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Answerman - Why Did Only Cartoon Network/Adult Swim Stick With Anime?


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Shaterri



Joined: 03 Jan 2008
Posts: 141
PostPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2018 11:48 am Reply with quote
(EDIT: now that I look the original question mentions specifically Nickelodeon, which makes a lot more sense - the title of the article threw me. But it feels like Nickelodeon was never particularly animation-centric in the first place except for very early on, either - though that may be misperception on my part.)

The premise of this question (and some of the conclusions) feels a little off, because it ignores a lot of counterexamples; for instance, Fox's 4Kids block which had a substantial stack of shows, or Disney Anime hyper now, which has had its own anime block for a year running. Of course, these are all kids' shows - but that's essentially the point; those networks are kids' networks! Now, if the question is 'why wasn't Disney airing a late-night 'adult' animation block a la the anime Adult Swim?' then that might be another matter, but I think there are a lot of different answers for that one, with Disney's ferocious protectiveness of its image high on the list.
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Spoofer



Joined: 03 Aug 2003
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2018 12:21 pm Reply with quote
Nickelodeon went through the stages that Cartoon Network has, more or less, in the context of this article. The vast majority of content I can remember on Nick, Jr. in the late 80s/early 90s was imported, mostly anime from Japan: Adventures of the Little Prince, Grimm's Fairy Tale Adventures, Noozles, Littl' Bits, Adventures of the Little Koala, Maya the Bee, Maple Town, Mysterious Cities of Gold, plus a few more I'm sure I'm forgetting. Also David the Gnome from Spain. Relatively cheap stuff they could get their hands on to grow their network and, eventually in the mid 90s hot on the heels of the popularity they had attained via that content, they finally kicked off their huge boom of original content. And then of course the reliance on outside IPs faded as their own shows took precedence.

So Nick was certainly ahead of the curve, prior to the actual late 90s/early 00s "anime" boom proper, and they were merely looking to acquire cheap animation they could use to attract young viewers rather than specifically aiming for "anime" appeal. But Nick Jr. was certainly the first experience I can recall where a network was going hardcore after Japanese animation and filled up a significant portion of their airtime with it. Obviously you had various anime on American TV from Speed Racer to Robotech and Voltron and all that, but I can't recall it being so concentrated before. Sci-Fi would follow in the 90s with all their anime films and OVAs, and then eventually Cartoon Network acquired Dragon Ball Z, and Bebop and FLCL, and blah blah blah history.


Last edited by Spoofer on Mon Jan 22, 2018 12:25 pm; edited 1 time in total
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EricJ2



Joined: 01 Feb 2014
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2018 12:22 pm Reply with quote
The poster was really asking "Why didn't Nickelodeon air more anime?" (Answer: Because by the time anime became a lucrative industry, Nick was too busy trying to sell its OWN trademarks of Spongebob and Avatar), and Justin never quite rambled around to answering "Why didn't SciFi or G4Tech stick with it?"
Me, I clicked in expecting the question would be "Why does CN/Adult Swim still air anime, even though they're loudly, vocally, competitively, snottily and passive-aggressively not interested in it?" (Apparently, it's "teh Geek", or so they tell us.)

As for the second question, that's because none of the other channels really knew why CN had such a sudden hit in the 00's with Cowboy Bebop, struggling channels just did whatever they saw the more demographically successful channels doing. Like Amazon's attempt at an anime channel, they grabbed the first, most easily parseable and most easily licensable series that was in the pipe (like Fox with Escaflowne, or G4 with Crest of the Stars), and waited for the fans to beat a path to their door. When the fans didn't, well, told ya it was weird, and they moved on to something they could demographically market.

