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Today, May 26th, 2022, marks the 10th anniversary of Toonami’s grand return to television! It was thanks to you, the Toonami Faithful community, who helped get #BringBackToonami trending after the surprise April Fools’ block on April 1st, 2012, leading Adult Swim to revive the block, and on May 26th, 2012, we could all finally say that #ToonamisBackBitches!
I wanted to take the time to reflect on some of the memories from the Toonami Squad staff about Toonami’s return 10 years ago. I hope you enjoy them.
I first rediscovered Toonami back in 2010 in my Multimedia Productions tech class where I picked up my video editing skills. I was looking for my next class project, which I made my portfolio and included the first 3 TOMS on it. Sadly, not everyone in my graduating class knew about anime or Toonami since in a small town like Oscoda, Michigan, most only cared about sports and hunting. Fast forward to 2012 and my parents and I didn’t have cable at the time due to high costs from Charter, so we ended up setting up an antenna to pick up local channels from other counties in Michigan. As a result, I wasn’t aware of what happened on April Fools’ Day and didn’t get to see Toonami return for that night (in other words I was touching grass before touching grass was a thing.) In May, my father and I came back from Florida to deal with some family turmoil and I was still heartbroken from being cheated on from my so-called girlfriend when my older brother texted me about Toonami returning and I was immediately excited! However, it wouldn’t be until we moved to Florida in August that we would get cable again when we got Bright House Network (now Spectrum), which was when I tuned in for my first Toonami broadcast. This would be around when Deadman Wonderland was leaving the block and Samurai 7 and Eureka 7 joined the lineup. The rest was history.
When Toonami first came back, it was a night I stayed up and watched most of what aired. It was such a nostalgic night where Toonami being back felt surreal and seeing this new lineup feature long-time AS shows like Bleach but then afterward, you’d see new shows like Deadman Wonderland air, it was a total statement of how this isn’t the same Toonami. They could get away with a lot more now that it had moved from Cartoon Network to Adult Swim. I didn’t really stay for the reruns, because after Casshern I wasn’t particularly thrilled with the rest of the lineup, but it is what it is. The block being revived was enough and if this panned out in the long term we’d get a good amount of content, both old and new.
Kevin of Swimpedia(@coolkevin54)-
Looking back to 2012, I remember being in the middle of high school as a casual Adult Swim fan. At the time I was mostly watching the FOX programming, as well as more popular shows like Robot Chicken and The Boondocks. That said, I do recall keeping up with some anime at the time, such as Kekkaishi, yet with anime offerings consisting essentially of all reruns minus Bleach, Adult Swim Action truly was a shadow of its former self. However, that of course all changed on March 31st, 2012! I was not consistently keeping up with Adult Swim April Fools’ Day events, yet I was familiar with the pattern of The Room airings, and planned to tune in that night hoping it was something else.
Then, at midnight, when The Room started playing, I specifically remember groaning and debating I change the channel. Thankfully, I decided to just let it play while I did other stuff, and wow, was it worth it. Seeing TOM again after all those years brought about one of the most memorable combinations of excitement and confusion I had ever experienced. Following the end of Toonami on Cartoon Network back in 2008, my relationship with anime had become conflicted to stay the least. Other than keeping up with Naruto, and random anime I watched on Adult Swim or the Funimation Channel, I wasn’t watching much. Thus, seeing the likes of Dragon Ball Z and Yu Yu Hakusho: Ghost Files alongside TOM and SARA on the night of the Toonami April Fools’ prank reignited a spark in me. I wanted more anime, and I wanted Toonami back on the air; in particular, I recall periodically searching social media and message boards for any sign of an actual return. In the meantime, I actually started watching Yu Yu Hakusho: Ghost Files in full from the beginning, and then when the official announcement that the block would be returning came, my connection to anime was stronger than ever.
On May 26th, 2012, not only did Deadman Wonderland help save Toonami, but it also introduced me to the wonders of modern-day action anime. I’ll admit I wasn’t the biggest fan of Casshern Sins, yet for a while, I was consistently catching at least something from every Saturday, whether Samurai 7, Tenchi Muyo! GXP, Soul Eater, and more. Yet, by the end of summer 2013, I was headed off to college, and my cable viewing greatly diminished to the point that I wasn’t watching Toonami much if at all. That said, the return of Toonami still managed to cement my love for anime that had been lost for a period. Throughout college I was still keeping up with some general anime premieres and checking out a few other shows, expanding my anime horizons. Then, having more time after graduation, I eventually made my way back to Toonami, by now watching it more than I ever have before from midnight to 4:00 AM. Ultimately, I have Toonami, Adult Swim Action, and Kids’ WB to thank for my original interest in anime, but it was specifically the return of Toonami in 2012 that made me the anime fan I am today. It’s because of the efforts of individuals like Jason DeMarco in 2012 that I went from sparingly watching anime and sticking to the major dubbed classics, to watching anime on a regular basis, whether subbed, dubbed, premiere, bigger titles, or lesser known works.
