This past Saturday was the final Toonami. I didn’t catch it. I didn’t even know Toonami was ending. My first response was, “Why is it ending in the first place?” Having a specific “block” of shows is, underneath all the layers, simply a marketing scheme, and this marketing scheme was 11 years old and had gone through multiple transformations. Still, I realized that anime fandom in America owes a lot to Toonami.
The effect Toonami had on kids and budding fans was unmistakable. It was on Toonami that kids too young to remember the 80s well got their first exposure to Robotech and Battle of the Planets. It was on Toonami that legions of girls saw Heero Yuy and Duo Maxwell and thought that they would be an excellent couple. It was on Toonami that Dragon Ball Z truly began to take off and cemented itself as one of the most successful anime franchises in the US (not to mention the entire world).
The two biggest changes to Toonami are probably the two extra blocks that resulted from it. The old Toonami timeslot was taken by the new “Miguzi,” which was meant for younger kids. Older kids could still watch their Toonami, with more anime than ever before. Adult Swim is partly the result of those midnight uncut showings of Gundam W, where Cartoon Network began to realize that people were willing to stay up that late to keep up with their favorite show. For better or worse, Toonami defined Cartoon Network just as much if not more than the Cartoon Cartoons which followed and preceded it.
Still, 11 years is a very long time to be around in TV land, and in the end it was a good run.