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A television block from Cartoon Network that showcase and established many anime shows such as: Dragon Ball Z, Outlaw Star, and many others. The block itself developed its own mini-series throughout its years like: The Intruder, Lock down, and Trapped In Hyper Space.
Toonami is an action-animated block from Cartoon Network that launched on March 17, 1997, and had its final broadcast on September 20, 2008. Toonami was created by Jason DeMarco and Sean Akins. The action-animated block was about Space Coast character Moltar hosting a block that showcase animated shows, particularity anime that was unknown to the U.S at the time such as Dragon Ball Z. The hosting role later shifted to a robot named Tom. Toonami was famous for establishing the anime market outside of Japan (Which was extremely niche at the time), and earned its cult following even after its last broadcast.
Toonami's creation began back when Jason DeMarco was in college, and met Sean Akins. Jason DeMarco ask Sean Akins for a job; he managed to do so by getting him a job at the television network, TNT. While Jason DeMarco was working at TNT, Sean Akins was working at Cartoon Network. At that time, television producer for Cartoon Network, Mike Lasso, asked Sean Akins to come up with a animated block that would replace the Power Zone block. Both Sean AKins & Jason DeMarco came up with the idea of Toonami.
The generated ideas of Toonami came from all of Sean Akins & Jason DeMarcos' interests such as: skating, comics, films, music, and anime. Mike Lasso suggested the idea of having a recognizable host for Toonami to make it easier for the viewers; so he suggested that Space Ghost character, Moltar should be the host. Sean Akins had music composer Tommy Guerrero to compose music tracks for the Toonami promos that had aired at the time of 1997 - 1999. C. Martin Croker would also provided the voice over work for Moltar.
Toonami made its lauched on March 17, 1997 with showcasing well known shows like Thundercats, Voltron, The Real Adventures of Johnny Quest, and a show that was unknown to the U.S, Dragon Ball Z. As for Jason DeMarco, whom was working for TNT at the time, did freelancing for Toonami, and then became a full time Cartoon Network staff member in 1998.
From March 17, 1997 to July 9, 1999, the hosting role would belong to Moltar at the Ghost Planet Industries building. Toonami relaunched on Saturday July 10, 1999 with the debut of a robot named Tom and his space-ship, the Absolution, with no sign of Moltar. Toonami also introduce the Midnight Run, a five hour late night block that aired on Saturdays from Midnight to 5AM, until its schedule was changed to one hour every weeknight on March 2000.
The design for Tom came was from many drawings from an artist name Juan Bode. The creators wanted a robot to be the new host due to their likings for robots. At the time, Jason DeMarco was skeptical about what Cartoon Network might think, but also realized that the network didn't care what they were doing as long as the production funds was low. Tom would be voiced by Sonny Strait, who is famous for the role of Maes Hughes from the Fullmetal Alchemist series, then Tom would be later voiced by Steve Blum, the voice of Spike Spiegel from Cowboy Bebop.
Toonami became famous for creating television promos that not only promoted the animated shows that Toonami was airing at the time, but some had sentimentalize morals that were told in the form of a poem, or others would tell short stories of fiction; for example, the promo Advance Robotics, which tells the story about how robots, that are created by man, will soon evolve and become the leaders of planet Earth from all of humanity. Others were character profiles, detailing the characters' background from shows like Dragon Ball Z, Tenchi Muyo, or Outlaw Star.
The way the promos were created was with the use of footage from the T.V shows that Toonami had on. Most of the promos were also narrated, the majority of them were narrated by Peter Cullen, whom is best known for the voice of Optimus Prime. One of the promos entitle Dreams, was narrated by Beau Billingslea, the voice of Jet Black from the Cowboy Bebop series. The promos also had original music composed for them. From 1997 to 1999, the music was composed by Tommy Guerrero, then from 1999 to 2002, the music would be done by Joe Boyd Vigil. The music of Toonami was techno and electronica style tunes; that's pretty much been the staple of the Toonami series.
Throughout its years, Toonami has aired numerous of animated shows. Other programs on Toonami that has aired are special events such as marathons to coincide with a certain theme. There were other Toonami theme blocks that aired on certain days and time like Rising Sun and Midnight Run. The bulk of the main Toonami block's broadcasting was on weekdays, but was move to Saturdays only.
