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“Even an adventurous crew like this one deserves a calm and relaxing day now and then. How many years…no, how many decades has it been since I could just sit around and take an afternoon nap in the sun without a care in the world? While I wondered the seas alone, I would lay my head down, not knowing if it was day or night, and dream of my long lost comrades…and Laboon. However it was precious little solice for when I awoke the fleeting joy became a press of loneliness. Yet, what could I do but repeat the cycle again. In those days I could find peace neither in slumber, nor in my waking hours. But now, if I listened carefully…I can hear my new friends all around me. I know I died and I am now nothing but bones but…I’m so very happy to still be alive. […] I’ve no doubt that this time of quiet will soon be replaced by the roaring sounds of adventure, a prospect I welcome wholeheartedly. But now, it’s a moment to rest one’s bones. Laboon, it seems that the next time we meet, I’ll have quite a few stories to share, old friend. Until then, I’ll keep dreaming of you, and I hope you’ll keep waiting on me.”
– Brook, One Piece (Ep. 384)
The Toonami Trending Rundown for March 18-19, 2017. A big milestone for the better cartoon show this week as Toonami celebrates its 20th anniversary. And it would be a night to remember with some great moments including Jack getting chased down by the Daughters of Aku, and while trying to exscape he kills one of them, learning that Aku’s loyalists aren’t all just “nuts and bolts”. Meanwhile, Beerus ramps up his power, hoping to see the full potential of Goku’s SSJ God abilities, and we end off Toonami’s current run of One Piece as Brook settles down and attempts to fit in as the newest member of the Strawhats.
On Twitter, Toonami and every show would successfully trend in the US and Worldwide during their respective East Coast airings, in addition to both #Toonami20, which was a hashtag used to commemorate the 20th anniversary, as well as #SandWhaleAndMe, as Toonami showcased the first part of the 5 part miniseries by Production IG. In addition, being One Piece’s final night, fans would make sure that show would go out with a bang, as #OnePiece would trend from the duration of its East Coast airing to its West Coast airing. Samurai Jack would also produce a character trend for the very first time with Aku, as 50 years on and after destroying all the known portals back to the past, he has pretty much lost all motivation to try and kill Jack.
On Tumblr, both Samurai Jack and Dragon Ball Super would reach its trending list in addition to Tokyo Ghoul, as Toonami showcased a promo for its upcoming debut next week.
Finally, in a first for Toonami programming in the social media scene, both Samurai Jack and Dragon Ball Super would make the top two positions on Nielsen Social’s top 5 most talked about shows on Twitter and Facebook, the 16th and 17th time a Toonami show has made it onto the list since we started recording this feat. This would also be the second week in a row for Samurai Jack to reach the list in addition to becoming the 2nd time a show has reached the #1 spot, meanwhile this would be the 9th time in the 11 weeks it has aired so far that Super has made it onto the list.
As the Spa Island mini-arc comes to a close, it pains for me to say that unfortunately due to flagging ratings, high costs in airing the show further, and perhaps a need to shake things up programming wise, among other things, Toonami has pulled the plug on One Piece’s run on the better cartoon show. This will be the second time since the revival of Toonami that a show was pulled from the lineup without being able to finish its run, with the OG Naruto in 2014 being the other one. But unlike Naruto in which it was replaced with Shippuden (as OG Naruto was most likely a stopgap until Disney XD gave up on the broadcast rights for Shippuden, and even after that, it got to stay on the block for a few more months), the Strawhats’ chances of returning at some capacity at this point look slim to none.
Initially as One Piece made its grand return to the block in 2013, things were great as Toonami enjoyed great ratings and social media buzz for the show alongside its Big 3 Shonen Jump counterparts in Bleach and Naruto. But as time marched on, ratings began to lag for multiple reasons, and by 2015 One Piece fell all the way down the schedule from 1am all the way to 2:30am and eventually being the lowest rated show on the block besides the rerun (and sometimes even being out-beaten by the rerun). At that point, the signs were probably there that the show’s days as a Toonami show were numbered. Granted, despite its shortcomings ratings wise, we all thought it was at least doing well enough to stay, and it did for a while, though we know now that it was no longer the case.
Quite a few factors likely played a role in One Piece’s demise. Some blame One Piece starting on episode 207 instead of episode 1, as newer viewers didn’t get to experience the events in those earlier episodes. To use a recently aired example, when Brook recalled his days with Laboon, Toonami never got to showcase the Strawhats encounter with Laboon, so the emotional aspects could’ve been lost with some people. Meanwhile, some blame the show not being able to catch up with the pace of the most recent dub episodes, being aired once a week. And although this is subjective, others have also commented that the show’s “goofy” feel and artstyle, for lack of a better term, could make it hard for some to take the show seriously, especially in regards to the show’s emotional moments.
