May 1, 2019
(The Channel Awesome logo and the title sequence play. After this, we fade to Malcolm Ray (dressed like Goku from Dragon Ball), Tamara Chambers (dressed like Buttercup from The Powerpuff Girls), Walter Banasiak (wearing a black shirt with the face of Aku from Samurai Jack) and Heather Reusz sitting next to the couch in the living room. All are excited)
Malcolm: Oh, man, this brings back so many memories.
Tamara: Right? School's out, it's evening time, and it's time for Toonami!
Walter: Oh, you mean the greatest lineup of animation ever?
Tamara: Yeah, I did. Thank you for correcting me.
Heather: All right. Let's get this party started.
(She grabs the remote and presses a button. The 2000 intro to the Toonami programming block starts playing. But then, NC comes into the room, wearing a grey robe)
NC: (speaking like an angry old man) Will you kids keep it down?! Some of us have actual work to do around here!
Malcolm: But, Critic, we're watching Toonami.
NC: I don't care what you kids are into nowadays! Just turn that down before I turn you down!
Tamara: What does that even mean?
NC: (shakes both fists) I don't care, I'm old! Turn it down!
(Heather unwillingly mutes the sound on TV)
NC: That's better. (leaves, shaking hands above his hand) Eh, work, bills, adulting, ah, salty, pitter-patter...
Walter: Wait, I don't get it. Isn't this an episode on Toonami?
Malcolm: Well, it was just past his age range, so...
Heather: So he doesn't know the impact it had on so many people?
Tamara: Nah, man. He's gotten old. He's become one of them. An adult.
Walter: Well, for someone who talks about nostalgia so much, he should be educated about it.
Malcolm: Nah. He's too close-minded.
Heather: No. It is our duty to teach him about the awesomeness of Toonami. AWAAAAAAY!
(She gets up immediately and runs off. The others simply stand up calmly and follow her, saying "Okay", "Well, let's go", etc. Cut to NC in his room. His table is full with papers, and he is typing on a phone)
NC: Eh, flibberty-gibbet. Eh, hobbity-gobble.
(NC hears a knock and sees all four in the doorway)
Heather: Hey, Critic.
NC: Oh, what? Did your phones break, (scoffs) you millennials?
Walter: Dude, your calculator's a phone.
NC: I know what I said! (Beat) What'd I say?
Tamara: You were asking what we wanted.
NC: Oh, yeah...that!
Heather: We know that Toonami was a little bit past your time. (NC waves off in dismissal and goes back to typing, muttering) But you really should understand the impact that it had on kids to tell more epic stories.
NC: The only thing important to people my age is knowing how much people your age suck! Now, get out of here while I eat my gruel! (takes a bowl of porridge and eats it)
Malcolm: See? He's too old. Just let him hate everything.
Walter: No. Critic, it's your duty to represent these timeless shows that made an impact on a generation.
NC: How dare you, boy?!
Walter: And if we're gonna get you into this, we're gonna do it the right way.
(Everything starts shaking as the smiling Walter and the scared NC look above)
NC: Hibbelty-gibble, what is that?!
(After the sun goes down, the CGI spaceship shows up above the studio. The blue, robotic figure is shown walking inside it. The caption on the flying ship reads "Absolutely Awesomelution". The figure sits in the red chair, revealing itself as...TOM, Toonami's mascot. He speaks in a very familiar voice)
TOM: What's up, Toonami faithful?
NC: (surprised) TOM?!
Malcolm: Wait, you know who TOM is?
NC: Well...Maybe I watched...a little Toonami...
TOM: It's time to kick ass where there was none and invite those who doubt the awesomeness.
NC: No! This is both humbug AND poppycock!
Heather: Come on, Critic. It's time for you to see the light.
(Walter walks up to NC and leads him out of the room)
NC: (bending down) Oh! My bones are frail and brittle!
Walter: Come on, you're not that old.
NC: (immediately drops the old man act) Okay. (follows Walter)
(The clips of the in-between bumpers of Toonami and snippets of its programming are shown)
NC (vo): In 1997, the then relatively new Cartoon Network ran a weekday series of shows called Toonami. This wasn't their 100% family-friendly programming, but it wasn't their late-night grown-up Adult Swim programming either. It was somewhere in-between. They mostly focused on series with a lot of action, slightly to extremely mature themes and usually having a leaning towards a Japanese style of animation. In fact, many of the shows were imports from Japan, introducing a whole new generation to classic anime that, while available in America, didn't have nearly the same following until Toonami came along. The problem is, while I was aware of its existence, though, I saw only bits of it at a time. I didn't really grow up with Toonami to fully reflect on what it meant to so many people.
(NC is sitting on the couch behind Malcolm, Heather, Tamara and Walter)
All except NC: But we did!
Tamara: So we're gonna go through all the shows that left the biggest impact on us.
Walter: Now, keep in mind, we didn't grow up with every show on Toonami, so some parts will be missing.
Heather: We're just gonna hit the ones that influenced us the most, for better...
Walter: ...or worse.
Malcolm: (smiling) I'm Malcolm.
Cartoon Roulette Edit
Tamara (vo): So let’s dive right into it. Despite TOM being the best-known host, Toonami actually started off with Moltar from Space Ghost: Coast to Coast, introducing every show you are about to see.
NC: Why does that show sound familiar?
Tamara: (points) Space Batman with no ears. (The photo of Space Ghost is shown)
(The clip of Moltar introducing Sailor Moon on Toonami is shown, while the caption says "TOTALLY NOT SYMBOLIC CANNON BLAST IN 3, 2, 1")
Moltar: Today at 4, Toonami introduces a brand new superstar. I think I have a crush on her. (After the cannon blasts, Sailor Mercury yells while running into battle)
Tamara (vo): Though he wasn’t TOM, he was still a pretty cool host, still keeping the laid-back, low-key tone to offset the extreme soundtrack and action that often played alongside him.
(Clips of Moltar introducing Super Friends are followed)
Moltar: We all get by with a little help from our friends.
(Clips from Super Friends are shown)
Wonder Woman: (to Aquaman and Batman) And we can all be Super Friends.
Tamara (vo): One of the first shows to start off Toonami was a collection of old superhero shorts called...(confused) Cartoon Roulette?
NC: (excitedly) Ah, now this I'm familiar with! What a grand way to start this off! (clears throat) This was a send-up...
(Clips from the Fleischer Superman cartoons, Birdman and the Galaxy Trio and Super Friends are shown)
NC (vo): ...of all the classic superhero cartoons of old. It ranged from the groundbreaking Fleischer Superman serials from the 40s, the enjoyably cheesy Hanna-Barbera shorts of the 60s to the Super Friends show in the 70s, when the Justice League fought side by side with Wonder Dog and two human perms in bell-bottoms (Wendy Harris and Marvin White).
NC: I can see why this Toonami was so popular!
(Everyone cringes and looks around nervously. As Tamara speaks, NC becomes concerned)
Tamara: (hesitantly) Honestly, it was more of a kind gesture than hit programming.
NC: (quietly) Whaaa?!
(Clips from each of the series are once again shown)
Tamara (vo): This was a fun way of showing how far superhero shows have come, as the story, style and characters were often pretty laughably bad compared to modern-day series.
(One clip from Super Friends is shown, with Batman being shot and captured in the formed web as the spider tries to eat him. Robin breaks the web, releasing Batman)
Tamara (vo): It was the equivalent of showing the (posters of...) Adam West Batman before The Dark Knight, it was just interesting to see how far we've come.
(The All New Super Friends Hour opening is shown)
Announcer: And the Wonder Twins, Zan and Jayna! With their space monkey, Gleek!
Tamara (vo): Regardless, it was still cool to see the history of many of these icons in animation, and some of them, like the Fleischer cartoons, still have amazing animation that would inspire many classic cartoons of the future. So, while hilariously dated, it was also neat to see what some of the great superhero shows we've grown to love today were inspired by.
(The end of the Space Ghost promo on Cartoon Network is shown)
Space Ghost: There's a lesson here somewhere.
NC: (tearfully) Don't listen to him, Wonder Dog! I'm sure Captain Caveman will need a sidekick soon!
Walter: But not every show had dated animation. Some was cutting-edge, like the first fully computer animated TV show, ReBoot.
(TOM is shown at his ship, speaking to the camera)
(The show's title is shown on the holographic screen in the ship, before showing footage of it)
Walter (vo): While the show ran in syndication, ReBoot arguably got its biggest following on Toonami, even to the final season premiering on it. The gist is a computer system city known as Mainframe, constantly under attack from the viruses Megabyte and Hexadecimal. It's up to the guardian program Bob with his friends Enzo and Dot Matrix...
