The cult of Toonami returns to Cartoon Network, but will the ratings follow?
Saturday night will see the return of a unique programming block that is sending subtle shockwaves throughout the anime fanboy community. After a hiatus of four years, Toonami will be restored to new life much to the nostalgic glee of many anime fans.
Originally launched in 1997, Toonami started out as a brand of afternoon programming blocks for Cartoon Network oriented towards action cartoons, starting off with the likes of Thundercats and The Real Adventures of Johnny Quest. Two years later, Toonami would be relaunched and revamped into the brand and formula that it would mostly stick with for the rest of the original run.
Now, the programming block had its own setting and host. Aboard the spaceship Absolution, android host T.O.M. introduced each series, gave occasional video game and music reviews, and quickly became an icon for many fans. What also drastically changed for the programming block were the programs themselves. Anime became more of a focus, with mega-hit series Dragonball Z leading the pack, while American audiences also gained a regular taste for various incarnations of the Gundams series, as well as Outlaw Star and The Big O.
After a hiatus of four years, Toonami will be restored to new life much to the nostalgic glee of many anime fans.
Various American and Japanese action cartoons would make their home on Toonami, but after over a decade of airtime, Toonami signed off for good in the fall of 2008.
Fans were saddened over its demise, but few might have guessed that it would only be another four years to wait before T.O.M. came back for another shot at entertainment. During the April Fools’ Day 2012 series of programming on the Adult Swim late-night block, T.O.M. made a surprise appearance to greet the fans and announce that night’s Toonami-themed series of shows (here's an unofficial video link).
Soon after, a new webpage appeared on the Adult Swim website featuring the newly designed T.O.M. and the hashtag “#ToonamisBackBitches.” For its re-debut on May 26, the block will be thin compared to the previous years, at least until ratings serve justice for Cartoon Network to put more money behind it. But action-anime fans should still be pleased with the prospect of new series Deadman Wonderland and Casshern Sins, along with past stalwarts Cowboy Bebop and Ghost in the Shell.
Basically, if fans want Toonami to grow and offer more like it did in the past, the only option is to keep watching. Only then might the revolution be televised once again.