The Midnight Run was a incarnation that aired less edited versions of some of the animes that Toonami had on. The block aired every weekday for one hour on Midnight, hence its name. In between the shows, Midnight Run also debut music videos from artist like Daft Punk, Gorillaz, and Interstella 5555.
Midnight Run would last from 1999 to 2003. Towards the end of Midnight Run, Cartoon Network's other block, Adult Swim, would become a more establish block for more mature animes.
Cartoon Network debuted Rising Sun, a three hour block that aired from 9AM to Noon every Saturday. Rising Sun was the block that debut the Garlic Jr. Saga from the Dragon Ball Z series. Rising Sun didn't last long as it lasted from 2000 to 2001.
In the month of March, Toonami dedicated that month to famous manga/anime director, Hayao Miyazaki. For four weeks, Toonami aired four of Miyazaki's films, one for each week in the following order:
In the Week of February 24, to the 28th, in 2003, Toonami aired several mecha theme animes. One of the shows would make its debut on Adult Swim. Here are the shows that aired on Giant Robot Week:
Cartoon Network changed Toonami's schedule from a weekday only block to Saturday only on April 17, 2004. The change was due the shows that was airing on Toonami being too violent for the afternoon. What Replace Toonami for weekdays was a new kid-firendlyer version known as Miguzi, which was short lived.
Toonami debut on Saturdays with four hours to the block - 7:00PM to 9:00PM. Shows like YuYuHakusho, Rurouni Kenshin, Zatch Bell, Naruto, Dragon Ball Z, etc aired throughout its remaining years. But eventually the first two hours of Toonami was cut on October 2007.
March 17, 2007 marked the ten year milestone of Toonami. On that day, Toonami went through another redesign with the debut of Tom 4.0, a new environment, and two brand new characters - Flash and D.
All of the promos were montages of all of the older promos, bumpers, clips of some of the old shows that Toonami aired. Tom looked back at all of the past iterations of his former self, and Moltar.
Toonami started adding more depth to its universe by providing a story-line in the form of mini-series that aired throughout its years: The Intruder, Lockdown, and Trapped In Hyperspace. Each mini-series told the adventures of Tom when he's not hosting Toonami. Viewers of Toonami can take part of the story-line in the form of a flash game that was available on Toonami's web site, Toonami.com.
The story starts off with Tom and the introduction Sara, a female cybernetic persona that only exist in the cyber world. Sara alerts Tom that an unknown intruder has enter the Absolution. Tom decides to go check it out to remedy the problem they might have. E quit with a jet pack and gun, Tom flies to the located of the unknown intruder. Tom finds out that it melted through an interior of the ship - revealing the way it enter.
Tom enters through the corridors in search of the intruder. As walks along, a mysterious dark force charges at Tom, knock him out of the ship and deep into space. Tom, whom was unconscious, bumps into a meteorite waking him back up. One of the Clydes - a robotic sphere that acts as a camera for Tom and Sara - approaches Tom giving a view for Sara. She ask about the conditions of Tom, he replys by saying he's okay and to sent him a jet pack so he can get back onto the ship. As Tom returns, Sara warns Tom that the intruder is a liquid blob that's continuously growing and swallows anything in its path. Sara tells Tom that the blob has to be stop or it will shallow up the entire ship in a matter of time.
Tom, this time armed with a plasma rifle, goes after the intruder once more. A bit shaken up with fear, he moves slowly along the corridors of the Absolution. Tom immediately gets spooked as one of the Clydes sneaks up behind; Tom decides to have Clyde go with him. Tom and Clyde see a glowing aura around the corner of the ship. Tom tells Clyde to check it out, Clyde moves along the corner and gets destroyed. The blob then reveals itself to Tom as it's moving towards him. Tom begins firing away, but it's to no of use, he moves further away from it and tells Sara to close one of the gates but Sara is unable to. Tom is backed up against the wall as he has no where to run, as a last act of defense, he charges up the plasma rifle to full strength and fires at it but it doesn't phase it. The blob creeps towards Tom and swirls around him and destroys Tom by swallowing him up.
