By William Gilmartin
It is amazing how much your childhood can be with you even as you go through college. One of the things I frequently reflect on are the amazing shows I saw as a kid. Some of these shows helped influence me to become who I am and even allowed me to pursue my interests. How could something so simple as cartoons have such a strong impact on a person. What has changed? Well, nothing much. There is only one big difference that separates the old and the new, and that is Toonami.Toonami was an action block on Cartoon Network dedicated to the best action cartoons around, usually being half western animation and half Japanese anime. Not only that, but Toonami had something no other cartoon block had; Toonami had TOM. TOM is a robot whose name stands for Toonami Operating Module, and he was originally a tiny robot that would introduce the shows and “broadcast” them to us from his spaceship. TOM was cool and influential; while other shows would try and talk about morals, TOM would let you know straight out what was going on and you would listen because TOM was not your teacher, he was your brother.
TOM was originally voiced by Sony Straight, but when TOM was killed in a special event his body was upgraded from a tiny round robot to something more human like, keeping his signature biker helmet, and was voiced by famous voice actor Steve Blum. The tag line of Toonami was “The Revolution will be televised.” This “revolution” made children feel a part of something, made them feel loyal to TOM (a brilliant marketing tool) and brought them together as a community, actually listening to the important morals both TOM and the shows he aired portrayed. Kids were actually watching cartoons for something more than just mindless action.
Toonami started in the late 1990s and would have a successful run. Unfortunately, in the late 2000s we, the fans, got this: “Well, this is the end, beautiful friends. After more than 11 years, this is Toonami's final broadcast. It's been a lot of fun, and we'd like to thank each and every one of you who made this journey with us. Toonami wouldn't have been anything without you. Hopefully we've left you with some good memories. So, until we meet again, stay gold. Bang.”
These were TOM’s last words as Toonami was canceled. Fans were outraged. Toonami wasn’t just a vehicle to give us our shows it was what made the shows worth watching. TOM would have his own adventures and plot and would treat the audience as a part of both his adventures and his crew.
Fans wrote to Cartoon Network and sent in petitions, but they wouldn’t listen. It looked like we would never see Toonami again, until one day a project called NeoToonami was made. NewToonami would stream shows over the internet as Toonami did on television. They would air shows that already aired on Toonami and new shows that never aired before. The reaction was immediately negative, but as the project progressed they got their own website and forum, until they posted a video showing their work and their lineup and the “Toonami faithful” were brought together again. The fans making this project are making no money and yet the level of quality on their videos, CG, music, editing, are original and professional level. NeoToonami has a full crew of artists, musicians, CG animators, voice actors, editors, and writers all around the country.
Seeing this, I joined the forums and was amazed by how far this project has gone. This was no longer a simple fan attempt at recreating Toonami, this was the evolution. Toonami has been inherited by the fans. The message and words left behind by TOM would never be forgotten and NeoToonami would make sure that those same words of wisdom would reach the next generation. As of now, there is no launch date for the stream, but if you want to get in on the action, go to NeoToonami.com and start poking around. So get ready NeoToonami faithful, because the Revolution will be streamed.
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William Gilmartin is a sophomore at St. Thomas Aquinas College. He is majoring in Communication Arts and hopes to go into video editing upon his graduation and even to open up his own company once he builds up enough experience and knowledge.