Toonami

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Toonami
Toonami2018logoclean.png
Network Adult Swim
Launched May 26, 2012; 6 years ago (2012-05-26)
Country of origin United States
Headquarters Atlanta, Georgia
Format Anime and action
Running time 6 hours
Voices of Steven Blum (2012–present)
Dana Swanson (2013–present) Sonny Strait (2015)

David Kaye (2017)
Official website Toonami.com
Toonami's Tumblr page
Toonami's Facebook page

Toonami (/tˈnɑːmi/ too-NAH-mee) is a television programming block that primarily consists of American animation and Japanese anime. It was created by Sean Akins and Jason DeMarco and produced by Williams Street, a division of Turner Broadcasting System, which is owned by AT&T's WarnerMedia. The name is a portmanteau of the words "cartoon" and "tsunami".[1]

Toonami initially ran as an afternoon and evening block on Cartoon Network, aimed at teens aged 12–15 from 1997 to 2008. In its original run, the block was known for showcasing action anime that became widely popular with American audiences. It was also recognized for its distinctive space-themed backdrop, anime music videos, drum and bass-flavored soundtrack, and host (a robot named T.O.M., short for Toonami Operations Module).

On May 26, 2012, Cartoon Network relaunched Toonami as part of its Adult Swim block—which continues as a Saturday night action block from its forerunner, Midnight Run. Shows from the older lineup have occasionally returned, along with newer shows.

Daytime block on Cartoon Network (1997–2008)[edit]

Toonami (Cartoon Network)
Network Cartoon Network (1997–2008)
Kids' WB (2001–2002)
Launched March 17, 1997; 21 years ago (1997-03-17)
(Original launch on Cartoon Network)
July 30, 2001; 17 years ago (2001-07-30)
(Kids WB!)
April 17, 2004; 14 years ago (2004-04-17)
(Saturday Nights)
Closed June 28, 2002; 16 years ago (2002-06-28)
(Kids WB!)
April 16, 2004; 14 years ago (2004-04-16)
(Original Weekday Block on Cartoon Network)
September 20, 2008; 9 years ago (2008-09-20)
(Cartoon Network)
Country of origin United States
Headquarters Atlanta, Georgia
Format Anime and action
Voices of C. Martin Croker (1997–1999)
Sonny Strait (1999–2000)
Steven Blum (2000–2008)
Sally Timms (2000–2007)
Sean Schemmel (2002)
Kath Soucie (2004–2007)
Dave Wittenberg (2007–2008)
Tom Kenny (2007–2008)

1997–1999[edit]

Toonami was Cartoon Network's primary action-animation block. The block premiered on March 17, 1997. It initially replaced Power Zone, Cartoon Network's most recent incarnation of the Super Adventures block, which had been a staple on the network since October 1, 1992. Toonami was originally a weekday afternoon cartoon and action block hosted by Space Ghost villain-turned-producer Moltar (voiced by C. Martin Croker) at the Ghost Planet Industries building from 1997 to July 9, 1999.

1999–2000[edit]

On Saturday, July 10, 1999, Cartoon Network relaunched Toonami with a new environment, the Ghost Planet Spaceship Absolution, and a new host named T.O.M. (voiced by Sonny Strait), which introduced viewers to him with this speech:

Also introduced that day was the Midnight Run, a late night block. It was originally a five-hour Saturday night block (technically Sunday) at midnight EST until March 2000, when it moved to weeknights in an hour-long format until January 2003. It ran from 1999 to 2003, broadcast from 12:00 am EST to 5:00 am from 1999 to 2000, when it was moved to the weekdays and ran from 12:00 am to 1:00 am until 2003.[citation needed] It consisted of anime such as Dragon Ball Z, Sailor Moon, Voltron, Robotech, Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, and Outlaw Star. Midnight Run tended to have more blood and violence than its daytime counterpart, at one point even running an uncut version of Gundam Wing.[2] One special edition that started on Friday, August 31, 2001, featured music videos from Gorillaz including "Clint Eastwood" and "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" by Daft Punk, Kenna's "Hellbent," and from Daft Punk's Interstella 5555.[3] Another event was Dragon Ball Z taking over the Midnight Run for a week starting on March 26–30, 2001.

