Sep 19, 2009

52 Weeks Later

Fifty-two weeks ago tonight, the final broadcast of Toonami aired on Cartoon Network. While I am a little saddened that the block is no longer on the air, I would like to make the following statement:

The world did not end.

Sure, there are folks walking around with a dazed look on their faces, wide-eyed, and still convinced that Toonami will return and return sooner rather than later. Never mind the fact that in its final months, the four-hour block was cut down to a late-primetime lineup with one show airing the much-loathed filler episodes and reruns from the network. Cartoon Network and Viz had a falling out of some kind, which somehow affected the kid-friendly Shonen Jump titles that aired on the block, including Funimation's One Piece.

So, what exactly happened in the 52 weeks between the end of Toonami and tonight?

ADV Films went out of business. Disney bought Marvel. Toon Disney became Disney XD and the new home of Spectacular Spider-Man and soon Naruto Shippuden. Disney bought Marvel Entertainment. DC Comics released many great DTV titles as well as reorganized themselves as DC Entertainment, which in hindsight amounts to a whole lot of nothing. Americans moved into the digital television era, though households with cable barely notice nor acknowledge the fact that television is clearer and some outlets actually expanded their programming choices while other networks continue to be lazy. CNReal was heavily promoted over their animated titles and largely crashed and burned, though they're still trying to make it work despite the fact that in July, Cartoon Network had its lowest ratings since May 1998. And yet, they announced they're picking up a pair of action titles that have no clear date for their premieres.

The only things some folks got from that little blurb are the facts that ADV Films is no more and Naruto's coming to Disney XD. Those folks that only noticed that are likely the ones who are missing Toonami the most. They're the ones who aren't enjoying the fact that Cartoon Network has a lot of original action programming (most of it American-made) on the lineup and in the works. They're the ones who are livid that Chaotic and Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's are on the lineup while One Piece and any new Japanese title aren't. They're more or less interested in the latest from Japan, though, truth be told, Japan isn't cranking out quality hits these days. There hasn't been anything truly revolutionary or genre-changing from Japan in three years.

I will tell you what I do miss about Toonami. The atmosphere. The uniqueness of the block that is was not like anything else on television, let alone Cartoon Network. I don't feel that when I watch its successor block You Are Here. Yes, I know I am there, but why? It looks a lot like the rest of the Cartoon Network lineup, but it isn't anything looking forward to aside from just the series on the block. The cynical folks who never really liked Toonami always pointed out that the shows are bigger than how they're presented. They might be right in some cases, but, to that argument, would people appreciate Adult Swim if it was presented with Cartoon Network Noods? Would the shows of Har Har Tharsdays be as funny if they didn't have that branding? Would the shows of Toonami still attract attention without being surrounded by the Toonami branding?

I can't answer that (actually, I can, but that'll be another thread for another time), but I do know there is a void in the universe where Toonami once was. It's not as big a part of my universe as it used to be, but I still miss it. I know it won't return. Wish others finally realized that.


Frederick said...

I wasn't necessarily sad when Toonami went away for good, because I hadn't consistently watched it since 2004. And, even before that, I missed 2002-2004, as well. But, from 1998 to 2002, Toonami and all that it entailed inspired me in ways that will carry over for the rest of my life. For that I'm grateful.

Its passing was not as tragic as people make it out to be (I don't know who these people are, because I stopped frequenting the TZ forums in 2007 [Toonmaster/beta/Wanted]). But, when Joe Boyd Vigil suggested moving on to new music because he didn't have all of the masters, I originally was in shock. I wanted to hold onto those feelings as long as I could, and he was just suggesting I not do that. Now that I think about it, I see where he was coming from: he didn't want to be known JUST as that Toonami composer guy.

Needless to say, I grew out of that feeling and matured into a type of enlightenment. Toonami ranks in the top 5 most effective hype machines on television, EVER, (so much so that it has had more than its fair share of imitators, even on its own home network), and if it died, then there really is no hope for the medium. Fox Kids' fall is the only one I can think of that was more tragic.

E.A. said...

Toonami was one of those beasts that was appreciated in its time, and it was good while it lasted.

I'm convinced something better will come along, something that will remind us of the greatness that was Cartoon Network, but Cartoon Network won't be the one to give that program to us.

It wasn't easy, Jeff, to move on. But that's life, ain't it? Great post, as usual!