As for the third question, CN found themselves trapped by their own reputation:
At first, Adult Swim didn't mean "Crabby foul-mouthed moronic stoner comedies", it meant that they could show Robotech and Gundam without the tighter restrictions on TV violence that their afternoon-cartoon slot could. That led to airing Tenchi Muyo OAV with "digital bikinis", and soon it was the Bubble-era video companies that were beating a path to CN's door, hoping for a sweet broadcast deal to pay their bills.
The one that got lucky was Bandai with Bebop, right at the point when everyone was just finding out about anime for the first time, and, for that decade, Bebop WAS anime, for fans who could only watch it for free. To the industry, that made CN the Friend of Anime on cable, and ADV, Pioneer and Bandai used them as a pasteboard for any shows they were releasing on disk.

Thing is, CN didn't really LIKE anime, they just liked Bebop. Oh, and Adult Swim liked FLCL, because they "thought it was on drugs". (Or, more accurately, hoped it was on drugs.)
That's probably why we never saw any shoujou, or romance, or slice-of-life, or comedy (would Ranma 1/2 have been so hard?) apart from shows like Milk-chan and Shin-chan, that would blend in with their own pottymouth/incoherent stoner-toons. When Pioneer scored a deal to dub Lupin III v2 for CN airing, they had to sell it as a "raunchy sex comedy", and you can hear the sad results on Crunchyroll. Which leads us to what Funi hoped would be a "Shin-chan like series" for Sgt. Frog.... Sad

Nowadays, like all cable channels, CN is less interested in bringing new anime in, as they are in stringing along a reliable continuing viewer cult for the shows they have.
Which they can easily do with never-ending fight serials, as there's no danger of Fairy Tail, Bleach, or One Piece ending any time soon and leaving their late-night block without a demographic viewership.
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Codeanime93



Joined: 28 Jul 2017
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2018 12:25 pm Reply with quote
And even Toonami/Cartoon Network has changed mostly, the whole golden age of afternoon (albeit edited) anime blocking on that channel from the late 90s to the early 00s has dried up and been reduced to only one night late night on Saturday. Even Adult Swim use to play more anime during the week, well that's been reduced as well. Well that's changing times for you.
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HeeroTX



Joined: 15 Jul 2002
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2018 12:35 pm Reply with quote
I feel like posing the counter-question "why DID Cartoon Network show anime" makes sense, but the answer given is too "fannish". It's really an "apples to oranges" comparison to say "why did Cartoon Network do X, but Nickeloden did Y". Nickelodeon was an established network, and CN was a "disruptor". When CN launched they showed a LOT of licensed IP (mostly Hanna Barbera cartoons) because that was their shtick: "hey, remember all these cartoons you loved back when? Watch them again and safely show them to your kids".

When CN launched, most of the major networks still showed cartoons in some timeslots and Nickelodeon & Disney were there for the kids market too. It's always harder to market an unproven product rather than a proven winner, so there was a lot of past content being run. Anime came later, but was again, something to bring in more marketshare for their network. I think there ARE anime fans working at CN (or at minimum, one flat out psychotically devoted Shinichirō Watanabe fanboy), but Toonami never would have left if anime fans were driving the decisions based on that. CN ran anime because they needed to grab eyeballs, and Nickelodeon didn't because they did not. (Disney Anime hyper did actually run some anime back in the day (like Obon and I think they had Naruto at one point, but considering what they have behind them, it's actually more surprising that any of their channels DID run anime, rather than not)
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StarFan13



Joined: 06 Aug 2017
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2018 12:40 pm Reply with quote
20 years ago cartoon network have anime franchises. now they went to 3 different stations Yu-gi-oh on Nicktoons, Beyblade and Pokemon on Disney xd and the rest (Dragon Ball, Naruto, and One Piece,) on [Adult Swim]

Last edited by StarFan13 on Mon Jan 22, 2018 12:44 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Violynne



Joined: 09 May 2014
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2018 12:44 pm Reply with quote
Toonami's launch and success belongs to the best president Cartoon Network ever had: Betty Cohen.

She took this obscure "No one will want cartoons 24 hours a day" cable station and turned it into one of the most profitable channels on cable.

Her role in the introduction of anime seems to be severely underappreciated, and it still bothers me.

Betty knew her audiences (note the plural). While she was limited in what she could bring over, her selections in licensing remains legendary to this day.

