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The Top 5 Shows Toonami Failed

Posted 17 February 2008 / By Andrew "Sketch" Hingson / Opinion

Before the fanboys start harking about KenshinMegasIGPX and Fantastic Four, I’m going to say I give them honorable mentions but, truthfully, Toonami gave them a fair shot and they just didn’t click. This is a list of shows which had a moment of promise before Toonami (or more so Cartoon Network itself) gave up on them. It is pretty sad that their own series (IGPX) had to leave the block, but to their credit the show still aired at a semi-watch able time.

#5 – Zatch Bell

Zatch Bell seemed to be doing great for at least two years and then it suddenly vanished. I can understand that there weren’t any more episodes to air at the time, but considering CN barely reran any of season two it would have been nice to at least see reruns of that. I guess they decided Jetstream was enough. However, now that at least another “season” is available, Toonami should be playing Zatch Bell right now – but the network completely let it die. Any steam it once had is long gone. It could have been another strong pillar for Toonami to rely on, but for whatever reason they gave up on it. What bothers me the most about Zatch Bell‘s situation was that its departure felt very sudden. Even though other shows have been abruptly removed, some of them do make a return. Zatch Bell, however, has been relegated to the Jetstream and will probably never air again.

#4 – The Batman

Everything seemed fine in season one but it never got a stable slot on Toonami after that point. While I personally did not care for the show at first, it has managed to grow on me over the years since 2005 and now that it has improved dramatically I feel like Toonami really dropped the ball with The Batman. What more is there to say than that it has been tossed to Boomerang, of all places? Toonami needs some super heroes and The Batman is willing and able to fill that void. It even has a movie to promote this summer, yet they still won’t air it. That is quite a poor choice.

#3 – Gundam SEED

I am a bit reluctant to include SEED because I honestly cannot blame them for taking it off the block when it was doing so poorly. However, there was a light at the end of the tunnel and the rather lackluster beginning gave way to a great finale. Toonami should have hosted that finale, if for no other reason than to make up for months of boredom and/or agony. This pick is not entirely because of Gundam SEED‘s fall from grace (if it ever had any), but also because Gundam SEED‘s failure brought the inevitable death of Gundam in America. Sure, the DVDs are still being released, but it feels like Gundam has been blacklisted ever since SEED took down the whole franchise. Perhaps if Toonami had kept airing it to the end, Gundam would have lived on. I guess we will never know for sure.

#2 – The Prince of Tennis and Marchen Awakens Romance

That’s right, it’s a two-for-one deal. I know I’m cheating, but if you know the history of these shows’ lack of success then you’ll understand why I grouped them together. Both premiered the same day, and they basically left together – though technically Prince of Tennis was the first one off the block (and also the first one to leave Jetstream). The story of these two series is a tragic one. They, along with Hikaru no Go, were the poster boys for the Toonami Jetstream online service. Jetstream was the first place these series were shown in the US, and they seemed to do all right. MAR was even the third highest viewed show on Jetstream in 2007 according to Viz Media, and it was only behind the ratings juggernauts Naruto and Pokemon. Jetstream certainly has given these shows a good place to be established, but when they ventured onto television things somehow went horribly wrong.

Things started with the poor decision to skip several episodes of each – only to restart them and run them normally. That undoubtedly killed any casual interest in these series, and it was the first step towards the apparent break-down of both series. After only airing on Saturday Toonami for a short while, they vanished from the schedule like so many other shows – and while Viz put up a good front for both, it was obvious that they were sinking quickly. As of the moment neither series have had episodes dubbed beyond their first seasons and MAR‘s DVDs have sold so poorly that Viz has pulled their remaining releases for it. The Prince of Tennis has managed to churn out four box sets covering every episode seen on Jetstream, but there is no sign of the 100+ episode series getting a continuation in the US. Toonami was not the only reason both of these series are circling the drain as we speak, but the way Toonami went about airing them in 2007 was a recipe for failure and I hope Williams Street learned their lesson.

#1 – Yu Yu Hakusho

What happened to Yu Yu Hakusho? I wish I knew. It was a ratings winner for around two years and it managed to get ratings as good as the Dragonball franchise on occasion. The initial move from Adult Swim to Toonami worked well, and everything seemed great for those two years. I don’t think anyone saw its removal coming, but in March of 2005, Yu Yu Hakusho disappeared. Much like Zatch Bell years later, a series that seemed to be doing so well somehow ended up having a massive fall-out. Could the ratings really have hit the ground that badly? Did they decide the series just didn’t look crisp enough to fit into their 2005 “new and fresh” line-up? How did such a great show that was doing so well suddenly drop off?

Some people say the ratings dropped with the move to once-a-week airings, but I don’t believe that was the case. What makes YYH‘s loss sting even more is that this previous ratings winner was so forgotten by the network that it may have taken a letter from a fan for them to realize they still had it. [ed- referring to William Maune (Meteo) from Animation Insider, who apparently prodded Toonami into reairing the series with a single letter.] Some might say Zatch Bell got the worse deal because YYH did eventually finish on the network, but Zatch will probably get to finish on Jetstream (which can be watched any time of the day, rather than at 5:30AM on a Saturday morning). Therefore I have to give the crown to Yu Yu Hakusho.


That is all for the shows I feel Toonami gave up on too soon. Next time I’ll steer this in a more positive direction, with a list of shows which Toonami saved from extinction.

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