The many hosts of Toonami, in charge of building you a better cartoon show. note From left to right, top to bottom: Moltar (C. Martin Croker, 1997-1999), TOM 1.0 (Sonny Strait, 1999-2000) The rest are voiced by Steve Blum: TOM 2.0 (2000-2003), TOM 3.0 (2003-2007, 2012), TOM 4.0 (2007-2008), TOM 3.5 (2012-2013), and TOM 5, (2013-Onward).
Art Evolution: Toonami has kept on the cutting edge of CGI since it began, but state-of-the-art graphics in 1997 and in 2012 are very different things, so it stands to reason that this trope is in play. The fact that its characters and sets are almost entirely shiny metal, something CGI does very well, has certainly helped.
The Artifact: "We won't be intimidated by criminal threats!" comes from one of the Superman Theatrical Cartoons, which completely disappeared from the line-up around 2000 and never came back. Regardless, the audio bite continued to be and still is in a good number of promos.
Ten years prior to the 2012 revival, The Joker sent a computer virus into the Absolution. It forced the computer monitors to display Joker's image, and it played four episodes of Batman: The Animated Series back-to-back. TOM eventually removed the virus, and the block ran as normal.
Arc Number: For a few weeks in the end of July/beginning of August 2012, the twitter accounts of assorted Toonami staff (eg. Steve Blum, and especially Jason DeMarco) mentioned a couple things having to do with the number seven, and the latter revealed seven new things were coming down the pipeline. It was even mentioned in the "Life" speech. All of this turned out to be a buildup to the premiere of Samurai 7 and Eureka Seven on the block.
Ascended Fanboy: During the fan campaign following the April Fools' Day revival, Nerd Core rapper Richie Branson released a single called "Bring Back Toonami", which quickly got the attention of [adult swim], who put the song on a few bumpers prior to the official Toonami return announcement. On the night of the return of Toonami, Richie released another single, "#ToonamisBackBitches", which was used during the intro to Toonami for the first few nights. Branson has since said that more songs from him are to come for Toonami in the future.
And of course, the makers of Toonami are ascended anime fans, having created the gateway to the fandom and even getting to have a hand in series like The Big O and IGPX.
Audience Shift/Growing With The Audience: The original Toonami aired during the daytime with programs aimed at kids and pre-teens, then when it was moved to Saturdays and itís fan base grew up, itís programs aged with it. Finally, when Toonami was uncanceled, not surprisingly it was placed in the [adult swim]watershed hours as the fanbase that demanded itís return were now young adults or older.
Bowdlerization: A good number of the anime series Toonami got its hands on suffered through this to get to air. A few shows got a reprieve from the censorship thanks to the Midnight Run (Gundam Wing, most notably). YuYu Hakusho made an interesting jump from [adult swim] for some 26 episodes before being transported to Toonami for the remainder of its run, and as such fans got to see the unedited version first. However, as of the new [adult swim] revival, censorship, while still present (mostly to censor nudity and heavy swears like "shit" or "fuck"), is much more of a non-issue.
Call Back: The new Toonami's "Building a Better Cartoon Show" promo is a direct update of several Moltar- and TOM 1.0/2.0-era promos. It even uses the same audio clip every similar promo shared, a line from the Superman Theatrical Cartoons: "We won't be intimidated by criminal threats!"
When Bleach started rerunning again in December 2012, TOM lifted a line from when he referred to Dragon Ball Z in the original Toonami run: "If you squint hard enough, they almost look new."
The Cameo: TOM 1.0 appears in Cartoon Network's 20th anniversary music video.
Canon Discontinuity: When Toonami came back on the air, TOM went from his fourth iteration to an HD version of his third incarnation (known as TOM 3.5). No explanation was given for the switchback from the decidedly TOM 4 era different aesthetic, leading to this trope being assumed by the fans. However, the whole issue was completely flipped on it's side when a conversation between TOM 3.5 and TOM 4.0 discussed the matter that the latter's story would have to be told sooner or later. In other words: 4.0 IS STILL AROUND.
Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Toonami was pretty good at averting this, and seeing as most blocks don't bother with continuity at all, that's fairly impressive. However, the 2007 season dropped all pretenses of keeping the plot straight - TOM v.4 replaced v.3, and SARA and the Absolution both disappeared entirely for no apparent reason.Sometime over the course of 2013, Toonami plans on explaining what happened to SARA and the Clydes.
As for Tom's sidekicks, Flash and D in the 4.0 era, they've basically been tossed to the wayside, because the fanbase believes they're best left forgotteninvoked and the current Toonami asthetic is back to TOM 3. There's a very slim chance that they might be acknowledged if the staff gets the chance to explain what happened to TOM 4, which has just become much more likely.
The team states this is the case for the April 27, 2013 revamp with TOM 5, due to the low budget. No explanation will be televised for how TOM 3.5 is replaced with TOM 5, or the new Absolution.
Darker and Edgier: The 2012 revival, compared to the original run. TOM mildly swears, the shows are more mature, and the games reviewed are usually M-rated.
To put it into deeper perspective, we're talking about a block that censored most of its mature viewer-oriented programming because it used to be on when the youngsters were still awake, and parents could get pissy about the content. Let's say the content warning is more of an excuse to avoid a Lighter and Softer image.
The "Version 5" revamp is looking this way as well, with a darker color palette, a slimmer and angrier-looking TOM, and a smaller Absolution.
Deadpan Snarker: TOM and SARA were both very prone to snark during the story arcs.
TOM's also very snarky when pointing out low points in his game reviews. He sums up the plot of Deadlight with a wry "Yawn."
End of an Age: The block's cancellation is considered by quite a few fans to be the end point of the '90s-'2000s Anime Boom, as well as a major sign of Cartoon Network's rapidly worsening Network Decay.
With the recent announcement that Toonami has lost the rights to air it, many fans are considering the removal of Cowboy Bebop to be this.
Every Episode Ending: A simple title screen with the word "LATER" in the block's current text style.
Fan Sequel: Several fan-run streaming sites exist or are in the works, some even doing original bumps. Not exactly legal, though, so no links for you.
Fan Art: During the TOM 2.0 and TOM 3.0 years, there was a period during which you could mail it into Cartoon Network and it'd be showcased on-air.
Fan Vid: Toonami created several Fan Vid-styled montages of scenes from their shows, often revolving around dramatic monologues either from the shows themselves or written especially for the video (and read by Peter Cullen). For example, "Advanced Robotics."
Faster-Than-Light Travel: The Absolution has a hyperdrive to travel through space. The jump itself looks like a tunnel in space, like how this trope is often depicted. TOM figures one of the best ways to pass the time during the jump is to watch a few movies.
Follow the Leader: Kids' WB's version of Toonami can be seen as a poorly-done and unsuccessful example of this.
Four-Fingered Hands: TOM 2 and TOM 4 both had four fingers on each hand. TOM 1 had only 3 fingers, while TOM 3 and TOM 5 have all five.
Four Point Scale: Out of all the video game reviews done on the show, it was rare for anything to get a score below 7 out of 10. No games ever received a 5 or lower on that scale either. In fact, the majority of the games tend to receive a similar rating, either 8 or 8.5. When questioned about this, the creators have said that they just don't review games they don't like, because they prefer not to inject negativity into what they air. It doesn't help that they don't have a dedicated game reviewer since they aren't mainly a video gaming program, so they have to be selective on what they review.
GIFT: The core issue of the trope is discussed in TOM's "Respect" speech. Everyone wants to be right, everyone wants to win, but everyone always comes off as a jerk due to general internet anonymity, instead of respecting others and giving kudos to those who deserve it.
History Repeats: Toonami began its earliest days with a limited budget and lineup strictly limited to shows whose licenses were cheap to pick up. Over ten years later, in 2012 during the re-launch? Well....
Early Toonami ran a "Rerun" promo with Moltar stating how reruns are inevitable but they hate them as much as the fans do, and they try their best to get new stuff as possible. ... the new 2012 Toonami made a revival of that same promo with TOM 3.5 and footage of their current shows, but with the same script!
The original, Moltar-hosted Toonami had the original ThunderCats cartoon as part of its lineup. Take a random guess as to what was added to the revived block.
