Toonami, Cartoon Network
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Brought to you by Williams Street Studios, who would later create Adult Swim and Miguzi

Toonami started in March 1997, a weekday afternoon block of action animation series (both Western animation and anime). It was originally hosted by Moltar (of Space Ghost Coast to Coast fame). In July 1999, it was relaunched with a new robotic host named T.O.M., who seemed to be in charge of a spaceship called the Absolution (aside from him, there seemed to be no crew, except some little service bots called Clydes). Over the years there would be a few "Total Immersion Events" (TIEs), basically some storylines that went beyond TOM's normal job of introducing the shows that were airing on Toonami and reviewing video games. The first of these events, in September 2000, introduced an AI companion for TOM, named S.A.R.A. It also resulted in TOM himself being redesigned to look a bit more badass, and he got a new VA, Steve Blum. (I didn't remember him ever having any other VA, but Wikipedia says he did, so okay.) And um, over the years TOM's look would change a few more times, but he'd always be voiced by Blum. In March 2003, there was an online comic called "Endgame," which I don't recall if I ever read. I should look into that. But apparently it explained the origin of the third incarnation of TOM. Also in the comic, the Absolution was destroyed, and the Absolution II was built. The changes introduced in the comic carried over into the TV version of Toonami.

Anyway... there were surely lots of things on Toonami that I never watched, either because I wasn't interested or because I'd already seen them elsewhere. Some of the latter I may have watched a bit of on Toonami, but I'll try to only list here the things I think I probably watched originally (or exclusively) on Toonami (though my memory sucks, so I may be mistaken about some of these). Some of the things I'm fairly sure I watched on weekday afternoons included Blue Sub 6, Dragon Ball, G Gundam, Giant Robot Week, Gundam Wing, "Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz" (movie), Hamtaro, a bit of the 2002 "He-Man" reboot, IGPX (2003 microseries), Mobile Suit Gundam, Sailor Moon (which I must have previously seen in syndication), Sailor Moon S: The Movie, Sailor Moon SuperS: The Movie, Tenchi Muyo!, ThunderCats, maybe a bit of "Transformers: Armada", Voltron (which I had previously seen in syndication), Zoids: Chaotic Century, and Zoids: New Century.

In April 2004, Toonami was moved from weekday afternoons to Saturday nights, replacing Saturday Video Entertainment System. (TOM was still in his third incarnation, but SARA got a new look when the block moved.) Toonami itself was replaced on weekday afternoons by Miguzi. In March 2007, TOM was once again redesigned, though no one seems to know why. His fourth version was very different from any other version, and was disliked by some of the block's faithful fans, though it had a much friendlier look than TOMs 1-3. For some reason, TOM 4 wasn't on the Absolution, but some jungle planet. SARA wasn't there, but TOM was assisted by two other robots named Flash and D. Some of the things I watched on Saturday nights included The Batman vs. Dracula (movie), Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo, Cyborg 009, a bit of "DICE," Duel Masters, Gundam SEED, Hellboy: Sword of Storms (movie), Hellboy: Blood and Iron (movie), IGPX (2005 series), The Invincible Iron Man (movie), Justice League Unlimited (2004-2006), Megas XLR (2004-2005), Mosaic (movie), Naruto (and a few Naruto movies), One Piece (previously on 4Kids TV), Pokemon Chronicles, Samurai Jack (2001-2004), Teen Titans (2003-2006), Ultimate Avengers (movie), Ultimate Avengers 2 (movie), and Zatch Bell!.