After the destruction of Tom, Sara begins activating Tom 2.0 - a sleeker, taller, darker looking version of the original Tom. Tom 2.0 wakes in a pod and is called to by Sara, Tom breaks the glass window of the pod and jumps out as the brand new Tom is fully activated. He begins to start wondering what just happen to him, Sara relays everything that just occurred. Sara tells Tom that the blob has taken over the "starburt" engine of the Absolution. Tom must place two detonators outside and inside the area of the starburt engine, so Sara can use them to break off the starburt engine exploding them off. Tom grabs himself another jetpack and the two detonator and flies to the two locations, places them and heads back to the main deck of the ship. Sara destroys the starburt engine and the intruder is long gone, but that leaves the Absolution in damaged condition.
Tom and Sara head to a repair station called Starpower where they can get the Absolution repaired. There they meet the mechanic who will repair the ship, Tom is giving a choice of two engines for the Absolution to use, one is the Starburt engine, and the other is the Taloin ST. As part of the Total Immersion Events, Toonami viewers can pick which engine Tom can use online on Toonami.com, the Taloin ST was chosen. The Absolution is repaired and is ready for take off, they leave the Starpower station into deep space with "The End" appearing on screen.
While traveling through space, Sara detects a distress signal that's being given off from another ship. Tom heads to the observation deck to get more info about it, before he does so, he tells Sara to activate the Docks - a group of combat robots that's armed with machine-guns that's mounted on their arms - to go to the location of the distress signal. Tom gets a view of the ship that's giving off the distress signal, but is surprise to see multiple ships just floating around with no life forms inside. Tom tells Sara to move the Absolution closer to the ship that's giving the distress signal and to send the Docks to the ship.
Sara then discovers that all of the ships that are just hanging around are slowly moving closer to the ship that's giving the distress signal. Tom starts wondering as to why that's happening, then Tom, in a panic emotion, begins to realize something and immediately tells Sara to put the Absolution into full reverse as he runs back onto the main deck. But the timing is too late as the mysterious force that's pulling everything into it, has cut off the power of the Absolution's engine. The mysterious force has also cut off control of the Docks from the Absolution. Sara calculates the amount of time that she and Tom have before the Absolution is pulled into the mysterious force, which is over a hundred years. Tom and Sara find out that the only thing that's not being sucked into the mysterious force is the Docks. Tom develops an idea about if someone from Earth can take control of the Docks, seeing how their frequency works at a wide range, and see what's causing all the ships being sucked in and put a stop to it.
As part of the Total Immersion Events, Toonami viewers can log onto Toonami.com and play as a Dock in a flash game with the same named as the mini-series that's available on Toonami's web site. The gameplay is a turn-based role playing game that also allows the player to explore and examined the situation that's occurring and give that information to Tom and Sara.
Tom heads out to the engine room and tries to repair the damage that was made early. Sara receives information from the Docks. What the Docks reveal is that the mysterious force, or the ship that was giving off the distress signal at the beginning of the story, is some sort of a thrash compacter that's on auto-pilot. They also reveal that the ship is in bad shape as someone else try to combat the ship before. Sara explains that the ship has a tractor beam that maybe the source of the problem. Sara gives out the objective to the people who are controlling the Docks, and reveals locations of additional weapons they can use to destroy the tractor beam. After that, Tom manage to get one of the doors of the Absolution open - restoring some power back online. He begins to work on getting engine activated, Tom manages to do so as all of the in the engine room flicker back on.
Tom heads to the machine room to restore some power over there. As he walks along, Tom ask for a progress report about the Docks. Sara explains that there close by the tractor beam but heavily guarded. The Docks then encounter a large security robot that's guarding the tractor beam. Sara relay more information, that was giving by the Clydes, about the abandon ship's environment. Sara tells Tom that there's old parts that can be use to upgrade the Docks to take on the security robot. Tom thinks up for the Docks, he wants them to have better weaponry and have everyone of them to fight the security robot at once. Tom fixes the machine room and heads back to the main deck of the Absolution.
