I’m back from AWA. I somehow managed to miss every single panel that I had wanted to attend; managing an artists’ table was just far more time-consuming than I’d anticipated. I couldn’t step away for more than ten minutes at a time without feeling horribly guilty. In retrospect, I’m not sure I would have wanted to be in the room when Cartoon Network dropped the ball that they were canceling Toonami after its eleven year run. This so soon after the injustice they’re doing to Code Geass and Moribito? I’m sure that panel room exploded into rioting. And I’m not so sure I wouldn’t have been among the rioters if I’d been there, even though I personally haven’t watched Toonami in years.
Code Geass was pulled for low ratings, but it will only continue to suffer low ratings in that 5:00 am deathslot. I find it hilarious that CN is claiming to keep anime on [adultswim] though, especially the “focus on new series” line. Hello? Did you not just sentence Moribito to death after premiering three fucking episodes? And for what? Fullmetal Alchemist reruns. New series my ass. Then again, I also find it a bit paradoxical that fans are indignant at such treatment of their new series… while giving those damned reruns the stronger ratings that put them there in the first place. Yes, yes, we all love FMA and Cowboy Bebop, but seriously — haven’t you seen them enough times already? STOP WATCHING IT. Then maybe they’ll stop showing it. WATCH THE PREMIERE SHOWS. Then maybe they won’t be sent off to die.
As for Toonami, I find it insulting that CN waited until the day of the final airing to announce that Toonami was going to die. AWA isn’t a small convention, but it isn’t the biggest, and I don’t see why they couldn’t have said something at AX or Otakon, give the kids a bit more time to accept the loss and all that. I really wonder what the death of Toonami will have on the anime community as a whole though — for years and years, it was the place to watch anime. It premiered dozens of series that went on to define the fandom and to catapult fans towards more obscure things. Toonami debuted Dragonball Z and Sailor Moon, two series that thousands of fans will cite as their gateway to greater things. Some older fans like to rail on Naruto and whine about how anime “isn’t what it used to be,” but Naruto, without a doubt, is the DBZ and Sailor Moon of the current generation. What’s going to be the gateway now that Toonami is gone? No other channel’s block ever really gave anime the attention that Toonami did, but really, anime programming has been disappearing bit by bit for a while now.
I also missed AWA’s “Is Anime Over?” panel on Sunday, but I kind of think the ending of Toonami can be taken as an indication that while not dead, the fandom is definitely in decline. Low ratings are low ratings. Low sales are low. Even though convention attendance for just about every con has only risen in recent years, a vast majority of artists I talked to, and even some dealers, are citing lower sales. I still think the economy is a huge factor (have I mentioned that Lehman Brothers just went bankrupt after 150-some years in business?), the biggest one, even, but it’s hard to deny that there are other factors as well, among them, oversaturation and piracy among the digital evolution.
Interestingly enough, Toonami Jetstream is still a go — another nod at the gradual dominance of the Internet over television broadcast as people’s primary means of obtaining anime. If kids these days really are so wired, then maybe it won’t be such a loss. Maybe they can still get their Naruto online. Maybe Shippuden will premiere there. Maybe.
Me? I’m just conflicted as to how I should feel about no longer having a reason to turn on a TV after Gurren Lagann finishes its run on Sci-fi. Oh, wait, Gundam 00 is airing after it. Nevermind! :P