Cartoon Network Does Not Need an Anime Block

Posted: August 3, 2010 by Sketch in Animation, Animation Editorials, Authors, Sketch

Hey folks I’ve moved to Tuesdays and to kick-off this momentous occasion I’m going to delve right into the subject of Cartoon Network and their apparent lack of Japanese cartoons. Let me start by saying I love Japanese cartoons and people would probably refer to me as an “anime fan” but there is a time and place for Japanese cartoons on The Cartoon Network and it does not require any kind of restructuring.

A Brief History of Anime and The Cartoon Network

It is true that Cartoon Network used to play a lot of Japanese cartoons. A lot more than they do now even between the combination of CN’s time and Adult Swim’s any given day except maybe Saturday. CN handles the toyetic stuff such as Pokemon, Beyblade and Bakugan which they partially own and Adult Swim gets the rest including the shounen that may have aired on Toonami if it was still around.

Cartoon Network was the center of the anime boom in the early 2000s because of Toonami which began as an action block and always existed as an action block but also served the purpose of being CN’s “anime block” many times throughout its’ existence. CN was the home of Sailor Moon, Dragon Ball, Gundam, Zoids, Yu Yu Hakusho, One Piece, Naruto, and many other rather successful Japanese cartoon franchises because of Toonami and later Adult Swim back when the network saw value in those programs. They got nearly all the great shows available from Japan from around 1999 until 2007 other than a few that were snatched up by their competitors. They continue to get some of the more high-profile ones because of Adult Swim in particular. They found several hidden gems while being the home of the Shonen Jump catalog and they co-produced the second season of The Big O with Sunrise as well as IGPX with Production IG and Powerpuff Girls Z with Toei.

However it was clear in 2009 the party was over for non-toyetic anime that were not on Adult Swim when Naruto quietly left the airwaves after the cancellation of Toonami in the Fall of 2008. Disney XD snatched up Naruto Shippuden and not long after that Nicktoons Network landed Dragon Ball Z Kai. Both of which would have been shoe-ins for Cartoon Network in previous years and the masses were left looking very confused. In all honesty I believe CN should have picked up both because they are proven hits but now there’s nothing they can do about that other than acquire the rights to the only other anime that could bring them the same audience, i.e. One Piece and I hope they do realize it was a mistake to toss One Piece out in 2007 but I do not expect they will.

Why Cartoon Network Does Not Need an Anime Block

Fringe-otaku and so-called “Toonami fans” clamor for Cartoon Network to bring back Toonami or start a new anime block. I’m all for Cartoon Network making a new action block but an anime block that plays anime for the sake of playing anime is pointless and here is why. Cartoon Network and it’s competitors have sapped the market of the shows worth watching. The remaining “Toonami” anime are decent at best and the edgier ones are probably better off on Adult Swim. The two shows I feel that fit that niche of being an edgier Japanese cartoon that’s still marketed to children are SGT Frog and One Piece and I’m sure FUNimation would be more than happy to have them on television. There are some others such as Fairy Tail and Heroman but hardly enough to justify making an anime block. They could have a block with Pokemon, Bakugan, Beyblade and other toyetic anime right now if they wanted to but I personally wouldn’t care to watch that because out of those cartoons, I only moderately enjoy Pokemon.

Furthermore, CN has been treating their action acquisitions like second-rate garbage for quite a while now. Why would anyone want them to get a good Japanese cartoon when they’d probably toss it to six o‘clock in the morning? That is not going to help those shows gain any more fans than they already have. CN isn’t likely to pick up more than a few at a time as well. Going from having just toyetic Japanese cartoons to having enough PG level ones to make a block is really unlikely for budget purposes alone. CN is currently using their budget to produce and acquire some great home-grown action and making good use of Warner Bros. Animation again which is yielding three new series based on DC comics franchises and a long-awaited revival of ThunderCats which will actually be animated in Japan. Why would they need to fill their schedule with more Japanese cartoons? The answer is, they don’t need to.

It’s the “all or nothing” mentality that is the problem here. There certainly should be Japanese cartoons on The Cartoon Network. They have often done well there and there is a market for them. However, the market is much smaller than it once was and they can only justify having a few given what’s left to be tapped without picking up more mediocre acquisitions. They have places to air anime. That has never changed. I am much more interested in seeing an afternoon action block be built than for said block to be composed entirely of anime and not necessarily action anime. It does not matter where the shows come from. What matters is if they’re worth showing or not. I realize that in of itself is subjective.