NC: (excitedly, as the picture of Dot Matrix from Spaceballs is shown next to him) They got Joan Rivers?! (immediately calms down) I'll be quiet.
Walter (vo): ...to defend Mainframe from the viruses and game cubes...no, not those GameCubes. Unless (cover of...) Batman: Dark Tomorrow is in it. (The famous "Insane Tantrum Scream" sound effect is heard) ...sent into the city by the user.
Walter (vo): ReBoot was a really fun and unique show. It was the same production company, Mainframe Entertainment, that also produced Beast Wars: Transformers. This show was imaginative, interesting and filled with some very memorable characters.
NC (vo): Even though they looked like The Lawnmower Man ate The Rock from Mummy Returns.
Walter: (sharply turns to NC) You don't get it, man! You weren't there!
NC: But I was!..
Walter: But you didn't care!
NC: Well, yeah!
Walter: (turns back to camera) Okay, then.
NC: ...Who just won that?
(The clips are focusing on the show's animation)
Walter (vo): It may not look as impressive all these years later, but the design style actually worked for the show, and when you consider the time period, it's definitely a technical achievement.
Hexadecimal: (putting on one of her masks) How dare you interrupt me when I'm putting on my face?!
Walter (vo): Unfortunately, ReBoot ended on an unresolved cliffhanger, and there hasn't been much talk about finishing the story in the year since. (The poster for the 2018 Netflix show ReBoot: The Guardian Code appears) There was a...reimagining released recently called ReBoot: The Guardian Code...
(The "like/dislike" ratio for the show's trailer on YouTube is shown, and the amount of dislikes is 8 times more than likes)
Walter (vo): ...but the less said about that, the better.
Walter (vo): Though it started off a bit more kid-friendly, it got more intense and adult as the show went on, leaving many of us with a show that, while dated-looking, was still stylized, groundbreaking, and gave us some cool adventures. It ironically doesn't need a reboot to be remembered fondly.
Sailor Moon Edit
Heather: But, as mentioned before, anime played a big part in Toonami's lineup. And one of anime's biggest names is Sailor Moon.
NC: (smiles, adjusts his robe) Oh! No need. I've covered this before.
Heather: (not turning her head back) But I can cover it correctly.
(As NC's smile goes down, the audience goes into an amazed "WHOOOOOOOA!" for about seven seconds, including Malcolm, Tamara and Walter. Heather just sweeps "the dust" off her shoulder)
Walter: (overlapping) OOOOOH, MY GOD! MY GOD! (looks at his palms) That burned my hands! Ouch! Oh!
Tamara: (overlapping) OOOOOOOOOH! Hot! Fire! Hot! Phew!
(Cut back to TOM)
TOM: Hold on to your crime-fighting miniskirts and don't trip on your hair extensions. Sailor Moon is rocking the planets.
(The show's title and the group shot of its main characters are shown on TOM's screen. This is followed by pictures of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Spice Girls and Mulan)
Heather (vo): The 90s were all about girl power.
NC: And Dunkaroos. It was a movement! (All five bump their clenched fists over their hearts two times as a salute)
(The clips from Sailor Moon are shown next)
Heather (vo): And nothing defined that more than Sailor Moon. Sailor Moon follows the adventures of Serena, a teenager who discovers that she has the ability to transform into a magical Sailor Scout from the Moon Kingdom. She later discovers that there are four other girls who also have these powers, and together, they form a team that must fight the powers of the Negaverse to protect Earth.
NC: Oh, please say the leader of the Negaverse looks like this! (Negaduck from Darkwing Duck is shown)
Heather: Kinda. (Queen Beryl is shown, and NC nods as if to say, "Cool enough.")
Heather (vo): Each Scout is named after the planets: Sailor Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, Venus, and, of course, Moon.
Tamara: Moon is not a planet. It's a moon.
Heather: You're a moon.
(Malcolm, NC and Walter go "WHOOOOOOOA!" at the downcast Tamara for some seconds)
Heather (vo): Eventually, they'd be joined by others, including Neptune, Uranus and Pluto, just to name a few. The ladies kicked butt and took names in the name of the Moon.
Tamara (vo): Which is not a planet.
Heather (vo): And it's still one of the longest-running magical girl animes ever. It had worldwide appeal to girls, women, and even boys and men. Sailor Moon was a wonderful show that was action-packed, sweet and cute. It showcased strong female friendships with humor, romance and adventure. In America, it was actually first shown on two other networks before it took hold on Toonami in 1998. It was part of the lineup for the next three years, being a staple in its early identity. Seasons 3 and 4 were originally aired on Toonami, a little bit more unedited than the original two seasons. All three movies were also shown on Toonami. Season 5 of the series was never aired on television, as the contract expired in 2003 and has never been renewed or shown on American television since.
NC: Why is that?
Heather: Well, this is just a theory, but...
(Pictures of the Sailor Starlights/Three Lights are shown)
Heather (vo): Season 5 starred three new Sailor Scouts dubbed the Sailor Starlights, who were men, at least pretending to be while on Earth, that transformed into women when they took their powered form. I'm guessing that's something 2001 probably wasn't ready for.
NC: Oh, come on. They made Sailor Uranus and Neptune cousins instead of lesbians, resulting in...
(The clip from the Sailor Moon S episode "Swept Off Her Feet" is shown)
Amara: It seemed so long ago, my first kiss.
Michelle: Like it was yesterday.
(Fade to the shadowed Amara and Michelle kissing on the lips)
NC: (looking dumbfounded) ...Kids hearing the term "kissing cousins" for the first time?
(Posters of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, X-Men (1992), ThunderCats and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012) are shown, before going back to more clips)
Heather (vo): Though there were certainly action shows that had girls in them, the casts were usually male-dominated. So it's nice that Toonami not only had a show that was female-dominated, but was also funny, imaginative and incredibly entertaining, proving the lasting power of the Moon...
Tamara (vo): Again, not a planet.
Heather (vo): Neither is Pluto.
Tamara (vo): That just proves my point more.
Heather (vo): ...is not going away any time soon.
Dragon Ball Z Edit
NC: I know Sailor Moon was a real big hit anime on Toonami. But wasn’t there one that was an even bigger hit? I think it was called...Dragon...
(While NC thinks aloud, Malcolm, Heather and Walter eagerly fight over who should explain it, until Malcolm and Heather suddenly...pull a Kamehameha on Walter!! And then Heather does the same to Malcolm and proudly points at herself while Tamara gestures to say "No, thanks, I'm good.")
NC: Dragon Rice?...
(Cut back to TOM in his ship)
TOM: Set your screaming volume to over 9000. One of the most popular animes of all time is flying right at you with Dragon Ball Z.
(The show's title and the group shot of its main characters are shown on TOM's screen)
Malcolm (vo): What can be said about Dragon Ball Z that hasn’t already been said?
Heather (vo): There are a couple of animes that immediately spring to mind when you hear the word.
Walter (vo): Dragon Ball Z was definitely one of them.
Malcolm (vo): We follow the story of Goku which is loosely based on (poster of...) Journey to The West on steroids.
Heather (vo): This is actually the sequel to the show Dragon Ball, in which our hero Goku tried to collect powerful Dragon Balls in order to summon a dragon to grant him and his friends wishes.
Walter (vo): Dragon Ball somewhat confusingly wouldn't air on Toonami until after Dragon Ball Z was shown. But, thankfully, you can follow Dragon Ball Z fine, even if you haven't seen the original Dragon Ball.
Malcolm (vo): This show had everything. Explosive battles, wacky situational comedy, and unforgettable iconic characters.
Heather (vo): It still maintains some of the characters and worlds of the original Dragon Ball, but adds more. Goku is now grown up. He discovers that he's actually part of a race called "The Saiyans" from his brother, Raditz, but had a head injury shortly after his arrival and totally forgot his mission of destruction and dominance.
NC: So kind of like... (photos of...) Iron Giant meets...a screaming goat?
Walter: Absolutely nothing like that. But if it helps you, sure.
Heather (vo): Goku refuses to join Raditz and fighting ensues.
Walter (vo): The lore of the series was massively expanded over its (A text is shown that says...) 291 episode run; the next generation is also introduced as Goku becomes a father. His sons Gohan and Goten had varying sized roles as the series progressed.
Malcolm (vo): DBZ put anime on the map for most of the Western world. While it had some syndication on various channels, Toonami had become the primary hub to broadcast the show with a chilling 61 million viewership rating for every new episode.
Heather (vo): It ran for years on the program block. Even after its initial run, the show was re-dubbed, re-edited and re-shown. It really connected with people in a massive way Toonami had never seen before in its programming. It was marketed to a large age range, focusing on the action and humor of the show. It has often been imitated and parodied, especially when people want to go Super Saiyan.
