Archive for March, 2009

Toonami’s Anniversary and A&G Ohio

March 17, 2009

Twelve years ago today Toonami was first broadcast. Today it is no longer on. So for this anniversary I’m bringing another Toonami panel review. This time from this past weekend at A & G Ohio. This panel was scheduled at 11pm on Saturday at the same time as the Radical Audio Visual Experience Dance Party (which it if you make into an acronym spells out ‘rave’, I wonder if the con realized that) so I wasn’t sure how attendance was going to be, but turned out well. Wasn’t a packed room, but there were plenty of people.

We had a small room that served our needs. I had a project and some sound system which is always great to have. I also set out some DVDs of different show that had been on Toonami, plus some other props of stuff I didn’t have DVDs of, at the front of the table. I also had remebered to bring some candy to throw to the audience members who asked questions. I didn’t hurt anyone or break anything while tossing them out, but there is always next time. One guy even said “I don’t have a question but can I just have some candy.” I said no.

I started this panel a bit different than past ones. Usually I open with the original Moltar opening, but this time I played the fifth episode of the TIE Intruder, which is the first appearance of TOM 2. This was actualy the first time I had seen this, having missed it when it first premiered and I hadn’t watched it after downloading it.

After playing it and doing a little introduction, Steve Blum made it to the panel. Steve Blum the voice of TOM 2 through TOM 4.

I must admit I was a little nervous about doing a panel with one of my favorite voice actors. Steve was really the first VA’s name I learned and was able to start identifying when I watched anime. I decided that of starting with my own opinions about Toonami or take any questions from the audience, I went with asking Steve some questions about his involvement with Toonami.

(the following is as close to the wording as I can remember)

THF: How did you get the job with Toonami.

Steve Blum: I was at a con….. San Diego Comic Con I think and the Toonami guys came up to me about doing the voice. At this time I didn’t even know what Toonami was. They were wanting to take TOM into a different direction. They had asked me to do the part cause they were big fans of Cowboy Beebop. After accepting the role starting study the part and what Sonny Straight had done.

They described the attitude of TOM to me like this. ‘Imagine that after every line you said… (he stops and turns to the audience) No one here’s under eighteen are they?

THF: (I looked around.) I don’t think so. I hope not, cause I’m not watching my language.

Steve: They said to act as if each line ended with the line ‘you f@*%.’ (laughter from the audience) That was the kind of attitude they wanted. And even as he changed we kept that little smart alec attitude. From a little one to a cute one.

THF: So did you have any input into what TOM got to say or did you have to read straight from a script?

Steve: Really I just read what they had. I few times I got to add a little to it.

THF: Did you ever get to play any of the video games that got reviewed?

Steve: No, the Toonami guys did all that. I always felt we did a lot of main stream stuff and stuff that got like 7’s or 8’s, but I think that’s because these guys really didn’t want to have to play through a game that they didn’t enjoy. And there was the fact that they had to create new animations for each one.

THF: Who was your favorite host of Toonami?

Steve: (Thinks about it for a second) I’d have to say the second TOM.

THF: I find that everyone finds him to be their favorite. (I ask the audience if anyone has a different favorite; no one does) But a lot of the reason I think TOM 2 was so great was we had TOM 1 before him. His big head and little gut.

Steve: I love his big gut. I just want to rub it.

THF: Personally I’d like a bobble head of him.

We started to take questions from the audience then. Most centered around Cartoon Network and their choices about Toonami and anime in general. We talked about how Adult Swim moved their anime so late in the evening. One of the audience members, a dealer from the vendors room who had joined us, brought up how he had heard that there were parents who saw Shin Chan at 11 and got upset about the vulgarity of it. They then just lumped all anime together, declared it inappropriate, and Cartoon Network moved the anime back in the night. Steve didn’t really have contact with any of the people who made these decisions so he couldn’t answer them directly, but he stated that he that what happened with Toonami and Cartoon Network in general was that people who didn’t really care as much about the product had taken over and they didn’t know what to really do with it.

While we talked I cycled through a few different pictures I had about Toonami and projected them onto the wall. When I came to the picture of the death of TOM we all took a moment to mourn him. Steve even went ‘I feel sad for him.’

Someone asked about why episodes were cut from Tenchi’s run. Now I didn’t know what episodes he was talking about cause I thought everything was shown. No one disagreed with me about that. While we talked I pulled up a slide for a power point presentation had worked on for my Toonami panels once on Tenchi. The line ‘original pimp of anime’ brought another burst of laughter from the audience. Skipping that for the moment I focused on the part about ‘digital bikinis and tea’; I talked about the editing they had done to the show and how was actually pretty well done for the most part. The stuff with the ‘tea’ was pretty easy to figure out they were really drinking sake, but that how if you didn’t really pay close attention to the bikinis you wouldn’t have noticed they weren’t digital. I admitted that I did pay close attention to them. I also listed a few of the other shows that they would use the digital bikinis in.

Finally we got the videos. Someone in the audience brought up about having seen one of Harvey Birdman’s enemies in an old bump. I knew just what he was talking about. I played Failed Experiment. People grooved to the nice beat in it, which I pointed out, and the old animation in it. I stopped the video when it got to the point about where to write in your letters. I pointed out how old this was; it had an actual physical address and not an e-mail address. While it played Steve kind of asked, ‘did they really do this?’

I was asked who did the voice for Moltar, having already covered the two voices of TOM. I told them C. Martin Croker who they would know best as Zorak. I had met him at this past Dragon*Con and got his autograph there. That only leaves Sonny Straight’s now to get.

