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Toonami is back: What exactly does this mean?

by Esosa Osamwonyi

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One of the biggest news topics floating around the anime sphere is that Adult Swim announced that Toonami would be making a comeback in May 2012. What started out as a simple April Fool’s joke ended up becoming much more as it led to an influx of protests and demands to bring back Cartoon Network’s beloved Anime Action block. With Toonami making a return to television, what exactly does this mean in today’s landscape? After all, a lot has changed since we last saw Toonami when it was taken off the air in 2008.

In some ways it’s a good thing that Toonami is back. But the question remains: can it have the same impact and influence it once did? Of course the simple answer is “no,” but if one really looks deeper into the question, you might discover much more. From a personal perspective, I think about why Toonami was taken off the air in the first place. They were not keeping up with the trends. The quality of the shows began to decrease in quality. No more new anime were being brought in. One has to remember that just because anime is on television doesn’t exactly make it successful (Funimation channel, Disney XD, Nicktoons, etc.) A lot of things have changed, especially in 2012. It’s not like the old days where whatever anime was put on television was a smashing success. Nowadays, the viewers have a lot more options in what anime they can watch and as a result there is a lot more competition as to where to watch such anime. You can’t just put any old show on television and rerun it to death (Cowboy bebop, Trigun, Naruto, Bleach, Ghost in the Shell, etc.)

Speaking of reruns, that is exactly what describes Adult Swim’s Anime Block is on Saturdays: A bunch of shows already reran extensively in the past mixed in with very little new shows. In previous years, Adult Swim was adding in new shows after previous ones had ran for a while. But nowadays you’ll be lucky to see a bunch of new shows mixed with a few old ones. In the case of Toonami on Adult Swim, that once again seems to be the case. Here schedule that will be played on the 26th:

Bleach (TV-PG-V) and (TV-14-V)

Casshern Sins

Cowboy Bebop (TV-14)

Deadman Wonderland

Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood (TV-PG) and (TV-14)

Ghost in the Shell: SAC 2nd GIG (TV-14)

I do applaud the addition of Casshern Sins and Deadman Wonderland as those are really great titles. Bleach should be fine as well, as they will probably be airing new episodes. But is that really enough? In reality, the only new show on there is Deadman Wonderland. In some ways, this can be viewed as a possible success for Adult Swim since they’ve been struggling to keep ratings up regarding their Saturday lineup. But the real problem is that nothing has really changed except the return of the Toonmai template. The same problem exists. Sure, in the short term, it could bring in higher ratings because of its nostalgic factor. But what happens after the honeymoon is well and over with? The elephant in the room still remains.

And an even bigger question remains as well: Where are the new shows? There is no mention or steady influx of possible new shows. Realistically speaking, the first four shows on the 12-5 AM block should be all new shows because sooner or later the same problem will arise. It’s a very good opportunity, but it’s one that could be headed for trouble as you have competition in the form of Crunchy Roll, Hulu and Netflix, just to name a few. What seems like a “reboot” seems more like a mere “remix” of a lot of older titles and few new ones. To me it just seems that some companies never learn their lesson and as a result history will repeat itself.

Toonami by itself doesn’t really hold much weight as one would think. After the nostalgia trip is over, what happens next? Eventually the most enthusiastic of viewers will eventually falter under these circumstances. Sure, the format is different but how about the shows? There is undoubtedly a lot of pressure for this to succeed on Adult Swim’s part and if they take the right steps, it could all work out for them in the end. For once in a long time, anime fans are behind something, so there is plenty of support and opportunity for feedback (if Cartoon Network uses use it). But for now, it’s really hard to draw a clear answer on what it means for “Toonami to be back on the air.” At the very least, the future of anime on American television remains somewhat bright.

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Author: Esosa Osamwonyi

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Comments

  • Ali

    I for one predict that Toonami will fail not because I want it to but because the culture of anime viewing is different from when it first premier. For instance, I’m a Crunchy Roll subscriber, I can watch almost all the new shows whenever I want and relatively close to the actual air time in Japan. There is also the issue of new shows like how you mentioned in your article and in my opinion there is a bigger problem, the show times. I mean, let’s face it, you can’t rely on current anime fans to keep anime relevant, we or most of us have other obligations. Toonami needs to be aired when kids and teens are able to watch them so when that generation grows up, anime is still relevant to them.

  • Miguel Douglas

    I have to agree with both Ali and Esosa. While I appreciate the effort that Toonami and Cartoon Network has done in bringing anime to a whole new slew of viewers, they simply need more new shows. There is definitely a nostalgic feeling though regarding Toonami though, but that’s certainly not enough to carry it. The show times are not very helpful either. Hopefully they can get some new shows simply because it’s the best possible way for them to stay relevant in an era where on-demand anime viewing i.e. Crunchyroll is the future.