Star Wars: Clone Wars is a similar case. The 2003 version premiered on Toonami during the TOM 3 era, and was popular enough to spawn a similarly-named show in 2008 that sadly never got the chance to air on Toonami (due to premiering just barely after the block was cancelled). During their latest Q&A, however, the Toonami crew announced what show would be replacing Eureka Seven after it ended...
One of Toonami's staples is Megas XLR, a tribute to the mecha genre of anime. A couple years after Toonami was cancelled, Cartoon Network aired a similar tribute to mecha anime, which was added to the revived Toonami along with ThunderCats when it expanded to six hours.
Humongous Mecha: In February 2003, Toonami dedicated an entire week to giant robots (referred to as "Giant Robot Week"), where they showcased popular mecha shows owned by ADV Films throughout the week (specifically Neon Genesis Evangelion, Martian Successor Nadesico, Robotech, Gigantor, and Dai-Guard). Unfortunately, the week got off to a rather rough start, as some of the shows were subjected to bowdlerization of varying degrees (though to be fair, it was something that almost every Toonami show went through just to air), with Evangelion getting the worst of it (massive editing to remove blood, violence, words like "killer" and "berserker", and alcohol, to the point where the introduction of a character is entirely removed), and Nadesico was subjected to Out of Order airings of episodes 1, 6, and 25. Things started warming up during the later half of the week (Dai-Guard and Robotech were handled well without problems, and the week concluded with an airing of The Iron Giant and a mecha-themed episode of Dexter's Laboratory), but by then, the damage was done. The week was unfortunately a ratings failure, and it actually resulted in Cartoon Network's relationship with ADV Films being tainted very horribly.
A very baffling aspect of the week was the selection of shows made. Though there's nothing wrong with the selections (except for maybe Evangelion, which would require massive censorship, and Nadesico, which is less of an actual mecha show and more of a parody of the genre), people noted the absence of previous mecha shows such as The Big O, Gundam Wing (or any Gundam show for that matter), Zoids, and Transformers Armada.
To be fair, the week wasn't a total loss, as Neon Genesis Evangelion and Gigantor were both given air time on [adult swim] afterwards, with the former getting a full run with little, if any, censorship.
Jump Scare: TOM nearly jumped out of his own chair during his review of Slender... before he even showed any game footage. It just got worse for him from there.
Killer App: Toonami itself is cited as one, since its popular and acclaimed programming introduced the West to the anime phenomenon. As far as the programs themselves are concerned, Toonami had three of these during its golden age.
Sailor Moon, the Trope Codifier for Magical Girl Warrior, was the first anime that aired on the block (unless one counts Voltron and Robotech as anime), and it had enough of a following that it got two more seasons and all three of its movies dubbed as a result of the newfound popularity. It paved the way for Toonami's airing of several other anime programs.
Dragon Ball Z, widely considered the pioneer of the Shonen (Demographic), was a smash hit, garnering some of the best ratings Cartoon Network had ever seen. While it was already well-liked in Japan, Toonami's airing of this series, along with some others, helped popularize manga and anime all throughout the West.
Gundam Wing, aired back to back with DBZ, introduced the Gundam franchise and the Humongous Mecha genre to the Western mainstream. It was one of the first "serious" anime to premiere largely uncut on a mainstream Western network, and its inclusion on the "Midnight Run" block indirectly led to the creation of [adult swim] as we know it today. Its success, alongside that of DBZ, is cited as the source of the major anime boom of the 2000s. Its airing of the Endless Waltz OVA is, to this day, the second highest rated program ever in the history of Cartoon Network.
During the TOM 3.0 and TOM 4.0 eras, Naruto was the block's biggest hit, garnering spectacular ratings (even during the filler arcs) and becoming a pop cultural phenomenon throughout the entire United States for quite some time. They weren't shy about milking it for all it was worth, either, and it's still doing well in the revival.
Following the revival of the block, Bleach has been pulling the most weight as far as ratings are concerned. It's the first program to air on the block, straight at midnight, and it's used to anchor the other shows. Naruto and One Piece have been doing great as well, with both even surpassing Bleach in ratings on a couple occasions. Though not to the same extent as the first three shows, Soul Eater does impressively as well, occasionally garnering over a million views.