Japanese cartoons have many more venues now than they did when Cartoon Network was the place to see the best shows coming out of Japan. Legal streaming is on the rise. Syfy, Disney XD, Nicktoons Network and other less available channels are dabbling in anime. There’s anime available on-demand on digital cable and satellite and there’s even the FUNimation Channel which airs nothing but Japanese cartoons. We can probably thank Toonami for much of that. After several years 4Kids is back to thinking Japan is the place to find their next big hit and they’re revamping their Saturday morning block to be anime themed. The content is out there, it’s just not all in the same place anymore and while I admit that would be convenient, if kids do not seem to mind then adults making a fit over it is quite frankly pathetic.

If The Cartoon Network should do anything in particular with anime I think its more so in Adult Swim’s court now that they are gaining the 9PM hour in 2011. 9PM-11PM any given night of the week is an excellent time to be airing the best action cartoons coming out of Japan without the need to edit for the children’s network / block standards. More people should be prodding Adult Swim to use the front-end of Adult Swim for more anime on weekdays. It’s an excellent use of that time given that Adult Swim cannot play their heavy hitters in those hours due to content and other restrictions such as FOX not wanting their shows competing with each other on different networks. Their hands are pretty tied as to what they can run in the 9PM hour in particular. Why not air highly successful shows such as Bleach and Inuyasha? They might stand a chance of not getting destroyed by network prime time while I’m more than certain King of the Hill reruns would.

There are however those shows better suited for Cartoon Network than Adult Swim and they have ought to have a place on the network. That could be any number of places without resorting to making an all anime block again.

Cartoon Network needs an action block, not just an anime block.

An action block airing on weekday afternoons before prime time that could very well air many Japanese cartoons if they are worth airing along with other action acquisitions that deserve some love such as Metajets and Batman. An action block that would air reruns or even premieres of their original action series. An action block ever-changing but ever familiar. That’s what Toonami was actually about, not just airing Japanese cartoons for the sake of airing them and that’s exactly what people are either forgetting or choosing to ignore.

Besides, what we really should be concerned about is if The Cartoon Network is going to keep airing cartoons at all.

  1. Ian Isberto says:

    I don’t even care what time’s have changed or what this opinion is about. They only interested of anime shows on Cartoon Network, especially the old cartoon shows. Haven’t you forget? This isn’t about the “Otaku” issues, it’s about their childhood memories that they took them away. In fact, if Cartoon Network/Turner Broadcasting System doesn’t have any plans to acquire the rights to Funimation Entertainment or other anime companies, all of this complaints will get much worse. And it’s not like that at all, I’ve seen those kids and teenagers who liked cartoon and anime shows on Cartoon Network because they haven’t changed at all. So, why don’t you just tell the company to acquire the global rights to anime company like this: So that way, all of the problems will be over.

    • Sketch says:

      That’s got to be one of the saddest arguments I’ve ever seen. No joke.

      They took away our childhood memories? Maybe they did but demanding they bring back those anime or air more anime in general is not going to bring our childhood memories back. Maybe playing Animaniacs and some gosh dang Looney Tunes or their own original shows such as Powerpuff Girls, Samurai Jack, Dexter’s Lab and Johnny Bravo but not even the majority of the anime that aired on Toonami is worth crying over anymore.

      You sound like another otaku grasping at straws to some how make your demands sound more legit. I see this kind of thing all the time these days.

      Do you honestly believe if CN played more “Toonami type” anime and perhaps brought back Toonami to air them that complaints would dry up? There have always been complaints and always will be complaints about how Cartoon Network runs their business. You probably aren’t wrong that if CN continues to not play “Toonami type” anime that complaints will continue to get worse at least for a while but that’s not really a good reason to get more anime. A good reason to get more anime is because it could potentially do well for them and that there are still a few great cartoons in Japan that could use a good home on US television. That home doesn’t have to be CN however.

      I do think they ought to play some more Japanese cartoons, good ones such as One Piece and SGT Frog which could air on CN with or without an “anime block” but that’s about all the anime I really feel is worth asking for.

      Now what you suggest with Turner acquiring an anime company is interesting and I wonder what might come out of that. FUNimation already has their own anime channel though, it really does not need another so much as it needs to manage that channel better and continue to work on getting it into more homes. You do however seem to be assuming too much. Viz Media’s deal with Warner was for distribution. This didn’t prevent DXD from getting Naruto Shippuden and the only Viz show to premiere on CN since that deal was made is Kekkaishi. Warner doesn’t actually control where Viz Anime end up nor does their influence mandate CN to air any Viz anime.