(The infamous clip from The Simpsons episode "A Milhouse Divided", with Bart hitting the bathing Homer with a chair, is shown)
Homer: OOOOOOOOOOW! (This is edited like Homer went into Super Saiyan mode, gaining the glowing Goku-esque hair) What the hell is wrong with you?!
Walter (vo): We couldn't get enough of it! The fights, the powers, the characters, the stories, it was endlessly entertaining, and this show’s legacy has not slowed down.
Malcolm (vo): It became super quotable, from characters spouting quippy one-liners to shouting their signature moves before doing them in.
Vegeta: It's over 9000!!!
Heather (vo): It was very monster of the week, but its entertainment value came from the over-the-top adventures the characters would go on.
Walter: Maybe the most humorous thing about Toonami airing DBZ was how RIDICULOUS the censorship sometimes was.
(We get some comparisons between the American version and the original Japanese version. The first one is a farmer. In the Japanese version the farmer is smoking, while the cigarette was edited out in the American version. The next shots show Goku in front of two demons. In the Japanese version, they had the "HELL" written on their shirts, while in the American version it was changed to "HFIL")
Walter (vo): Funimation and American censors went infamously overboard with how much they wanted to cut down on some of the violence, blood and crude humor of the original Japanese version. Everything from changing translations to hilariously obvious visual editions were apparent through its first run on Toonami.
(In another scene, Master Roshi's mug of beer is changed into a mug of water)
NC (vo): I remember the last time I had a frosty mug of water.
Walter (vo): Remember when killing meant sending you into another dimension? Or (The title card of the mentioned episode is shown) Home For Infinite Losers?
(All are baffled)
Walter (vo): Did they really think we couldn't take hearing the word "Hell"? We just watched someone get their entire body cut in half. The uncut episodes were later released, but the ridiculous attempts at sanitizing DBZ is a big part of its initial identity in the US.
Malcolm (vo): Regardless, the concept may be simplistic, but if anything, Dragon Ball Z is a story about friendship and how you can find allies in unexpected places. Even old enemies become allies to take on greater challenges.
Heather (vo): While there are certainly people who just see it as scream porn... (A photo of a screaming man with the caption "Scream Porn" is shown) ...and, yeah, I can see why...when you really sit down and watch it, you can see how much of an epic story they can tell with simple, yet likeable and relatable characters.
Malcolm (vo): Dragon Ball Z has had a lasting impression around the world, becoming a template for shonen action series for the future.
Walter (vo): The show defines the late 90s and early 2000s for millions of kids, and Toonami owes a giant chunk of its popularity at the time to the epicness that is Dragon Ball Z.
The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest Edit
NC: Oh, come on. It's nowhere near the impact The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest had! (The group glances at him, and he gets disconcerted) I just want to talk about something I know.
(Cut back to TOM in his ship)
TOM: Somewhere in-between the 60s, (The shot from the original 1964 show appears) where everything was weirdly shadowed, and nowadays, (The shot from Tom and Jerry: Spy Quest is next) where Tom and Jerry are invited on missions, Jonny Quest had a surprisingly decent show.
(The show's logo is shown on TOM's screen, before we are shown clips of it. They focus on the series' animation, including the computer-generated)
NC (vo): Based on the campy spy cartoon from the 60s, Hanna-Barbera gave Jonny Quest a total upgrade, including better animation, more complex stories and characters, and high-tech...ish CGI?
Walter: Yeah, what were you saying about the CGI on ReBoot again?
NC: It was a long time ago. Things change.
NC (vo): The CG is cleverly used just when they need to enter the virtual world. The rest of the show is hand-drawn, and, while still kid-friendly, had a bit more of a mature edge to it.
(One clip is shown, showing Jonny chasing his pet bulldog, Bandit, who has his shoe in the mouth)
Jonny: Bandit! Come on, Bandit, over here! (Bandit bumps into a table and knocks it down)
NC: Okay, I said "a bit".
NC (vo): It could be kind of silly, but it's Jonny Quest. It's kind of expected. With weird elements like the Quest virtual worlds, Hadji now having psychic powers...you know, that old Indian cliche...and, like I said, giving the dog still a prominent role, you could tell it didn't want to totally lose its corny roots. It only had two seasons and never rose that high in the ratings, but Toonami still gave its reruns a home. While it's nothing great, it's a totally serviceable cartoon. A series of adventures to entertain you for a bit and probably be forgotten in the near future.
Tamara: So why are we talking about it again, then?
NC: (smiling) Because this intro is amazing!
(The show's intro is played, showing the camera flying over the CG canyon composed of green lines that has clips from various episodes displayed on it. Gary Lionelli's action-packed rearrangement of Hoyt Curtin's theme music is heard. Malcolm, Heather and Tamara are amazed)
Walter: Okay, that was worth talking about.
NC: Yeah. I'm so glad I ripped that off. (The snippet of the NC 2017 intro is played in the upper left corner)
Tenchi Muyo! Edit
Tamara (vo): In summer of 1999, it was decided Moltar would be scrapped from hosting duties, and rather than pick an already existing character, they made one from scratch.
(Clips of the first version of TOM are shown)
Tamara (vo): TOM finally entered the picture, looking like Bomberman if he was pregnant. He was voiced by Steve Blum, and the following year...
(Cut to the redesigned TOM)
Tamara (vo): ...was given a look that reflected the fact that he was voiced by Steve Blum.
NC (vo; in a voice similar to Droopy): Actually, he was first voiced by Sonny Strait. I guess he just wasn't Krillin-ed enough. (The audience boos) THANK YOU!
Tamara (vo): Toonami also extended its runtime by an additional hour, showing its popularity was growing.
(Footage of the Batman and Superman animated series is shown, as well as their Toonami intros)
Malcolm: But they don't quench my fantasy to be chased by five alien women who all have the hots for me. (Pause) No one's gonna stare at me?
Tamara: We're used to it at this point.
(Malcolm shrugs as we cut back to TOM)
TOM: Get your digital bikinis ready, because we-
NC: Wait, is it me, or is the same footage of TOM being played over and over?
Heather: He has a condition! It's called Limited Toonami Budget.
Walter: Yeah, he's very sensitive about it. We try not to bring it up!
NC: (whispering) I'm sorry.
TOM: (offscreen) I'll pretend I didn't hear that.
TOM: Anywho, get your digital bikinis ready, because we're making a PG show out of something that was clearly meant to be an R.
(The show's title and its characters are shown on the holographic screen before its footage of it)
Malcolm (vo): Tenchi Muyo! was a harem anime with situational comedy that escalates into surreal space fantasy adventure on a whim. It focused around Tenchi, a 17-year-old boy who releases a space pirate named Ryuko.
NC: (as Rita Repulsa from Power Rangers) It's time to conquer Earth!
Malcolm: That'd be a very different show if it went with that angle. (A Photoshopped picture of Ryuko with Rita's head pops up)
NC: You sure it isn't? (A picture of Rita's pointy chest is shown in the other corner)
Malcolm (vo): Over time, four other women who are strange, energetic and did I mention hot as hell?
Heather (vo): It's an anime, you don't need to.
Malcolm (vo): ...arrive at Tenchi's home and constantly try to get in his pants.
NC (vo; in an idiot voice): A FAMILY Picture!
(Footage and stills are focusing on all the censored and risque parts of the show)
Malcolm (vo): You don't know the half of it. Or...maybe you only know the half of it, as all the nudity was constantly covered up on the show, as well as all the swearing being redubbed and the blood being edited out.
NC: Oh, it's like that HBO Family cut of A Clockwork Orange.
(A clip from A Clockwork Orange is shown)
Alex: (narrating) There was me-
(Abruptly cut to the end credits with Singin' in the Rain playing)
Malcolm (vo): Despite it not having the intended adult edge to it, Tenchi Muyo! was still fun, fanservice-y and something you desperately scour the video store to find unedited versions of.
(Clips from Tenchi in Tokyo and Tenchi Universe are shown)
Malcolm (vo): Later, Toonami would release other Tenchi properties, including Tenchi in Tokyo and Tenchi Universe. And while they certainly left their... (clears throat as one character's behind is shown) ...mark on their fans as well, Tenchi Muyo! is the one that Toonami fans remember introducing them to a situational problem none of them ever had, but they so wish they did.
The Powerpuff Girls Edit
Tamara: Well, you think that got heavily censored? Wait till you see this next one.
(The opening logo of The Powerpuff Girls is shown. Upon seeing it, everyone except Tamara becomes confused)
NC, Malcolm, Walter and Heather: Huh?
Tamara: Look at what it used to be.
(A few clips from the Japanese version of the show are shown)
NC, Malcolm, Walter and Heather: Ohh...