The introduction of Adult Swim proved there was a market for animation appreciation of all ages, and Betty wasted no time working to bring the best animation to the fans.

When she left Cartoon Network, I was stunned. I won't even begin to speculate why she left, but her loss is still felt to this day.

It's been rumored Betty reached out to fans to ask them what they wanted to see, and this brought Toonami to life. I'm sure the licensing deals they made with FUNimation for Dragonball didn't hurt either, as both reaped rewards from the deal for many years.

Either way, I will always believe Cartoon Network's introduction of Toonami has played a historic role in bringing anime into North America. Many fans who've commented on this site have even stated Toonami was their "gateway" to other titles.

It's a terrible shame to see the shambles of Cartoon Network as it is today. Truly breaks my heart.
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CatSword



Joined: 01 Jul 2014
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2018 12:54 pm Reply with quote
Disney Anime hyper has an interesting history with anime. Apparently at one point Media Blasters had almost got a deal with them to show GaoGaiGar, but suddenly someone at Disney decided that giant robots were "out."

The first anime they chose to show, Naruto: Shippuden, was a great match with the rest of the channel, but the problem was that Disney was editing the show to a Y7 level (no one could say "die", get stabbed, etc.) while still rating it as PG and showing it later in the night. Ratings declined and the show disappeared with little fanfare.

Cartoon Network let the rights slip away to Pokemon, and now Disney Anime hyper has it...didn't see that coming. They even advertise their block of Beyblade, Pokemon, and Yokai Watch specifically as an anime block.

They also showed the Stitch! anime...for four days.
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Primus



Joined: 01 Mar 2006
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2018 1:00 pm Reply with quote
To be honest, I'm not really sure there's enough mainstream-ish anime currently being produced to sustain multiple blocks of programming on TV. Anything Netflix funds is off limits to television channels for 3 years. Between Hulu and Toonami, most of the established big hits have already been claimed. The Syfy/Manga Entertainment deal lasted as long as it did because it coincided with [adult swim] largely shrugging at anime, so shows like Gundam 00, Gurren Lagann and Monster had an opportunity. I guess some channel could run Fairy Tail...

Even for the kids channels, it's kind of slim pickings. The days of western literature adaptations are more or less long dead (Amazon already claimed Ronja). Most Japanese children's shows are merchandise pushers and that's becoming a space that's increasingly dominated by long standing franchises. Beyblade, Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh! are all fairly regular fixtures on US television (though, increasingly falling onto more obscure cable channels). Doraemon flopped. Yo-Kai Watch received a lukewarm reception in the English world. Things like Battle Spirits and Pretty Cure were turned down so often that it's very unlikely a random annual iteration would get a broadcaster excited. Bushiroad's two main franchises had some TV support in Australia, Canada and Singapore, but the US was YouTube/Hulu-only.

HeeroTX wrote:
I feel like posing the counter-question "why DID Cartoon Network show anime" makes sense, but the answer given is too "fannish". It's really an "apples to oranges" comparison to say "why did Cartoon Network do X, but Nickeloden did Y". Nickelodeon was an established network, and CN was a "disruptor". When CN launched they showed a LOT of licensed IP (mostly Hanna Barbera cartoons) because that was their shtick: "hey, remember all these cartoons you loved back when? Watch them again and safely show them to your kids".


Turner launched Cartoon Network because they owned a sizeable library of suitable content, including Hanna Barbera, so those weren't licensed shows. But your point isn't really wrong. In the 90s, Cartoon Network had little original material. It was largely library reruns. Warner Bros. Animation was focused on KidsWB, since that still had a significantly larger audience. Cartoon Network's viewership continued to grow, while KidsWB's shrank, CN launched its own production studio and then had the support of WBA.

Incidentally, the library reruns/imports/limited originals is the exact same strategy Disney used for Toon Disney (now Disney XD) and ABC Family (now Freeform). It looked like Nickelodeon were going to do the same with Nicktoons, but gave up once it became clear deep cable channels weren't a growth market.
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veemonjosh



Joined: 06 Mar 2008
Posts: 187
PostPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2018 1:27 pm Reply with quote
Quote:
Today, of course, even Cartoon Network is using their daytime and evening blocks for more original and parent-company owned animation. They're intermixing them with big-money mainstream licensed shows (which might include shows like Pokémon) that reliably bring in tons of viewers, and using that to build up their own brands.


