Deadman Wonderland Will Do Well, And Am I Too Old For Toonami?
"Letters from the New York Otaku"
By David Cabrera
#52 - Deadman Wonderland Will Do Well, And Am I Too Old For Toonami?
Last Saturday night, I plopped down on my couch at midnight, put on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim, and got ready for Toonami.
The last time I had done this, I was thirteen years old, taping Gundam Wing episodes on Toonami's “Midnight Run”: the idea was that late at night Toonami could censor its shows a little bit less. We were treated to blood where there was none before, and mild swearing like “damn” and “hell”. Those tapes are still in a box somewhere.
But it's been a very long time since then, and tonight I sat down on the couch as a grown man, phone in hand, with a generation of former Toonami kids watching beside me on the Internet. It really is “the future” that we live in.
Then Bleach came on. Perhaps existing series fans would have been upset, but maybe tonight might have been a better time to show an introduction, or even an edit that packed together highlights of the series. The episode shown, a final battle with a villain from an anime-only “filler arc”, was dull, poorly animated and incomprehensible... the worst possible thing to welcome people back to anime with on this special occasion. I left the TV on, but to be quite honest I stopped paying attention early. I mention this because I think leading so badly might have hurt Toonami as a whole...
The premiere of Deadman Wonderland was next. As the “viewer discretion advised” warning showed up, and the TV-MA (adults only!) rating flashed onscreen, I thought that it was truly strange to see this show here. I remember when every single bleeding cut in Dragon Ball Z was digitally painted over, but all these years later I was seeing a schoolroom slaughtered like cattle in the first two minutes of a show... on Toonami.
American anime fans love shonen fighting, they love darkness (this is why Bleach and Naruto are more popular than One Piece), and they love gore. Deadman Wonderland will be a huge hit. I would have loved this at 13. It's a fantastic pick on Adult Swim's part.
However, I've seen it said online that Toonami has grown up with its audience by running a show like this a decade after Dragon Ball Z. I'm not sure about that. It's arguing that gore and giant breasts by themselves mean our tastes have grown up, even though Toonami still only really features that one genre (shonen action). It's a very teenage way of thinking. It goes along with the whole idea of naming a teen-oriented channel “Adult Swim”.
So until further notice, I'm calling it Chuunibyou Swim.
Thinking all this stuff during Deadman Wonderland just made me feel really old. Anime/manga fans in the US are young. This isn't because the media are that young here, it's because most of the fans tend to leave after their teen years. Ten years after Toonami, the kids who remember it can sit down and watch, well.. more Toonami, but a little darker. In another world, I dream of a grown-up anime block on some other cable channel that's running Legend of the Galactic Heroes in its entirety, and maybe the new Lupin (or rather, Fujiko) show... but that's not going to happen. May Toonami prosper.