      If Turner bought FUNimation or partnered with them to maybe make the FUNimation Channel better and in more homes that would likely lead to more anime on CN though probably not a whole lot more because not much of what FUNimation has is really the right kinds of shows for CN. Once again, mostly One Piece and SGT Frog. There are however a lot of great shows for Adult Swim. I can’t honestly say I know what could come out of Turner buying FUNimation but I don’t imagine a petition or anything of the sort would get Turner, Warner or any major media company to buy FUNimation. Business just does not work that way nor should it.

    • Jacob says:

      There are no problems. You disagree with CN’s decisions to move away from things you happen to like just as you might disagree with my decision to paint my house forest green.

      • Sketch says:

        Well Jacob that’s not quite the same thing as you are not (at least I hopefully not) looking to entertain anyone or selling anyone on the concept of painting your house forest green.

        Just as you complain that FUNimation doesn’t treat DBZ like you’d like them to, other people complain that CN doesn’t treat their shows like they’d like them to or perhaps don’t get the shows they want them to. Since they aren’t in the target audience usually that means nothing to CN of course but in the rare instances that it’s someone of that age group who CN is marketing to, their opinion would matter to an extent but you can’t please everyone.

    • Jeff Harris says:

      When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. – I Corinthians 13:11 KJV

      The Major also quoted that verse in the original Ghost in the Shell movie. The words “Spoke as a child” was reiterated as Speak Like A Child, the 18 episode of Cowboy Bebop.

      When you say that Cartoon Network is taking away childhood memories, Ian, may I ask how so? By not airing shows that are readily available on the home media market and online at various online channels?

      Why exactly does Cartoon Network need to acquire Funimation or any other anime studios’ titles? They’re everywhere. Cartoon Network doesn’t need anime to thrive and survive, and the anime industry, whether you believe it or not, doesn’t need Cartoon Network. They’re no longer children. They don’t have to think and speak like children. They’re growing up.

      Some people can’t understand that and long to hold on to those childhood feelings, but eventually, they’ll realize they have to grow. This isn’t 2000, you know. DVDs are cheaper now than they were then (seriously, I recently bought both Superman and Superman 2 for a combined $10), plus, there are multiple digital services to those with broadband capabilities that has them available at your fingertips 24/7/365. It’s a new era out there.

      One I look forward to exploring further.

  2. Riu says:

    Will you people just shut up! Stop Arguing about little things like this. So what if some people want anime back on cartoon network leave them alone its their opinion they can decide to do whatever they want. Even you people who say no to anime because you think its retarded or something. Just don’t think “Oh my idea about not wanting it back on because anime is stupid will end this argument.” It won’t and I’m not complaining by writing this either. It took away their childhood memories, will it probably did! What if suddenly the shows you watched as a kid never came back on how would you feel? Even if you could watch it online or go buy it at some store still wouldn’t you feel at least a little sad!? Worth crying over IF you were a die hard fan of those shows of course it would. I cry over animes I watch all the time, and if you think thats stupid then I have nothing more to say to you low life scums.

    • “What if suddenly the shows you watched as a kid never came back on how would you feel?”

      Dude, old shows eventually stop airing. That’s how television works. The old shows are replaced by the new, and the old may or may not be seen again depending on how popular they were. “Megas XLR” no longer airs. “Angry Beavers” no longer airs. “Pepper Ann” no longer airs. And you can’t find those later two through any legal means, as far as I’m aware. Yeah, I’m a bit saddened by those facts, but it is nothing to cry over. We aren’t being low-lifes by saying an anime block isn’t needed. We are just being realistic.

      When you get down to it, the argument you’re making is stupid. Childhood memories are taken away? The only person that can destroy your childhood memories is you, by forgetting your childhood. As long as you don’t forget your childhood, your childhood memories will stay in place, no matter what crap a television network decides to pull.

      • tetrisdork says:

        I agree with you, but it also turns out you CAN get Angry Beavers episodes legally via iTunes, Xbox/Zune, and PlayStation. Pepper Ann, still not available legally.

    • Sketch says:

      I’ve got no problem with anime, I watch a lot of it. The purpose of this editorial was two fold. I wrote it to explain that the anime industry doesn’t rely on Cartoon Network anymore because it has several more venues now than it once did. I also wrote it to give my opinion that having a daily action block is what Cartoon Network really needs and anime can certainly be a part of that and should. Toonami was an action block not just an anime block. That’s the myth I was trying to bust.