(Cut back to TOM in his ship)
TOM: Sugar, spice, and everything kick-ass, the Powerpuff Girls are here to save the day with their wide eyes of justice.
(The show's logo is shown on TOM's screen, before we are shown clips of it)
Tamara (vo): To this day, my favorite lady group. Though it already had a huge following on Cartoon Network's segment called Cartoon Cartoons, they were badass enough to air on Toonami as well. Honestly, it almost makes too much sense. Though not an anime, you can tell it was heavily inspired/heavily satirizing that style. And seeing how Toonami was neck-deep in anime, it only figured to have a show that was both an homage and a parody of it as well. Created by Professor Utonium...
NC: What's he a professor of?
Tamara: X...ology. (An image of Chemical X is shown)
(Footage focusing on the Powerpuff Girls themselves, Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup, is shown)
Tamara (vo): ...he accidentally creates the three super girls, as you do, one night in the lab. Blossom is the leader, Bubbles is the soft, kind one, and Buttercup is our tough ball of angst. To their credit, they stick to these personality tropes way better and more consistently than some girl gangs. (An image of Donna, Tanya and Rosie in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is shown) Mamma Mia, anyone?
Heather: No, thanks.
(Footage focusing on the show's recurring villains is shown)
Tamara (vo): The show is full of fun dialogue, a great art style, and characters that were new and creative. The villains especially stand out. Creepy HIM looks different than any other animated character I'd ever seen. The Amoeba Boys, Sedusa, Mojo Jojo...classic! Not to mention the Mayor of Townsville calling on these kindergartners every day to help save the city? Those five-year-olds have some major political clout.
NC: Yeah, what's with not letting little kids fight our battles anymore?
Tamara: (confused) What?
NC: (also confused) What?
(Several of the show's action scenes are shown)
Tamara (vo): The violence on the show is also something not seen in children shows anymore, being both surprisingly harsh and extreme, again, a perfect fit for Toonami. Even though it probably didn't need Toonami's help to get famous, it did cement them as not only funny, but badass as hell, proving epic fights aren't just for the big kids.
(The famous closing shot of the Powerpuff Girls posing in front of a moving hearts background is shown)
Samurai Jack Edit
Walter: Well, only one thing could be more extreme than crime-fighting kindergartners!
NC: I think there's a lot of things that could be more extreme than that.
Walter: A show from the guy who made (poster of...) Dexter's Lab!
NC: That...sentence is full of disappointments.
(The iconic title for the show Samurai Jack appears)
NC: Ah, okay. Well, maybe not that many.
(Cut to TOM)
TOM: Sharpen your swords and tie your man buns. Samurai Jack is in the house.
(The show's logo is shown on the screen, before we are shown clips of it, starting with the first episode)
Walter (vo; mimicking Aku): Long ago, in a distant land, Aku, the shapeshifting master of darkness, unleashed an unspeakable evil! But a foolish samurai warrior wielding a magic sword stepped forth to oppose him. Before the final blow was struck, he tore open a portal in time and flung the samurai into the future, where Aku's evil is law! Now, the samurai seeks to return to the past and undo the future that is Aku!
Malcolm: Did you just repeat the show's intro?
Walter: I'm sorry, do you have a better way of explaining the premise? (Malcolm shrugs) That's what I thought.
Walter (vo): Now, he's gotta get back, back to the past! Samurai Jack!
NC: (annoyed) Oh, come on!
(More clips of the show are followed)
Walter (vo): Samurai Jack is nothing short of amazing. Creator Genndy Tartakovsky went from comedy to intense action comedy while hardly having to change his look at all. The show was packed to the brim with style and substance. Jack was a near-perfect protagonist, and his never-ending crusade to return to the past to save the future was as compelling a journey as I've seen in almost any other animated show.
NC: Is he supposed to look like...
NC (vo): ...Professor Utonium as a Ninja Scroll character?
Walter: No, he's supposed to look like a black guy voices him.
(The picture of Phil LaMarr, the voice of the main character, appears as NC looks concerned)
NC: I have so many questions.
(The show's antagonist, Aku, is shown in the following clips)
Walter (vo): The late great Mako voiced the sinister Aku and could be as funny as he was threatening.
(A clip from the Season 4 episode "Jack vs Aku" is shown, with Aku in his lair ordering what seems to be pizza (but it's actually a bounty hunter) by the phone. Note: the infamous "Extra thick!" sentence is noticeably cut out)
Aku: I would like to place an order for delivery. Thirty minutes or it's free? Excellent! (laughs loudly)
Walter (vo): The mix of tone from loud hilarity to quiet character studies resulted in a truly unique piece of cartoon history. It originally aired from 2001 to 2004, but didn't regularly start appearing on Toonami until 2008. (The promo poster for the show's Season 5 that was shown on Adult Swim appears, before showing two images from it) In 2017, the show was revived for a fifth and final season that was meant to finally wrap up Jack's story. This time, the new episodes debuted on the Toonami block and were noticeably more adult in some ways. I could talk about this show for hours, but if you want more in-depth thoughts, I did a Top 5 video on the best episodes right here on Channel Awesome, and also reviewed every episode of the final season on my personal channel. If you've never seen Samurai Jack, you're missing out on one of, if not, the best original series Cartoon Network ever produced.
Mobile Suit Gundam Wing Edit
NC: Well, that's cool and all, but I thought a big part of Toonami was anime, not...like-anime. Where's all the Japanese fighting and giant robots?
Heather: Oh, you mean like...?
(The logo for Mobile Suit Gundam Wing is shown)
NC: (deadpan) No, nothing like that.
Heather: Well...well, too bad!
(Back to TOM)
TOM: It's the series that launched a thousand series, which, for an anime, is still pretty light. Time to break in the Gundam Wing.
(The anime's logo is shown on TOM's screen, and we go to its footage)
Heather (vo): If you've ever wanted to watch angsty, beautiful teen boys fight in giant robots...
Malcolm: You mean there's people who don't?! (Heather mouths "I know!")
Heather (vo): Then, boy, have I got a show for you. Gundam Wing follows the story of five teenagers who were selected to be a part of Operation Meteor, in which they were sent to Earth in high-powered mobile suits called Gundams to seek revenge on a political organization called OZ.
Tamara: Please tell me this is just the Japanese version of The Wizard of Oz! (Heather raises her finger to answer Tamara, but hesitates)
Heather (vo): The guys are all vaguely named after numbers. (All five main characters are shown with the edited logo "High School Musical 5") There was Heero Yuy, Duo Maxwell, Trowa Barton, Quatre Raberba Winner, and Chang Wufei. Sound complicated and little convoluted?
Heather: You bet it is! (The picture of an anime girl giving thumbs up is shown with the caption "Anime Approved")
Heather (vo): It was the perfect mix of angst, giant robot battles and political intrigue. Personally, I was captured by it because it was something that I had never seen before. The show seized the hearts and attention of Americans when it debuted in 2000. It was top-rated and stayed that way for a while. Part of the appeal was the boys. They were like a murdering badass boyband, each of their own personality types. Heero was the brooding deep loner, Duo was the wisecracking jokester, Quatre was the kind, gentle one, Trowa was quiet and thoughtful, and Wufei was...well, super righteous, I guess.
NC: Scary Spice was the wild card!
Heather: Please...that was clearly Baby Spice. (NC snaps his fingers in annoyance)
Heather (vo): Gundam Wing was actually much more successful in America than in Japan, where it was originally released in 1995. It introduced American audiences to the extremely popular Gundam franchise. Toonami tried to capitalize on the interest by showing other shows in the series, including the original Mobile Suit Gundam, but nothing quite stuck as much as Wing did. Although it did create a generation of people like me who have spent literally hundreds of dollars on plastic models of robots.
(Heather now has dozens of toys in her hands, grinning)
Malcolm: How did you fit all those in your pocket? (The caption appears with an arrow, reading "Seriously, That's Not Even a TENTH of What She Has")
Heather (vo): Modern animes in America owe a huge thanks to Gundam Wing. It was aired with none of the names of the characters or music changed from the original Japanese. It was also the first unedited anime ever run on Cartoon Network as a part of Toonami after dark. I always remember staying up until midnight to watch these unedited episodes where the characters said "death" and swore and had blood in a battle. Yeah, the early 2000s were a more innocent time.
NC: Oh, I don't know. It gave us this. (The poster for Freddy Got Fingered pops up)
Heather (vo): Staying true to its source, altering little and giving their all in every frame, Gundam told a compelling story with compelling characters, not surprisingly keeping us compelled.
The Big O Edit
NC: Well, I like my big robot enemies to constantly rip off Batman.
Heather: You mean you actually saw...?
