Not too long ago I stumbled upon an interesting show on The History Channel called Life After People. It used scientific findings to predict what life “after people” would be like for planet earth. Well I don’t have any scientific findings here but I thought I’d apply their gimmick to a post mortem timeline for the late great Toonami block. It’s been over 2 years and much has changed. In fact, so much has changed that a lot of people probably did not even notice everything that has happened since Toonami was taken off the air. Action animation and anime have found new venues and are now more available to viewers than ever before. So without further ado I present to you, life after Toonami.
13 Days After Toonami – Cartoon Network makes Friday its’ new Action Premiere Night. Ben 10: Alien Force is joined by new series The Secret Saturdays and Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
2 Weeks After Toonami – Saturday nights became Action Flicks featuring animated action movies and Naruto premieres. Action Flicks would last until the end of February of 2009.
9 Weeks After Toonami – Gundam makes its’ triumphant return to US television when Gundam 00 premieres on The Sci-Fi Channel’s Ani-Monday block. Gundam 00 is the first Gundam television series (not OVA series) to air in the US somewhere other than Toonami. While Gundam SEED Destiny was aired in Canada on YTV’s Bionix Block, it never aired on US television outside of on-demand services.
15 Weeks After Toonami – Viz Media begins streaming Naruto and Naruto Shippuden on Naruto.com. Both would later be available on Crunchyroll and Hulu. Naruto Shippuden’s latest episodes from Japan began simulating from Naruto.com and Crunchyroll beginning a simulcast boom and putting Crunchyroll on the map. Crunchyroll stated in an interview that they felt they were becoming the new Toonami in the sense that they were the most accessible source of anime around at the time. Toonami happened to be a trailblazer for streaming media first with the Toonami Reactor and later with Toonami Jetstream. Technology greatly improved since then allowing viewers to stream content at greater ease and in higher quality than they could in years prior.
19 Weeks After Toonami – Naruto ends its’ broadcast run on Cartoon Network on January 31st 2009 with only episodes 210-220 remaining. These episodes were never broadcast on Cartoon Network. The Toonami Jetstream website was shut down and Naruto moved to CN Video. The final episodes were also never streamed on CN Video but they were streamed on Naruto.com and Hulu.
6 Months After Toonami – Action Flicks ends its’ run on Cartoon Network Saturday nights. It will be a while before Cartoon Network tries action on Saturday nights again. Cartoon Network also announces the third Ben 10 series tentatively titled Ben 10: Evolutions, a new series from Man of Action (creators of Ben 10) called Generator Rex and a new giant robot series from Genndy Tartakovsky (creator of Samurai Jack and Dexter’s Laboratory) called Sym-Bionic Titan.
7 Months After Toonami – Dragon Ball hits the big screen in the US with the live-action feature film, Dragon Ball: Evolution. It goes about as well as you might expect.
8 Months After Toonami – Nicktoons Network bolsters their action library with Iron Man: The Armored Adventures the second of two Marvel shows that made their US broadcast debut on Nicktoons, the first was Wolverine and the X-Men launching slightly before Toonami’s cancellation. The hour long premiere broke Nicktoons Network’s premiere record. X-Men also proved successful for the network. Both series became the starting point for Nicktoons Network’s broader expansion into action animation for the years to follow. Meanwhile, FUNimation announces plans to stream the latest One Piece episodes within an hour of when they air in Japan along with both uncut dubbed and subtitled episodes from the beginning of the series. Unfortunately the first episode gets leaked and FUNimation has to cancel those plans for the time being.
9 Months After Toonami – The Spectacular Spider-Man begins airing on Disney XD. The second season is the first Marvel animated series US premiere for the network. It will not be the last. Shortly before that Cartoon Network begins airing Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds, their first Japanese animated series acquisition since Toonami’s cancellation.
11 Months After Toonami – FUNimation relaunches their One Piece Japanese episode simulcast making One Piece the second Toonami veteran to receive a Japanese episode simulcast, the first of which was Naruto.