      Make no mistake, I’d love to see One Piece or any number of anime air on CN or come back to CN but they’re going to do what they’re going to do and no amount of complaining on blogs, message boards and youtube channels is going to change that. Especially when the complaints are coming from people who aren’t even in their target demographic anymore. If you really want Cartoon Network to hear you then snail mail is the way to go.

      There’s nothing wrong with wanting to see shows you like again but nothing lasts forever. That’s a fact of life. With digital media more things last forever but some still slip through the cracks. Some of my favorite cartoons are never coming back to TV and I’ve learned to accept that. Toonami went off the air in 2008, it’s 2011 now. There is next to no possibility that the Toonami brand will resurface on Cartoon Network and I have come to accept that as well. Believe me I was right there with the people hoping for a comeback for a while but eventually you move on but you never lose the memories you keep in your heart.

      Cartoon Network didn’t take away anyone’s childhood memories it gave them a childhood.

      It’s good to be passionate about something and if you’re passionate about cartoons I implore you to take that passion and inspiration and put it towards a career in the animation industry be it drawing, writing, directing, voicing or anything else. Such passion should be used to achieve a dream.

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kashmir Hill, Ukari Bakosi. Ukari Bakosi said: Wut at this comment. (side note: Yay, people are commenting! :D) […]

  4. Ian Isberto says:

    Whether it will be their childhood or not, it’s up to Cartoon Network now because this will have any choices that CN could. I should tell you about the ways that I have a true story about me. You see, watching Dragonball Z on Cartoon Network made me realize that I have purpose. The only reason that I don’t want the Cartoon Network fall behind because the viewers claimed that they don’t want live-action programs on CN because this channel is suppose to have all cartoon shows, includes animes and CGI’s. I am not here to cause complaints for this argument, I am here to help Cartoon Network cause the downfall itself. Which is why I want to work for CN and my true intentions is to create the crossovers between CN and FUNi characters, as long as I would give them credit for this. And besides, I have no need to face facts because I only need to learn everything what it will have the generations to come. So, I’ll say this once again, Turner Broadcasting System can either get on board or get out of the way. The choice will be theirs.

  5. Sketch says:

    Turner can either get on board or get out of the way? You can’t do anything to affect Turner’s decisions unless you actually work for them and have a high up position for that matter.

    FUNimation characters aren’t actually created or owned by FUNimation. For example if you want to make a Dragon Ball and Ben 10 cross-over that’s between Turner / CN Studios and Shueisha / Toei.

    Never at any point did I say Cartoon Network shouldn’t play anime and that they should play live-action anything. Cartoon Network shouldn’t be playing live-action and they should be playing great cartoons from all around the world when possible. This editorial is my opinion that Cartoon Network should have an afternoon action block again (which could play anime) but they don’t need a block specifically for playing anime now.

  6. Ian Isberto says:

    They should play live-action anything. Cartoon Network shouldn’t be playing live-action.

    Look, I didn’t mean to offend you like this. I know that they should have all great cartoons and they need a block for getting animes right now, but I was trying to be helpful for CN. Period.

  7. Sketch says:

    But they don’t need a block for getting anime. They have anime. They sort of already have a block for anime on both Saturday mornings and weekday mornings. That’s the anime CN is interested in right now. Stuff that sells lots of toys.

    Don’t worry I wasn’t offended.

    I’m not really sure what you think is being helpful to CN but just talking about what you want here, on a message board or on YouTube doesn’t do anything. I’m not naive enough to think anything I write here or say on the podcast is going to change Cartoon Network for the better. I made this editorial in particular to help some fans better understand why Cartoon Network made some changes.

  8. m says:

    these cartoon are NOT HEALTHY for little girls, for teen and adults neither.
    japanese people are even more perverted than the american are

  9. Marcie says:

    I just find it disappointing that anime is disappearing from the networks. I mean syfy used to have ani-monday then it got moved and now it no longer exists. Cartoon network besides durarara, cowboy bebop and kekkaisi don’t really have that much more on and no I don’t like bleach or fma. They are terrible. It may be anime but I don’t rate that as good. There are plenty of shows from japan maybe not a block per say but the networks should some anime if only because how many times can you see repeats of king of the hill, american dad and family guy. Granted they are great shows but maybe on saturday they could put more anime.

  10. Sketch says:

    Well on one hand anime is on less networks but on the other hand there’s only a handful of edited dubs in production still so much of what airs isn’t being censored and there’s that 24/7 FUNimation Channel as well.