Starting in September 2000, Toonami presented special interactive events known as Total Immersion Events (TIEs). These TIEs took place both on-air during Toonami and online at the official site, Toonami.com, and always occurred the week that the block's most popular series, Dragon Ball Z,[4] returned for a new season. The first TIE was The Intruder, which introduced T.O.M.'s companion, an AI matrix known as S.A.R.A. (voiced by Sally Timms). The Intruder was an eight episode mini-series that aired during Toonami from September 18–22, 2000. It involved the Absolution being attacked by an alien blob known only as "the Intruder", which ultimately devoured T.O.M.

2000–2003[edit]

Toonami logo used from February 21, 2000 to March 14, 2003; revived in 2017 to celebrate its 20th anniversary.

Though The Intruder resulted in the destruction of T.O.M., he was soon after upgraded by S.A.R.A. from a short Bomberman-esque character to a taller, sleeker, deeper-voiced incarnation dubbed T.O.M. 2 (voiced by Steven Blum, who has since been the voice of all subsequent incarnations of the character).

A Saturday morning incarnation, Toonami Rising Sun, ran from 2000 to 2001 at 9:00 am to noon. It later ran from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm, then 11:00 am to 1:00 pm. This block was somewhat hampered to avoid competing with sister network Kids' WB.

From July 30, 2001, until June 28, 2002, Kids' WB aired a Toonami block that was, more or less, the Kids' WB lineup with the Toonami name. It was critically panned by industry observers, who noticed that the action branding of the block - which had added shows such as Generation O!, Scooby-Doo, and The Nightmare Room, a live-action series created by Goosebumps author R. L. Stine - did not translate content-wise. In spring 2002, Kids' WB announced that they would drop the Toonami name from their weekday lineup, once again making the Toonami brand exclusive to Cartoon Network.

The TIE, Lockdown, aired between September 17–21, 2001, and included the introduction of CartoonNetwork.com's first MMORPG, as well as a record-breaking amount of page views and ratings for the network.[5] In Lockdown T.O.M. fights to save the Absolution from an attack by a giant trash compactor.[6] Trapped in Hyperspace, the next TIE, ran the week of September 16–20, 2002. The ship's computer, SARA, is infected by a computer virus named Swayzak, and TOM is trapped in hyperspace. He manages to defeat Swayzak before the Absolution hits Earth.[7]

During the week of February 24–28, 2003, Cartoon Network aired on Toonami "Giant Robot Week," a five-day special based on mecha series, which were licensed by A.D. Vision. The series shown were Neon Genesis Evangelion, Gigantor, Robotech, Martian Successor Nadesico, and Dai-Guard.[8]

2003–2007[edit]

In March 2003, TOM was revamped into a more muscular figure. This was explained in-universe as him being rebuilt after fighting a space pirate. His voice also became more humanlike.

The TIE in September 2003 was different from the previous ones - it introduced a new, 2D universe. Immortal Grand Prix (IGPX), created by Toonami producers Sean Akins and Jason DeMarco, and produced by anime studio Production I.G, aired in five short installments, serving as a pilot for the second Toonami original series, which premiered in November 2005[9]

On April 17, 2004, Toonami was moved from weekday afternoons to a Saturday evening slot, where it aired regularly for four hours starting at 7:00 pm EST.[10] It aimed for a new demographic of preteen and teen audiences, while adding a new lighter-toned action block, Miguzi, to weekdays in its place.[10] Toonami also replaced the block known as Saturday Video Entertainment System (SVES). One reason for the move from weekdays to Saturday nights was because some of the shows on the weekday lineup became too violent for a weekday broadcast on the network. The new Toonami lineup showcased anime such as Naruto, Rave Master, Duel Masters, Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, One Piece, Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo, Zatch Bell, and Pokémon Chronicles, as well as premiered North American productions including Teen Titans, Megas XLR, Justice League Unlimited, and IGPX, Toonami's first and only original production co-produced by Production I.G and Bandai Entertainment. SARA got a full body during this period, and became more anime-esque.

Although Megas XLR was the first original American-made franchise to actually debut on the block, it was initially a Cartoon Network original that was planned to air on Friday nights. Other Cartoon Network action properties, namely Samurai Jack, Teen Titans, and Justice League, aired on Toonami, but were not exclusive to the block until their final seasons.

2007–2008[edit]

On January 27, 2007, a teaser commercial aired during the Xiaolin Showdown marathon on Cartoon Network, featuring closeup shots of larger Clydes (the remote robot explorers that have been a fixture of Toonami since the beginning) and two new robot A.I's along with the date "3/17/07" and T.O.M.'s chest emblem glowing blue. On March 17, Toonami celebrated its 10th anniversary with a new packaging and numerous montages celebrating the block. T.O.M. was revamped into a shorter robot, who was a commander of a jungle control room and aided by two new robots, Flash (Dave Wittenberg) and D (Tom Kenny). The montages included a look at past hosts, former logos, and a decade's worth of clips and voice-overs from shows that aired on Toonami. There were a total of four montages, each with different clips, and three were one minute long.