NC: (throws arms out, widely grinning) BIG O! IT'S SHOWTIME!! (The techno music begins in the background, but stops as NC yells in Tamara's ear...) SHOW TIME!
(TOM is at his ship)
TOM: How about that? A Toonami anime the Critic has seen. I think you just thought James Bond joined Power Rangers or something.
(The main character and the title of the show are shown on TOM's screen, and we go to the footage)
NC (vo): Big O is like a collection of five different sci-fi shows that don't go together, yet somehow...they really don't go together. But the elements they're combining are still pretty damn cool. A man named Roger Smith wakes up, realizing his memory has been erased. As it so happens, everyone's memories around him have been erased, too. Rather than...oh, look for answers... (scoffs) ...everyone stays in their futuristic cities, where the rich are encased in giant bubbles and the poor are left to decay in the real world.
Malcolm: You said this was science fiction. (NC looks confused for a bit)
NC (vo): Androids are a big part in the city's environment, and one name, R. Dorothy, is created as a decoy for a real kidnapped girl. But since the girl is never found and the android has nowhere to go, she stays with Roger and his butler, trying to stop wrongdoings and...pffft...if there's time, figure out what happened to everybody's memories. Oh, and for no reason at all...GIANT ROBOTS!!
NC: (smiling) BECAUSE GIANT ROBOTS!
NC (vo): Yeah, on one level, it's a monster-of-the-week show, on another, it's a crime-fighting show; on another, it's a social commentary show; on another, it's a buddy-buddy show; and on another, it's Blade Runner. It's far too many elements to go together, but...they're very cool elements to go together. And the style with them, both the characters and the designs, reflect that.
(The clips are focusing on R. Dorothy)
NC (vo): R. Dorothy is one of the great deadpan characters. She has little to no emotion, is strong as hell, and drives Roger crazy with her robotic preciseness. It's like if Daria was the Terminator!
Roger: (to Norman) You mean Dorothy is going to be living with us?
R. Dorothy: It's not because I want to.
(In another clip, Roger and R. Dorothy are in the car)
Roger: Do I have to make you get out?
R. Dorothy: You may try, but I'm doubtful that a mere human would have the strength.
(The clips from the episode "R.D." are shown, showing R. Dorothy's "evil twin", Red Destiny: the more emotive android in a red cloak, who is aiming at Roger)
NC (vo): You know a show is working when the opposite version of the character is presented as legitimately creepy. Just seeing her smile is like (The shot from the 1991 movie The Addams Family is shown) when Wednesday Addams smiles. It's kind of terrifying.
Red Destiny: Goodbye...NEGOTIATOR!!!
NC (vo): The show sadly didn't do very well in Japan, meaning they had to stop at 13 episodes, even though they wanted to do 13 more. Well, Toonami enjoyed it so much, they co-produced the rest of the episodes to finish it out. There were just too many people who wanted to know what was gonna happen next. Does it work as a whole? I suppose not. It is too many different elements coming together, but those elements are so memorable and awesome that I can't see myself ever forgetting them. It may have had a short run, but it's one of the most memorable short runs an anime could ever have.
(The arc sentence of the show, "Cast in the name of God, Ye not guilty", is shown)
Malcolm: Hmm. Needs more hamsters.
NC: Is that a...thing on Toonami?
All except NC: (happily) YES!!
(Back to TOM)
TOM: It's Hamtaro time. Kushi-kushi ticky-ticky woo.
NC: (trying to make sense out of this) Did TOM just say that?
(The title of the show appears on the screen, followed by clips)
Malcolm (vo): Of course! It's Hamtaro! Hamtaro was unbelievably goddamn cute. If you were having a bad day, watching this anime about hamsters learning the value of teamwork would easily turn your frown upside down.
NC: Oh, and he...fights crime in the middle of the night!
Malcolm (vo): He goes outside, makes new friends. Sometimes they play in the backyard.
NC (vo): ...Where they say the magic words and turn into ninjas!
Malcolm (vo): No. He just tries to make his owner happy, a ten-year-old girl named Laura.
NC: And Laura is a demon hunter.
Malcolm: No. She's just a kid that enjoys playing with Hamtaro and the Ham-Hams.
NC: (bemused) Ham-Hams?
Heather: (throws hands) Sheesh, Critic, you're acting like this isn't a perfect fit for Toonami.
NC: Is it?
Tamara: Of course! Amongst all the fighting and the bloodshed and the intense action, Hamtaro is the most badass of them all.
Walter: (who was staring at NC the whole time, speaking calmly) It's Hamtaro, man. Hamtaro.
(One clip from this show plays out)
Oxnard: (sobbing) My...sunflower seed is gone!
Hamtaro: I'll help you look. Two hamster hands are better than one!
NC: This was on Toonami?!
Malcolm: Eesh, this is pointless.
Heather: You know, some people just don't understand the epic weight of Hamtaro.
NC: Epic weight?!
Tamara: Man, you either get Hamtaro or you don't get Hamtaro.
(NC looks around, confused, and gets startled by Walter's glare)
NC: Okay, I...guess I don't get Hamtaro.
Malcolm: I'm embarrassed for all of us.
Justice League and Justice League Unlimited Edit
Tamara: (massaging her forehead) Eh, let's just move on to something a little more laid-back and subdued: Justice League.
Malcolm: Yeah. Yeah.
NC: (flabbergasted) WHAT--?!
(TOM is at his ship as always)
TOM: Before the DCU... (The poster for 2017's Justice League is shown) ...gave us whatever that movie was...there was a Justice League that knew how to give the people what they wanted.
(The shot from the 2001 Justice League animated series is shown on TOM's screen, showing the silhouetted titular characters walking. The clips from this show are followed)
Tamara (vo): Justice League is such a quality show. The animation is excellent and consistent, the storylines are engaging and exciting, not dumbing things down for a younger audience, but bringing every age along for the ride. And the chemistry between the main core superhero group is my favorite in all of DC adaptations. Also, let's be honest: having Martian Manhunter and Hawkgirl part of the main group ruled.
NC: (gets excited) You mean it's a Harvey Birdman crossover?!
Tamara: I said "Hawkgirl", not "Birdgirl".
NC: (as his smile fades) Aw. (His eyes meet Walter's menacing glare again, and he shudders a bit)
(The clips from the next show, Justice League Unlimited, are shown)
Tamara (vo): Justice League had mostly two-part episodes, while Justice League Unlimited, the show that came directly after two seasons of Justice League, dropped that format and added even more characters. Though I guess it was okay if that meant getting the most awesome punch Superman has ever thrown.
(The clip from the episode "Destroyer" is shown, with Superman thrashing Darkseid across the whole city with his full might and even smashing him into the road. Everybody is impressed)
Walter: I want to marry that punch. (suddenly glares menacingly at NC once more)
Tamara (vo): Even in Justice League, though, the lesser-known character cameos could stack up to the dozens, or even hundreds. (The images of various episodes appear as Tamara speaks) They tackled some cool storylines, like Superman dying, the Legion of Doom assembling, and the love story between Hawkgirl and Green Lantern. Also, the cast of Teen Titans came in and voiced the Royal Flush gang hired by the Joker to fight the League, and it was awesome.
NC: That is the weirdest sentence I have ever heard you utter.
Tamara: You should hear me when I'm sober.
Tamara (vo): There's so many people wanting that perfect Justice League adaptation, I say we already got it. It had many adult moments, but never lost sight of that childlike wonderment. It was action-packed, but smart; aggressive, but sensitive; followed the comics, but also stood as their own thing. I'd much rather take this Batman and Superman fighting than (The shot from Batman v Superman is shown) this Batman and Superman fighting any day.
(The montage ends on showing the Justice League Satellite floating in space)
Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball GT Edit
NC: It's strange, though. With Dragon Ball Z being such a big hit, you'd think they've run more Dragon Ball shows. (Malcolm, Heather and Walter take a breath to begin answering) Walter. Only.
(Walter smiles...and quickly glares at NC once again. After that, we cut back to TOM)
TOM: With every canyon-destroying step forward, you take a canyon-destroying step back. Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball GT will start and continue the Dragon Ball legacy.
(The logo of the first series is shown, before going to its clips)
Walter (vo): Dragon Ball was, I guess, in Toonami's order, the prequel to their hit show, Dragon Ball Z. It followed a boy with the tail named Goku and his new friend Bulma on their quest to collect the seven mystical Dragon Balls. When all seven are brought together, the eternal dragon Shenron appears, granting his summoner one wish.
NC: (waves off) Oh, please! Everybody who saw Dragonball Evolution knows that. (He is struck by lightning, disappearing from the frame)
Walter: See, that's what happens when you mention that movie.
