Toonami LogoA few days ago, Anime News Network reported that Adult Swim will hit record-high numbers this year. The network announced that 2013 will be its most-watched year among the following demographics:

  • General Audiences Age 18-34
  • General¬†Audiences Age 18-49
  • Males Age 18-49

The network is reproting 10-13% growth among its target demographics, and will rank #2 in both the age 18-34 male and 18-34 general audience demographics. In addition, the network’s Toonami block grew an average of 39-44% among all targeted demographics.

With this in mind, I’m quite happy to say that Toonami is shaping up to be the Little Block That Could. To a number of fans, it’s a veritable tale of romance. It’s the story of the true might of a fandom, and what can be achieved when many unite to a common goal. It was a movement, sparked by an April Fool’s joke, that ballooned itno something truly special.

What’s often forgotten, though, is that Toonami could have quickly become a failure, a shameful whimper that would have been little more than a footnote in the eyes of the anime fan culture. In its early days, Toonami was plagued by one misfortune after the next. Week by week, it was dogged by low ratings. Many of the shows in the Toonami lineup gathered at the bottom of Cartoon Network’s weekly charts. It was a festering wasteland, riddled with a combination of old content and new shows that simply didn’t excite the general market. Seriously, we get it. Cowboy Bebop is awesome. However, that didn’t mean that people wanted to see it yet again, after ten years of airings. New shows, like Casshern: Sins and Samurai 7 seemed to utterly erase viewership gains from hit programs like Deadman Wonderland.

After this shaky start, though, we began to see a turn-around. We began to see the network’s lineup shift and change in response to the ratings slump. Low-performing anime titles began to drop off, and the lineup began to pull on a few American favorites, like Clone Wars and Thundercats, while killing the 3:00AM content repeats. The response was staggering. The mix of content, which was actually quite reminiscent of the Toonami of old, resonated with viewers, who began to tune in in larger numbers, for longer periods of time.

It’s truly fantastic to hear that Toonami is doing well in today’s market. What could have been a disappointing flop has become a vibrant, vital part of Adult Swim’s lineup. The prospects only look brighter with the coming year, as the schedule is already filling with brilliant new content and fan favorites. One can only hope that, with the momentum Adult Swim’s gained and the goodwill they’ve earned, the network will continue to provide an experience worth watching on Toonami in the future.