Necessary Nostalgia – Cartoon Networks’ Toonami
Cartoon Networks’ Toonami has had a few revisions over the years, but we’re talking about the period from 1998-2001, when it was hosted by Tom (in his various forms) and it was bringing us the greatness that was Jonny Quest, Sailor Moon, Ronin Warriors, Gundam Wing and Outlaw Star.
Anime was making an appearance on mainstream US television before 1998 and on other channels, but this was my first intro into Japanese animation. Anime is so readily available now so we don’t even notice it. But here’s what got me started on anime in the first place. Its hilarious and a little scary to revisit your old favorite shows, but come along for the ride. Because Toonami is definitely necessary nostalgia.
Toonami was hosted by a squatty pot bellied robot named Tom who has a sweet looking spaceship called the Absolution. Anyone ever notice that the interior of the good ship Absolution looks a lot like the station from Star Trek Deep Space Nine? Interestingly enough Tom goes through several reincarnations and in his second form he turns into a taller, thinner, buff Tom who is rocking some robot abs. That time at the gym paid off, Tom.
1. Jonny Quest
Best.Intro.Music.EVER. This cartoon made saving the world look normal. I guess that is what happens what happens when your parents are Race Bannon and Dr. Quest. Really, Jonny, Hadji and Jessie get a pretty sweet life. Have you seen the Quest compound? Not only does that place have everything, the kids got to go everywhere all over the world. What’s not to like? Not to forget Questworld. They even got their own VR world. Not too shabby.
2. Ronin Warriors
So this show was old when we got it on Toonami, but considering at the time we were lucky to get any anime at all, it was great stuff. Honestly, this is probably the guy version of sailor moon though I never realized that until now. Really, there’s five guys and they all transform into samurai who are powered by a natural element. (Ryo of the Wildfire, Sage of Halo, Rowen of Strata, Sai of the torrent, Kento of Hardrock). Oh yeah, and the lead guy he has a pet white tiger (White Blaze), but the tiger doesn’t talk, ‘cause that wouldn’t be all manly. My favorite character is still the questionably aligned Anubis/The Ancient, and his voice always gave me chills with his ‘Quake with Fear’ attack. Still does.
3. Sailor Moon
I rarely saw Sailor Moon on during Toonami, really only a handful of times. But it did introduce me to the series and luckily I had a friend who somehow got the entire Japanese series on VHS and subtitled. I wasn’t ever really sure how she pulled that one off, but I wasn’t complaining. Sailor Moon in all its glory is the story of five 8th grade girls running around in the shortest skirts that you have ever seen, but somehow it’s ok because it’s anime, and battling evil minions with cheesy one liners and even worse attacks. How this all ends up as greatness, I’ll never know. Except that it is. Its even got the world’s worst superhero in it – Tuxedo Mask. This guy’s job responsibility includes impeccable aim with roses, looking good in formal wear, and issuing one line instructions to Sailor Moon. Then he disappears. Yep, that’s it. But we love him for it. Thank goodness I found the manga, because that’s really where the greatness of Sailor Moon is at.
4. Gundam Wing
Wars and rebellions make for good plot works. (Heck, just ask Star Wars). This series gets great marks for artwork, virtually unstoppable leading mechas, plot works and storyline, and a legion of good looking peeps. From Zechs with his ah-maz-ing hair, to Treize Khushrenda who never looked less than impeccable, to Lt. Noin who rocks her pixie cut with finesse this show carries on the fine anime tradition of people with way better hair than you’ll ever have. Though I still want to know why the series creators couldn’t have thrown us a bone and gave us some Zechs and Lt. Noin action. But they didn’t. Guess that’s what Fanfiction is for. Speaking of action, let’s not forget the Gundams. The five main mechas practically steal the show, and is it just me, or didn’t anyone else want one these? I really could use a Wing Zero (without the causing insanity bit). Side note, if you ever really wondered just how many characters had names that were actually numbers check out this list here.
5. Outlaw Star
So, Outlaw Star was really just getting us ready for the awesome that would be Firefly. We did know that that show would only be few short years away, but in the meantime, this romp of a space western didn’t disappoint. The theme song was catchy, the episodes were fun and it had its very own crazy cat girl. People, this is why we watch anime. As is required of any space western these folks are running from the law with an Android on the lam. Turns out that the android Melfina powers the entire ship, and our motley crew explores the galaxy looking for the Galactic Leyline. Its kind of like the space equivalent of a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
That’s it for this weeks’ necessary nostalgia. Cartoon Network’s Toonami played a lot of different shows over the years, but we couldn’t talk about them all. What were your favorite Toonami shows? Leave us a list of what Toonami shows you get nostalgic about.