As part of the anniversary (and to coincide with Cartoon Network's March Movie Madness event), Toonami planned another month of movies:

On September 20, 2008,[11] at the Anime Weekend Atlanta convention in Atlanta, Georgia, Cartoon Network announced that they had cancelled the Toonami block due to low ratings. Toonami then aired its final broadcast later that same evening. The final show to air on the block was a rerun of Samurai Jack at 10:30 PM. Employees who worked on the block moved to other parts of the channel, except for Dennis Moloney, who left Turner to work for Disney. Toonami Jetstream remained with the Toonami name until January 30, 2009. At the end of Toonami's final airing, T.O.M. 4 ended the block with a brief, final monologue, backed by the song "Cascade" by Tycho:

After Toonami's final episode on TV, Toonami Jetstream's subsequent shut down in 2009 marked the end of this incarnation until the brand's revival in 2012.

Evening block on Adult Swim (2012–present)[edit]

2012–2013[edit]

On April 1, 2012, Adult Swim aired the Toonami block for their annual April Fools' Day prank.[13] After airing that week's scheduled episode of Bleach, the Toonami-related programming continued throughout the night, featuring shows such as Dragon Ball Z, Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki, Outlaw Star, and Yu Yu Hakusho. The following day, Adult Swim posted a message to their Twitter page, simply stating, "Want it back? Let us know. #BringBackToonami".[14] On April 4, Adult Swim followed up this tweet with one stating, "#BringBackToonami We've heard you. Thank you for your passion and interest - stay tuned."[15] On April 8, Adult Swim aired two bumpers about the Toonami tweets and answered with "[we're listening]" and "[we're looking into it]".[16]

On May 16, Adult Swim posted a message on Facebook announcing that Toonami would return on May 26.[17] The network issued a press release later that day confirming the block's revival as a Saturday late-night action block.[18] Toonami made its return on May 26, with an initial lineup consisting of current Adult Swim Action programs, along with premieres of Deadman Wonderland and Casshern Sins. On August 18, Samurai 7 and Eureka Seven replaced Deadman Wonderland and Cowboy Bebop. In essence, the revived block is very similar to the midnight-run of the original, airing uncut programming as well as having more mature themes.[19]

On October 6, Toonami expanded to a full six hours; Sym-Bionic Titan and ThunderCats were added to the block.[20] Tenchi Muyo! GXP was announced as the next premiere on November 3, as was the return of Inuyasha.[21] On November 22, Toonami announced they would air uncut episodes of Naruto, and confirmed that Bleach would enter reruns for eight weeks, beginning on December 1.[22]

On January 6, 2013, Toonami introduced a new blue color scheme, after using a similar scheme to introduce Inuyasha on November 3 of the previous year. New episodes of Bleach began on January 26. On February 16, Soul Eater began airing on Toonami, replacing Samurai 7.[23] During Momocon, new designs for both T.O.M and the Absolution were unveiled, along with the announcement that overall design of the block would be changed.[24]

2013–present[edit]

On April 27, 2013 Toonami premiered its new look, featuring the return of supporting host SARA (now voiced by Dana Swanson), after being removed in 2007. To kick off 2014, Toonami premiered the anime Space Dandy on January 4, even before Japan. The anime ran for two seasons and 26 episodes before ending that September. The block introduced a new aesthetic on April 6. This new look also featured the return of the Ninja Tune record label to Toonami.[25] Intruder II, the first Total Immersion Event since Toonami's 2012 revival, began on November 7 and concluded on December 20, 2015 with Sonny Strait reprising his role as the original T.O.M.[26] On December 2, Adult Swim announced that a new season of Samurai Jack was being produced. It ended up premiering on Toonami in March 2017.[27][28][29] The conclusion of Intruder III in 2016 led to another new look to Toonami.[30] The new Total Immersion Event titled "Countdown" began on November 4 through November 25, 2017.