Walter (vo): Along the way, Goku makes new friends, enemies, is trained further in the martial arts, fights in tournaments, and takes on a whole army. This anime was released in Japan in 1986, but only started airing on Toonami in 2001. Therefore, a lot of kids saw Dragon Ball after already being exposed to the much more action-oriented and serious second series. Dragon Ball had plenty of action, but it was a much lighter show. It was more comedic and goofy. I'll admit it was a bit jarring back then, at the height of DBZ's popularity, to see something so different that involved the same characters I felt I already knew very well. It wasn't until I was older that I appreciated the series for what it was and truly enjoyed it. Dragon Ball will forever be important to the history of anime and animation in general. It's filled with great storytelling, adventure, action, and...its trademark pervy comedy.
(A clip from one episode shows Bulma lifting her skirt up in front of Goku)
Bulma: You let me have your Dragon Ball, and I'll let you have a little peek.
Goku: What do I care about seeing your dirty old fanny?
NC: I feel like a lot of people watching now should be asking that.
(The clips are focusing on the franchise's third installment, Dragon Ball GT)
Walter (vo): Dragon Ball GT takes place several years after the end of Z. It follows Goku being transformed back into a child by the Black Star Dragon Balls. With Trunks and his granddaughter Pan, he has to travel the galaxy to find them so he can be transformed back into his adult state. This series is notable for it not being based on a manga and having limited involvement from Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama.
Tamara: Is this a good thing, or...?
Malcolm, Heather and Walter: Bad thing.
NC and Tamara: Ahh.
Walter (vo): This is absolutely the black sheep of the Dragon Ball family. It only lasted 64 episodes and failed to connect with its audience like DBZ did. When Dragon Ball Z was still airing, I remember hearing so much about GT: magazines, Internet articles, rumors about what was going to happen on the show were present quite a bit among the fanbase. There was almost this mystique surrounding. When they finally aired it in 2003, I knew right away this wasn't going to be what I had come to expect.
(The American opening song for this series is a rap)
Singer: (rapping) Step into the grand tour!
Back-up: Grand tour, grand tour!
Singer: (rapping) Step into the grand tour!
Back-up: Dragon Ball GT!
All except Walter: Ewwwww...
Walter: Yes, this is happening.
Walter (vo): That crappy intro was simultaneously the dumbest and most disappointing thing I had ever heard. Say what you will about DBZ's American score by Bruce Faulconer, but I grew up loving most of it, and his presence was sorely missed in DB GT. The American music was terrible! And that was the least of this show's problems. I think the plan was to take the Dragon Ball saga back to its roots by turning Goku into a kid again, but it did not work. To complicate matters, Funimation edited together chunks of the first 16 episodes as a one-episode Toonami premiere.
NC: Well, that's almost as stupid as (The poster for The Last Airbender appears) telling an entire season of a show in a movie.
Walter (vo): These were later released as the lost episodes, as Funimation was concerned about the big tonal shift GT made from Z. It remains a gigantic letdown, but that was far from the end of Dragon Ball content. As previously stated, the popularity of Dragon Ball is doing just fine nowadays. And it doesn't look to be ending anytime soon.
(The final shot of the first series' intro is shown)
NC: And it doesn't look like Toonami's popularity was gonna end anytime soon either. With all these epic shows that they're constantly putting out, I can't wait to see what Toonami would do next!
(Cut to...the CGI girl surrounded by several creatures)
Girl: This summer, you'll learn just how cool it is to be part of Miguzi gang.
(Everybody's smiles promptly change into looks of disappointment and confusion with a sound of a balloon deflating)
NC: ...What the hell was that?
(As everybody continues staring at the camera silently, we go to a commercial, also in silence)
NC (vo): No, seriously, what was that?
He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2002) and ThunderCats (2011) Edit
(After returning from commercial, we are shown clips of the 2002 and 2011 reboots of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and ThunderCats respectively, also including their original cartoon incarnations)
NC (vo): Toonami eventually started what they called their midnight run, meaning because the shows were shown later, they could get away with more blood, gore and...well, more adult stuff they couldn't get away with in prime time. So most cool 80s shows would find themselves working their way into the Toonami lineup, including G.I. Joe, Voltron, He-Man and ThunderCats. And the nice thing about these reruns is some of them spawned some pretty decent reboots.
(One clip from the 2002 He-Man is shown, showing Prince Adam walking across the cheering crowd)
Adam: Hey, I, uh, didn't miss the cake, did I?
NC (vo): Eh, like I said, pretty decent. ThunderCats, for example, got a completely new show, trying to update the original material with a more mature storyline and characters and give the animation more of an Avatar: The Last Airbender look. It was a decent attempt, but it never caught on. I think the reason is it made the characters a little too young. A lot of us like ThunderCats because it was watching grown men and women kick ass with the kids as the side characters. It's not that we didn't welcome more complex stories, we just wanted it with more grown-up characters, not growing up characters. I mean, come on. We won't hear the Thundercats talk like this.
(One archival blooper of the 1985 show is played)
Lion-O: It was just plain stupid to assume it might be bad... (Larry Kenney breaks character as the voice director's laugh is heard) ...just what the fuck am I talking about?
NC (vo): I mean, come on. How about a show that finally gives the fans what we've always wanted to see from these characters?
(The intro to the upcoming show ThunderCats Roar! is shown, with the more colorful and cartoony style of animation, the background voices almost screaming the title that appears with a smoke...literally)
NC (vo): Nailed it. He-Man was also given a makeover, trying to give it a grander and somewhat darker tone. They did a lot of things pretty good, like give Skeletor a pretty cool backstory and made the look of the show more focused on the Barbarian aspect rather than the sci-fi. But... (sighs) ...it's still He-Man. It's still corny, silly, and goes back and forth between being really dark and gritty and being...well, He-Man.
(Another clip from the 2002 show is played)
Adam: She's, uh, kidding, right? Some kind of a birthday prank.
NC (vo): I mean, I guess it's better than Dolph Lundgren getting his ass whipped by a laser right twizzler, but...no, I have nothing else to add. It is definitely better than that. Both this and ThunderCats were valiant attempts and, honestly, not bad shows on their own, but neither were the epic reboot fans were expecting. He-Man did manage to get one more season, while ThunderCats sadly only got one.
Walter: Oh, come on, man. We're gonna talk about what Toonami is best remembered for.
Heather: Yeah, TOM, what's the next show coming up?
(Cut to...the computed-animated segment from before. The girl in yellow is named Erin, and she is talking with several creatures in an underwater ship)
Erin: This summer is the summer of you! (The creatures cheer)
(Everybody's smiles go down again)
Erin: (audio) In honor of your you-ness, we're gonna have...
NC: ...Well, TOM looks different.
Heather (vo): Yeah, imagine one day you came home, ready to see TOM hype you up with action and mayhem, and instead...you got this.
NC (vo): It looks like the girl from Monsters, Inc. got older and entrapped the monsters in an aquarium, and if they tried to escape, she'll Kill Bill their asses!
Erin: Yoke, back away from the remote.
Walter (vo): This was Miguzi, Cartoon Network's replacement for Toonami during the weekdays, starting in 2004. As you can tell, it was aimed at much younger kids.
Erin: I don't think you guys are quite ready for each other. Right?
NC: But...what happened to Toonami?
Heather: It was now only airing on Saturday nights from 7 P.M. to 11 P.M. Fans were thrilled.
(Cut to a clip showing a wild riot happening in a prison cafeteria)
Heather: Still, even though it was only on Saturdays, Toonami added more shows to the roster.
NC: Any of them hamster-related?
Malcolm: No, but there is a demon fox.
NC: Guess it's a little better.
Walter: (suddenly yells) You shut up! You know nothing about Hamtaro! NOTHING!
(NC is shocked)
NC: What are you people?
(Cut back to TOM's ship)
TOM: Time to sharpen your blonde hair and bring out your inner demon. Naruto is fighting the good fight.
(The show's logo appears on the screen, before we go to its footage)
Malcolm (vo): If you like Dragon Ball Z, but felt like it needed more ninjas, then Naruto might have been more your speed. The show is another shonen franchise about the hero's journey, but focused on an orphan boy with latent powers he didn't know he had, from a nine-tailed demon fox. And he trains to hone his abilities, fighting stronger opponents along the way. (Goku is shown) Sounds familiar?
NC: Mystic Pizza?
Malcolm (vo): Okay, yeah, Masashi Kishimoto was heavily influenced by Dragon Ball, even creating Naruto that loosely resembles Super Saiyan Goku's appearance and Sasuke resembling Vegeta, all paralleling a similar frenemy relationship. While inspired by DB, Naruto was a little more grounded in its concept, focusing on shinobi in a war-torn world. Here, the characters had to hone their jutsu, weaving intricate hand signs in order to properly execute a move. This is where Naruto found its foothold, moreso being about strategy rather than who was physically stronger.
