Written By MacAttack(Toonzone Writer/Reviewer)
One of the most frequently requested shows for Toonami is the infamously violent and sensualistic Highschool of the Dead. A show about high school teens killing zombies and risking losing their own humanity in the process, HOTD revels in how trashy it is, putting its female characters in compromised positions (even as some of them, particularly Saeko, are capable of kicking serious ass) and forcing many underwear and panty shots upon the viewers amidst all of the zombies getting their heads and bodies mutilated.
It’s never gonna happen. In fact, HOTD was just announced for Neon Alley, the PS3/Xbox 360 anime streaming service. While a Neon Alley announcement doesn’t mean that a show may not run on Toonami eventually (Naruto is a testament to that), chances are that the show running on the block, at least for now, pretty damn slim.
But the truth is, it probably wouldn’t have happened anyway. Rumors say that there’s virtually no chance a show from Sentai Filmworks will make it onto Toonami anytime soon. The reasons being . . . we don’t know. We don’t even know how substantial the truth is behind these rumors. But rumors usually do have a kernel of truth about them . . .
Sentai Filmworks, in its previous incarnation, A.D. Vision, had very little luck in getting its properties on Cartoon Network and Adult Swim. Giant Robot Week briefly showcased some ADV shows but the event was considered a bomb, and while Super Milk-Chanand Neon Genesis Evangelion both got runs on Adult Swim, neither show did very well. In fact, Evangelion 1.11: You Are [Not] Alone basically did double in terms of total ratings the Evangelion TV series was ever able to accomplish.
Perhaps one explanation is that ADV (and now Sentai) has a terrible marketing department. Another is Sentai’s perpetual rivalry with its fellow Texas-based anime company, FUNimation. FUNimation’s relationship with Williams Street and Toonami has never been more friendly, and that could be a turn-off, and it probably doesn’t help that FUNimation is suing Sentai over a bunch of complicated legalise.
But here’s the truth. It doesn’t really matter.
Does Toonami need Sentai Filmworks programming? While it would be nice to have, say, Persona 4: The Animation or CANAAN on the block, Toonami doesn’t really needSentai’s programming. Its six hours are crammed full of material as it is, and Toonami’s prime slots are going to be locked down by Viz and FUNimation properties until 2014, when first Soul Eater and later Bleach will both conclude. And it’s likely that another Viz or FUNimation property will just take those shows’ places.
Does Sentai need Toonami? Honestly, not really. Sentai’s invested a lot into its Anime Network on-demand service, and to be honest that service gives Sentai a lot of its bread-and-butter so it can license new properties.
Also, Sentai’s library of titles tend to be more niche compared to rival companies Viz and FUNimation. Sentai’s titles are lesser-known in general, and if those titles have an audience, they tend to be a cult audience if that. Sentai spends less money on lesser-known titles and cranks them out hoping to get a tidy profit from those titles, compared to Viz or FUNimation who are looking to get the maximum amount of exposure and money possible. It’s a more subtle business strategy rather than clash with the industry’s remaining titans.
Unfortunately, that means Sentai’s Toonami-ready library is pretty slim. The retro-lookingTowanoquon probably would fit the block but after Casshern Sins had some ratings problems Toonami may balk at getting a retro-looking show. CANAAN has a ton of spectacular visuals and gunplay and has one Sentai’s few fantastic dubs. Xam’d: Lost Memories has the Eureka Seven pedigree going for it with plenty of Studio Ghibli inspiration as well. Persona 4: The Animation may be the best fit of all but who knows what the asking price to run the show would be.
Really, that’s all I can come up with at the top of my head. What about Angel Beats!, you ask? Probably too cult-ish for Toonami’s tastes. Highschool of the Dead? I think there’s too much exploitation for Toonami’s liking, while Deadman Wonderland was plenty trashy it didn’t straddle the borderline of hentai like HOTD gleefully does.
I could go on, and on, and on . . . well, about what few of Sentai’s titles I’ve actually heard of.
The truth is, Sentai and Toonami are pursuing different business strategies. Sentai wants to be more low-key and while they won’t get many blockbusters this way they’ll make small, decent profits that’ll keep the company going. What Toonami is after are titles with more mainstream appeal so the block gets more ratings which means more money. Viz, FUNimation, and Aniplex’s quirky American arm are the only games in town for that (though for now Toonami’s business is with Viz and FUNimation).
That’s probably the crux of the “oil and water” theory between Sentai and Toonami. They’re just incompatible because both entities want different things.
There’s nothing wrong with that.
And ultimately, it’s not a big deal.
It’s potentially a nice thing, but not a necessary thing, for either entity. And, for now, isn’t going to happen for a long while, if ever.
And we can all live with that.