NOTE: The following you’re about to read is merely my own opinion. I am in no way an expert on this subject but is willing to learn about it. You’ve been warned.
Good morning, afternoon, evening, whatever time you’re reading this. Welcome to ATTACK THE SCHLOCK!!!
My own editorial series about what’s going on in the world of animation, film or entertainment. Today, we are here to talk about two programming blocks (well, one programming block and one programming service) pertaining the medium of anime in the United States.
One is the famous action-oriented animated block that many people grew up on during the 1990s and was unfortunately terminated in 2008 and had a successful revival in 2012 and still continues its success in 2014 as well as 2015 coming up.
The other is a programming service run by Viz Media that only run English dubbed anime as a linear channel that also debuted in 2012 (Go figure.) but then changes its own game earlier in April 2014 when they also run English-subtitled anime and ditch the linear-channel angle and go for the whole on-demand service.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are here to talk about TOONAMI and NEON ALLEY in 2014 as I believe these two programming blocks/services have been quite supportive to anime for the past few years and I feel like this year, they have brought a lot of change in their programming this year, maybe one more than the other but the point is, things are starting to look good on them but on the contrary, some may have their struggles like any other block/company/etc does. But let’s begin with a look back at Toonami in 2014.
At the beginning of January, TOONAMI delivered with the year with a bang with the anticipated premiere of SPACE DANDY on January 4th, 2014, the new show from Cowboy Bebop/Samurai Champloo director Shinichiro Watanabe and yes, I put anticipated as this was a world premiere English dub anime that aired before Japan. Not to mention, the block started 30 minutes early from now on until something happens with it later. This was pretty much a big deal for anime fans as that was a rare thing for them to do and with the success of Space Dandy, FUNimation is now starting to do their own Broadcast English dubs with their first two shows of the Fall 2014 Season, Laughing Under the Clouds and Psycho-Pass 2.
Another big show premiered on the block and believe me, you know what show I’m talking about…
That’s right. Attack on Titan made its English dub broadcast premiere on the block in May 3rd, 2014 and the popularity of the series still continues further forward along with the release of it on DVD & Blu-ray as after the show aired its entire run, it reran at the same timeslot at 11:30p, which most people did protest about although the given reason for that is because of the show’s massive popularity and the ratings it gotten for them.
Also, Bleach, the long-running shonen anime on Adult Swim/Toonami, has aired its final English-dubbed episode run after being on the network for 8 long years. As of this date, both Space Dandy and Bleach about are now being re-runned in the later Toonami hours.
As for network premieres for the block, let’s go by distributor with FUNimation being the obvious front-runner for that. Along with Dandy and Titan, the block show premieres of Black Lagoon & Hellsing Ultimate although the first 8 aired while the last 2 volumes was shown later in December as a part of their month of movies. Viz Media replaces Naruto with their successor series Shippuden and also the rights to the original Inuyasha series has expired so that was removed from the block but later on in the year, Inuyasha: The Final Act was shown on Toonami and many fans rejoice at its return. Aniplex of America shown Blue Exorcist after Sword Art Online ended its run (and thank goodness!!! And yes, I know most of you didn’t like BE but I still stand it faster than SAO) and after that, Gurren Lagann made its debut on the block as well.
Am I forgetting something?
Oh yeah, that’s right. The show every fanboy has been bugging Toonami for them to get back on the block. Dragon Ball Z!!…….Kai!!! And guess what? Most of them still complain about it not being the filler-filled original they wanted and loved so much. Nostalgia’s a hell of a drug…..and it’s more potent than cocaine. Then again, most of the Toonami fan base complains about the lineup (Just the petty-filled ones, not the fans that actually appreciate the effort from them and got some reasonable complaints being the shows themselves) every chance they get with whatever gets announced. Some just troll them but others are really serious about that and those are the vitriolic ones.
Of course, western animation for Toonami hasn’t been as strong as people thought they were. While they have shown Symbionic Titan (again), Star Wars: Clone Wars, Beware The Batman and Samurai Jack this year, later on it’s just lone Jack while the former two are off and BTB had to air all its episodes in one night as the rights for that has expired.