Walter: So it's like Avatar, only...
(The footage focuses on the main characters)
Malcolm (vo): It was more about "Whose technique could beat one?", "Whose jutsu could counter an attack?", "Could it work from a different angle?". It became intricate and fascinating, like a game of chess instead of just armwrestling. Also, Naruto actually had some pretty effective storytelling that fans could relate to. For example, Naruto was an outcast and Sasuke had a similar background in Naruto, though Sasuke is a lot more respected simply because of their differing heritages. Their stories are all neatly woven into some political intrigue, the hypocrisy of the ninjas governing world and blah-blah-blah. If that's not your thing, here's more fighting.
Mizuki: (to Iruka, spinning his weapon) You're finished! (He is swiftly knocked down by Naruto)
Malcolm (vo): Naruto had several great characters, and (shot of...) Rock Lee was by far my favorite. He was quirky and strong-willed, and had to supplement his inability to use jutsu with his raw martial arts skill. I thought that was so badass.
NC (vo): The fact he looks like (photo of...) the Momo Challenge is also enough to intimidate any enemy.
Malcolm (vo): All-in-all, Naruto quickly became a successor to the action junkie fans of Dragon Ball Z. The series rose in popularity right as the Dragon Ball franchise's initial run was coming to an end. Dragon Ball Super would become a thing, but until then, Naruto had the action and the characters to give us shonen things.
Ben 10: Alien Force Edit
Tamara: (chuckles) Demons living inside you is fine.
Walter: Are they?
Tamara: But what happens when aliens live inside you? (grins deviously)
Heather: Well, I think we found that out.
(The famous scene from the 1979 movie Alien is shown: moments before the Chestburster emerges from Cane's stomach)
Tamara: I was talking about Ben 10!
NC: Oh! Well, that's different.
(The scene is repeated, but with Ben Tennyson's head (2016 design) Photoshopped onto Cane's head)
Tamara: This is sick.
NC: (smiles) Yet thrilling.
(Back to TOM)
TOM: Don't call the Men in Black. We got your alien Pokemon all set up in Ben 10: Alien Force.
(The show's logo appears on the screen, before going to its clips)
Tamara (vo): Benjamin Kirby "Ben" Tennyson gets an alien watch device called an Omnitrix, allowing him to shift shapes into 10 different alien heroes in Ben 10. Five years later, we get a darker and more grown-up fifteen-year-old Ben in Ben 10: Alien Force. His Omnitrix has re-calibrated, giving him access to more alien heroes that are stronger and more powerful than the OG episodes. With the help of his cousin Gwen and his former nemesis Kevin, Ben is out to find his missing grandfather and fight the DNAliens.
NC: (impressed) Wow! Well, that sounds superior compared to the first show...
Tamara: This is inferior compared to the first show.
NC: (loses steam) Of course it is, yeah.
Tamara (vo): Though the aliens may be stronger and more powerful, the writing, animation and storylines have taken a downgrade for sure. I enjoy Alien Force overall, and out of all the different spin-off series that came after the original Ben 10, it is the best. But it does seem to lose a bit of what made Ben 10 so much fun. Don't get me wrong, we wanted more Ben 10 and we got some great episodes with this updated and more adult version. It's just never gonna quite capture the magic the original Ben 10 had. It's by no means a bad show, but it doesn't hold a candle to the original.
(The end of the show's intro, closing on the title, is shown)
YuYu Hakusho Edit
Malcolm: But, let's get back to anime with YuYu Hakusho.
NC: Did you just sneeze backwards?
Malcolm: (shrugs) Everybody asks that.
(Everybody bursts into laughter, which quickly escalates into full-on hysterics and NC smacking his hat around and rolling around on the couch. It then cuts back to TOM)
TOM: You know, finger-pointing is rude. Well, with YuYu Hakusho, it can save your life.
(The show's logo appears on the screen, before showing its clips)
Malcolm (vo): Created by Yoshihiro Togashi, this was a very unique series in of itself. The story starts with a delinquent high school student, Yusuke Urameshi. Our main character ends up dying right at the beginning of his story, trying to save a child's life from an oncoming car.
(The clip of Yusuke being hit by the car after saving the child is shown)
Heather: Short series.
NC: I've seen shorter. (The poster for Netflix's Punisher series appears with the caption "Too Soon?" over it)
Malcolm (vo): From here, he's granted abilities by the powers that be in the afterlife to stop heinous crimes from demons and spirits trying to take over the mortal world. Yusuke becomes what is called a Spirit Detective, solving crimes the authorities couldn't. It was like Men in Black, but with ghosts and the occult.
Walter: So more like Ghostbusters meets Chinatown.
NC: Only less incest-y.
Heather: God, Ghostbusters had a lot of that.
Malcolm (vo): While the concept was another monster-of-the-week scenario, it had a unique film noir edge to its approach. The series saw some decent success in the early 2000s, getting a prime time spot on Toonami's block. It was an interesting idea executed uniquely, with a great style and characters to keep us interested until the end. It did start to lose its unique touch, trying to mimic the explosive styles of other anime action series, but thankfully ended on a more grounded note with Yusuke coming to terms with his heritage and finding a new family in the friends he's made.
NC: (scoffs) Spoilers!
Tamara: Yeah, family and friends are to be valued? I did not know that!
Malcolm (vo): It loses its roots once or twice, but it gets back on track near the end.
The Batman Edit
Tamara: Oh, let's talk about The Batman!
All except Tamara: Which one?
Tamara: The TV show.
All except Tamara: Which one?
Tamara: The animated one.
All except Tamara: Which one?
Tamara: The one that's just okay.
All except Tamara: ...Which one?
(And then everybody bursts into hysterical laughter again, going to full-on shrieking and NC rolling around the couch like a madman...until the latter calms the others down)
NC: Stop, stop. Stop. No, no...what are we doing? What? Just...what?
(TOM is still in his chair)
TOM: Another Batman in the belfry. But this one contains the word "the" in front of it. The Batman tries to change things up, for better or worse.
(The poster and logo for this 2004 animated show appears on the screen, before going to its clips)
Tamara (vo): Simply put, this is another passable animated Batman show. Have we seen it before? More or less. Does it bring anything extremely new to the table? Now, the animation is cool, and seeing a younger Batman meet his villains for the first time is fun...but not really. Is it still a good show that I recommend? Oh, Bat-yeah!
(The show's characters are shown)
Tamara (vo): Sure, this series borrows a lot from what we've seen before. The character arcs are all mostly the same, with some slight variations mostly due to other DC shows running at the same time. We do get a large assortment of classic Batman villains, which is cool. An overall solidly designed show. What is interesting is that Robin doesn't appear until season 4 because he was in Teen Titans, which was running until The Batman started its fourth season. We get instead Batgirl as his sidekick up until then. Other than that, the characters that we know and love are all there. We only get two series' original characters that aren't seen in other adaptations: Chief Angel Rojas and Detective Ellen Yin.
NC: Bullshit original! That's Elisa Maza! (This character from Gargoyles is shown)
Tamara (vo): Oh, come on, that's...
Walter: Scary how much they look alike?
Tamara: Well, maybe they're sisters.
Heather: I think she's Asian.
Tamara: I think you should shut up.
Tamara (vo): The Batman doesn't take as many chances as other Batman shows, but it doesn't do the exact same thing either. The characters do have a look that you can easily identify as being from this show, (Three stills from the animated projects Justice League, Batman and Harley Quinn and Batman: The Killing Joke are shown) unlike the other Batman incarnations where they all look pretty similar. It's nothing groundbreaking, but it's just different enough to warrant a viewing.
One Piece Edit
NC: Yeah, but that show was, what, five seasons? I want that show that goes on for so long, it's like a tire fire no amount of water could possibly put out!
All except NC: One Piece.
(The background music starts, but stops again)
Heather: Also, why would you want that?
(The BGM resumes as we cut back to TOM)
TOM: It's the Energizer Bunny of anime. One Piece definitely knows how to keep going and going and going.
(The franchise's logo appears on the screen, and we're shown its first episodes' footage)
Malcolm (vo): One Piece. If you like Dragon Ball, but felt like it needed more pirates.
NC: (irritated) Does everything have to come back to Dragon Ball?!
Malcolm, Heather and Walter: Yes!
(NC and Tamara are left confused)
NC: (imitating Henry Jones from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade) We're pilgrims in an unholy land.
