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Nailing New Toonami: Five Relaunch Tips

Posted 25 May 2012 / By John / Opinion

As you all know (or are finding out now), Toonami is being resurrected, and I gotta say, I’m pretty excited. Toonami was *the* reason I got into anime, tho I had been watching some it’s shows (like DBZ, Ronin Warriors and Sailor Moon) on other channels years before it kicked off. So I might have technically been watching anime from the age of 5 or w/e, but Toonami brought it full-steam into my life. Sadly, somewhere around I suppose ’06-’07, it started to lose steam with me. Just school, life, and the growing presence of other sources for many anime Toonami never aired being the culprits. Ironically at that same time the line-up just didn’t impress me, and it lost a lot of its edge with me.

Anyway, even though some would say bringing it back this day and age (given the state of most of tv and the prevalence of many streaming services and sites) is a dumbo idea, I think, w/ the right mentality and line-up, the right setup and hard-driving edge, this revamped Toonami can pull off all the energy and glitz the old version managed in its prime, and perhaps, do it even better. Of course, it needs to adhere to some simple rules, and I figured to throw a few out in this blog. So if you’re still with me, read on…

TIP 1: Get the Music On-Point

See this guy? Meet Luke Vibert. He’s awesome, and he’d be a great fit for some Toonami tracks too! The old bumps for Toonami (particularly, the ones from ’97 up to I’d say ’05) where the shit. They found some great artists to collab with and licensed tunes from other fantastic artists to create tunes that really benefited the atmosphere and energy. The music communicated the sort of etheeal sense of galactic space, technology, cyberpunk and science-fiction themes very well, but of course with a modern-day hip to the pop. The new Toonami should veer away from any music that doesn’t express those themes, and that of course would mean most of the tunes from Adult Swim as well. Granted, AS has (had?) some great music for its bumps (anything by Nujabes for example, or the bumps featuring Dr. Who Dat?), but I don’t think its selection would fit Toonami all that well.

As for my own personal suggestions, I’d recommend the producers hit up Tommy Guerrero (preferably to get some new tunes or even just license some of his newer tunes; ‘Organism’, for example, is a perfect Toonami song), Meat Beat Manifesto (heh, hey I can dream), Tokimonsta, Flying Lotus, *maybe* Hazel (he has some tracks that’d fit Toonami, tho he’s definitely hiphop the other two lol), Goldie, Roni Size, Johnny L., Christain Vogel, Luke Vibert (definitely!), Photek and lastly, two dudes named Razzie16 and Xaltus; these two in particular are very skilled beatmakers who I found through Youtube a while ago. They could definitely do some big stuff on the music side for the series.

TIP 2: Bring Back TOM, Expand His Universe

Another reason Toonami worked so well-as the editors over on put it-is because it had a consistent theme and atmosphere that complimented the material perfectly. It also actually took the time and established its own sense of story and universe with the various hosts, none moreso than Tom. I still remember well the original short episodes featuring his fight with that space alien, and they were pretty awesome. Toonami needs to avoid Adult Swim’s mistake and construct a universe and visual/audio dynamic that really pulls the shows together as if coalescing to a greater whole,..and it already has a lot of good material from its older iterations to use and/or draw on. That, and technology is worlds ahead of what it was even near the end of Toonami’s run, so I think the producers would love to put that tech to good use.

TIP 3: Introduce Some “New” New Shows

This point may seem a little controversial, but it’s very important. I said earlier that there are loads of alternative areas fans can get their shows these days, as compared back to say ’04 or ’06 even. The Internet is a very evolved beast, to say the least. Compounding that problem is that I’ve noticed a lot of fans, since hearing the news, are only calling for the same shows it already aired years ago to be reran. That’s great for nostalgia, but too much of that could alienate pulling in new viewers. It’s no secret Toonami will be aiming at us older folks who grew up on the original run too, but it has to look out for the new blood as well.

So, at least in regards to that last point, the producers would be wise to take a gander out for shows that seem very ‘up-and-coming hot’, but may not have been broadly introduced to Western shores quite yet. There are already some very good suggestions out there like Fairy Tail and whatnot (granted, I’m just hearing of that one, but if others say its good I’m willing to buy their word for now). They obviously do need to find a show potentially capable of filling DBZ’s shoes, and Naruto ain’t it. Yet, people also easily forget that DBZ wasn’t really that popular for a while, even once it began airing on Toonami; it took their promoting of it to get the show to the godly level of popularity it reached. W/ the Internet now so much more flexible, if Toonami can find “that” sort of show and others to fill in for particular other niches other old shows filled, they’d have a hell of tool for marketing.

