The Return of Toonami 2012

For those of you who are around my age and who grew up watching cartoons when you got home from school everyday should remember a unique block of shows on Cartoon Network called “Toonami“. Toonami was the pinnacle of many people’s’ childhood as they showed some of the best anime shows, both from its own time and older, in a multi-hour block every weekday. Since it’s started, Toonami has undergone many changes, including adding a block called “Midnight Run”, which took place later at night so that they were able to show the more adult-oriented shows. In 2008, Toonami was shut down due to lackluster viewership and a stale run of shows, but just last night, it was revived after an April Fools’ Day joke by [Adult Swim] drove the people to convince them to bring it back for good. The following are my opinions on its return.

TOM. 2012. He's back.

One of the strengths, and issues, with bringing Toonami back is its timing. Toonami is now an [Adult Swim] property, which means that they will only show it in the middle of the night on Saturday nights. While this makes it so that they can play whatever shows they want, it also is not necessarily kid friendly, so we couldn’t push our children to come home from school and grow up with their anime shows. With the way that it is being advertised, however, it looks like they are tugging on the heartstrings of us kids who used to watch it and are now old enough to stay up and watch it again. Obviously we don’t have an idea of what the ratings were yet, but I’m proud to say that I showed my full support, even through the shows that I’ve already seen time and time again.

Speaking of programming, the reaction to the shows that have been chosen were mixed after doing a quick Twitter search yesterday evening. [Adult Swim] did their best with what they had to find shows that were both new and hadn’t been seen before as well as bringing back some of the classics that could never be missed. The new shows they added include Deadman Wonderland and Casshern Sins. Deadman Wonderland has a bit of a newer animation feel to it and while the story is slightly incomprehensible at the beginning, it has good potential with its adult undertones to be something cool. Casshern Sins has a bit of an older animation style to it and research shows that it is a 2008 anime. The first episode does little to explain the story, but sets up an interesting character who you want to know more about. I’m fully interested to see what happens next week with these shows.

On top of those two shows, they used many of the licenses that they’ve been holding on to for years for this run. These include Bleach, Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood, Ghost in the Shell and Cowboy Bebop. I feel that Bleach is a bit overdone, but then again, I feel that if an anime series gets over two hundred episodes that they’ve done too much. None the less, I know that there are a lot of fans of Bleach, so putting it up front is a very smart idea. Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood, specifically, was never shown in a previous Toonami lineup, but I believe that, in general, FMA:B was being shown on Saturday nights, so they are continuing the storyline from that. Finally, Ghost in the Shell and Cowboy Bebop are classics that can’t be argued with and anyone that knows anything about anime should know that these two are must-sees for any anime fan.

The most common complaint has been two-fold around the shows. The first being that they don’t carry the same classics that they once did and the second being that they don’t have enough new shows. One of the key issues right now is that this run of Toonami is being done on a very strict budget. Consider it a test run, if you will. If people watch and Cartoon Network sees the ratings on it as something they can sustain, they will receive more funding which will allow for more new shows as well as newer bumps in between shows. Currently, they are recycling some of the animations that they had previously, but they were sure to bring back Steve Blum as the voice of TOM once again, showing that they do truly care about the fans of old.

The man who, arguably, made it all happen: Steve Blum.

It can’t go without saying that there was a very low-budget feel to Toonami so far. With many of the bumps being recycled from the last run of the good Toonami (there was a very child-friendly version of Toonami where TOM had a face and was followed around by robots, plus there was no Absolution), it felt somewhat stale, but obviously, they were all updated to show the current shows and times. In an effort to bring more of the immersion of the classic Toonami, they also brought back the video game review segment and had TOM talk about his review for I Am Alive. Things like this will need to continue to be made in order to make it seem like Toonami is just there to make people feel happy, but I have no doubt that they’re planning on continuing that idea.

Truly, it looks as if [Adult Swim] is trying to bring back the real Toonami as it once was. It is going to be hard as they only have a small group of new shows, but I think that if they continue to keep their bumps fresh that it will continue down a positive path. As they themselves have said, the best way to support them and help them make it better is to watch, as ratings is what determines Toonami’s success. One major problem that I foresee is the fact that many people no longer have cable and will not be able to support it because of that. While it seems difficult, being able to have a live stream online of the Toonami block is one of the smartest things they could do right now, as a much larger fan base would be able to support it. Having the same bumps, commercials, etc. feels completely acceptable to me and I would much rather watch it online than have to desperately try to find a TV to watch it on. None the less, Toonami is back bitches and stronger than ever.

Check it out Saturday nights at midnight Eastern on Cartoon Network’s [Adult Swim]!

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