With a live feed from one of the Clydes, it broadcast the battle between the Docks and the security robot. The fight gets pretty heated as both robots are giving everything they got, but the Docks become the victor as a group of them fire their missile at once, and destroy the security robot. The Clydes also manage to destroy the tractor beam. Sara lets Tom know that the engines are back online. In a glorious joy, Tom tells Sara to have the Docks return back onto the Absolution and head out.
Sara finds out what the distress signal was. It a warning to anyone not to enter the area of the tractor beam and to send help. Tom takes it rather easy as he just gives a little laugh about. Tom and Sara decide to head into hyperspace and leave the area of the tractor beam. A big colorful flash of light opens up in the form of a circle, pulling the Absolution in. They disappear into hyperspace with the words "Fin" appear on screen.
Taking place right after Lockdown, Tom and Sara head into hyperspace. While traveling, Sara's system crashes and is taken over by a taunting, evil, virus name Swayzack - once again, the Absolution loses power. Tom hacks into Sara's system and tries to defeat the virus, and save Sara.
As part of the tradition of the Total Immersion Events, viewers can go online to Toonami.com and play the video game version of Trapped In Hyperspace, and help Tom defeat Swayzack and save Sara.
Tom is next seen lying unconscious on the ground. Tom is woken up by Clyde and is relived to have the Absolution's stabilizers back online, but not all is good as the Absolution is still powerless. Swayzack returns and continues to taunt Tom by saying that he can not be beaten, after Tom's accomplishment. Then Tom goes for a second attempt into Sara system and tries to get the nav-system back on - edging closer for Sara salvation.
After a tough fight, Tom manage to get the nav-system back online. Clyde reports to Tom that Swayzack has taken over the Docks and blasting everything in sight, but luckily Tom cuts the power - shutting down the Docks. Swayzack returns and blocks the way to Sara system by electrifying Tom when tries to enter. Needing to get the hyperdrive system back online, Tom finds another way to hack into Sara's system.
Tom gets the hyperdrive system back online. Now Tom's only objective, was to save Sara herself. Tom heads to the observation deck where Sara's system is based. Sawyzack returns once again, and in irritated form, tell Tom in a desperate mood that he has no chance. Tom gives Swayzack a taste of his own medicine by taunting him, which was what Swayzack was doing throughout the entire show. Tom finally hacks into Sara's system to save her.
All is finally saved as Swayzack was defeated, and Sara was back online, Tom was lying unconscious but is woken up by Sara. Tom enters the main deck as he and Sara leave hyperspace. Before the mini-series ends, Sara tells Tom "Thank you." Tom replys by saying "My pleasure, Sara, my pleasure."
Cartoon Network put out two albums that contain the music that was compose by Joe Boyd Vigl. Both albums were produce by Jason DeMarco.
The first album was called Toonami: Deep Space Bass, released in 2001, the album contain all of the music that was used for the promos, and the Total Immersion Events. In a interview, Joe Boyd Vigil stated that one of the tracks for the album entitle, "Darknight" - used for the Batman animated series that Toonami had on - was removed and replaced with a song called "Hyperspace." Sean Akins said that the reason as to why the decision for the removal was made due to Sean Akins's view that the song was too "down-tempo." But title "Darknight" actually made it of the tracklist of the album when CD was released.
Toonami: Black Hole MegaMix, was the second album released in 2003. The ablum was made DJ Clarknova. The directions of the development of the album was DJ Clarknova took sound bites from some of the shows that Toonami aired at the time, and along with that, he took some of the music of Toonami's past and remixed them. The album was never published due to low sales of the Deep Space Bass, but the music was presented on as a free download on Toonami Digital Aresenal, a fan site for Toonami.
The original host of Toonami, Moltar was a villain of the 1966 Hanna-Barbera animated show, Space Ghost. The character resurface in 1994 on Cartoon Network in the form of a animated talk show known as Space Ghost: Coast to Coast. Moltar played the role of the producer who worked behind a control panel. The same role of the character from Space Ghost: Coast to Coast was brought back as the host of Toonami in computer generated form in 1997 to July of 1999.
Introduce on July 10, 1999, the re-launching of Toonami. Voiced by Sonny Strait, Tom was a little robot who piloted his space ship known as the Absolution. He was based off drawings from artist Juan Bode. The decision of the character being a robot was Sean Akins and Jason DeMarcos' likings for robots. Tom met his fate in the Total Immersion Event, The Intruder, where he was destroyed.
