If Toonami solidified my interest in Japanese cartoons, Adult Swim nurtured and matured it. The way I found out about Adult Swim was a little strange. I came to know about it by way of my first ever DVD purchase– Outlaw Star volume 1. It was on that disc where I saw the trailer for Cowboy Bebop. I was blown away. It seemed like the show had the perfect combination of everything I liked– jazz, science fiction, guns, women, action– everything. My 13-year-old mind was blown. I’m pretty sure I watched that trailer something like 100 times. I’m not exaggerating, either. However, as a penniless 13-year-old, I didn’t really have a good way of getting my hands on DVDs of the show. So, instead of watching it, I frequented anime websites (remember those? Just general anime websites?) watched the opening of the show 2 billion times, and read up on any news and information related to the show.
My research was rewarded! Not only did I find out that SPIKE DIES, but I also found out that the show was slated to air on a then new Cartoon Network block called Adult Swim. I grew giddy upon hearing this announcement. The idea of a block of TV showing mostly uncensored anime filled me with excitement. The chance to finally see this stuff with all the fun swearwords, blood and sex for FREE on TV was just too much for my little brain to handle. I waited for months with bated breath, and when September 2nd finally came… I taped it. I was 13! I couldn’t stay up that late! But, much like with Toonami, from that point on I watched Adult Swim religiously.
For the most part, I was only interested in the Japanese portions of Adult Swim. I’d watch Mission Hill, Home Movies, ATHF and the rest occasionally, but I was mostly in this for the anime. In the same way that Toonami took good care in presenting their programming, Adult Swim did the same. However, Adult Swim’s approach was naturally more mature. The way Toonami went about promoting their anime certainly was cool, but it lacked the adult sensibilities that came with the Adult Swim bumps. Adult Swim really did present this stuff as “cartoons for grown-ups” and not in the MANGAAAA video way. Their approach was mature, stylish and sexy. Ok, so the robot voice in their earlier action bumps kind of sucked, but it was a start.
Out of all of Adult Swim’s action block bumpers, the ones I loved the most were the photos of Japan. It tickled my young Wapanese heart to see images of Japan play along with my Japanese cartoons. The one that probably left the biggest impression on me was of Fujiyama. That image matched with that old-timey piano piece really sticks in my mind to this day. Probably because it was the last thing I saw for the night, each night for a year or so.
Due to me not having a TV in college, I stopped watching Adult Swim after highschool. Again, much like Toonami, this was fine with me. By that point I had almost completely switched over to subbed anime, so dubbed anime late at night wasn’t all that important to me. However, I cannot deny the giant impact this one little block of TV had on me as a fan. It provided stuff for me to talk about with my friends each day, gave me something to look forward to on the weekends and gave me a chance to watch shows that I may have otherwise never checked out. Adult Swim was one of my dearest friends for a good while, but I wasn’t really sad when we had to part ways.
In recent years, I’ve heard that Adult Swim has turned to crap. Last I read, they killed their anime programming by damning it to the dreaded early morning hours, and let their mostly horrible original programming take priority. I can understand this, since Adult Swim’s original shows are where they ratings are, but as a result I’ve lost respect for them. That said, while the current iteration of Adult Swim is dead to me, memories of its great past live happily in a fuzzy, nostalgic corner of my brain.