YuYu Hakusho is a bit hard for me to remember exactly when I saw it... I believe it started as part of the Adult Swim lineup, then moved to Toonami... but the internet tells me it moved there in 2003, which would be before Toonami moved to Saturday nights. And I definitely don't remember ever watching it anytime except Saturday nights (only slightly earlier on Toonami than I had on Adult Swim), though that could just be because my memory sucks. I do rather think I recall it going on a lengthy hiatus for awhile, before finally finishing its run early in the morning, like 5am or something... and I don't remember that being part of any block. But I could be wrong. I also think the same of Rave Master; originally it was on Saturday nights, but I feel like I didn't see the end of it until sometime later, in some early morning timeslot. It's possible that's true of both series, or I could be mixing up their schedules, somehow. I just don't know. I also have to mention that a few years after watching Rave Master on Toonami, I watched it again on Ani-Monday, and I can't say for certain it wasn't then that I saw the end of the series for the first time.

In 2001, there was an online video streaming service called Toonami Reactor, but I don't think I ever used that. However, between July 2006 and January 2009, there was a sort of reincarnated version called Toonami Jetstream, on which I watched a number of anime shows, some of which had been on Cartoon Network before, and some that hadn't. And some of the series didn't finish airing before the website vanished, so... I've still never gotten to see all of them, which is annoying. Nevertheless, I have fond memories of Jetstream, and I'm glad it lasted as long as it did, even if I wish it could have lasted longer. Some of the shows I watched on Jetstream included Blue Dragon (which had been on TV for awhile, but mostly I saw it online), Dragon Ball (which I had previously seen on TV), Dragonball Z (which I had never much bothered with on TV), Eyeshield 21, Hikaru no Go, MÄR (which also aired on TV for awhile), MegaMan Star Force, The Prince of Tennis, and episodes of Zatch Bell that had never aired on TV.

There have also been some other timeslots for Toonami, including The Midnight Run, between July 1999 and January 2003. It was a precursor to Adult Swim, but which still aired sometimes even after that block had begun (because Adult Swim didn't initially air on Saturday nights). I don't really remember that with any clarity, and in fact there are several animes that I now only remember having seen on Adult Swim, but which I may have originally seen on Toonami, and just don't remember that because AS has become so thoroughly ingrained in my mind as the block on which I watched most late night anime. But I probably saw Mobile Suit Gundam: 08th MS Team on Midnight Run. (I also probably saw an installment of music videos on Midnight Run, including four videos by Daft Punk.) Another Toonami block was The Rising Sun, which I really doubt I ever watched, though I was aware of it. (The internet says this was for several months in 2000, whereas I could swear it had lasted at least a few years. It also says it started at 9am, whereas I could swear it was much earlier than that. Maybe I'm just thinking of something else. I know that at some point, Adult Swim extended its schedule by a few hours, and in the wee hours of the pre-dawn aired things that mostly didn't interest me. I could be thinking of that, and I wouldn't put it past them to have called it "The Rising Sun," at least unofficially, as a nod to Toonami. It's also possible that a show that aired on Adult Swim in 2009, The Rising Son, added to my confusion. Or maybe I'm really not thinking of anything, and it's just my memory playing tricks on me.) Also, for about a year (summer 2001 to summer 2002), Toonami was on Kids' WB, which I never would have remembered if the internet didn't remind me while I was making this page.

I feel I should say that Toonami was probably my second favorite programming block ever, after Adult Swim (though it's a close call with Kids' WB, which was either my second or third favorite block). Sadly, Toonami ended its run in September 2008, and I must say, TOM's goodbye was rather moving, in an understated way. (My eyes are watering a bit now, just thinking about it. And reading what he said, on Wikipedia.) The block was replaced by "Action Flicks."

Um... but then Toonami returned, in 2012, as a part of Adult Swim. Unfortunately, I hadn't had Cartoon Network since June of 2011, so even though I was super-excited to hear about it, I was also super-bummed that I couldn't actually watch it. (But hey, I was already used to being bummed about not watching things on lots of networks, including Adult Swim itself.) Apparently from May 2012 to April 2013 there was a TOM 3.5, followed by TOM version 5 beginning in April 2013. But as I say, I haven't had a chance to see either of those versions on TV, myself, though they were both a return to the classic look of TOM. Also in April 2013, a third version of SARA and the Absolution III debuted.


Moltar, and the evolutions of TOM and SARA


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