Sunday, June 3, 2012

Toonami - week two impressions

As most of Toonami's shows were carried over from the Adult Swim anime lineup, I'm going to be focusing primarily on the two new ones with each of these Toonami-related posts. Those shows are, of course, Deadman Wonderland and Casshern Sins. Both have a notably darker tone than any anime previously run on Toonami, as well as a generally darker tone than the other shows currently in the lineup. With Deadman Wonderland, this is due to the fact that the show takes place in a creepy and rather messed up prison facility where the prisoners can earn money for food by participating in events viewed by the public. Deadman Wonderland also happens to be rated TV-MA. Casshern Sins, on the other hand, has a dark atmosphere because the story is set in a world where the humans have long been dead, and the robots that remain face an inevitable doom. Apparently this is all due to something Casshern did, though he does not seem to recall what exactly transpired.

Although only two episodes of either show have aired, I'm already partial to Casshern Sins over Deadman Wonderland. Casshern Sins has done a great job thus far of creating this post-apocalyptic world (which looks hauntingly gorgeous), as well as giving us an idea of how life operates with all the robots knowing they face extinction. Many of the robots have adopted human emotions, though they themselves are not entirely certain how or why. Viewing this second episode, I got a clear sense of how fragile these robots can be, both physically and emotionally, as many of them became violent during their final moments. Now that Casshern has seen the decay and destruction that has come as a result of whatever it is he did, I will be very curious to see what he does with his own remaining time (assuming he faces the same countdown as all of the other robots).

I generally avoid shows like Deadman Wonderland - shows that are violent, bloody, and vulgar just for the sake of being violent, bloody, and vulgar. It's not the worst anime I've ever seen; in fact, there are some elements that I like, most notably the characterization of Shiro. The whole premise of the series gets some points for originality as well. Frankly, this week's episode had more coherence than the premiere (wherein the explanation of what sort of falsified proof that Ganta was capable of murdering an entire classroom of kids was completely ignored). And it does feel like the series is moving forward. But I don't think the story is headed in any direction I'm interested in following. That said, there were plenty of shows aired on the original Toonami that I never cared for - Big O, Blue Sub No. 6, and Gundam Wing to name a few. And I always felt that was one of the things that made Toonami great during its heyday; even though I might not have enjoyed all of the anime that was aired, there was plenty of variety for everyone.

As for the other four shows, I do feel that Cartoon Network is using them as placeholders for the time being. I can't see them ever getting rid of Bleach, since it is still a very popular series. I would guess that they would allow Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood to complete its run from here to the end of the series before they considered getting rid of it. Ghost in the Shell and Cowboy Bebop, however, might be different cases. As it runs later at night and doesn't have quite the large fan following of either Bleach or FMA: Brotherhood, Ghost in the Shell probably has a good chance of being replaced with something new. And Adult Swim has run through the entire Cowboy Bebop series so many times over since the programming block started that I think it's safe to say that will be the first show to be swapped out of the lineup.

I don't have many suggestions for shows that Toonami could pick up - frankly, I'd rather they surprise me. But if I had to pick a couple, I would first and foremost recommend Darker Than Black. It would certainly fit with the more mature audience Toonami is being aimed at. The other would be Gundam 00. Since Gundam Unicorn is not yet finished, and as each episode of that series is an hour long, it wouldn't really make sense for Toonami to pick it up. Gundam 00, however, is aimed at the mid-teen audience and is easily one of the best alternate universe Gundam series around. I know Syfy ran Gundam 00 a couple of years ago, but the series is still relatively fresh and would be a good way for Toonami to carry on the Gundam legacy from days gone by. With all that in mind, I'm sure there more than a few of the Toonami faithful who have already seen Gundam 00, and if Toonami would rather go about airing a different mecha anime, I will certainly give it a chance.

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