ThunderCats deserves a special mention for pulling off million view nights at several points, despite its shorter vintage and being a western show instead of a japanese anime.
Sword Art Online also deserves a special mention for not only gaining over a million views, but also surpassing Soul Eater and One Piece on one occasion. Even when it's not gaining a million views, it still does impressively well, considering that it's currently airing at 2:00 AM EST, which isn't exactly the best timeslot for premieres.
Level Grinding: TOM's only (fairly minor) complaint about Ni No Kuni is that there is a lot of grinding involved. Once the game picks up though, it feels like you're part of a Studio Ghibli film just as you should, as they did develop the game, so it's really easy to overlook such a minor flaw.
Lucky Seven: How TOM describes Samurai 7 and Eureka Seven.
Milestone Celebration: Back when the block turned 10 years old, they aired a montage of old clips from over the years. What was thought to have suffered from Chuck Cunningham Syndrome was shown. TOM 4.0 even recalls taking over the Absolution after the Intruder.
The 15th Anniversary gave a special airing of Evangelion 1.11.
When TOM introduces the Lucky 7 duo, the sad music from the first run's final night plays as he says once more "Well, this is the end, beautiful friends." After a Record Scratch, TOM assures us that Toonami isn't ending this time, just Deadman Wonderland.
TOM describes the new line-up as the "Midnight Run".note For those not in the know, the original Midnight Run ran from 1999-2000 (before the weekday strip) on Saturday nights from midnight-5AM.
On the September 28, 2013 sign-on, SARA said "in the pipe, five-by-five". This is something that Flash (one of TOM 4's companions) said in the sign-on of every TOM 4-era Toonami block.
Never Say "Die": Much of its programs thankfully averted this, which contributed to its edgy factor. Gundam Wing received this for its daytime airings, but was fortunately allowed to say "kill" and "die" during Toonami's Midnight Run block.
One of the rare and unfortunate examples of this trope played straight, however, was Gundam SEED. Granted, it was Bandai Entertainment, NOT Cartoon Network, who requested this to sell more toys. However, this forced American fans to wait for the Gundam SEED DVDs to hear the words "kill" and "die", since [adult swim] (which replaced the Midnight Run) had no interest in showing the uncut version of Gundam SEED.
Noodle Incident: When Moltar hosted the show, he mentioned that he used to date Sailor Jupiter, but something happened that caused them to break up.
During the Dawnguard review, TOM mentioned he used to be a Vampire Hunter "way back," not just in-game but in his universe as well.
The Nth Doctor: The Clydes are the most prevalent example—the 49 was a single statillite unit during Moltar's reign. Once TOM stepped in, Clyde 49 became Clyde 50s (floating security cameras around the Absolution). The DOKs, unoffically Clyde 51s, added limbs to the design (amongst other things). The Clyde 52s were basically floating, solar-powered emoticons. The Clyde 53s were complex beetle-like structures with elements from each of their predecessors. The singular Clyde 54 vaguely resembled the Clyde 50s, but with a humanoid face (much like TOM v.4).
TOM was destroyed and rebuilt twice. The presence of the fourth version was never explained.
SARA also changed from a face on a screen to a full-on hologram (to better defend the Absolution), and even the Absolution was replaced once.
One of Us: In-Universe wise, TOM is a huge fan of the Mario games, Mass Effect, LEGO, and Star Wars. His other game reviews also shed some light on everything he's a fan of. He even gave a real review of the fake game "Fix-It Felix Jr." from Wreck-It Ralph, giving it an 8.5 while describing the various features and objectives of the game.
The Toonami Tumblr gave out a TV Tropes link as well, making them "One of Us" in terms of being tropers as well. However, one answer had them confirm they were not tropers but they admitted the wiki is a great resource for information. Which they acknowledged by linking this page in the FAQ.
Real Song Theme Tune: A variation. While Toonami has used a lot of music composed specifically for the block (by such artists as Joe Boyd Vigil, Chris Devoe, Danger Mouse aka Brian Burton, and Pelican City), starting in 2003 Toonami started using songs by artists attached to the Ninja Tune label a lot for promos, bumpers, and intros. For the 2012 revival, Toonami seems to be mostly pulling from electronic labels Ghostly International and Warp Records along with using some classic tracks by Pelican City, Burton, and Devoe.
