Ink & Paint: The Return of Toonami

Recent comic events/commentaries/columns have made me think about what "creative ownership" (as opposed to legal ownership) entales, but that can wait for a bit.  Comic book divas aren't going anywhere no matter how much we'd all appreciate it if John Byrne shut the fuck up for a change.  So I am here to talk about Toonami.

In less than a week, the Adult Swim block/subnetwork is bring back Toonami, and I am both nervous & excited for it.

On one hand, I am really hoping that they don't make it strictly a nostalgia block.  Toonami was largely responsible, at least as far as I could see, for the anime boom of the late 90s/early 00s.  It helped mark Cartoon Network under that (better) regime as the premiere network for action animation of all kinds and from all countries.  To reduce it to a "Hey, remember Ronin Warriors?" type of block would be a magnificant waste.  As much I would like to see certain shows aired again, it would be a huge step backwards for CN to limit the new Toonami to old programming.

On the other hand, I want it to be a huge success.  I can trace the following directly back to Toonami: my interest in action-animation as a genre; my interest in anime, especially magical girl hero shows like Sailor Moon; my nostalgic fondness for 80s animation; my appreciation of branding as a way to build a cult of personality around what amounts to a scheduling decision; my appreciation of branding that sees how making interesting characters & storylines is just as important as purveying info about your product.  Toonami was a philosophy shaper for me as far as my approach to animation as a medium, and I want it to have that same effect for the next generation of animation nerd.

I am wary.  The current chimps in suits that run CN have trouble with branding as a concept, don't seem to appreciate action-animation as a valid genre beyond selling chunks of plastic, and have decided to relegate it to the overnights where it is destined to be sought out largely for nostalgia.  In short, they are fucking morons and I hate them.  This has been well established, however.  I remember scheduling my classes in college around which shows I wanted to watch on Toonami (which is, frankly, just as embarassing as doing the same for soap operas, but the latter is accepted for some pathetic reason).  I stumbled on it by accident, and if a kid who wasn't fighting chronic insomnia or sneaking TV after their folks go to bed could find it the same way, then that would be keeping the spirit of Toonami.  So would using this as an opportunity to commission new non-licensed action shows and import some anime that would have broad appeal (I personally would like to see Heartcatch Pretty Cure on the block but that's not taking into account current!CN's casual misogyny).  But given the ho-hum feel of the DC Nation block and the brain-meltingly intense stupidity of the people in charge of the host network, I just can't bring myself to be optimistic.

Please be a success, new Toonami.  You have tall odds to face, but I want you to be the shining light of CN again & not just nostalgic pandering.  Please work.


  1. Toonami was huge for me too. At the time DVDs were really taking off as well as the internet. These combined elements really made anime take off. Like you I remember racing home from classes to catch "Sailor Moon" and "Gundam Wing". More people got to appreciate "Trigun" and "Outlaw Star" because of it (and in spite of them being completely blown away during the DVD release because "Cowboy Bebop" was getting all the press.

    But like you, I'm not convinced the current CN can handle it. But I'll keep my fingers crossed just the same.


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