Stay Gold

Yup, you guessed it! Another long and boring personal post is coming up, so turn back now if you’d rather not suffer through this crap. I’m sure you have a backlog of Zettai Karen Children subs to get through.

Every space pirate, Tao master and outlaw in the galaxy knows this already, but Cartoon Network’s Toonami block finally came to a close just about a week ago. I can’t say I honestly care all that much, but for a while Toonami was one of the most important parts of my life.

But let’s back up a bit. Toonami is not what got me into anime. Pokemon is what got me into anime. Before Pokemon, I didn’t think much about anime. I saw some Sailor Moon commercials and stayed away since it looked girly, and of course girls were icky back then, so I didn’t really bother with it. My cousin told me to watch Pokemon, so I did. I really liked it, and after a couple weeks of watching it I fired up my 56k modem and browsed the internet for anything and everything related to Pokemon. It was through these searches that I came upon the word “anime” (mostly thanks to AniPike) but I still didn’t really think much of it. Pokemon back then was just another cool thing to do. Another cool cartoon. It didn’t consume me. That changed with Toonami.

It was in the summer of 1999, I believe, that I was talking with an acquaintance of mine. He expressed his fondness for Dragonball Z, a cartoon I had heard of but never thought to watch since it seemed ever so violent. I wasn’t much for violence. However, he insisted, so I opened my mind a bit a gave it a shot. On Toonami, of course. I loved it. And from that point on, I would be watching Toonami religiously for next 7 years.

Toonami solidified my interest in anime. It was on Toonami that I learned that there was more to anime than just Pokemon. I became interested in mecha anime through Toonami (thx Gundam Wing wwwww), I developed a liking for sci-fi adventure through Toonami (Outlaw Star) and I finally saw the various Tenchi TV shows that went with that movie my buddies and I rented a long while back through Toonami. Toonami, for a good number years, was the most important part of my weekday afternoon.

As I was going into high school, Toonami changed into a weekend-only block. I still watched it, but was more interested in Adult Swim (which at this point was a really cool block of TV itself. More on that in a potential later blog post.) I still thought the block was super cool, but it just became a routine. I was getting into digisubs at around that time too, so dubbed anime on TV became less attractive.

I stopped watching Toonami when I went into college. I didn’t have a TV, and by that point I was 100% into watching anime in Japanese. However, as you can see in this blog post, I can still reminisce fondly about Toonami. It truly was a very important part of my life, and I have nothing but fond memories associated with it.

One thing I really liked about Toonami was how the creators had a genuine love for anime. They really did their best to promote this stuff as really cool, as demonstrated in their various impeccably made commercials. They put out shows that otherwise would not have been shown on US TV. I mean, who would have expected Tenchi to be shown on Cartoon Network? No one. But they did it. And that’s why they were awesome.

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7 Responses to Stay Gold

  1. TheBigN says:

    That’s the thing. Looking at the good old days (started watching back when it started), Toonami got me hooked onto anime when I finally realized that what I was watching was anime. And I think a lot of that was because the creators of the programming block cared so much about what they were trying to do. Sure, the stuff on there was cool, but it was things like having Moltar and Tom there as avatars of the franchise (still think Tom 1.0 was best), those awesome commercials, and so on. As I said on SDS’s blog, I think it was impactful in making the American anime fandom what it is today. So while I don’t necessarily feel sad about it’s passing as CN’s programming block (as shows that I liked were long gone by then), I’m sad about how symbolic it was for me.

  2. Freelii says:

    I gotta join you in this salute, as your story to your introduction to anime is remarkably similar to my own. All hail toonami!

    One commericial you didn’t link was http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CIHhr0S0dAU, which has a ton of Gundam Wing in it. Definately my favorite.

    It wasn’t until around 2 years ago when I stumbled across Adult Swim while waiting a week for my internet access to be connected in my college apartment that I discovered there was some really awesome stuff out there, Evangelion airing at the time, along with Fullmetal Alchemist and Eureka 7.

    Anyways, it’s nice to hear someone else talk about the glory days toonami and growing up with some of the classic anime :)

  3. Ryoko says:

    Ah, yes, Toonami. It was what got me into anime, back when I was a pre-teen. It began with Dragon Ball Z and Gundam Wing, and eventually I found other shows as well over the years: Outlaw Star, Tenchi Muyo and Tenchi Universe and Tenchi in Tokyo, Ronin Warriors, Yu Yu Hakusho, Rurouni Kenshin, Cyborg 009, and G-Gundam. I generally stayed the fuck away from Sailor Moon (though my stepfather, who was then in his 40s, liked it, which was very weird). There were a few non-anime shows as well, but they didn’t have an impact on me. I guess I stopped watching Toonami in 2004, and converted to Adult Swim (which introduced to the greatness known as Cowboy Bebop). I’m not so much sad right now as I’m nostalgic, remembering those days when I just had to get home on time to catch my favorite shows, often the half-hours that defined my week or weekend. Anime has never been handled as well on American television as the people behind Toonami handled it.

    I’m glad you posted the links to those commercials. Seeing them again after the intervening gave me a fuzzy feeling inside.

    And I agree with the TheBigN: Tom 1.0 was the shiznit (but oddly enough, I never came to like Moltar that much).

  4. MoYFan says:

    R.I.P Toonami
    March 17, 1997 – September 20, 2008
    You Were The Essence of My Life

  5. Hunter says:

    The Beginnings of my Anime Collection was Cowboy Bebop and Outlaw Star, both Bootlegs because I was a penniless kid in the day (long since bought the official re-releases >>; ), and it’s all thanks to Toonami.

  6. Gars says:

    Way to describe exactly how I got into anime.

  7. Carlos says:

    I feel you on the “Fujiyama” bump. It was also the last thing I saw right before I got into bed. It made me feel like I had to visit that place before I die or something…very strange and spiritual feelin it was….

    PS: If it wasen’t for adult swim, I wouldn’t have goten into Anime.