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Looking Back At Toonami’s Role in Bringing Anime to America

There are so many anime series in the U.S. that it’s sometimes easy to forget that these Japanese imports weren’t always ubiquitous. Some classic titles like Astro Boy, Speed Racer, RobotechMazinger Z, and Voltron made their way to America decades earlier, but the Anime explosion didn’t arrive until the ’90s. Cartoon Network’s Toonami programming block played a large role in introducing several anime series to a new  generation of fans that paved the way for the future. And now, it’s time to look back at how the anime revolution was televised.

The YouTube channel kaptainkristian has posted a video that explores Toonami’s many contributions to anime in America, as well as the history of Toonami itself. When it was first started, Toonami didn’t even have anything to do with anime. It originally existed as a banner for Cartoon Network’s action series, before its focus shifted to shows like Dragon Ball Z, Sailor Moon, Ronin Warriors, Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, Outlaw Star, The Big O, Rurouni Kenshin, and Naruto. As part of the change, a CGI robot named  Toonami Operations Module or T.O.M. was introduced as the new “host” of Toonami.

In the video, Kristan Williams argues that Toonami’s greatest contribution to anime was its curation of the shows and the way it allowed the various series to keep their cultural identities intact. He added that “Toonami understood its audience, and its goal was to speak to kids directly, rather than down to them.” However, the original run of Toonami came to an end in 2008 due to low ratings. However, it returned in 2012 as a part of Adult Swim, where it subsequently became a ratings powerhouse. Toonami is now one of the biggest parts of the Cartoon Network/Adult Swim brand, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down.

What did you think about this Toonami retrospective video? And what is your favorite anime series on Toonami? Let us know in the comment section below!

Image Credit: Cartoon Network

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