On March 31 – April 1 2012 Cartoon Network premiered its April Fools joke for the year. The return of the Toonami block. And I missed it. I have work early in the morning on Sundays, so I didn’t find out about it till I was in work on the first. When I did however, a question came to mind. Why can’t they bring it back? But first a brief history.
One of the reasons I heard was because there’s no more real anime on Cartoon Network. However what so few remember is that when Toonami started, it didn’t really have any anime. Hell, it didn’t even have a T.O.M. When Toonami started its host was Moltar, from Space Ghost.
Also, Toonami at first ran little to no anime. Its original line up was Thundercats, Cartoon Roulette (composed of Space Ghost, Birdman and the Galaxy Trio, The Herculoids, Mightor, Shazzan, Teen Force, The Impossibles, and the 1940s Superman), Voltron, and The Real Adventures of Johnny quest.
It wasn’t until 2000 that we the heavy influx of anime on to the block, the year earlier bringing us T.O.M. He evolved from our little bomber man like friend here:
During the latter two stages Toonami was at its peak. It was showing anime as well as a few western series. The midnight run, which was a mildly more bloody version, was running and even showed Gundam Wing unedited.
However Midnight Run was eventually canceled, replaced by the adult swim block. Soon Toonami was transferred to Saturday nights. Tom was changed again. This time to:
The Toonami block started as a four hour span when it was moved here. However that changed. It was cut to 2 hours, an hour of it being Naruto. However Naruto was in it infamous filler state. Soon the execs at Cartoon Network decided it was time to pull the plug. With that on September 20, 2008 T.O.M. gave us this farewell speech:
“Well, this is the end, beautiful friends. After more than 11 years, this is Toonami’s final broadcast. It’s been a lot of fun, and we’d like to thank each and every one of you who made this journey with us. Toonami wouldn’t have been anything without you. Hopefully we’ve left you with some good memories. So, until we meet again, stay gold. Bang.”
So now we come back to my original question. Why can’t Cartoon Network bring back Toonami? Many believe that one of the reasons is that anime is just not profitable in the United States. That seems to be more of a problem of marketing tough. That and subpar dubbing jobs done by localization companies like 4Kids. Mainly because they tend to butcher none child friendly anime to make it for children. Take for instance the series One Piece, which was at one point on the Saturday block. Lets look at this one panel. See if you can mean what I mean by butchering.
That thing there? In the blonde guys hand? In japan, that was a flintlock pistol, but 4Kids felt it necessary to turn it into, um, that. However at the time it was aired on Toonami, Funimation had taken over the rights of localization. There’s also an issue of just really poor choices for voice acting. These things make anime seem not profitable.
The better question though is not why can’t Cartoon Network bring it back, but how can they bring it back. One option is to set it up the same way they used to have it, a two hour block afterschool, and a late night run in the evening. The afterschool run could contain shows like Generator Rex, Ben 10 (the original series, Alien Force, and Ultimate Alien), Thundercats (the original series, and the new one) and Powerpuff Girls. The late night run could have shows like Outlaw Star (including episode 23), Trinity Blood, Fullmetal Alchemist(Original and Brotherhood), Gundam Wing, Yu Yu Hakusho, Trigun, and other series like that. If they wish to continue with more adult series then they can get shows like Witchblade, or brake Rebuild Evangelian into individual episodes. Even bring the original Eva back. They showed they still have the airing rights to most of these series in their April Fools joke, and I even believe they did it so they could keep those rights.
Another option is to do a primetime block, much like what Cartoon Cartoon Friday was. This block could contain shows like Megas XLR, IGPX, Pokemon, Big O, or Dragonball (the original series and the original Dragonball Z). This would allow the exposure to a more broad audience.
One thing they should avoid doing is licensing shows that are a)trying to fallow the manga directly with its time frame (e.i. Bleach and Naruto). This is what led to the problem with Naruto. It hit the infamous filler part of the series and many people were turned from it, how ever if the US had been able to skip that part, Toonami may have survived.
Toonami has been gone now for almost four years. Maybe its time Cartoon Network brought it back and actually maintained proper. It lasted for ten years and if brought back it could possibly last longer.