Toonami (// too-NAH-mee) is a television programming block that primarily consists of Japanese anime and American animation. It was created by Sean Akins and Jason DeMarco and produced by Williams Street, a division of Warner Bros. Entertainment, which is owned by AT&T's WarnerMedia. The name is a portmanteau of the words "cartoon" and "tsunami".
|Launched||May 26, 2012|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Format||Anime and action animation|
|Running time||5 hours|
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
|Network||Cartoon Network (1997–2008)|
Kids' WB (2001–2002)
|Launched||March 17, 1997|
|Closed||September 20, 2008|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Format||Anime and action|
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.
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:
|“||So it's a brand new Toonami, but the mission objectives remain the same. My name is TOM. I'm the new Moltar. Welcome aboard the Ghost Planet Spaceship Absolution, Cartoon Network's first and only interstellar broadcast and exploration vehicle. I'll give you the tour later. From this day forward she is completely responsible for all Toonami transmissions. I'm taking you guys into the new millennium! No big changes now, same show, same attitude; new place to do it, new guy to do it with. I'm not going to waste any more time, let's get back into it. Later.||”|
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 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, even running an uncut version of Gundam Wing between March and November 2000. One special edition that started on Friday, August 31, 2001, featured music videos such as “Clint Eastwood” by Gorillaz, and songs by Daft Punk from their 2001 album Discovery, the music videos of which constitute the 2003 Japanese-French musical Interstella 5555, and Kenna's "Hellbent”. 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, returned for a new season. The first TIE was The Intruder, which introduced T.O.M.'s companion, an AI matrix known as Sara (voiced by country singer "Cowboy" 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.
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 (on fellow Time Warner venture The WB network) 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. In Lockdown T.O.M. fights to save the Absolution from an attack by a giant trash compactor. Trapped in Hyperspace, the next TIE, ran the week of September 16–20, 2002. Sara gets taken offline by a computer virus named Swayzak (whose voice actor is unknown but is speculated to be Khary Payton), and TOM is trapped in hyperspace. He manages to defeat Swayzak before the Absolution hits Earth. The game tie-in for this event is lost.
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.
On May 15, 2001, Cartoon Network released Toonami: Deep Space Bass, the official soundtrack album to the TV block.
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.
In September 2003, a mini series premiered introducing 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
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. 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. 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, Inuyasha 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, along with her voice actress being changed to British actress and Red Dwarf star Samantha Robson.
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.
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:
- March 3 – The Invincible Iron Man
- March 10 – Mosaic
- March 17 – Hellboy: Blood and Iron
- March 24 – Stan Lee Presents: The Condor
- March 31 – Spirited Away and Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo
On September 20, 2008, 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:
|“||Well, this is the end, beautiful friends. After more than 11 years, this is Toonami's final broadcast. It's been a lot of fun, and we'd like to thank each and every one of you who made this journey with us. Toonami wouldn't have been anything without you. Hopefully, we've left you with some good memories. So, until we meet again, stay gold. Bang.||”|
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
On April 1, 2012, Adult Swim aired the Toonami block for their annual April Fools' Day prank. 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!, Outlaw Star, The Big O, Yu Yu Hakusho, Blue Submarine No. 6, Trigun, Astro Boy (1963), and Gigantor. The following day, Adult Swim posted a message to their Twitter page, simply stating, "Want it back? Let us know. #BringBackToonami". 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." On April 8, Adult Swim aired two bumpers about the Toonami tweets and answered with "[we're listening]" and "[we're looking into it]".
On May 16, Adult Swim posted a message on Facebook announcing that Toonami would return on May 26. The network issued a press release later that day confirming the block's revival as a Saturday late-night action block. 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.
On October 6, Toonami expanded to a full six hours; Sym-Bionic Titan and ThunderCats were added to the block. Tenchi Muyo! GXP was announced as the next premiere on November 3, as was the return of Inuyasha. 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.
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. 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.
On April 27, 2013 Toonami premiered its new look, featuring the return of supporting host Sara (now voiced by Adult Swim staff member Dana Swanson.) 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. 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. 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. The conclusion of Intruder III in 2016 led to another new look to Toonami.
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. 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. The Toonami logo was also changed to Japanese (stylized as トウナミ). 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. TOM was voiced by Masa Kanome, a Japanese stunt actor who had been in a Wolverine movie, and Sara was voiced by Fusako Shiotani.
On September 29, Toonami expanded to seven full hours from 9 PM to 4 AM with Boruto: Naruto Next Generations as the marquee addition. On December 13, it was announced that Toonami would remove Dragon Ball Z Kai and Samurai Jack from its lineup, cutting the block down to 6 hours. Also, the block would be moved back and would air from 11PM-5AM, starting on January 5, 2019, because of Adult Swim taking back the 8pm hour from Cartoon Network.
On January 24, it was announced that Toonami would remove Pop Team Epic and Iron-Blooded Orphans from its lineup, cutting the block down to 5 hours.