Actually, even this hasn't been true for several years now. The only shows on CN's schedule that aren't owned by either Cartoon Network themselves or Warner Bros Animation (a sibling studio owned by Turner's parent company) are the LEGO shows and Transformers, both of which are exclusively on early Saturday mornings in the 7am hour completely unadvertised and are often preempted in favor of Teen Titans GO marathons. CN doesn't feel licensed shows are reliable at all anymore, hence why they let their license to Pokemon expire and slip into Disney's hands.
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Violynne



Joined: 09 May 2014
Posts: 88
PostPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2018 1:38 pm Reply with quote
HeeroTX wrote:
Nickelodeon was an established network, and CN was a "disruptor". When CN launched they showed a LOT of licensed IP (mostly Hanna Barbera cartoons) because that was their shtick: "hey, remember all these cartoons you loved back when? Watch them again and safely show them to your kids".

This isn't entirely accurate. Cartoon Network was owned by Ted Turner who also owned the Hanna-Barbera and Warner Bros. cartoons. Turner acquired the rights to MGM's library which included the cartoon archives. When Turner sold MGM back, he retained the rights to the cartoons.

His idea of a 24 hour cartoon station was laughable when he proposed it. No station, including Nickelodeon or Disney, had this format. CN was unique when it launched.

When CN network aired, Nickelodeon was struggling. It's original no-commercial broadcasting was devastating, so as it was being "rebranded" as a new channel, as well as allowing advertisements, it started to acquire licenses of cartoons outside the US.

CN was launched as a "premium" channel on most US cable systems. Thankfully, this only lasted a couple of years, when TBS pushed cable operators to release its channel (as well as TNT) to non-subscription tiers. The rest, as they say, is history.

It didn't take long to see how Cartoon Network transformed a once-premium cable station into an animation powerhouse, leading Nickelodeon to start shopping locally for new talent. This decision lead them to acquiring Spongebob Squarepants, as the show brought them the revenue back they had lost.

Many animators of the 90s were trying to get distributed and would often shop between both networks. MTV, who owns Nickelodeon, was about "quantity over quality" and it's easy to see why they passed on anime. Not only was much of it non-kid friendly, but those shows which were required heavy editing, and that cost would be difficult to cover if the show wasn't popular (just ask 4Kids).

CN definitely disrupted the industry, but by then, everyone else was playing catch up. Wink
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EricJ2



Joined: 01 Feb 2014
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2018 1:42 pm Reply with quote
Primus wrote:
Doraemon flopped. Yo-Kai Watch received a lukewarm reception in the English world. Things like Battle Spirits and Pretty Cure were turned down so often that it's very unlikely a random annual iteration would get a broadcaster excited.


Doraemon--which was pretty darn good, btw--didn't "flop", so much as it was buried by Disney X-D:
Since the license deal had been pushed by the Japanese licensors back when Doraemon was going to be the '20 Olympics mascot and needed the Western exposure...Disney didn't quite know what they'd gotten, but did a pretty game localization dub (still one of the best Western broadcast dubs to date, counting DiC's Sailor Moon), but since it wasn't their property and didn't have a proven track record, it was the second-half-hour "B-single" player to what was going to be their channel's money-series, "The 7D". (Which was more in keeping with the network's new attempt to clone CN's "x-treme" stoner-random incoherence.)

