōnen. Titles include One Piece, Bleach, Naruto, My Hero Academia, Hunter x Hunter; they are all shōnen anime. They seem to be the big stars in the anime world. Sure, other widely popular titles aren’t shōnen, such as Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo, and Trigun, but it’s safe to say that shōnen dominates the anime game. Just look at how popular some of the shows I mentioned earlier are.
However, with the demographic of Adult Swim getting older, maybe the plucky young main characters have become stale to those who have seen anime for a while. Now I’ll be the first to chant that “I want My Hero Academia on the block”, because of how tremendous the show is. But for those who watch Adult Swim, shōnen might be a genre that’s too young for them. The main protagonists for shōnen are still teenagers and could be harder to relate or become attached to. The Adult Swim audience does include young adults and might prefer more mature anime that fits the bit of Outlaw Star or Cowboy Bebop. Something like Gangsta. comes to mind. Those aren’t the big headliners that can help draw a large audience, but I do think Toonami has strayed away from newer, more mature anime that I think this audience would appreciate.
But as I mentioned earlier, those dubs aren’t as familiar to the vast audience of anime fans. So ultimately moving away from shōnen would be a huge mistake. Not to mention that Toonami has recently picked up some of the more fan-requested series which have been shōnen (Hunter x Hunter, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventures, etc.). It’s not as if Toonami can just completely move away from shōnen anime, considering the two go together so well. But right now I sense that some fans think Toonami is a little too shōnen heavy.
FANS WANT LESSER-KNOWN DUBS TO GET A CHANCE TO SHINE
Personally I wish it was more like the beginning when it was less about getting "popular" shows and getting what we could.
— Colt Buhr (@AmbientVirus) September 15, 2017
I want lesser known stuff but I question what to add. I constantly see complaining there's too much talking or its boring without action.
— Sarah (@Kisuru) September 15, 2017
I believe that this critique has some merit when I stop and think about it. Whatever happened to Toonami looking at lesser-known dubs that were well produced? You know, the kind of dubs that have a cult following and show the potential to grow into a top-rated show. Toonami took a shot on Michiko and Hatchin, and the payoff turned out well. I found myself pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed that show and hoped to have more shows like it join the block. It’d be nice to see Toonami go for something lesser-known to expose to the large Toonami fandom. I think why Deadman Wonderland was as popular as it was with fans in the U.S. was due to the chance the block gave the show (it received two runs even). I certainly miss days when lesser-known series got an opportunity to strut its stuff to the viewing public, and there are a ton of series that could use the exposure from Toonami (DanMachi, GATE, Ushio and Tora, etc.).
It’s something that I feel that Toonami is missing and has been for a long time. If they could find a lesser-known series, it could help make the block seem more memorable to all kinds of anime fans (especially those who enjoy English dubs). After all, Toonami is known for introducing fans to series that they might not hear about. With all the popular shōnen that is currently airing, it’d be hard-pressed to find a ton of people who haven’t seen Dragon Ball Super, Hunter x Hunter, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventures, etc. (subtitled of course). I think what made Toonami a complete package was the fact that lesser-known dubs would join the likes of DBZ.
FANS BELIEVE THE FUTURE IS BRIGHT
That being said, I think the block is headed in a great direction, and they have an opportunity for something special with FLCL.
— Colby Lanham (@Colby1226) September 15, 2017
Nothing is perfect. That includes Toonami, and there is always something they can improve on. While fans and I have pointed out things that we’d like to see be different, the common thing that every fan believes is that the future of Toonami looks bright. At least with the viewers who tweeted at me, no one believes there are any doom and gloom scenarios that everyone should be worried about. People are super excited about FLCL seasons two and three, which could bring in as large a crowd as Samurai Jack did. And fans will always get excited when a time slot opens up.
For myself, I do think Toonami is in the right place. I like the current lineup, even with all the reruns of shows I’ve seen and long-running shonen. I wouldn’t mind Toonami taking a chance on a lesser-known anime that has great animation and action, but I can understand the block’s reservations with taking many chances. After all, FLCL and to an extent Samurai Jack, were huge risks, continuing a classic and beloved series. What if Samurai Jack wasn’t well received? Could you imagine the backlash? We can only wait with FLCL, but I believe Toonami will do the absolute best when it comes to picking up where a show left off. And more anime that’s geared toward an older audience, like Black Lagoon, would always find a home with this current iteration of Toonami. Those who work on Toonami are always looking for ways to improve and take what fans say seriously, especially when it’s constructive and not just complaining. That’s not the intention of this article, either. Hopefully this article can be used to paint a clear picture as to what fans are thinking about the block, and can help them become excited once again.
I like what the block is airing for the most part. Shows I'd ideally remove: Kai, Naruto, Ghoul. I feel like the future looks pretty 👌🏼 https://t.co/xAIvc8Xl6a
— Duelist (@HeartofSword75) September 14, 2017
C.J Maffris is an editorial writer for Toonamifaithful.com. Feel free to follow C.J on Twitter @SeaJayMaffris