Malcolm (vo): Okay, that's unfair to say, but Eiichiro Oda was also another manga creator heavily influenced by Akira Toriyama. One Piece is a treasure in of itself, garnering its own popularity to put itself in the same league as Dragon Ball and alike. It's the story of Luffy, an orphan boy with strange powers who wants to become the king of the pirates by becoming the strongest and finding the highly coveted MacGuffin...I mean, treasure known as One Piece. His journey involves giants, sea monsters and animal people, ghosts, ghouls, drag queens and super-powered beings that utilize the various powers from a food called Devil Fruit.
NC: Sounds like if Monkey Island was a drama.
Malcolm (vo): Having swallowed the Devil Fruit himself, one called the Gum-Gum Fruit...
NC: (rolling eyes) Is that similar to Ham-Hams?
Walter: (suddenly snapping and charging at NC, being held back by Tamara) I will CUT YOU if you mention Hamtaro again! I will CUT YOU! I will cut you and hang you by your tie! You son of a bitch!
Malcolm (vo): ...so it turns him into a rubber human, in the same vein as Mr. Fantastic from the Fantastic Four. Part of the fun of the show is the world is larger than life and super imaginative. They travel to various islands from ones in the sky to ones at the bottom of the very ocean they sailed. What Naruto accomplished in detail and creative fights, and Dragon Ball Z did in its explosive action, One Piece did for worldbuilding. Alas, herein lies the double-edged sword of Oda's writing. The world was fully detailed and fleshed out...almost a little too detailed. The constant talking about the world starts to bloat the story and digress from the plot, sometimes becoming boring and hard to follow. And I mean...episodes will be spent on giving the background of a new character, something that could be easily summed up in a flashback. As of this review, this show has (Two captions signal what Malcolm is saying) 20 seasons and nearly 900 episodes. And they still haven't found One Piece!
Heather: It's like...for every episode, it generates three more.
Walter: Like a perpetual anime episode machine.
NC: (imitating Homer Simpson from the episode "The PTA Disbands") In this house, we obey the laws of THERMODYNAMICS!
Malcolm (vo): Interestingly, Toonami saved the show for the US by putting Funimation's dub on air. When One Piece was being localized to the US, its initial 4Kids dub was a lackluster show at best. With clumsy translations and heavily unnecessary edits, an already abstract story was becoming increasingly hard to follow. Thankfully, after 4Kids lost the dubbing rights, Funimation picked it up to do it justice. Just another anime Toonami helped out to keep going, even if it looks like there's no end in sight.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Clone Wars Edit
Tamara: Speaking of no end in sight, do you remember when Star Wars was gonna end at some point?
(We're back to TOM once more)
TOM: The Force is strong with this one. So much so that many people like Star Wars: The Clone Wars even more than the prequels. Talk about combining an insult in a compliment.
(The logo for the 2008 show Star Wars: The Clone Wars and the poster of the previous animated show from 2003, Star Wars: Clone Wars, appear on TOM's screen, before showing the footage for the 2008 show)
Tamara (vo): Did you like the extended universe-ness of Solo and Rogue One? Yeah? Then listen up. Oh, no? Well, still listen up, because this series is awesome. Star Wars: The Clone Wars is what happens when we keep everything canon, but fix the prequel movies. Anakin? Fixed. Padme? Fixed. Jar Jar Binks? Okay, you know we can't have it all.
Heather: It's like curing death. It's never gonna happen. (Everybody shake their heads no)
Tamara (vo): The character design and development in this series is off the charts. Anakin is what we always wanted: angry, but not inherently evil; not upfront, at least.
(The scene of Ben Kenobi telling Luke Skywalker about Anakin from A New Hope is shown)
Tamara (vo): Remember when Obi-Wan speaks about Anakin in A New Hope, and he's like, "He was the best star pilot in the galaxy and a cunning warrior and was a good friend"?
(Back to the footage of the 2008 show)
Tamara (vo): Well, we actually see that character development in this show. Also, the series' specific characters, like Ahsoka and Asajj Ventress, are so killer, figuratively and literally. While The Clone Wars is an awesome CG series whose animation improves greatly as each season goes by...
(Now, we're shown the footage of the traditionally-animated 2003 show)
Tamara (vo): ...just Clone Wars is a micro series with hand-drawn animation and is just over two hours long. Even with that short runtime, though, this micro series is epic. The music, the story, the action, the art style: all incredible. Also being directed by Genndy Tartakovsky. Seriously, can this guy do any wrong? This is an even awesomer Samurai Jack with lightsabers. Yeah. An awesomer Samurai Jack with lightsabers! Made in-between Star Wars episodes II and III, this was made to bridge the gap of time for viewers, and, in my opinion, is better than all the prequels combined. So, yeah, if the Star Wars movies aren't doing it for you anymore, don't think that they're your last hope, for there is another.
Closing thoughts Edit
(The footage of the 2000s Toonami promos is shown to the piano music)
NC (vo): On September 20, 2008, Cartoon Network announced it would be canceling Toonami due to low ratings.
Walter (vo): For many, this was the end of an era. Though there would still be anime and other more adult shows on Cartoon Network, it seemed the gateway that made us aware of so much great content was finally being closed off.
Heather (vo): So many foreign imports that wouldn't have gotten nearly as much attention or exposure owe a lot to what Toonami did for them.
Malcolm (vo): It opened our eyes to so many shows, so many adventures, so many characters that we would hold dear to our hearts.
Tamara (vo): Whether for laughs, tears, dumb fun or gripping drama, Toonami left a legacy of programming that we would never forget.
(The 2003 logo for Toonami is shown, and we fade to black)
NC (vo): But then, one evening on April 1, this played.
(It looks like the beginning for Tommy Wiseau's The Room)
NC (vo): Yeah, ha-ha-ha. Cartoon Network once again ran their April Fools prank of playing The Room. Only this time, it was a double bluff.
(It is revealed to be the DVD commercial for the movie, being watched by...TOM)
TOM: Got the results of the test back. I definitely have April Fools.
(The montage of the 2012 Toonami promos is followed next)
NC (vo): Cartoon Network didn't play The Room, but instead played a sneak peek of its return to Toonami. Apparently, enough people over the years have requested its return, and on May 26, 2012, Toonami was back. It's had changes since its return, as is to be expected, but now, a new generation could be introduced to the excitement and buildup of getting ready to watch something not 100% for adults, but not 100% for kids either. It was the stepping stone into great stories and different styles that weren't always seen in everyday media. A mixture of corniness, intensity, comedy, drama, simplicity, complexity, and, of course, a shit-ton of action. Toonami gave just the right amount of edge that, whether introducing us to something old or something new, it always gave us something epic. And tons and tons of young people out there couldn't have been more thankful.
(Back to TOM for one last time)
TOM: Thanks for watching, Toonami faithful. And remember, if you want a really cool channel, go over to EpicVoiceGuy's page.
(Cut to...Jon Bailey, who was voicing TOM, in the recording studio. He has a Cartoon Network shirt)
Jon: He's so funny and handsome, and... (realizes that he's revealed) Uh...pay no attention to the big voice in the booth. (shifts eyes nervously, then desperately tries to cover the camera) Darn it!
(After a static, we go back to the gang)
Walter: So, Critic, it sounds like you finally came around on Toonami.
NC: Yeah, you know, at...first I didn't get it, but after hearing you all talk about it, I finally realized the impact that it actually had.
Heather: Come on. Let's watch one more.
(She pushes the button on the remote, and everybody looks at the camera, smiling warmly, as it fades to black...but then we promptly come back to them, as they see Aiyanna Wade running in the room)
Aiyanna: (out of breath) Oh, holy smokes! Sorry I'm late. (chuckles) Oh, wait. Oh, you guys done? No! You cannot be done talking about Toonami! You haven't even talked about the biggest show they ever had on: (poster for...) Jackie Chan Adventures! Okay, so, Jackie Chan is this archaeologist, right? And he has to travel around the world and find these talismans. There's 12 of them and they're based off of the Zodiac signs.
(As Aiyanna continues speaking to the camera, the others very slowly make their way out of the room, crawling away from the couch)
Aiyanna: And then he's trying to keep them away and out of the hands of the evil people. They're called the Dark Hand, they're evil, they're working for this demon, his name is Shendu; he's the worst and he's also trapped in a dragon statue, because his regular form is a dragon, and he wants to get back to his regular form. Jackie Chan has to fight all these bad guys. There's Easter eggs of his entire career throughout the show. It's incredible. After each episode, there's these children that run in and get to ask Jackie Chan questions, and then he answers them. It's amazing. And then...
(She realizes nobody is listening to her right now)
Aiyanna: (gets saddened) Oh. (takes out a paper figure of Jade Chan) I guess it's just you and me again, Jade. (embraces it as the triumphant orchestral-esque music plays out)
Channel Awesome tagline - Announcer: And the Wonder Twins, Zan and Jayna! With their space monkey, Gleek!
(The credits roll)