Earlier today, Adult Swim announced the lineup for Toonami’s first night of broadcast. The block will kick off on May 27 at midnight, with the following titles:
- 12:00 AM: Bleach
- 12:30 AM: Deadman Wonderland
- 1:00 AM: Casshern Sins
- 1:30 AM: Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
- 2:00 AM: Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG
- 2:30 AM: Cowboy Bebop
Adult Swim Vice president of strategic marketing and former Toonami producer Jason DeMarco confirmed the schedule via Twitter. He added that they would not show titles like Naruto or Dragon Ball Z because “the rights to those shows are owned by our competition or are out of our price range.” DeMarco continued, stating that “[s]omething you should know about THIS Toonami: We have very, very little [money]. This experiment will need ratings success to receive more funding for new shows, more Tom animation, etc. I’m thankful for the [cash] we’ve gotten, but it isn’t a lot.”
DeMarco also clarified that the “new original anime programming” previously mentioned did not refer to co-productions or original shows. Instead, the term referred to new title acquisitions. He stated that he “love[s] One Piece and would love to see it on CN again” along with Gundam Wing. Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt, Fairy Tail, and Inuyasha: The Final Act are some of the “many shows we’ve been looking at”
Before we begin, let me ask a question to test your memory. What is the hallmark of a disruptive product?
That’s right: a disruptive product is a crappy product aimed at crappy customers. Or, to define the term in Christensen’s terms, disruptive products “create a new market by applying a different set of values, which ultimately (and unexpectedly) overtake an existing market.” Examples of such products include Ford’s Model T, which gave rise to the assembly line and affordable vehicles, and Nintendo’s Wii console, which dominated the market with a simple, approachable gaming experience despite having lower specs than its competitors.
Adult Swim is, by any stretch, a crappy product to the established market. Already, complaints about the block are echoing on social media. “Why are they showing FMA again?” “Haven’t we seen enough Cowboy Bebop?” While, at the same time, ignoring that these two shows are highly profitable for the network, even though Cowboy Bebop’s aired for eleven years. At the same time, the group is looking into new content, and working with distributors to nab content that will hopefully entice the detractors to hold their nose and flip to the network.
Casshern and Deadman Wonderland are interesting picks, in this regard, as both are compelling titles that have the potential for broad appeal. Both shows are darker than the typical fare from the network, which has often resorted to soaring epics like Moribito or shonen titles like Kekkaishi. Instead, the new programming seems to channel the more experimental fare (for the network, at least) from the network’s early days, when they would run installments of programs like Witch Hunter Robin, Wolf’s Rain, and .hack//SIGN. Deadman Wonderland will be the true wild card of the bunch, though, as it will be not only a new title, but a premiere, as well. The show, which was acquired by FUNimation last year, will see its English dub debut during the block. Out of the initial lineup, it has the best chance of drawing the established base to the couch, while enthralling the interested newcomers alike.
At the moment, though, it’s anybody’s guess as to whether or not the new Toonami will be a success. At first glance, the block has the potential to be a surprise disruptive win for Adult Swim. However, there is still the chance that the greater market will pass, and that the experiment could end up a failure. It will be interesting to see whether Toonami can swim once again, or if it will merely sink to the realm of failed memories and washed up revivals.