Of course, One Piece’s sheer length may have played a part in its eventual demise. The show is presently up to 782 episodes and counting, which is right up there with the lengths of the biggest soap operas, and combined with the franchise having some heavy continuity, no doubt that some have been turned away because of the commitment. I myself was even turned away initially into One Piece because of this until Toonami’s airing got me interested. And even for those that are committed, with Toonami so far behind from where Funimation is at with the dub, much less where Japan is at (we ended at 384), along with the show only airing once a week and the show itself having no end in sight, it would have been near-impossible to catch up. Hence, this is why many decided to binge watch the series at their own pace instead, and this would show in the ratings.
And on that same note, there has been a bit of a backlash lately in regards to the amount of long runners on Toonami. When JoJo came on late last year, every single show on at the time save for Gundam and the 3am rerun would last on Toonami for at least two years. That doesn’t really give much room for a turnaround to get newer shows unless an expansion is in the cards, which we are seeing with the 11pm timeslot. While long runners do help with consistency to the block’s ratings, and no doubt the reason these shows are long is because of their immense popularity and demand for more, it doesn’t help if the popularity and overall buzz of said shows wear down. Both One Piece and Naruto have had some ratings fatigue as of late for various reasons, which is partly why they ended up at the back end of the block for the last few years. Meanwhile Hunter x Hunter fans have pleaded to Jason and the crew to keep that show at least at 1:30am for fear that it could suffer the same fate. And while JoJo’s and Gundam are doing fine for now, we feel that they could be doing much better. If you want Stardust Crusaders and IBO Season 2 to come to town, giving those shows the ratings support will help.
While Jason has promised more shows are still to come, possibly with expansion, but in regards to One Piece, it might have opened the can of worms in regards to cost considerations. With the direction things were going, One Piece would likely have been pushed to 3am or later to make way for those new shows. With most fans too tired to watch past 3am unless they used a DVR, the programming department at Toonami likely unable to pay high costs for a show so late, and Funimation and Toei likely unable to lower the renewal costs, Toonami decided it just wasn’t worth it anymore.
The problem could also go all the way back to the show’s days when 4Kids was the distributor. First impressions can often play a big role if a show becomes a smash hit or not, and with 4Kids poor handling of the show, fans were understandably turned off, and those first impressions among newer viewers were squandered. When Funimation took control, it would be too little, too late, as Toonami cancellation and the days of CN Real was upon the channel, and One Piece had to go elsewhere to gain its fanbase. One Piece would eventually rebound and gain immense popularity through other means and eventually another Toonami airing, but in comparison, the likes of DBZ and Naruto each received much better first impressions from both the Toonami and general audiences and both franchises currently benefit from massive nostalgic fanbases to this day in the US, which have shown in the ratings.
In the end, for one reason or another, One Piece just never caught on among the Toonami and general American audiences as much as we hoped and various factors each played a role in One Piece’s hopes of staying on Toonami unsustainable. Combined with the demand for more variety from viewers and the need to keep Toonami growing overall, it was no surprise that changes had to be made. While I’m sure One Piece’s Toonami viewers and even the Toonami crew themselves did everything they could to make the show work, there just wasn’t enough support to realistically keep the ship going without Toonami running into significant problems both financing and timeslot wise at some point. And as we all know, the growth and health of Toonami as a whole is much more important than one single show.
While One Piece is a beloved show to many of us, and will likely continue to be for years to come, the reality is that Toonami just can’t continue airing a show if millions of people don’t agree and watch it week after week on the better cartoon show. While the One Piece fandom is anything but a vocal minority, with millions continuing to enjoy the manga and the show on streaming sites and disc sales around the world, in regards to Toonami viewership, even Jason DeMarco himself has mentioned that “One Piece fans have been far more vocal about the show on the internet than they are focused on watching the show on TV”.
And as Jason himself has regularly said, television is a democracy and people vote with their eyeballs. It’s the reason why Naruto Shippuden, despite having the same issues with not being able to catch up with the dub and constant complaints about filler, wasn’t put on the chopping block as well, for now at least. It’s the reason why the likes of Attack on Titan and Sword Art Online have been big hits both inside and outside Toonami’s reach despite discontent from the vocal minority of detractors (as we have seen with the success of Ordinal Scale in theaters for instance), and will both likely be back at some point to air their respective sequels. And it’s a big reason Toonami mainly focuses on action oriented anime and cartoons, as the likes of slice of life, sports anime, and live action, while big on other outlets, were pretty much flops when Toonami experimented with such shows. In this case, while there were plenty of eyeballs watching, there just weren’t enough watching per week to keep One Piece running much longer.