There's "#ToonamisBackBitches" by Richie Branson, a Filk Song that became a Real Song Theme Tune by playing over the opening the first two nights of the revival.
Record Needle Scratch: One Toonami bumper begins playing "Cascade" by Tycho, the music infamous for playing during TOM's farewell speech during Toonami's initial cancellation. Then he says "Well, all good things come to an end." Cue the scratch! TOM then reassures the audience that it isn't Toonami this time, and that Deadman Wonderland has run out of episodes, so they're bringing in Eureka Seven and Samurai 7. Doubles as a Fake-Out Opening.
Retcon: The Easter Egg/TOM 4 TRANSMITTING promo would seem to indicate that TOMs 2-3.5 and TOM 4 are not and never were the same person. This is a direct contradiction of TOM 4's reminiscing about the TOM 2 era during the tail end of the original run, but many fans think it's for the best.
The official Tumblr stated that they were more or less twin brothers - the same AI in more than one body. Therefore, it stands to reason that based off of when TOM 4.0 was made, he'd have some of the other's memories as well as his own.
Retraux: The 2012 April Fool's run recreated the TOM 3 era visually, but survived purely off recycled footage.
Robot Buddy: TOM will always be ours. Also the CLYDEs and Flash & D.
Saturday Morning Cartoon: Toonami had a short-lived Saturday morning block called Rising Sun, introduced shortly after TOM 2 came along. Not even lasting a year, it was eventually cancelled the same year it started (2000) in order to prevent competition between Cartoon Network and its sister network Kids' WB.
During the final intro, TOM psychs himself up by chanting "Pagua Sanpha, Pagua Sanpha!", the chant used by the Kei Pirates in Outlaw Star, which TOM repeatedly mentioned was his favorite showcased series.
The "Bang" quote is also the last line uttered by TOM during the "final" broadcast.
TOM starts off his review of X-COM: Enemy Unknown 2012 by quoting (and mimicking in a monotonous voice) the famously overused ALL YOUR BASE ARE BELONG TO US! meme.
Silence Is Golden: During the original run's final night, no one spoke during the Samurai Jack bumps.
Something Completely Different: Toonami's lineup for the Fall Daylight Savings Hour of 2013 was intentionally kept a surprise to the viewers, and consisted of Korgoth of Barbaria; an Adult Swim pilot called King Star King- which featured the same twisted animation and expected content of Super Jail!; and the previously shown anime short Kick Heart.
Spaceship Girl: SARA is the Absolution's AI and also has a holographic body.
Stock Footage: Due to the revivals much more limited budget, a fair amount of things have to be recycled. A lot of the off-Absolution-themed bumpers are the ones from the original Tom 3.0 era, and most of the talking animation is variations on this. Thankfully, good editing and shifting camera angles make it not too glaring. As such, it becomes easy for Youtube users to do this.
Story Arc: Had three of them; a first for a what was essentially framing devices for the shows. These were usually considered special events and allowed audience participation.
The Intruder: The first and considered a Wham Episode by many fans. A red blob attaches itself to the Absolution and slowly eats at the engine. TOM goes to fight it but ultimately fails and is his body devoured. This releases his new body, TOM-2, who manages to jettison the engine and the blob out into space. Viewers were then allowed to pick the new engine for the ship.
Lockdown: The Absolution comes upon a distress signal that leads them to a spaceship graveyard. Their controls are locked down, trapping them there. TOM and SARA find that the problem is coming from a nearby ship and an entity whose signal is keeping the ships trapped. As TOM and SARA are stuck on the Absolution, they send their probes (controlled by their viewers) to destroy the entity and free them.
Trapped in Hyperspace: TOM tries out a new hyperspace function but a computer virus attacks the ship during so, leaving the Absolution stuck hurling through hyperspace. The only way to free themselves is for TOM to plug his mind into the computer grid and confront the virus directly. The confrontations were part of a flash game the Toonami site was holding.
