Gephyrophillia | Watch This Space #60

Originally Posted on 04/14/2003 by Jeff Harris

You know, the new look of Toonami has been in effect for about a month now, and for the life of me, I couldn't think of what it lacked. Sure, we got new episodes of Yu Yu Hakusho and Dragon Ball Z and the premiere of Rurouni Kenshin. Not to mention a couple of weeks of G-Gundam and a couple of weeks of He-Man, and yet something seems missing. I couldn't think of the answer until before today's broadcast.

I was looking through my older files and I found the raw copy of my first interview with Sean Akins, Toonami boss extraordinaire. I did find out that the answer to my last question WAS answered, but it was so encoded, I didn't see it. It was separated by a bunch of blocks, and I don't know why I never saw it before. Go figure. But that's not where I reached my epiphany.

In the article, I remember asking him this question:

Will there be any new vignettes ala Space and Technologically advanced?

And his answer was "As long as there is Toonami, there will be stuff like vignettes, messages, drawings, and game reviews. It's part of the fun. We've got a bunch more coming soon."

This was June 2000. There had been a couple of more promos since then (the last one, Advanced Robotics, appearing in August 2001), and then they just disappeared. The drawings segment made its last run somewhere arond the summer of 2001. Video game segments suddenly disappeared around March 17, 2003, when the new Toonami logged on (guess they need to buy a couple of consoles for the new craft). So, five weeks into the new Toonami, you got to ask one question . . . What's up with the original stuff?

Granted we get rid of the pipes, but we got new openings to the shows. Still, after looking at the Saturday night action fare, it's apparent that original openings are not only pointless, but takes A LOT away from the show. So, are the abbreviated openings there just to add the interstitials or are they there to put in more ads? I'm starting the think the latter, because the same thing's going on at the network's favorite son, Adult Swim (well, the action portion . . . if comedy shows could keep their openings, why NOT the action programming?). More ads equals more money, and more money equals more shows, and more shows equals more ads, and the vicious cycle continues. It's all about money. I remember a time when it used to be about satisfying the fans. Toonami is good, but it's lacking something. It's lacking that thing that separates the block from the rest of the network. Now, it just seems like a lighter version of Adult Swim with a robot as the inbetweener. It's like Saturday without the original openings and the Kids' WB pap.

There used to be things that used to set Toonami apart from anything else on Cartoon Network. One of those things used to be its programming. Now, on the other blocks, you see former Toonami shows like Masters of the Universe, Transformers: Armada, Zoids, Dragon Ball, .hack//SIGN, and soon Batman, Superman, and The Big O in places other than Toonami. Don't get me wrong, Toonami isn't struggling for quality shows by a long shot. It's just that nowadays, the "only Toonami" motto more or less translates as "only Toonami until we put it on SVES or early weekday mornings in a few months."

The uniqueness is all but gone. Maybe we'll see something this summer. Maybe we'll see something by the fall. But right now, the only things worth watching the block for are the new episodes of Kenshin and Yu Yu Hakusho, and they're not going to last forever. Heck, I could see one of them moving to SVES by the fall. Not that it's a bad thing, but things that make Toonami popular, aside from the shows, are absent, and that's scary.

The first thing they should do is shock folks. The disappearance of DBZ in a couple of weeks is shocking enough, but they should pull something out of their pockets and do something that will leave people speechless. Something that would make idiots like me actually sit up and notice, and not just for a short-term effect, but something with lasting power. And not just on a show nor a graphical change. My friend Brundlefly (well, not friends, persay, we're soldiers of the same revolution with different idealogies) over at the Adrenaline once called me and my crew in the TICA "stagnant." I was reluctant to admit it at the time, but he was right. We were stagnant and we had to change with the times. Fortunately, we did. Now, I'm going out and tell Sean, Jason, and the rest of the Toonami crew something:

You guys are becoming stagnant! Shock us. Make stuff happen. Have fun again. And stop looking at Adult Swim with envy. You started this revolution, fellas. It's time to shock the status quo again. Toonami's "OG," but that's no excuse to grow old and lay down on the job. Shock us. It's time. We're ready.

Oh, one more thing, Buena Vista's releasing three Miyazaki films tomorrow on the best video format today, DVD. Castle in the Sky, Kiki's Delivery Service, and the award-winning Spirited Away are all coming out, the first time a MAJOR HOLLYWOOD STUDIO released multiple anime releases. Sure, they're reluctant, and it took an Oscar for Disney to actually think about releasing them, but stick it to them and buy the discs. Then, maybe they won't have any hesitations of releasing the other films they got rights to.

Until we are one, later.
Jeff Harris
CNX Creator/Webmaster
April 14, 2003


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