Consider this to be a big wakeup call to fans of every current and prospective show on the block, that if a show makes it on Toonami, it has to pull through when it comes to both Nielsen ratings and overall buzz. If the show does well, all will be good as we’ll get to enjoy the show in its entirety, and if a sequel were to come, the odds will be good if not all but assured that the show will return. If not, changes will be made and another show will get its chance instead, as we saw with One Piece leaving and Tokyo Ghoul getting its chance instead. It doesn’t matter what the critics think of a show, or what your opinion might be. The moral of this story is that if you truly want a show to stay, continue to watch and enjoy, but don’t be complacent and not watch thinking it will be there forever. As the old saying goes, you don’t know what you got until it is gone.
Personally as a fan who got into One Piece via Toonami, it is pretty disappointing to ponder what could have been for this franchise, but what it did do for Toonami social media wise is one worth celebrating. During its nearly 4 year presence, One Piece would use its opportunity the best it could and no doubt fans made sure their voices were heard. The hashtag #OnePiece would trend in some capacity a grand total of 137 weeks including 19 times during the Long Ring Long arc, 29 times during the Water 7 arc, 39 times during Enies Lobby (including a marathon during Christmas 2015 showcasing the finale of that arc), 11 times during the Lovely Land arc, 35 weeks during Thriller Bark, and was a perfect 3 for 3 during the Spa Island Arc.
The show also produced 26 different character/in-show content trends, some of which occurred multiple times, including 19 characters (Arlong, Brook, Chopper (including Chopper Man), Franky, Foxy, Kuma, Laboon, Luffy (Including Afro Luffy), Nami, Robin, Olvia, Sanji, Saul, Shanks, Sniper King, Spandam, Usopp, and Zoro), 2 attacks, (Buster Call and Third Gear), 1 response to an event (RIP Merry), and 3 story arc names (Enies Lobby, Impel Down (Which we never got to), and Water 7).
No doubt One Piece is a part of that great legacy Toonami has made that made millions of people into anime fans and for their respective success, Toonami owes a lot for One Piece, and One Piece owes a lot to Toonami. Unfortunately, things weren’t going as well as we all hoped and Toonami decided it was best to part ways. While no show can be able to fully replace One Piece, we do hope you continue to support the block going forward or at least the shows you enjoy as it continues to showcase great anime to American audiences. Sometimes change can be good and if Toonami can use this opportunity to keep bringing in new shows, the loss of this show will at least sting less. And who knows, we could be seeing the next generation of top tier anime air here soon enough that could inspire fans both new and old like One Piece did for us.
That all being said, we have seen time and again that nothing is impossible for the better cartoon show and perhaps one day One Piece could return to Toonami stronger than ever. We saw it when Toonami first brought back One Piece back in 2013, and who’s to say it can’t happen again when conditions improve? For now, if you want to continue watching One Piece, check out the DVDs/BluRays and Manga as well as checking out new episodes on FunimationNow and Crunchyroll. Funimation is presently hard at work with dubbing season 9, and while Toonami won’t be there to commemorate One Piece’s future milestones at least for now, the franchise’s popularity looks a lot stronger than before Toonami joined the fray. It will be interesting to see where the One Piece franchise goes in the years ahead as the quest to find One Piece continues.
So on behalf of the Toonami Faithful, bon voyage, Strawhats and thanks for the memories. We’ll miss you.
Starting out as a mere idea by Mike Lazzo, Sean Atkins, and Jason DeMarco, Toonami has grown over the past 20 years to be a major phenomenon and has played a major role for why Anime is as popular as it is today. I personally started watching Toonami when I was a young kid around 1998-ish when I stumbled into Cartoon Network one afternoon as Toonami was airing Sailor Moon. While back then, it was strange to be enjoying a “girl show”, I was instantly hooked, and along with DBZ, the ThunderCats, and later Gundam Wing, I became intrigued and later became a fan with what would we all know today as anime.
We may or may not have realized it at the time, but Toonami turned out to be something special as it helped jumpstart a golden age for the anime industry as many shows were created and/or brought over to American shores partly in response to Toonami’s success. Of course, we reaped the benefits of this golden age, as we were introduced to a plethora of both anime and action cartoons, many of which we have grown to love, and some we still enjoy today. The four dark years when Toonami was off the air aside, the block was, is, and likely will continue to be a “gateway drug” for millions of anime fans, and perhaps more to come.
What makes Toonami successful, at least to me, is that it is not necessarily one show. What makes up Toonami is the 9 great action anime/cartoons that it presently airs now, plus the hundreds of shows that it aired in the past, as well as the many shows that will make its way to the block in the future (whether there are new franchises or sequels to popular Toonami shows), not to mention the packaging and adventures of TOM and SARA. From its smash hits to its underrated gems, Toonami has always had something for everyone. Add in the occasional music video, movie or animated short, game review, or other special feature Toonami has every week, and you got something millions tune in or DVR weekly every Saturday.
