Last week marked Toonami’s twenty-fifth birthday. Toonami was a television block on Cartoon Network with action-oriented content that introduced an entire generation of viewers to Japanese anime media.
Home video rental ninja scroll and ghost in the shell introduced a generation of creators to an alternative method of animation. Such adult-oriented anime has survived thanks to the legacy of Golgo-13, a long running manga about a hitman.
Golgo-13created by the late Takao Saito, was a contemporary of children’s manga Astro Boy. Each property has gone on to form its own global legacy, with cartoons created for adult and youth audiences. Prior to 1997, most adult-oriented anime was relegated to home media.
This changed with the introduction of Cartoon Network’s Toonami block. The animation block was intended to fill a midday time slot and focused on action-oriented cartoons. The block was initially reruns of Thundercats and Voltran, with small animated interstitials of space ghost scoundrel Moltar as a host.
This was quickly removed the following year for a new host, the animated TOM. During this time, programming began to shift towards dubbed anime. The first shows were Dragon Ball Z, Sailor Moon and Mobile Suit Gundam. For most viewers, this was their first time watching these shows in English and as continuous stories.
To pique the interest of the audience, the Toonami team created animated sizzle reels based on themes Where anime bow. Over time, Toonami transitioned to Saturdays airing unreleased TV shows such as the popular Shōnen series naruto.
Toonami returned to the air after a brief hiatus, filling out the Saturday portion of the late-night entertainment block, Adult Swim. The union of two blocks marked a new era in adult animation, with the return of Genny Tarkovsky to Samurai Jack and Primal. Additionally, Toonami started producing anime like Blade Runner Black Lotus, Uzumaki and Shen Mue.
Anime at the time became a popular form of media. From memes to music to style, anime has slowly seeped into American culture. That’s partly thanks to a generation of viewers growing up with anime through a heavily syndicated network. This was reflected in our media.
On TV, we have Avatar the Last Airbender, which draws heavily from FLCL; the recent Castlevania which draws imagery and tone from the manga and anime Berserk, respectively; Ok KO.! to be a send off of Shonen Hero’s Journey and Saturday Morning Cartoons. Anime’s narrative structure and adherence to the action inspired a generation of creators to tell their own stories.
Live-action movies owe a lot to anime’s role in showcasing new and creative ideas. movies like The matrixborrow heavily from ghost in the shell, while Creation draws from the dream, entering the image of Paprika. Pacific Rim brought mecha animeto like Tetsujin-28, to the blockbuster.
It has been an ongoing source of inspiration, with recent Star Wars visions bringing new voices and visions to star wars. Plus, the recent Pixar movie turn red uses styles and visual shortcuts found in the anime.
Toonami’s role on popular culture has been evident throughout our media. He inspired many college-aged students to start anime clubs on college campuses like organizational unit specific. Animation Film Beautiful prime ministers to us independent cinema. Anime has become a cultural phenomenon for a generation of people, and it’s partly thanks to a short animation block that asked us to log on and off.
Benjamin Ervin is studying English Literature and Writing at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The post office. Want to talk more about it? Let Benjamin know by sending him an email [email protected].