I had a request from a young lady in the audience for some Zoids. She asked for one of the openings, but instead I played the long promo for Chaotic Century. I asked the question about which Zoids was peoples’ favorite and someone wanted to know why Fuzors wasn’t on Toonami. I told her I didn’t know, but I hadn’t heard goo thing about it.

I asked all in attendance if they would take part in an experiment . They said yes so I asked them to closer their eyes. And if they weren’t going to close their eyes at least stay quite. I began to play the long Hamtaro promo. I played for about a minute then stopped. I then asked ‘who wants to watch Hamtaro now’ nearly everyone raised their hands. This is the power of Toonami’s old promos. They were that cool. I had a question about the change in Hamtaro’s opening. I’m still not sure what he was talking about, but I did end up playing the Toonami opening for the show. Which I still feel expresses my feelings on having Hamtaro on Toonami. While it’s the least appropriate show I think they’ve had on their, not being an action show really, it’s still not my least favorite one on there. (cough yugiohpokemon cough)

Steve made a comment about Cullen’s great work announcing on the promos. I said ‘you did some too right?’ and he said yes, but Peter did most of them. I then turned to the audience and asked if they know who the usual announcer for Toonami was, they didn’t so I told them. Peter Cullen, the voice of the original Optimus Prime; the ‘True Prime’ as I put it.

I can’t remember how Megas XLR was brought up but it was the next topic. I played the only thing I had of it. It wasn’t a Toonami one, it was the one Cartoon Network did having Scooby-doo and the gang meet Coup and Jamie. Everyone, including Steve Blum who hadn’t seen it, thought it was great. Someone pointed out how this was the kind of stuff that made Cartoon Network great, stuff made by those who cared.

 

It was asked by the audience if Toonami UK was still around. Sadly it is not, nor is Toonami Japan, or most other Toonami spots around the world. The only I knew that wass still going is Toonami Spain and in the Philippines. It was mentioned that someelse had heard that Australia still had one, though no one in the room could confirm that.

We talked a little bit about IGPX and it’s place in Toonami. Not many people had seen it when it aired, myself including so I played the long promo for them. Talked about it being a coproduced project between Williams Street and Production I.G. I told the story of how when I first heard the idea of the show I thought it was stupid, but then I saw one of those commercials they would do for what’s coming up on Toonami that Saturday. The part about IGPX made me go ‘hey that actual sounds like a cool show, wish I didn’t have t work Saturday nights.’ Steve refereed to the show as “William’s Street’s baby.”

While the long promo ran, I mentioned how while it contained all the usual VAs (motioned to Steve) it also has several surprising VAs. Mark Hamill who did the Joker in Batman: TAS and a little sci-fi series of movies in the late ’70s and early ’80s. Michelle Rodriguez as one of the leads and does a surprisingly good job. The star of Kingdom Hearts, Haley Joel Osment as the lead. Also, the coach of the main team was voiced by Lance Henriksen who was the Bishop in the Alien Movies and the star of the tv show Millinum. I related my story of having met him at Dragon*Con this past year. Like most sci-fi guests at such cons who charges a small fee for an autograph; he was $20 which I find fair at these things, but when he saw that I wanted him to sign one of my IGPX DVD covers who stopped me and said to his assistant “we can’t charge this guy.”

I felt at this point that there had been a lot of talk about anime, so I decided to bring up the non-anime shows of Toonami. I played a Reboot promo and asked they audience what their favorites were. Someone said Pirates of the Dark Water, but I corrected him about how while it was on Cartoon Network it wasn’t on Toonami. I asked if anyone remember the Real Adventures of Johny Quest and there was actually a little cheer for it which kind of surprised me that so many of them remembered it. I told them all that it would be out of DVD later this year, which several of them were happy about.

The vendor in the room (who is a really fun guy to meet he owns a store in Toldeo Ohio called Anigames; check it out if you’re ever in the area) talked about how he still sells stuff like Outlaw Star and .hack/sign. He felt that getting the exposure on Toonami really helped these shows to create fan base they wouldn’t have gotten other wise.

I finally got to talking about the music of Toonami. I took them through the history of it. Talking about John Boyd Vigil, his work, and the album he put out. DJ Clarknova, his mixes, and Black Hole Megamix. I asked Steve if he remembered having to record anything for that but he didn’t. I made mention of Cullen’s going “fo’ shizle” one of the tracks. This both stunned and amazed the audience. Then a quick mention of Ninja Tunes. Even brought up how they had a lot of their stuff put into the American version of IGPX while the Japanese version didn’t have the time to have stuff like that added in. I even brought up DJ Calus’s Rare, Restored, and Recut and how it was a reaction to the Black Hole Megamix; wanting to hear the music without audio samples over it.

Earlier someone had seen that I had something Naruto in my videos and had asked about it. I finally played it as an example of the last really good promo of Toonami. It had a great music to it and gave you a good feel for the series. During the parts with Zabuza Steve would point to the screen. He does the voice of him.

At about 12:02 the head of the panels came in and told us we had to pack up for the next one. I gave him a hard time about cause we know each other. I think he had thought that I would have ended the panel earlier so the next one could get ready, but I would have talked till dawn if he had let me. So we ended and I put my stuff away. I was still getting people coming up to me as I put stuff up with questions and comments. Man I love these panels.

I’d like thank everyone who can to the panel, everyone who asked questions, the girl who turned down the lights when I played a video, Steve Blum, the con for letting me do the panel, and all who are reading this.

Ah why not…….. Bang!

Advertisements