If Toonami taught us anything these past few years, it’s that nothing really is impossible. A few years ago, it was thought to be impossible that Samurai Jack would get a 5th season. Fast-forward to today, and here we are, talking about what’s next. Hell, Toonami returning was a miracle in itself. While many have sought a return during its hiatus, the dream never became realistic until Mike Lazzo and the Adult Swim crew decided to run Toonami and some of its past shows during April Fool’s Day 2012 and possibly see if there was interest. The response was a clear yes, and so here we are today seeing Toonami continuing to do as they do best.
And of course, the future looks bright for the better cartoon show in the months and years ahead. With Samurai Jack’s return continuing to impress and FLCL’s return also on the horizon, more original productions might be on the pipelines ahead. New acquisitions will also await, whether they are smash hits or underrated gems, each hoping to see their full potential in the west, including Tokyo Ghoul which begins next week. Previously successful Toonami shows including Attack on Titan, Blue Exorcist, One Punch Man and Sword Art Online among others will be among those to watch for in regards to Toonami potentially airing their respective sequels at some point ahead. And of course, barring any other dips in popularity and cancellations, the likes of Dragon Ball, Gundam, Hunter x Hunter, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, and Naruto each looks to continue to impress Toonami audiences for months if not years to come. Of course, if you have anything in mind for Toonami to show, we always recommend you sending your show requests on appropriate outlets (ex. their Facebook and tumblr message boxes). You may never know if millions of other folks, the distributors, and the Toonami crew will agree and try to make it happen.
The next 20 years or so will be one to look forward to and we could see a lot more to come ahead. And if you ask me, the success of Toonami, its partners, and even its competitors will all play a key role for the future prospects of anime and action cartoons in the west in the years ahead. Could we see a second season of another beloved Toonami show? Further expansion? A comeback for movies? The next anime boom if it’s not happening already? Or could it all just come crashing down in the end? Nothing is certain, but nothing is impossible, and we could be seeing some great things ahead. Of course, it takes two to tango, and if you do wish to keep Toonami going for another 20 years, keep supporting Toonami and the anime industry overall as always.
We continue on creating that legacy this Saturday, as Tokyo Ghoul will make its long awaited debut on the better cartoon show at 1am, while Gundam Unicorn will showcase its second half at its new time at 2am, and Naruto Shippuden will continue on at 2:30am. On behalf of the Toonami Faithful, thanks for all the memories, and here’s to many more.
Legend: The shows listed are ordered based on their appearance on the schedule. Show trends are listed in bold. The number next to the listed trend represents the highest it trended on the list (not counting the promoted trend), judging only by the images placed in the rundown. For the Twitter tweet counts, the listed number of tweets are also sorely based on the highest number shown based on the images on the rundown.
United States Trends:
- Toonami/#Toonami [#4]
- #Toonami20 [#1]
- #SamuraiJack [#1]
- Aku (From Samurai Jack) [#2]
- #DragonBallSuper [#1]
- #SandWhaleAndMe [#1]
- #DBZKai [#1]
- #JoJosBizarreAdventure [#2]
- #GundamUnicorn [#1]
- #HunterXHunter [#1]
- #Shippuden [#2]
- #OnePiece (Also during the West Coast airing) [#1]
- #GhostInTheSHell [#1]
- #Toonami20 [#2]
- #SamuraiJack [#3]
- Aku (From Samurai Jack) [#4]
- #DragonBallSuper [#7]
- #SandWhaleAndMe [#8]
- #DBZKai [#8]
- #JoJosBizarreAdventure [#8]
- #GundamUnicorn [#7]
- #HunterXHunter [#8]
- #Shippuden [#8]
- #OnePiece [#1]
- #GhostInTheSHell [#7]
- Toonami [13.9k tweets]
- #Toonami [7,729 tweets]
- #SamuraiJack [10.2k tweets]
- #DragonBallSuper [4,800 tweets]
- #DBZKai [1,767 tweets]
- #JoJosBizarreAdventure [2,027 tweets]
- #HunterXHunter [2,259 tweets]
- #OnePiece [6,100 tweets]
- #tokyo ghoul
- #samurai jack
- #dragon ball super
Notes and Other Statistics:
- #Toonami: @WhoTrendedIT reported that @blumspew and @adultswim started the trend in the US.
- #DBZKai: @WhoTrendedIT reported that @FUNimation started the trend in the US.
- #HunterXHunter: @WhoTrendedIT reported that @VIZMedia started the trend in the US.
Eat Up. Only Toonami on [adult swim] on Cartoon Network.
Special thanks to @animesavior for giving us permission to post the Toonami Trending Rundown here.