1 Year and 1 Month After Toonami – Naruto Shippuden begins broadcasting on Disney XD with a bit more edits than Cartoon Network’s broadcast of Naruto had. Despite that the program aired with a TV-PG-V rating as Naruto usually did on Cartoon Network. Another previous Toonami show, Fantastic Four: The World’s Greatest Heroes finds a home on Nicktoons Network airing along-side the network’s X-Men and Iron Man series. Also in this month Nickelodeon secured the rights to the entire Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise with plans to launch a new movie and CGI animated series in 2012.
1 Year and 2 Months After Toonami – Cartoon Network gives Saturday night action another go by moving some of their Saturday morning premieres to prime time to air with the final season of The Secret Saturdays. They also briefly bring back Justice League Unlimited starting at the beginning of season 3 which had not previously rerun on Cartoon Network before. Unfortunately this blocking of shows is phased out within less than a year.
1 Year and 3 Months After Toonami – The Walt Disney Company finally evens the score with Warner Bros. for buying DC Comics by acquiring Marvel Comics. Assuring future Marvel animated series will air on Disney XD beside The Spectacular Spider-Man, X-Men: Evolution and the Marvel animated series purchased when Disney bought the Saban library. Meanwhile Viz Media launches the website VizAnime.com for purposes of streaming uncut Japanese versions of many of their popular properties including Toonami Jetstream veterans, Naruto, The Prince of Tennis, and Hikaru No Go. The website would later add Toonami veterans.
1 Year and 4 Months After Toonami – Gundam takes streaming media by storm with a several month campaign to promote the new Gundam Unicorn OVA by streaming episodes of Mobile Suit Gundam on Crunchyroll, YouTube and Anime News Network’s video service. In the months to follow Zeta Gundam, Gundam SEED, Gundam SEED Destiny and Gundam Wing would also stream on the various websites. Mobile Suit Gundam streamed roughly half of its episodes with the Toonami intro from 2001. Meanwhile, Discovery Kids and Hasbro announce plans to revamp Discovery Kids into a new network for kids and families called The Hub. The network will be the new home for G.I. Joe and Transformers.
1 Year and 5 Months After Toonami – Cartoon Network announces the acquisition of Young Justice, Metajets and Beyblade: Metal Fusion to bolster their action animation line-up along with Pokemon, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Batman: The Brave and the Bold and their original action series Ben 10: Ultimate Alien, Generator Rex and Sym-Bionic Titan. Meanwhile, Toonami alum Rave Master returns to US television on The Sci-Fi Channel’s Ani-Monday block.
1 Year and 6 Months After Toonami – Nicktoons Network announces the acquisition of two new from franchises that have become synonymous with Toonami, Dragon Ball Kai and Voltron Force. They also announce the acquisition of the 4Kids Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series which they previously acquired when they bought the TMNT franchise from co-creator Peter Laird.
1 Year and 7 Months After Toonami – Cartoon Network original action series Generator Rex and the 3rd incarnation of Ben 10 (Ben 10: Ultimate Alien) premiere on Cartoon Network’s Friday night action block. Meanwhile 4Kids announces the acquisition of Dragon Ball Kai for their Saturday morning block on The CW Network. They also announce that their Saturday morning block will be revamped into an anime focused block featuring Dragon Ball Kai, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Sonic X among other “substantial Japanese hits”. The real head turner in this news is the new block will be called Toonzai. Marvel animation also announces Ultimate Spider-Man for Disney XD to air in Fall of 2011.
1 Year and 8 Months After Toonami – Dragon Ball returns to US television full force when Nicktoons Network begins broadcasting Dragon Ball Kai, a remake of Dragon Ball Z. The show premieres episodes Monday – Thursday for several months before being scaled back to 2 premieres a week with some breaks. Dragon Ball Kai proves successful enough to many extra slots on the network. Meanwhile, Adult Swim begins broadcasting Kekkaishi on their Saturday night anime block, marking the first Viz Media anime to debut on Cartoon Network since the cancellation of Naruto. The series had previously streamed on VizAnime.com and Hulu.
