It’s been turmoil at Toonami these past few months. The lineup of shows the block has been running in 2021 ran out and were replaced with nothing, while the highly-hyped run of originally produced content has so far failed to win fans over. On Twitter, a bitter-sounding Jason DeMarco implied Toonami’s budget had run dry and they had no choice but to coast until they could reach 2022 and a fresh reset.
The reset button has been hit, they have a fresh infusion of cash, and they’ve announced their first series of 2022, which will look familiar: it’s the return of Assassination Classroom for the second half of its run. Trying to describe this series to strangers is an exercise in futility, but it’s sure fun, so here goes:
Assassination Classroom is about a multi-tentacled alien monster who arrives on Earth with the intent of destroying the whole planet. However, because he’s a NICE alien monster (with a yellow happy face for a head, even), he will give humanity one year to figure out a way to kill him first. Okay, so the best minds on Earth are working on this, right? No, it’s a classroom of middle schoolers that have been assigned to the task, with the monster as their teacher.
AC will appear at 12:30, right after Blade Runner, but this still leaves two or three slots (or more) a total mystery. Attack On Titan will very likely be finishing out its run on Toonami, but the dubbed episodes won’t be ready by January 8. At the moment we expect repeats to fill those slots (but I bet they reveal their full lineup ten minutes after I post this).
The world is constantly changing, and anime is in a different place than it was back in 2012 when Toonami was revived. Anime had hit a slump with the networks after its peak in the 2000s and Toonami was able to pick up a lot of strong brands for dirt cheap (prior to the revival, DBZ had been running on 4Kids’ Toonami imitator Toonzai for an audience of about fifteen people).
The slump is now over and competition for hot anime brands is big again. A network like Adult Swim will never be able to match the deep pockets of streaming giants like Netflix, who have paid for absolute exclusivity on things like JoJo: Stone Ocean. That’s why we’re getting a reheated show like AssClass instead of something trendier.
For all the advantages streaming holds over traditional, linear scheduled television, there’s a special allure to a well-designed BLOCK — a packaged lineup of shows hosted by familiar friends you see every week. It’s a unique feeling future generations may never experience, and Toonami was (and is) one of the best at delivering that feeling. Let’s enjoy it while it lasts, folks.