By David Cabrera
#47 - What Would You Put On The New Toonami?
It's the question that's been tearing across the internet anime fan base. Say you were in charge at Cartoon Network, and you could just make anime series appear on that 12-6 time slot like magic. What would you pick? It's a game too tempting not to play, even as the titles to run on Toonami have been revealed. If it were me-- and perhaps I'm too naïve here-- I would take it as a chance to expand what people think of as “anime” by running titles from very different genres than we've seen on US television.
I would put Kids on the Slope on at some point in the night, leaning hard on the Cowboy Bebop connection and marketing it heavily as Shinichiro Watanabe's comeback project after a long absence. As I said, there are a lot of people who watched Bebop and said to anime at large, “Wake me up when that guy does something again”. Would people feel deceived to get a high school drama? Maybe, but I think the show is strong enough to make up for that. Besides, josei and shoujo don't get a chance on US TV even though we know that US anime/manga fans are a 50/50 split gender-wise. Let someone take a chance with Honey and Clover, I say.
Speaking of shounen, my choice for a new shounen series would be Toriko. This is not really the particular kind of shounen that goes over well with American anime fans-- too burly, no ninjas or samurai, not a lot of angst or despair-- and that's actually why I'm choosing it. I don't think that this sort of hyper-masculine shonen anime hero really got a chance on US TV-- which is kind of odd because so much other popular TV here is that way. I think that there's room for a character who represents such a ridiculous, cartoonish manliness: why, Black Dynamite (http://bit.ly/xpi4T) will be on Adult Swim this year!
(Of course, along the same lines, if I could completely indulge my inner fan, we'd run Fist of the North Star every week... I just don't think anime fans would watch something that old.)
I also thought of the recent megahit Madoka Magica... that's a little tough because of the way the show is structured. People wouldn't hang on for long enough to get to the third episode, so you'd have to run those first three in a row as an “event”. For Japanese fans, the cute character designs and innocuous early episodes were the element that pulled people into a show that turned very dark: for mainstream American audiences watching on cable TV, I think such characters would work the opposite way.
The shows that will actually run on Toonami are apparently Casshern Sins and Deadman Wonderland. I think they're okay matches. Sins is a gloomy, artsy version of the Casshern superhero series that I think will work pretty well at that time of night. Deadman Wonderland is bloody, brutal shonen, and, well, that's precisely what the audience watching Adult Swim wants. Here's hoping that these shows meet with some success, and maybe, just maybe, Toonami will get something rolling again for anime in the US. It would be nice.