Remember the days when you would come home after school, and your favorite cartoon programming block would come on? You would power through those hard school days full of tests and bullies just so you could dash back to your house in time for some Yu-Gi-Oh, Pokemon, and Dragon Ball Z. If you’re a 90’s kid living in these modern-day times, then surely you remember the one action cartoon programming block that was going to change the way you see animation as you knew it. We’re talking about the tidal wave of action animation from both the east and the west known simply as…Toonami.
It all started in 1997…
March 17, 1997 to be exact. Toonami made its way to the airwaves of Cartoon Network on this date, as it took over another animation block known as Power Zone (est. since October 1, 1992). Back then the host of Toonami was Moltar, the Space Ghost villain who became the block’s producer as well as the host. If it wasn’t for him, Toonami wouldn’t be the awesomely epic animation block it is today! (So thanks Moltar! ^.^)
As the 90’s drew to a close we were introduced to the new millennium, as well as a new ear in the Toonami timeline. Aboard the Ghost Planet Spaceship known as the Absolution there stood a new host, a new host that was going to be known as the greatest icon for the entire Toonami brand. His name was Tom, but today we known him as Toonami’s T.O.M. (Toonami Operations Module).
During this era he brought us Midnight Run which had shows like DBZ (of course), Sailor Moon, Voltron, Gundam Wing, G Gundam, and Outlaw Star! That program block went from 12am-5am from 1999 to 2000. Also during this era, this was the first time “The Intruder” mini series was introduced to Toonami, where someone or something found its way aboard the ship. (This event was known as a Total Immersion Event of T.I.E.)
Music videos were also shown during this era of Toonami’s span; such as Daft Punk’s song Interstella 5555, and a few tracks from Gorillaz. Sadly after “The Intruder” event had ended Tom was consumed by the entity that was revealed to be a pink blob, which leads us into the second T.O.M. era of Toonami, where Steve Blum takes over the voice as well as today’s Saturday nights!
From 2000 to 2003 the Raising Sun was born, as was a brand new version of Tom voiced by the one and only Steve Blum! The original time block for the Raising Sun was Saturday mornings from 10am-1pm, but was later changed to an hour later due to the fact that Kids WB had an identical slot lineup. This was the era that a second T.I.E. came into place known as “The Lockdown” (September 17-21, 2001), followed by another T.I.E. known as “Trapped in Hyperspace” (September 16-20, 2002). In February 24 to February 28 in 2003, Toonami did a Mecha anime special featuring shows like Neon Genesis Evangelion, Dai-Guard, Robotech, and a few others.
A little after 2003 we were introduced to the third version of Toonami Tom. (I’m probably going to start calling him that for the rest of this segment.) The line up time around this era was from 7pm-11pm (Saturdays) and included shows like Naruto, One Piece, Duel Masters, Zatch Bell, Pokemon Chronicles, and more. It was also around this era that shows like Teen Titans, Samurai Jack, and Justice League made their presence known on the Toonami block during their final seasons. (Except for Jack cuz’ he’s back!)
Ten years have passed since Toonami’s inception in 1997, and just after a special Xiaolin Showdown marathon a teaser commercial for the next version of Toonami Tom aired during the break. This time around Tom was not alone, as he was joined by his crew of two robots consisting of Flash and D. It was around this era that Toonami was celebrating its ten year anniversary, by airing various montages from past hosts and voice-overs. (Not to mention old clips that many of us remember watching that included all the bumps and trailers for old titles.)
During the whole month of March Toonami aired a different movie every Saturday night as part of Cartoon Network’s March Movie Madness. September 20, 2008 is a day that to this day we wish we could forget, because that marked the day that Toonami was going to make it’s last ride. Little did we know, that last ride was going to be a temporary one…
In 2012 in the wake of the April Fool’s Joke entitled The Room, Toonami would return in a brand spankin’ new way! The lineup was quite simular to the lineups of old, only with the series premiere of shows like Casshern Sins (New One) and Deadman Wonderland. The time length of the lineup of this era was expanded to six hours as opposed to the original four, with Toonami reclaiming is Saturday night glory after “disappearing” for four years.
The block itself was pretty much like the Midnight Run segment; keeping the age group between 18-24 due to most of the shows on the programming block to be TV-14 or higher. “The Intruder” T.I.E. also made its return to Toonami with its newer sequel known as “The Intruder III”.
In January 2013 a new color scheme was introduced to Toonami as well as the new and improved versions of Toonami Tom, the Absolution, and SARA (who was the assistant co-host of Toonami along with Tom). From that point on Toonami would reinvent itself by bringing back many of their old shows like Cowboy Bebop, Gundam RE: 0096, Big O, and Yu Yu Hakasho, but now it’s joined with newer shows like Akame Ga Kill, Sword Art Online, Space Dandy, Dimension W, and a few others. Around 2014 the timeline block would chance to 12am-3:30am after losing it’s 5am time slot, leaving the Toonami block to only 3.5 hours. Now in 2017 the timeline block has been expanded to 4.5 hours with the block starting from 11pm-3:30am Saturday nights.
Friday March 17, 2017 will mark Toonami’s 20th anniversary since it’s birth in 1997, so to all the Toonami Faithful fans as well as you guys here on the blog, thank you and stay true! Bang! (Oh, and a special shout-out to the voice of Moltar, may God rest his soul. And also thank you Steve, for being the Ringmaster of the most awesome action packed programming block that has survived the test of time, and hopefully will continue for another 20 years.)