    I’m all for Cartoon Network airing more anime anywhere on their line-up and certainly on Adult Swim Saturday nights. The problem anime on Adult Swim faces is it can’t beat American Dad, Family Guy, Robot Chicken, etc. and that’s why it’s limited to Saturday night only. The Boondocks and Family Guy regularly beat the anime line-up on Saturday as well so expansion seems pretty unlikely. I don’t see anime getting the whole night on Saturday as long as Family Guy and The Boondocks are around to do better than anime but they could perhaps air anime 9PM-11PM on Saturday have a comedy interlude and then back to anime 12AM-6AM. The Oblongs and King of the Hill don’t exactly wow in the ratings 9PM-10:30PM.

    But if you’re just asking for a few more anime worth your time between the hours of 12AM-6AM that’s do-able but there’s really only a few slots to fill since airing new shows after 2AM is well… a terrible idea and a waste of an expensive license. They really only have room for about 3 to 4 premieres and they have 3 right now. I’m aware you don’t care for 2 of them but FMA:B is almost over and they’ll likely get something new to air in it’s spot when it finishes this Fall. Bleach though, that’s not going anywhere I’m afraid. I haven’t watched it regularly in years myself so I’m more or less right there with you.

    I’d like to see Adult Swim bring back Trigun, Outlaw Star and Samurai Champloo (and the first season of The Big for that matter). They’re probably all cheap enough to license to run in those later hours. I’m glad Bebop and GitS are around because they keep both the quality and the maturity level of the AS anime block at an acceptable level. Durarara is the first anime on AS in a long while that I greatly enjoy watching.

    I think Adult Swim’s doing it’s part pretty well honestly. Maybe 1 more premiere for an even 4 but anything more than would be wasting a license unless it’s technically reruns.

    Cartoon Network on the other hand could stand to pick up at least 1 Japanese cartoon that isn’t a toy commerical. Fairy Tail or One Piece would do nicely. There’s plenty of places they could air either with a PG rating now.

    And for action cartoons in general, I want CN to expand to two nights of action so they don’t have to cram everything on to Friday. I’d even like to see them have action on Wednesday and Thursday (move live-action, comedy reruns or movies to Friday) since it’s not wise to go up against big premieres on Nick and Disney on Friday nights. I’d hate to see Young Justice and ThunderCats squandered simply because Cartoon Network isn’t willing to try action premieres on a different night of the week.

  11. Brandon Torres says:

    I must agree as well that bringing back the anime to CN wouldn’t be right, it would lessen complaints but that’s it. There will still be complaints regardless. And at any case, cartoon network is more for children while adult swim for more older audience. So if I may have minor suggestion, instead of constantly changing CN to extents people don’t notice till half-way through it’s change, just change adult swim since that’s where the anime is located currently. Since people complain about CN not having anime and adult swim is getting low ratings due to constant reruns, just switch around the anime on Saturdays every so often to anime the company can find. Besides CN can talk with DXD about getting naruto back for alittle while since they barely give it on there anyways, call it a special temporary return. Or whatever CN can come up with. I mean really to the people arguing to get your “childhood memories” back, you still have adult swim which was there even before toonami, the anime was just more epic so thats why you liked it but if that anime was on adult swim and toonami didn’t exist then there would be no complaints, just requests for more reruns. Anyway to whoever reads this, thank you for your time and please think this suggestion over.

  12. Just stumbled upon your website while doing a Google search. Great info BTW.. You made some decent points there. terrific terrific .

  13. MLX1 says:


    • Sketch says:

      It sure is.

      Making Adult Swim’s action block into Toonami was a great idea and I look forward to watching it ever Saturday. Last night was a blast!

      Too bad Cartoon Network daytime is still lacking an afternoon action block but Saturday morning with ThunderCats, Green Lantern and Young Justice is great IMO. I just wish they’d air those shows more often.

  14. Philip says:

    Actually, I was talking about this in my article “The Dark Age of Western Animation” about how the late 90s- early 00s were showing nothing but anime and that Courage was one of the few western comedies that was good.

    Yeah. Toonami may have played a role into the industry, bringing anime to mainstream, but now times have changed and anime is fading away. And while the “nostalgic millennialist” (kids who grew up and watched tv in the 00s) want to hold on to their childhood as long as possible (like most of us), they’re not realizing they’re growing up and that we’re in a golden age of creativity. And while they maybe complaining about shows (such as Teen Titans Go!) they’re going to soon be in charge of most of the shows that will come out and learn how things are in the industry. They’ll quickly learn that creativity is not as easy as they think.

    What I’m trying to say is that while many of them enjoyed all that anime back then. When they get to be in charge of channels like Cartoon Network and Disney. They’re going to realize that creativity isn’t as easy as they think it is.

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