There were also two web-exclusive comics: Swarm and Endgame. Swarm was TOM's Origin Story, while Endgame was TOM 3.0's Origin Story and the Absolution Mk. 2's creation. A third comic is in the works that will explain the TOM 4.0-era, its connection to TOM 3.5, what happened to Sara and the Clydes, and it will lead into TOM 5.0 and the Absolution Mk. 3.
A mini story arc happened during the commercials during the 04-06-13 Toonami airing, having TOM slowly unscramble a garbled visual feed that apparently originated from Earth. He says that he'll have it finally ready to show for next week's airing. Unlike the other story arcs, this was actually promotion for Oblivion. All the commercials of the story arc end with Adult Swim advertising "#Oblivion" at the end and next week's airing had TOM showing off the unscrambled visual feed: a clip from the movie, evidently the Toonami Faithful's award for getting the #Oblivion hashtag trending during the miniarc's broadcast.
Subbing versus Dubbing: An invoked example of the great debate. TOM and Sara answered a few questions while announcing to the world that Toonami has a Tumblr page...
SARA:FNOG asks, "why can't you air subs on Toonami?"
TOM: Yeah, we get that one a lot. Subs are subtitles, for those of you who don't know, and I know a lot of you guys would like to roll like that, but subtitled shows just don't work on TV. Sorry, can't happen.
The Tumblr itself has tackled this one in more depth, pointing out that subs have been consistently proven to be a ratings killer.
Super OCD: TOM became so obsessed with ensuring that everyone had enough juice to survive in Pikmin 3 that he wasn't going to give a proper review of the game until it was perfect.
TOM can't beat the sixth level of Dropship: United Peace Force.
TOM said that he usually beats a game before he reviews it, but decided that Catherine was worth reviewing while he was still playing. Giving the game a score of 7.0/10, he describes the puzzles as painfully annoying and the mechanics as super-cheap - a fairly obvious way of saying that he hasn't been able to beat it.... yet.
Trailers: Toonami was famous for putting together professionally well-made trailers for the programs it aired. The pre-debut trailer for Gundam Wing was so good that Bandai asked for—and received—permission to start using the Toonami trailer instead of its own to advertise the show's DVD release.
Sadly, although Toonami is back, Peter Cullen isn't. He's pretty much gone lax on his voice-acting gig in his veteran age, save for anything Transformers related.
Trailers Always Spoil: Toonami aired a commercial for IGPX, telling of how Team Satomi was in the finals, facing off against Team White Snow during the commercial break for Bleach. The episode of IGPX that would air later that night still had them fighting Team Velshtein just to even get that far.
Unnecessarily Large Vessel: The Absolution is incredibly huge, but it only has one operator (TOM) and a handful of assistants (The Clydes). Considering itís only used as a broadcast center, who knows what they need all that space for.
Averted for the TOM 5 Absolution. It's much more compact.
Watershed: For a while, Toonami aired specials after the watershed hour as a special block called the "Midnight Run". Among other things, they aired episodes of Gundam Wing uncut, as opposed to the slightly-edited versions that aired during the day. Midnight Run was essentially an early version of [adult swim].
The first was the end of the initial run. The beloved block's cancellation had received little fanfare and was not widely known when it happened. So it took many people (even 4chan) totally by surprise.
The second, much less depressing example, was the totally unexpected April Fools' Day revival. Most people expected [as] to air The Room as it had for the past few years, instead? We got TOM.
In the more traditional sense, there was The Intruder miniseries, for two reasons:
Story arcs in Toonami, while common now, were quite unusual at the time.
But what really gives it Wham status is Episodes 4 & 5: where TOM dies and then gets reborn as TOM 2.0.
What Happened to the Mouse?: Around when Tenchi Muyo GXP was still airing and both One Piece and IGPX were confirmed to air, the Toonami crew announced that a "mystery show" was going to replace Tenchi Muyo! GXP. From that point on, even long after Tenchi Muyo! GXP was replaced by One Piece, every upcoming show announced (including One Piece, as well as IGPX, Sword Art Online, and Star Wars: The Clone Wars) was speculated to be said mystery show, but the crew has disconfirmed all of them. As of this edit, the crew has not said what this mystery show will be, nor have they, if this is the case, admitted that any of the previously mentioned shows were actually the mystery show all along.