Toonami Tribute! The 25th Anniversary Of A Program That Shaped A Generation!

Pop Quiz, where were you on March 17, 1997? If you were like me, then you were still watching cartoons on television (remember watching the toons on actual tv, instead of streaming them?! What an age.). Back in the day, Cartoon Network was still in its infancy, showing classics like Loony Tunes¸and the Hanna Barbera cartoons. But then, something new was given to us. Something new that would forever shape how generations would see animation for decades to come. It was called …Toonami! At the time of this post, it will have been 25 years, since Toonami first aired. 25 years of quality entertainment, gateways to new shows. It also featured heartwarming motivational promo’s, voiced by actors such as Peter Cullen (Optimus Prime from Transformers) and later Steve Blum (perhaps most famous for Spike Speigel from Cowboy Bebop), who would also voice the show’s original character, T.O.M. This post will be a tribute to the legendary show that put people on to so much greatness, and how it continues to so much greatness.



Back in 1997, Toonami was being narrated by Space Ghost villain, Moltar. The show’s running block would showcase classic cartoons like ThunderCats, Voltron, and Johnny Quest. While these shows weren’t anything “new”, they would serve as a type of action block in Cartoon Network’s programming. Then, on July 13, 1999, things started to change. Toonami was rebranded with a new line-up, introducing a new host, T.O.M., giving a needed facelift to the show, with futuristic surroundings. The show’s running block would add anime like Sailor Moon, Dragonball Z, Gundam Wing, The Big O, and Outlaw Star. They even added some music videos, like Daft Punk’s One More Time, and Gorillaz's Clint Eastwood. With Toonami increasing in popularity, they added a new programming block. The Midnight Run featured more violence and blood that was previously censored during the weekdays.


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They also had their own individual shows, featuring T.O.M, with The Intruder, Lockdown, Trapped in Hyperspace, and Endgame. They even released a music album, Deep Space Bass, which had music from their many (and epic) motivational promos that aired in between shows. As the years progressed, so too did Toonami’s added shows. Hits like Naruto, Neon Genesis Evangelion, One Piece, Zatch Bell, Justice League, Teen Titans, Pokemon Chronicles, and others were featured during the show’s block. Fans all over the world had a place to either continue to enjoy great content or experience it for the first time. They even started to add movies, like Howl’s Moving Castle, Spirited Away, Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz, and more. Having specials, like “Giant Robot Week”, “Rising Sun” and “New Year’s Evil” didn’t hurt with bringing in viewers either. Hell, back in the day, kids would literally run home and catch up on the latest episode of their favorite show. Toonami became more than a TV block about cartoons. It became a place where if you felt like you had a bad day, or if you just wanted to escape, T.O.M was there to give you advice and remind you that everything was gonna be alright.


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But nothing lasts forever. Including Toonami, as back in September of 2008, Cartoon Network made the announcement that crushed a generation. They’re canceling Toonami, due to low ratings. Fans over the world were devastated, as they hard T.O.M’s final farewell to the viewers in 2009. I remember seeing the broadcast. As T.O.M was saying goodbye, it felt like the end of an era. After all, the age of streaming was beginning, and YouTube became the source for rewatching shows for free, thanks to people uploading cartoons piece by piece on the site. And with more cable channels having their own programming, it felt like we were losing something vital to our lives. Although we still have Adult Swim, something was missing. Then on April 1st, 2012, Cartoon Network pulled one of the best pranks on viewers. Fone one night only, Toonami was back. Showing all the anime that we grew up on, fans were elated! From there, fans on Twitter began hashtags, catching the attention of executives. On May 16th, our prayers were answered. Toonami would be airing on Adult Swim, featuring new shows for viewers to enjoy, as well as classics from their vault.



Thanks to the power and hope of the fans, Toonami came back and to this day, continues to run showcasing some of the best animation ever created. For me, I didn’t really know what anime was until I saw some of the now-classic promos that still inspire to this day. I, for one, credit the television block for listening to the fans and giving newcomers I can’t draw to save my life, but seeing different stories being told played a big part in sharing my creativity with this blog. Happy Toonami Day, blerds! Till next time!

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