For the original April Fools’ event, I was on my way home from a concert when I got a call from a friend who told me I needed to turn on Adult Swim at midnight (he had satellite so he’d been watching the East Coast feed 3 hours early) but wouldn’t tell me why. Obviously, I knew that April Fools’ was upon us, but I expected yet another airing of The Room, perhaps with some kind of twist to it this year. Well, we certainly got a twist. As tired as I was from a night out, I stayed up and watched the whole block and loved every minute of it
When the block made a full return in late May, I found myself enjoying anime again after a few years of burnout on new shows, and while it was a slow build-up to a bigger, stronger block, I stuck along for the ride, and what a ride it has been.
So, my story is actually weird. I wasn’t there for that April Fools’ Day, but much later. After playing in a HS football game, later that night, I was channel surfing and stumbled on CN. A show called Sym-Bionic Titan was playing and I found it interesting.
Turns out, it was part of #Toonami, which I had no idea it was back. I haven’t missed a Saturday since that night. Never thought this block would introduce me to so many amazing people and really get me into anime, as clichéd as that sounds.
My Toonami Story
Well, I guess it’s my turn to tell how I lived two of the three best nights of 2012. (Sorry Christmas, you got stuck with 3rd place that year.) From what I can remember, I decided to watch Bleach after doing homework just so I didn’t feel like I had completely wasted my Saturday. Then “The Room” started playing and I realized it was April Fools’. Utterly disappointed, I was about to turn off the TV when suddenly… TOM 3 came on screen. I was so excited from the surprise I screamed and ended up waking up the entire house. I got scolded by my dad for screaming like that in the middle of the night, but the minute he left, I went back to my tiny old TV and quietly kept watching as much Toonami as I could.
My history with the block is rather… I guess the best word to describe it is “odd” compared to some people. My memories from that far back aren’t that clear. What I do remember are bits and pieces of TOM 2, so that might’ve been my introduction. Now you might be thinking, “What do you mean you don’t remember?” The thing is, I was born and raised in Puerto Rico, where the dominant language is Spanish, and while we did get Cartoon Network, I still didn’t know any English. So I kept sticking to the Spanish-language CN and changed it to the main English CN when Toonami came on. Don’t ask me how that worked, I just remember watching CN shows in Spanish and watching Toonami in English. My point is that it’s a little hard for me to remember any of the shows when I didn’t know what they were saying in the first place back then. It wasn’t until a few years later that I was able to properly see those Toonami shows without issue. I still kept watching, but unless it was a good show that was really basic, I didn’t really understand what was going on (*cough* DBZ *cough*). At most, if I thought it looked cool, I kept watching. That also means that a lot of the game reviews, speeches, and music videos went over my head. It wasn’t until the beginning of the TOM 3 era when I finally understood enough English to properly enjoy the shows Toonami was airing. In fact, the block ended up being one of the main reasons I started taking English classes seriously. I wanted to understand what the shows I liked were saying. Yes, one of the reasons I wanted to learn English properly was to watch shows that were cheaply dubbed from Japanese to English. I’m fully aware of how dumb that sounds. So when Toonami returned on Adult Swim, to see TOM 3 again after all those years, back on the same 13 inch TV I used previously, giving me a dose of the shows I loved and missed, it felt like hanging out with an old friend again… Even if I didn’t make it to the end of the block that night.
The days passed after the April Fools’ stunt. I kept wishing I could go back to that night and have another go at that broadcast. But of course, Saturday came and it was just the same Adult Swim Action. The magic of Toonami… I wanted it back. Then one night, on a rare occasion when I was watching Adult Swim, I saw a bump with Richie Branson’s song “Bring Back Toonami” (I think that was the bump anyway. I know the bump mentioned the hashtag.) and I wondered… “Is it possible? Can they bring it back?” Back then, I wasn’t as connected to the internet beyond a crappy YouTube channel that I sometimes uploaded to. I didn’t even have social media at that point either, so I had no idea that there was a massive outcry on Twitter asking for Toonami’s return. I was floored when I found out people were asking for its return en mass and placed my faith that everyone would make the impossible happen. And to my surprise, days later, it was confirmed. I wrote May 26th on the calendar to make sure I had absolutely nothing stopping me from watching TOM making his triumphant return live. And when the day came, seeing TOM 3 walking in on the same 13 inch TV from when I was kid, with Richie Branson’s “#ToonamisBackBitches” playing, it was glorious. It might not have been the Toonami I grew up with, but it felt as special all the same.
Watching the block flourish and defy all the odds since that night throughout these 10 years has been nothing short of spectacular. And while a lot of us might worry of its future on occasion, I can safely say, it’s had an unbelievable run so far, and in my view, easily surpassed it’s original run. I can’t wait to see what else TOM and SARA have in store for us in the future. And I’ll make sure to keep tuning in for as long as it airs.
So I was asked by the Toonami Squad folks to recount my story and reactions for when Toonami returned to TV for the first time in almost four years I believe. So here’s what happened on my end.
