On Tuesday May 14th, Adult Swim dropped a trailer for Genndy Tartakovsky’s new series “Primal”. While the thirty second teaser was brief, it’s certainly gotten a lot of people’s interest. Many including myself assumed that it would be premiering on Toonami, but Jason Demarco has confirmed that Genndy’s new show will not be premiering on the block.
Many seem to be confused by this decision and are jumping to the conclusion that Genndy forced the networks hand or that he doesn’t like his shows associated with a block that primarily airs anime. I don’t want to go too deep into theories as to why this is the case but I am perfectly fine with Toonami not being the go to destination for “Primal”.
I like Toonami and while I have expressed my concerns with the blocks current decisions, they are still doing well and have plenty of shows lined up that will continue to bring in a healthy string of viewers. With that being said, while it is in good shape, the block has a limited reach compared to normal Adult Swim. Outside of the “Dragon Ball” franchise I can’t think of that many shows that continually brings in a large amount of casual viewers. You may see some stragglers who are sticking around after “Dragon Ball Super”, but the majority of casuals are watching just that. That isn’t to say that I think having “Primal” air on the block would be a bad thing or it would do poorly, but I think it could be crippled under the Toonami name. It could be stuck on a Saturday night block with an audience that primarily watches anime and it being branded as a Toonami original could harm its wide appeal.
I think this is a smart move for Adult Swim, they are pretty much branding “Primal” as an Adult Swim original without the need to tack it on a brand. They are basically saying we want to air this series without the assistance of Toonami and we want this show to be its own thing and have as large of an audience as possible. If this succeeds, we could see Adult Swim air more western action shows on the network without it being relegated to airing on the block. This could also lead to everyone (both TV networks and streaming services) stepping up their game on what western animation can do. It doesn’t need to sell toys, it doesn’t have to be an anime or anime inspired to succeed, and it doesn’t have to be a comedy. Adult Swim airing “Primal” proper could lead to some big changes, but like anything these things do not happen overnight and that’s why this show needs to perform well. William Street are taking a huge risk by airing a western animated action show on the network proper without it being restricted to Toonami and if it succeeds, just think of the possibilities. It shows them that there is a place for more action oriented content outside of the block and it could lead them to experiment with other genres as well. I know I want to see more unique content fill TV and I’m sure more people want that as well, but that’s where things are now. It’s an experiment and if it does well we could see a major shift in the western animation sphere, but for right now it’s all up in the air. I wish Adult Swim luck with this endeavor and for Toonami fans, I understand it sucks that this won’t be on the block at all, but this doesn’t rule out the possibility of more western action series on there either. Just have some patience and if nothing else they could bring back reruns and air “Primal” as a closer for the night, but we shall wait and see what happens next.
Genndy Tartakovsky’s “Primal” will premiere this Fall on Adult Swim