March 17th 2007 marks the 10-year anniversary of Cartoon Network, for Toonami, that is. For anyone that would proudly call themselves a geek or at least a fan of Anime, this is truly a major milestone for that special cable network that holds a special place in all of our hearts (well, most of us). Over the years, Toonami has been home to some of the most butt-kicking toons to date, including many Anime favorites!
Toonami’s Tom is yet another example of brand marketing. Almost anyone that watches Toonami knows Tom. There have been so many different flavors of Tom yet you can always tell it’s the same old Tom. Toonami in itself is a powerful brand as it has more information-per-inch than most catchy names out there. The word “Toonami” merges “toon” and “tsunami”, which is readily-identifiable by any audience member. The image of tsunami carries a power to it, which makes for an easy segway to action focus of the Toonami cartoon block.
I think avid geeks and marketers alike have to appreciate what Toonami teaches us. Their brand has become so powerful that even the WB network tried to borrow the Toonami name. For WB, the failure was inevitable simply because the story they told consumers was not consistent with what they were actually doing. Here you have a powerful brand that communicates strength, energy, and action, but your line-up includes shows like Scooby-Doo and Goosebumps. Errrrr?? For a marketing message to be received well by the intendend audience, it has to be genuine, not a forced fit.
For Anime enthusiasts, the success of Toonami and Adult Swim alike reflect Cartoon Network’s ongoing effort to break away more and more from the mainstream and target very specific markets. In general terms, Toonami targets pre-teen and teen audiences, yet the viewing block is fun for people of all ages, especially those that enjoy anything Anime-inspired. Teen Titans and Power Puff Girls are good examples of how the American and Japanese markets have been merged, especially due to Cartoon Network’s stellar efforts. PPG now has a Japanese version, which is geared towards much older viewing audiences than the original Power Puff Girl show. Interesting how we emulate others that, in turn, emulate us – talk about fusion of cultures!
The Toonami line-up has featured many fun toons including Robotech, Sailor Moon, Dragon Ball Z, Superfriends, G-Force, Gundam, Tenchi, Outlaw Star, Batman Beyond, Zatch Bell, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Transformers, Naruto, Pokemon, Justice League, and many more. It’s plain to see that Japanese animation has been a big staple of the Cartoon Network afternoon, prime-time, and late-night line-up’s alike. I love seeing some classic favorites hitting a wider audience as many people are experiencing some cartoon legends now for the first time.
I personally love Cartoon Network’s promotional efforts, including themed weeks and months. This week, there will be twice the Robot Chicken fun from Monday to Thursday, which represents an 8 whoppin’ episodes of pop-culture-mocking programming, courtesy of Seth Green and gang! On the Toonami side, there have been a few network premieres to mark this momentous 10-year run. The new Hellboy was on yesterday as part of the rarely-disappointing Saturday line-up. Next up is Stan Lee’s Condor (click here for POW Entertainment and more on Stan Lee), which looks pretty promising.
Taking a step back, last year’s Toonami anniversary promotion was really cool (don’t get me wrong, the Hellboy movies and Stan Lee stuff never disappoints me either). A Month of Miyazaki was, to me, a brilliant example of effective cross promotion. Hayao Miyazaki’s work is pretty well-known, even for the casual Anime fan, but his name hasn’t necessarily been a household name for all. Raising the consciousness of viewers on the key players in this growing medium has been one of the many little things that Cartoon Network has done to this geek’s undying love. This year, Miyazaki’s Spirited Away plays on March 31st. If you haven’t seen this yet, please check it out – there’s a reason it is one of his most popular works! This little gem was a sort of sleeper hit and I recall several years back when Disney stores were showcasing this DVD in all their locations (at least the ones I visited).
The great accomplishments of Cartoon Network and Toonami do not end there. They have worked hard to penetrate many different markets, including a very strong push into the Latin American market. Cartoon Network’s Talisman block was replaced by Toonami, marking the introduction of several uncensored Anime shows. I can go on and on about the social impact and all the things that make this a great time for comic and cartoon geeks, Anime and Manga fans included, world-wide but, if you want the full skinny and more fun links, you should read Wikipedia’s entries on Toonami. Hope you enjoyed this rare nugget of a post as much as I enjoyed writing it! ^_^