On March 20, 2018, Production I.G. and Adult Swim announced that two new seasons of FLCL, FLCL Progressive, and FLCL Alternative would premiere on Toonami in 2018, with the date set for June 2 at 11:30PM.[31][32][33][34] On April Fools' Day 2018, Toonami was entirely dubbed in Japanese and kicked the prank off by airing a preview of the first episode of FLCL Alternative in Japanese with English subtitles.[35] Toonami followed the sneak preview by airing the film Mind Game and aired programming after that was originally scheduled after Black Clover, except Iron-Blooded Orphans, in original Japanese with English subtitles. T.O.M. was voiced by Masa Kanome, the Japanese voice of Wolverine, and SARA was voiced by Fusako Shiotani.[36]

Music[edit]

In its original run, Toonami proved a haven for dance/electronica music throughout its history, using original compositions, first by skater/artist Tommy Guerrero from 1997 to 1999, and then by Atlanta-based composer Joe Boyd Vigil from 1999 to 2002, many of which were compiled on the CD Toonami: Deep Space Bass in 2001 (now out of print). In 2003, DJ Clarknova (the alias of Toonami founder Jason DeMarco) took Toonami's beats (both old and new) and mixed them with sound bites from recent Toonami and Adult Swim shows, resulting in an hour-long compilation of Toonami remixes titled Toonami: Black Hole Megamix. For unknown reasons, the compilation was never published. However, the Megamix recently was hosted by Toonami Digital Arsenal, a popular unofficial Toonami multimedia site. DJ Clarknova would later release another Toonami album, entitled Toonami Supernova Megamix, on Christmas Eve 2012 and "IGPX: The Ichi Megamix", in December 2013 as a free download through the official Toonami Tumblr webpage.

Video Game Reviews[edit]

Infrequently, Toonami has aired reviews of video games. These reviews, delivered T.O.M. and occasionally S.A.R.A., are relatively short and air during commercial breaks. The reviews score games on a 1-10 system: 10 signifying an excellent game, 1 signifying a very poor game. (The scoring system was originally 1-5 until 2000.) So far, three games have been given a rating not based on the 1-10 rating system. Dropship: United Peace Force for PlayStation 2 was given a "?" rating because of many failed attempts to get past Level 6, and Slender by Marc "Parsec" Hadley of Parsec Productions was also given a "?" rating because of not finding all eight pages in time, and the fright of looking at the Slender Man. Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag was given an "ARRRRRR!" rating presumably because it is a pirate-themed game and TOM had not yet finished it.

[edit]

On October 27, 2012, TOM 3.5 promoted the upcoming Disney film Wreck-It Ralph by giving the Fix-It Felix game a rating of 8.5 out of 10. Since then Toonami has also promoted video games and films which are as follows in order of airing: Halo 4 (November 10, 2012), Oblivion (April 6 and 13 2013), Pacific Rim (July 6, 2013), Xbox One (November 23, 2013), The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (April 26, 2014), Halo: The Master Chief Collection (November 29, 2014), Chappie (February 28, 2015), Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection 'F' (August 1, 2015), The Martian (September 26, 2015), Hardcore Henry (April 2, 2016), Independence Day: Resurgence (June 18, 2016), Suicide Squad (July 23, 2016), Titanfall 2 (October 29, 2016), One Piece Film: Gold (December 10, 2016), Underworld: Blood Wars (December 17, 2016), John Wick: Chapter 2 (February 4, 2017), Horizon Zero Dawn (February 25, 2017), Ghost in the Shell (March 25, 2017), King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (May 6, 2017), and ELEAGUE Street Fighter V Invitational (May 20, 2017).

Total Immersion Events[edit]

A Total Immersion Event, often shortened to simply T.I.E., was an adventure featuring TOM and SARA aboard the Absolution; however, the fourth T.I.E. did not feature them. There were a total of four Total Immersion Events during Toonami's original run on Cartoon Network and a new one aired during its run on Adult Swim.

Tie-In Comics[edit]

The first tie-in comic, "Toonami Swarm," was an online flash comic that was released in early 2000. The 3-part comic told the origin of Tom 1.0 and how he became the pilot for the Absolution.

The next tie-in comic, "Blue Falcon and Dynomutt", was a 4-part online flash comic released on Toonami.com in 2000, featuring the Hanna-Barbera superhero Blue Falcon and his robotic dog sidekick, Dynomutt.

The third tie-in comic, "Toonami: Endgame," was released in 2003; it detailed a space pirate named Orcelot Rex capturing SARA, destroying the original Absolution ship and TOM 2.0.

