TV Block Progress Report: Toonami (2012)

It’s so weird to think that earlier this year, the twitterverse exploded on April Fools’ Day when Cartoon Network decided to bring back their Toonami block for a night… and what a night it was. Now ten weeks into the official re-birth of the ol’ action cartoon block and I must say that I’m enjoying the direction The Absolution’s being steered to.


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TV Block Progress Report: The ’90s Are All That

I’ll admit it. I probably stopped watching this block for a couple months by this point.

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So I watched Toonami last night

As an April Fools of sorts, last night’s [adult swim] block on Cartoon Network was replaced with a Toonami block as hosted by the last good iteration of TOM.

So what can I say about bringing back a block chock full of action anime sprinkled with bits of new game reviews and voice work for TOM from the Steve Blum himself? Just that last night will be remembered by many as the night that many ’90s kids watched actual cable programming for the first time in years. Even if this was just a stunt pulled by the guys at Cartoon Network, you could tell that there was a good amount of time and effort put into things, from the choice of episodes to air, to the general mix of all things old and new from the programming block.

I’m sure I’ll be repeating myself from my ’90s Are All That post, but whatever. In a time when DVR and boxed sets of every show under the sun is commonplace, it’s made the general concept of plopping yourself on the couch in front of the TV to watch “whatever” rather outdated. Enter Toonami–the programming block that was ahead of its time. Unlike [adult swim] which has become a mishmash of random animated shows with crude humor awkwardly mixed in with teen-centric action anime, Toonami kept its focus on the action cartoons. From this focal point, Toonami expanded outward, with a robotic host on board his spaceship The Absolution, with female companion SARA at his side. The entire world of Toonami was just so immersive and was just as essential a part of the programming block as the shows themselves.

Today when you’re skimming through titles online, or even scrolling through sub-menus on your DVR, you might be presented with recommendations of other shows based on your search history. But at the end of the day, it’s ultimately your decision to decide to click on whatever item was recommended to you. While the same could be said about choosing to watch whatever comes next in a programming block, you have slightly less control in that the following program will play regardless of whether you like it or even if you even know of its existence. When watching Toonami last night, I was bombarded by its lineup, some I knew and some I didn’t. I was able to bask in the familiarity of the shows I grew up with, while also being put in a good enough mood by the block itself to be willing to take a chance on the shows I was previously too young to care about. Being dropped in an episode in what was clearly the middle of a story arc had me trying to figure out the basics of the world in order to better appreciate the action scenes that flashed before me on screen. It’s a feeling that most people are rarely able to experience nowadays since we’ve been given a more active option in picking and choosing exactly what we want to watch, whether it be through streaming or direct purchasing of series.

It’s these exact feelings presented through such an immersive programming block experience that made Toonami what it was. And whether or not the stunt pulled last night was for kicks or for a serious testing of the waters in terms of viewer interest may still be up in the air, I sure hope that it’s the latter. I’ve lived in a time where the sun rose in a world without Toonami for far too long.

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