Pre-Adult Swim April Fools’ 2012
This whole thing came around at a strange time for me. Leading up to Adult Swim April Fools 2012, my parents had recently split, I was still with my dad, and my mom had left the picture. Let’s just say I was in a bit of a rut emotionally at the time. So, I have found in my depression states that I have two forms of coping. One, I make jokes in a terrible attempt to laugh off the completely surreal turn of events. The second sees me going on nostalgia binges, and in this case, one night out of my depression, I started looking up the old Toonami bumpers on YouTube. Don’t Fear Failure obviously stood out because of the message, but watching it for the first time in since Toonami’s cancellation, I was blown away how Toonami’s messages weren’t just about the lives of kids growing up, but life in general. These bumpers could be applied to any point in anyone’s life. So I actually started downloading the bumpers and converting them to MP3s so I could listen to them on my iPod at the time and have access to them whenever. The big thing it led me to was Toonami Aftermath, which allowed me to get my Toonami fix for a little while. This then leads to Adult Swim April Fools’ 2012.
Adult Swim April Fools’ 2012
So now we arrive to April Fools’ 2012, and basically I missed about an hour to an hour and a half of it. The funny thing is that I almost missed the whole event. It was late at night, and I was chilling in my room, surfing YouTube with the tv on in the background, and I was just about to head into bed, when for some strange reason I suddenly had a urge to check Twitter. This was strange because I had made my Twitter about half a year prior just to try it out and honestly didn’t touch it after that until for whatever the reason, that night was the night to log in again. I guess I was curious about all the stupid April Fools’ jokes idiots were posting and trying to get trending. Boy did eyebrows raise and jaw hit the floor when over in the trending box, I see #AdultSwim, #YuYuHakusho #Kenshin, #DragonBallZ, #TOM, #Toonami, etc. I quickly switched the channel anticipating if what was being said was true, and… commercial. Eventually, I was able to believe my own eyes, TOM and SARA were back, the Absolution was back, and I was beside myself!
Post-Adult Swim April Fools’ 2012
To put it simply, most of you guys that follow me or follow Toonami Squad may have an idea of how things turned out post-April Fools’ 2012. We brought back Toonami officially and we got a couple of fan sites as a result (shameless plug, sort of). It started with some rough patches, but honestly, what’s truly amazing is how connected we, the fans, are with Toonami’s creators this time around. The fact that Jason and the rest of the Toonami crew are so open in communication and give us a look behind the curtain and all is something to behold. It really is a special bond with this cartoon block that I’m sure Fox Kids, Kids WB, or Miguzi wished they had. Not to throw shade at those cartoon blocks but let’s be honest, Toonami is the only one that came back, you know?
Toonami is really special to me personally because it has somehow always been there in my toughest challenges in life. Even now, as I write all of this out once again, another life changing situation has come my way, and once again, what’s there on TV actually helps me to reassure myself to keep pushing forward and to not fall in the darkness, whether through interesting character arcs or the speeches. In one form or another, Toonami has been there. TOM & SARA feel like the cool brother and sister to a lot, but to me, they’re extended parents of sorts, keeping me on the right path. So with that said, I once again thank you Toonami, Toonami’s crew, Adult Swim, and you, the Toonami community. I know I haven’t been engaged on Twitter as much as I use to back then, but I thank every single one of you. you have no idea what being a part of this community has meant to me since #BringBackToonami. Thank you guys again and I hope you enjoyed my retelling.
My Toonami Return Story:
When I found out Toonami was coming back, I had no idea about the April Fools’ prank of 2012. I was in a bad place, as it was coming up on two years since my mother passed away in 2010 from cancer and it was a year since I had been living on my own in my first apartment and I was just nostalgic for Toonami, something to help me not be so depressed. Toonami was something that helped keep me positive and going through life. Back when I was in school, my childhood wasn’t the best as I was bullied in school, didn’t have many friends, and my parents were divorced with my father refusing to let me see my mother. Let’s just say he wasn’t the best of fathers.
Toonami was an escape for me back when I started watching in 1997. I watched the Moltar, TOM 1, and TOM 2 eras, but then lost cable and missed the TOM 3 era. I eventually got cable back halfway through the TOM 4 era and watched until it ended. (Fun fact: at first, I actually had no idea TOM 4 was TOM 4. Everytime he would say he’s “gotta go talk to the big guy” in the intro, I thought he meant TOM up in space onboard the Absolution.)
I found myself nostalgic for Toonami so I started looking up old promos on YouTube, thinking to myself “I wish they would bring it back” and the first thing I see is the April Fools’ prank along with the #BringBackToonami AS Bumps. I immediately thought “holy shit!”, I couldn’t believe it! I was ecstatic! I kept looking things up, making sure it was real and that it was actually happening when I saw the #ToonamiIsBack bump and I couldn’t believe it! I watched the premiere of the block’s return on May 26 and saw the HD TOM 3.0 aka TOM 3.5 and that was my second chance to watch the TOM 3.0 era again since I missed it the first time. I haven’t stopped watching since! Toonami has helped me a lot through the last ten years, just as it had in the past. It was like it never ended!
Happy 10th Anniversary of your return Toonami and here’s to 10 more.