The fourth tie-in comic was an online comic that was set to be released during Toonami's run on Cartoon Network, but was ultimately not released. The Toonami crew then confirmed that the comic wasn't part of the Toonami canon, since TOM nor SARA are featured in it.

On November 7, 2015, the fifth tie-in comic was a tie-in to "Intruder II," which acts as a prequel to the T.I.E., taking place between the cancellation of Toonami in 2008 and its revival on Adult Swim in 2012. The comic depicts TOM 4.0 and his companions, Flash and D investigating an intruder in their base.

The sixth tie-in comic, "Trapped," was released on Toonami.com on November 27, 2016 after the final episode of "The Intruder III," which acts as a prequel to the T.I.E. The plot involves TOM 5.0 exploring the surface of Shogo 162, where he meets another robotic being, who helps TOM escape from a Tragagog.

Online video services[edit]

Toonami Reactor[edit]

On March 26, 2001, Cartoon Network launched Toonami Reactor, their first online streaming video service.[37] The three-month service featured streaming episodes from Dragon Ball Z and Star Blazers, the latter of which was an online-exclusive series. Editorial content was provided by the now-defunct Animerica Magazine, published by VIZ Media. After the three-month "trial run" was over, Cartoon Network took it offline and completely revamped it.

On November 14, 2001, Cartoon Network relaunched Toonami Reactor with all online-exclusive programs such as Star Blazers, Patlabor: The TV Series, Harlock Saga, and Record of Lodoss War, as well as videos from Daft Punk and Toonami-themed games. In the summer of 2002, Toonami Reactor was revamped again under the Adult Swim aegis and, in a joint venture with VIZ's Weekly Shonen Jump, programmed it as "Adult Swim Pipeline." It featured episodes and/or manga chapters from One Piece, Naruto, Shaman King, Yu Yu Hakusho, and Sand Land.[38][39]

Toonami Jetstream[edit]

On April 25, 2006, a little over five years since the launch of the now-defunct Toonami Reactor, Cartoon Network and VIZ Media announced plans[40] to launch Toonami Jetstream, a new ad-supported streaming video service featuring Toonami series like Naruto, Samurai Jack, Megas XLR, and IGPX, and the Internet webcast premieres of Hikaru no Go, MÄR, Eyeshield 21, The Prince of Tennis, MegaMan Star Force, Kiba, MegaMan NT Warrior, and Zoids: Genesis, the latter two of which were never streamed.

Toonami Jetstream launched on July 17, 2006[41] (after a brief unofficial sneak preview that began on July 14), and offered episodes of Naruto, Hikaru no Go, MÄR, Zatch Bell!, Pokémon, Blue Dragon, Samurai Jack, Kiba, Storm Hawks and Transformers: Animated.

On January 30, 2009, Toonami Jetstream ended its run.[42] Since then, many of the shows aired until cancellation aired on Cartoon Network Video on its main website.

In 2012, Adult Swim rebranded their action videos section as "Toonami shows." It initially featured content from Durarara!!, which never aired on the block.[43]

Toonami Pre-Flight[edit]

On February 27, 2015, AdultSwim.com launched the online show Toonami: Pre-Flight hosted by Toonami producers Jason DeMarco and Gill Austin.[44] The first two episodes premiered on a Friday at 5:00 p.m. Eastern time, and was then moved to Tuesday at 5:00 p.m. Eastern time until September 25, 2015, when the show was moved back to Fridays at 6:30 p.m. Eastern time. Each episode features a series highlight, a weekly topic and other featurettes like sneak peeks at promos and spots, as well as announcements, and segments from voiceover talent Steve Blum and Dana Swanson. Toonami has also done panels from MomoCon, San Diego Comic-Con, Dragon*Con and Anime Expo which they've streamed as part of Pre-Flight either live or on tape delay.

Programming[edit]

Cartoon Network (1997–2008) / Kids' WB (2001–'02)[edit]

1997
1998
1999
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008

Adult Swim (2012–present)[edit]

2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018

Logos[edit]

Outside United States[edit]

Outside the United States, Cartoon Network aired Toonami blocks in Australia from 2001 to 2006. In the United Kingdom, Toonami was a standalone channel from 2003 to 2007. In December 2012, Toonami was launched as a standalone channel in Asia-Pacific. Similar channels were launched in India in 2015 and France in 2016. The Southeast Asian and Indian channels have since been closed.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Fretts, Bruce (2005-01-19). "Tsunami's Wake Pulls Episodes". TV Guide. Retrieved 2018-05-17. 
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External links[edit]