Also, the Toonami staff have always give the fans to ask them what show they want to be on block. Most of the year have said they wanted Kill La Kill, Sailor Moon, and Sword Art Online II. Well, 2 out of 3 isn’t bad.
We don’t know what’s in store for Toonami in 2015 with the exception of Deadman Wonderland coming back on the block since the revival and Cowboy Bebop for the first time in HD but time could tell what the network could air in 2015. As long as we keep watching and/or supporting it, good things will come to the block and I have faith that it does.
And now, let’s turn the table onto Neon Alley.
Now with Neon Alley, this is an entire different beast from Toonami with its format and content as that aired more than just action-oriented shows. Basically, what anime fans (that isn’t just Toonami-only) wanted out of a channel like this.
At the start of the year, they did their usual January premieres with them being Kids on the Slope from Sentai and the fact that Viz Media rescued Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit and this is the first time they actually rescued a show from obscurity but that wasn’t the big news as February came, it was announced that Neon Alley will be free. I actually wrote something about this earlier this year.
But the catch is…..it’s all going to be on Hulu. Hulu is free with to watch it on your TV, you got to get Hulu Plus and that costs $7.99/month and also, Canada doesn’t get Hulu and they aren’t too happy about that. Then again, Toonami isn’t in Canada either but yeah, some people in the upper North aren’t too happy with that.
Now with content for Neon Alley, it is now all subtitled and dubbed anime and it is only going to be just in-house stuff from Viz Media and while we think that Viz doesn’t have much anime content to begin with, they have but it’s not all dubbed or that noticeable to begin with. Sure, stuff like Neuro, Reborn, Ultra Maniac¸etc. could have dubbed but I think Viz didn’t want to risk losing money over those titles. Prior to the change, the only notable things of Neon Alley have been either Bleach, Naruto and Ranma ½ dub-wise along with airing Viz’s catalog stuff from Accel World, LaGrange, K, Inuyasha, etc. They still do have dub premieres of their newest stuff being Blood Lad, Gargantia, Coppelion and the Naruto spin-off Rock Lee and his Ninja Pals although those are more English dub previews that lasts a month before their initial Blu-ray/DVD release and yet I’m fine with that. It makes sense for that since they want people to buy the Blu-ray although putting a dub episode or two on their Hulu page might helped.
But……the thing is, I do miss Neon Alley airing shows from other distributors since Aniplex of America was one of their (former?) partners and I like that they aired stuff like Blue Exorcist, Fate/Zero & Magi on there as I didn’t think those shows would get dubbed in the first place and with that gone, I wonder what shows could’ve aired if it was still in the linear channel stage.
And that’s not to devalue Viz’s shows. I like their shows as well as I do with Aniplex but I do see the reasons why for that. Mostly financial issues but those are reasonable and logical issues of why they don’t air other content from other companies anymore.
However, one thing kept Neon Alley from being totally irrelevant…..and let’s just say this one fights evil by moonlight……
The announcement that Viz Media has licensed Sailor Moon and the then-upcoming Sailor Moon Crystal has garnered the service some attention as Moon fans or Moonies (yes, Moonies, I didn’t name them) are gathered every Monday to watch 2 episodes of Classic Sailor Moon and of course Sailor Moon Crystal airing every 1st and 3rd Saturday, although Crunchyroll has that on their site, too, so most people without Hulu have the option of that.
But now with 2014 ending and Neon Alley having a change that has some good in it but some things they’ve gotten backlash from, what can they do to improve in 2015?
Well, they have to find a way to get Neon Alley to Canada although I keep hearing that may not happen anytime soon. I’m not saying they refuse to do so but hope for it isn’t looking too bright. I hope to be proven wrong about that.
The other thing is content. I really hope for them to license some new anime coming up and hopefully surprise us like they did with Sailor Moon this year.
In short, I do wish the best for both Toonami and Neon Alley in 2015 in regards of content and presentation as both programming block(s)/service(s) have been a big help to showcasing anime in the West.
Until then, I’m MAK2.0 aka The Blue Hybrid, bringing all the elements in one format.