Sunday, May 27, 2012

Toonami returns - first impressions

Last night marked the beginning of Toonami's new Saturday night schedule as part of Cartoon Network's Adult Swim lineup. The shows were all new to Toonami - no Gundam Wing or Dragon Ball Z this time around. And while some viewers were upset by the omission of these classics, I was among those who embraced this new direction that Toonami is taking. It's a new Toonami aimed at the Adult Swim audience, and I think the new shows are fitting to that end.

The new lineup consists of Bleach, Deadman Wonderland, Casshern Sins, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Ghost in the Shell, and Cowboy Bebop. Bleach, FMA: Brotherhood, Ghost in the Shell, and Cowboy Bebop are classics, and I'm not at all surprised that Cartoon Network chose to carry them over to the new Toonami block. The other two, however, are brand new to both Toonami and Cartoon Network. Based on the first episode, I was not particularly impressed with Deadman Wonderland. The premise was interesting enough, and the first five minutes or so kept me entertained, but from then on it seemed like the show followed a very cliché path. I'll probably give another episode or two, but the first episode did little to impress me. Casshern Sins, on the other hand, was rather enjoyable for a very dark and melancholy robot action anime. I love the character and environment designs, and I feel like the first episode gave a decent sense about who Casshern is through his actions. There seems to be an air of mystery with both Deadman Wonderland and Casshern Sins, and I expect each one to peel through layers in the coming weeks.

As I have mentioned before, Toonami was a huge part of my childhood and the gateway that led me to discover anime in the first place. After the April Fools airing, I honestly did not expect them to resurrect Toonami, but I could not be more pleased that they did. I would like to see some other shows added to the lineup in the future. I think the fact that they managed to put together a solid programming block this quickly following the April Fools airing is great, but four out of the six shows currently airing were already part of the Adult Swim lineup. I think Cartoon Network would be wise to keep those shows - Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood and Bleach are still incredibly popular, and there is no sense in taking them off the air. But perhaps Toonami could throw some other relatively recent action anime like Darker Than Black or Gundam 00 into the mix as the process of rebuilding Toonami continues.

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