On May 13, 2019, Adult Swim announced that Toonami will be shifting its whole block thirty minutes earlier, starting at 10:30PM and ending at 3:30 AM, cutting a half hour rerun of Family Guy. The changes will begin on May 25, 2019.
On May 24, 2019, MomoCon announced that a new T.I.E., The Forge, will begin airing on November 9.
Video Game ReviewsEdit
Infrequently, Toonami has aired reviews of video games. These reviews, delivered TOM and occasionally Sara, 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 Mark "AgentParsec" 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. Sara did a review of Tetsuya Mizuguchi's Rez featuring only herself and a cameo by Swayzak from Trapped in Hyperspace; this review has given the protagonist of Rez the nickname "Swayzak."
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:
- Wreck-It Ralph (October 27, 2012)
- 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)
- ELEAGUE Street Fighter V Invitational (May 20, 2017)
- Injustice 2 (June 17, 2017)
- Spider-Man (September 30, 2018)
- League of Legends (October 13, 2018)
- Anthem (February 16, 2019)
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The first tie-in comics were in the DC Comics series Cartoon Network Presents (1997-1999), where Toonami’s use of certain Hanna-Barbera characters was spotlighted in issues 5, 9, 13, 17, & 21.
The first solo 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 and how he became the pilot for the Absolution, introducing his female friend RUBY, who, according to an episode of Toonami Pre-Flight, may return on the block itself one day.
The next tie-in comic, "Blue Falcon and Dynomutt," was a 4-part online flash comic released on Toonami.com at the same time "Swarm" was released, featuring the Hanna-Barbera superhero Blue Falcon and his robotic dog sidekick, Dynomutt.
According to some fans on the Internet, there was an online comic released at the end of the Trapped in Hyperspace event which was meant to wrap up the plot of the on-air segments and the online game. This has been lost to the ages and may not even exist.
The third tie-in comic, "Toonami: Endgame," was released in 2003; it detailed TOM and Sara stopping a space pirate named Orcelot Rex and the birth of TOM 3.
The fourth tie-in comic was an online comic that was set to be released during the TOM 4 era of 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 Flash and D 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 and his companions, Flash and D, investigating the Intruder in Jungle Bass on Flowus 3.
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 exploring the surface of Shogo 162, where he meets another robotic being, who helps TOM escape from a Tragagog.
Online video servicesEdit
On March 26, 2001, Cartoon Network launched Toonami Reactor, their first online streaming video service. 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.
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 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 (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 was discontinued. Since then, many of the shows aired until cancellation aired on Cartoon Network Video on its main website.
On February 27, 2015, AdultSwim.com launched the online show Toonami: Pre-Flight hosted by Toonami producers Jason DeMarco and Gill Austin. 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.
The anime-oriented streaming service Crunchyroll became a sister to Adult Swim after AT&T's acquisition of Time Warner, and its acquisition of the remaining share of existing AT&T venture Otter Media. In March 2019, after both Adult Swim and Otter were placed under Warner Bros. as part of a corporate reorganization, it was stated that there would be synergies between Toonami on television and the service. The two properties had already announced a collaboration on an anime series set within the Blade Runner universe.
Cartoon Network (1997–2008) / Kids' WB (2001–'02)Edit
Adult Swim (2012–present)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, France in 2016 and Africa in 2017. The Southeast Asian and Indian channels have since been closed.
The programming block was launched in 2001 in Australia as a weekend block on Cartoon Network. It aired on Saturday from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm and on Sunday from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm with a repeat on both nights from 11:00 pm to 1:00 am. The programming was then converted to a weekday block shortly there after. The programming was dropped from the channel in August 2006.
French version of the Toonami television channel was launched on February 11, 2016. It is operated by Turner Broadcasting System Europe.
An Indian version of Toonami was first launched as a block in 2001 and was then followed by a stand alone channel in 2015. It ceased operations in May 15, 2018
On December 2, 2002, Cartoon Network premiered Toonami block, replacing a similarly-themed block, Talisman. The weekend block of Toonami was then replaced by the premiere of Adult Swim in Latin America on October 7, 2005. In 2007, Cartoon Network cut the Toonami block completely from the channel.
Toonami was launched as a programming block in Pakistan on Cartoon Network and ran from 2004–2013.
A stand alone Toonami channel was launched in Southeast Asia replacing Boomerang on December 1, 2012. Although it replaced Boomerang, the channel was relaunched in 2015 alongside Toonami. The channel shut down on March 31, 2018 making it the longest running stand alone channel out all of them lasting 6 years.
A Toonami television channel was launched in sub-Saharan Africa on June 1, 2017. It is available on Kwesé satellite television platform
UK & IrelandEdit
Toonami was launched as a programming block on Cartoon Network in the UK and Ireland in 2001. In October 2002, it then became part of CNX, a new channel launched by Cartoon Network UK. Almost a year later, CNX was relaunched as Toonami in 2003 turning the block into a stand alone channel. The channel shut down on May 24, 2007.
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