First debuted during the first Total Immersion Event, The Intruder. Tom 2.0, or just known as Tom, was a taller, sleeker version of the original iteration. Despite the fact it was a new Tom, it was still the same character. In a interview with Jason DeMarco, he stated that he couldn't wait to kill off the original Tom and introduce Tom 2.0.
Unlike the Tom 2.0, a story of how Tom 2.0 became Tom 3.0 was never televise, which was upsetting to many Toonami fans. There was an online comic called Endgame which foretold the story on how Tom upgraded to 3.0, but the demand for it was there; according to Jason DeMarco. There were two comics to Endgame, one was written by Jason Demarco and the other was written by Paul Pope.
The most dramatically looking version of all of the iterations of Tom. Like Tom 3.0, a story wasn't televise on how Tom 3.0 became 4.0, nor a story-arc was even created. The design of Tom was by Eric Watchman and his team at Williams Street. This version of Tom got waves of criticisms from long time fans. The new Tom design stray too far away from the sleek edginess of the old Toms for a more kid-friendly version. Jason DeMarco defended the redesign of Tom and the rest of Toonami.
"The reaction was NEGATIVE. We LOVE the new look, but it polarized the fans. That’s okay. We were trying to re-contextualize Toonami for a new audience. We decided not to do a back-story because no one was willing to give us money, and we didn’t think there was much demand." - Jason DeMarco.
A female cybernetic persona that controls every functionally on the Absolution. She was introduce at the beginning of the first Total Immersion Event, The Intruder. Sara was brought due to Toonami being very "boyish" and "dark," Sara would be the character to lighten things up. Sara's design was just a blue head with eyes that contain no puples. During the Tom 3.0 era, she was giving a re-design; the re-design gave Sara human characteristics, such as a body, hair, and puples on her eyes. But when the Tom 4.0 era began, Sara completely disappeared from Toonami from the cast with no explanation of her disappearance.
Introduce in the Tom 4.0 era, Flash was a character that piloted the broadcasting system of the re-designed Absolution. Flash also provided video game reviews. The only gaming review he has done before Toonami ended was the Wii and its launch titles. Flash's personality was also based off a character from the anime, IGPX.
Another new character introduce in the Tom 4.0 era, D's personality was also based off a character from the IGPX anime series that aired on Toonami. D fill the same role as Flash as handling the broadcasting systems of the Absolution.
In a interview in July 2008, Jason DeMarco was asked about the future of Toonami. He wasn't quite sure about how long Toonami would last. Toonami met its fate on September 20, 2008 as that would be the last time Toonami would be on the air. By that time, Adult Swim was a well establish source for the same people that created Toonami. It looks to be that the cancellation was in part of Adult Swim. The Toonami web site was converted into a different site weeks later after the final broadcast.
The last broadcast started out as like it was just another episode, no montage like in the tenth anniversary edition. But the show ended with a good bye message from Tom -
"Well, this is the end, beautiful friends. After more than 11 years, this is Toonami's final broadcast. It's been a lot of fun, and we'd like to thank each and every one of you who made this journey with us. Toonami wouldn't have been anything without you. Hopefully we've left you with some good memories. So, until we meet again, stay gold.
As he says his farewell speech, the crew of the Absolution, Flash & D, shut everything down walk away with sad looks on their faces. The final word Tom says is a reference to the voice actor's other famous role, Spike Spiegel from Cowboy Bebop.
Even with other sources that's available for anime fans, and the anime market outside of Japan no longer the nich market that it once was, most fans can't help but reminiscence the beginning of how they first got into anime. Toonami was there right at the start.
On April 1st 2012, viewers of Adult Swim during the midnight anime block were interrupted from their regular programming, and on that night alone, the return of Toonami aired many classic shows such as Dragon Ball Z, Tenchi Muyo and Gundam Wing in a six hour block. It ended with a bumper saying "Later". On May 16th 2012, it was announced that Toonami would once again air on Cartoon Network (under the Adult Swim section), running between Midnight and 6AM EST, suggesting that the April Fools airing was a tester for its return to standard broadcasting.