And nobody in the west knew WHAT the flaming heck Yo-Kai Watch was, except that A) its marketing was dominating headlines, B) just like Pokemon did fifteen years before....Ie., its popularity among Japanese kids who bought the toys, knew what Yokai were, and watched the show after school every day.
Had about exactly as much luck as trying to sell Pretty Cure to an audience that didn't consist of little afterschool Japanese girls who like mahou-shoujo.
You'd think Disney, still smarting from putting Princess Mononoke in theaters, would know that not everything over here is EXACTLY the hit it is over there.
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Diorgenson4321



Joined: 29 Feb 2016
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2018 2:59 pm Reply with quote
Doesn't Disney have an anime block? They air anime a lot of the time, unlike, Cartoon Network. And doesn't NickToons had a boom with Dragon Ball Kai? Back in 2010-2011 it was airing like crazy. Every kid was watching it.
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OjaruFan



Joined: 18 Jan 2018
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2018 3:23 pm Reply with quote
Primus wrote:
Even for the kids channels, it's kind of slim pickings. The days of western literature adaptations are more or less long dead (Amazon already claimed Ronja). Most Japanese children's shows are merchandise pushers and that's becoming a space that's increasingly dominated by long standing franchises.

Indeed. Most modern kids anime are so difficult to market toward mainstream audiences in the West that they either:
1. Get licensed by Crunchyroll and fall into deep obscurity on the streaming service
2. Never get licensed at all

Most of them are just too Japanese. They rarely focus on universal ideas that non-Japanese viewers can easily understand. And because they rely so heavily on merchandise sales, trying to pitch those Japanese-heavy concepts to potential North American merchandise partners is a non-starter. Not to mention that there's so much domestic animated kids shows dominating North American airwaves already that foreign shows wouldn't be able to compete well. I'm not even sure how many kids would get a kick out of Hanakappa, Anpanman, Danchi Tomoo, or Pikachin Kit. Mysterious Joker's action-centric content seems like a great fit for Disney X-D, but would they really want to air an anime about phantom thieves that steal riches (while avoiding the police) to kids?

Also, WowMax Next has been very quiet about their dubbed pilots of Ninja Boys: Quest for the Cosmic Front, PriPara, and Net Ghosts PiPoPa for a while. I'm starting to think that they're having trouble trying to find potential buyers for them.

EricJ2 wrote:
Disney didn't quite know what they'd gotten, but did a pretty game localization dub (still one of the best Western broadcast dubs to date, counting DiC's Sailor Moon)

Yeah, Doraemon's dub is really great. I still watch it occasionally. There's one person I know on Twitter and the English Doraemon Fan Club on Discord who's such a big fan of it that she knows all these different quotes from various episodes. I wish it could get more love from anime fans, but I know that's pretty unlikely because it's aimed at kids and heavily edited (I remember all that negative backlash on nearly every website that had an article about the localization back in spring 2014).

Diorgenson4321 wrote:
Doesn't Disney have an anime block?

They do, but they're the only kids network that's actually cares about anime that much. No one else wants to touch them. Not even networks that rely on acquired shows, like Qubo.
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Utsuro no Hako



Joined: 18 May 2012
Posts: 753
PostPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2018 3:27 pm Reply with quote
Primus wrote:


Turner launched Cartoon Network because they owned a sizeable library of suitable content, including Hanna Barbera, so those weren't licensed shows. But your point isn't really wrong. In the 90s, Cartoon Network had little original material. It was largely library reruns. Warner Bros. Animation was focused on KidsWB, since that still had a significantly larger audience. Cartoon Network's viewership continued to grow, while KidsWB's shrank, CN launched its own production studio and then had the support of WBA.


This is true for most cable channels until the late 90s -- cable was a place to dump reruns, while original programming aired on the networks or in syndication. The exceptions tended to be cheaply produced programs like Talk Soup and Space Ghost Coast to Coast. Then the WB and UPN came along and took over the stations that had been doing first run syndication, and those programs had to go somewhere else. At the same time, cable networks were realizing they could be competitive in prime time if they had shows more recent than the Carter administration. So where shows like Farscape and Stargate once would've aired on Channel 53 between Hercules and Earth:Final Conflict, by the late '90s they were showing up on cable instead.

Nickelodeon was the real pioneer here. Hey Dude and Are You Afraid of the Dark were cheap programs, but they were original programming when no one else on cable was doing it.
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