1 Year and 9 Months After Toonami –Warner Bros. Animation announce they are working on a new ThunderCats series to debut on Cartoon Network in 2011. The new animated series will be a creative collaboration between WBA and Studio4°C in Japan.
1 Year and 10 Months After Toonami – Nickelodeon announces a sequel to Avatar: The Last Airbender is in the works for 2011. Meanwhile, G4 announces it will have the US television debut of the Marvel anime produced by Studio Madhouse in 2011.
1 Year and 11 Months After Toonami – 4Kids newly branded Saturday morning block Toonzai begins broadcasting. The block airs heavily censored episodes of Dragon Ball Kai along with Sonic X, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds and other 4Kids properties.
2 Years After Toonami – 4Kids creates Toonzaki, a website featuring both their censored dubs and a sizable amount of uncut Japanese animated series via Hulu embeds and eventually Crunchyroll embeds. 4Kids previously experimented with offering the uncut Japanese versions of some of their properties through various streaming websites. The website offers uncut Japanese versions of some of 4Kids licensed Japanese animated series along with an extensive selection of third party titles. Meanwhile, Disney XD debuts a series of shorts leading up to the premiere of Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and Cartoon Network premieres Genndy Tartakovsky’s Sym-Bionic Titan on their Friday night action line-up.
2 Years and 1 Month After Toonami – Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes premieres on Disney XD marking it as the first Marvel animated series produced for Disney XD. Disney XD also announces production has begun on a new animated series called Motorcity created by Chris Prynoski who previously worked Toonami veteran Megas XLR with co-creator George Krstic who will also be writing on Motorcity. Meanwhile, on 10/10/10 The Hub a new network for kids and families debuts with a line-up including Toonami veteran Batman Beyond along with Men in Black the Series and Japanese import Deltora Quest in an afternoon action block. The network also features a late night block with Toonami veteran G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero and Transformers: Generation 1. New Transformers and G.I. Joe series are set to debut in the months to follow.
2 Years and 2 Months After Toonami – Young Justice has a one hour premiere on Cartoon Network’s Friday night block. Meanwhile Disney announces a Tron Uprising a new animated action series for 2012 and The Hub debuts G.I. Joe: Renegades and the Transformers: Prime five part mini-series.
2 Years and 4 Months After Toonami – Toonami alum MÄR begins streaming on VizAnime.com via Hulu embeds. Meanwhile Dragon Ball Z begins streaming on FUNimation’s websites, Hulu and Toonzaki offering both uncut dubbed and Japanese episodes from the beginning of the series. Young Justice also returns to Cartoon Network to begin airing regularly Friday nights.
2 Years and 5 Months After Toonami – Sym-Bionic Titan returns to air the last of its 20 episode season on Wednesday nights rather than Friday where Young Justice, Ben 10: Ultimate Alien, Generator Rex and Star Wars: The Clone Wars air premieres. Meanwhile, another giant robot series Transformers: Prime begins its regular run on The Hub and Toonami alum Storm Hawks returns to US television on Disney XD.
2 Years and 6 Months After Toonami and 14 Years after the Debut of Toonami – Much has changed. Cartoon Network has bolstered their original action line-up immensely since the final days of Toonami. Cartoon Network has found success with action animation on Friday night and has plans to air more original and third party action animation in the months to come including a new ThunderCats series animated in Japan by Studio4°C.
With the rise of legal streaming, Toonami alums from years past have found homes on various streaming websites. Such titles are including but are not limited to Dragon Ball Z, One Piece, Naruto, Mobile Suit Gundam, Gundam Wing, Gundam SEED, Astroboy (2003 series), The Prince of Tennis, MÄR, Voltron, Robotech and various DC animated series.
Cartoon Network’s competitors have also bolstered their own action line-ups through various acquisitions and original productions.
Cartoon Network’s competitors have also bolstered their action animation line-ups through acquisitions and original productions and other venues have opened up to fill the void Toonami left behind. While nothing can possibly replace Toonami or live up to everything the block accomplished, action animation is still alive and well. There is no question in my mind that Toonami’s legacy lives on today and it will continue to live on as long as there are great action cartoons. The revolution will be televised and probably streamed on the internet.