I’d definitely suggest they aim for ‘hidden gems’ that haven’t made much headway here yet, preferably those that haven’t even been officially licensed for a dub. That way, Toonami could collaborate with licensors like ADV and Funimation to perhaps license those shows and make them initially available exclusively through Toonami. That’d almost kill two birds w/ one stone as well, since older fans who may already be watching those shows raw or w/ fansubs can finally get a chance to see an official dub, albeit through Toonami only (at least for a while).

But onto that group, which I am also a part of, can be a bit trickier. See, perhaps we would not care so much even if that were case, so what to do? Well, simple: Make some headway and produce some of your own anime. Of course, I mean collaborate w/ an anime production company like Production I.G or Madhouse (okay, so Madhouse is known for mature anime..still tho they’d be worth a shot), or maybe Gainex or Studio Gonzo. This isn’t a foreign concept to Toonami, as they did just that sort of thing w/ Production I.G in making IGPX, and even earlier w/ Sunrise when they practically saved The Big O and gave it a 2nd season. In fact, it’s already been officially mentioned that the block will have original programming come this weekend when it reboots, so I’m sure this fact isn’t lost upon them in the slightest. With this option, if they have a few very good series, they can make them available exclusively through Toonami at least for a while. The appeal of the shows-coupled w/ the exclusivity thing-will draw many people into the block for those anime that can’t be had anywhere else (legally).

TIP 4: Don’t Go Overboard With the Old Shows

This is an obvious extension from my third point, but it bears further mention. If Toonami focuses too much on re-airing the shows it already played before, it might alienate not just new fans, but even old fans who are clamoring for that very thing right now. Those shows have gotten around, they have their fanbases, and are readily available in many other locations. Unless they nab special creator documentaries or material to supplement with those shows, I really see no point in focusing too much on them. That’s not saying a “F-you!” to the loyal fans-after all, I’m an older fan myself-; it’s just sound business practice.

Take DBZ for example: Toonami already did as much w/ that series as it could have, and since its original run there it’s ran quite some more times, not to mention the repackaging in the form of Kai recently. Give DBZ a rest. Yes, it’s practically THE shounen anime, but its time has passed. Now, if they can work out a deal to dub the more recent OVA specials and air those, as well as any future ones that may come about, that’s another thing, but in regards to the original series, I think they should focus on “passing the torch” to a new potential powerhouse.

Personally I wouldn’t mind if they reran some other series like YuYu Hakusho, Outlaw Star or Tenchi Muyo myself, but it’s somewhat the same deal there too: if Toonami’s producers can find more recent or obscure shows that fit the niches of the above, they ought to spin those on their rotations instead. It’s a VERY delicate balancing act of appeasing the original fanbase stooped in nostalgia, and the potential new fanbase that may or may not know any better. I’m just saying, Toonami can’t be afraid to bring around the next DBZ, or next Outlaw Star or next Tenchi Muyo etc. They have a good eye for great anime, regardless of its popularity (remember my DBZ mention way earlier?) and if it wasn’t for Toonami taking risks originally, the aforementioned shows would NOT have the fanbases here that they enjoy now. That’s a fact. Toonami has to have that same eye now, absolutely, and without fail.

TIP 5: Try To Bring Back The Midnight Run

Regular Toonami was great by itself, but the Midnight Run truly gave some much-needed breathing room for certain anime that just would not fit into the other block’s rotation, given the content those anime had. It was a stroke of genius, and aught to be given another go. Now, I understand if such were done, the block time for both would likely be reduced, but I don’t see why two hours can’t be given for “child-friendly” Toonami and another two hours for the more adult-oriented Midnight Run. I also would like it if Midnight Run aired significantly different shows than Toonami, and embrace its adult nature fully when called for (still, obviously, this means no straight-up hentai or hentai-like anime like Urotsukidoji. But *maybe* Wicked City? Maybe?).

It’d also be wise to make it a daily feature (like Toonami) and put it around the 10pm-12am time slot, and afterwards bring on Adult Swim? I’ve never particularly understood why AS would bring on its comedies first and then it’s heavier action shows; isn’t it more natural to fully unwind the night w/ some easy laughs vs. shows that require a more hardened attention from the viewer? Well, I at least always thought of it that way. Bringing back the Midnight Run block would also be a great way to appease the original fans b/c, well, most of us are either older teens or young adults these days, y’know.

And there you have it, 5 particular, personal tips/suggestions/what-have-yous that I feel, if followed or at least considered (I certainly can’t be the only person w/ these sorts of things on their mind), I think this Toonami reboot will not only be successful, but potentially phenomenal and innovative as the original was in its prime. A lot of things may have changed since its end, but quality is timeless.

Check out John’s blog here.

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