Sunday, October 6, 2013

Top 5: Classic Toonami Shows

It's been quite awhile since I last posted (almost five months), and quite a bit has happened in both my life and Toonami in that time. For me, getting ready for college during my senior year of high school is quite the ordeal. Enough about that, though. We're here for Toonami. Today, I decided to list my favorite shows from classic Toonami, or Toonami when it was on CN from 1997 to 2008. Let's get to it! One rule, though, they had to be shows that I watched during the original run of Toonami. Some shows, like Outlaw Star, IGPX, and Naruto, did air on classic Toonami, but I didn't watch them until after 2008.

Ah, the memories of days gone by...

5 - Gundam Wing

The first Gundam to be imported to the United States had a success unparalleled by the series that followed it across the Atlantic. While it may not be the best Gundam series ever, Gundam Wing is still a solid series, and the one I have the most fond memories of. I re-watched it in 2011, and my memories were not betrayed. The story of five young, space colony-dwelling Gundam pilots traveling to Earth to fight in a ever-changing war, where the sides are not always clear, was an entertaining story indeed. The mecha fights were never boring, and the subject matter touched upon was deep and thought-provoking. Wing was an excellent addition to Toonami, and any mecha fan should give it a shot if they haven't already.

4 - Rurouni Kenshin

A rare example of historical fiction in a popular anime series, Kenshin is the tale of an assassin, Kenshin Himura, infamous for his deeds during the Bakumatsu (1853-1867) who renounced killing completely and now wanders Japan, helping people in any way he can with his reverse-blade katana (known more commonly as a sakabato). He begins living in a dojo headed by Kaoru, a young woman whose school's reputation was almost completely ruined by a man falsely using Kenshin's assassin identity of Battosai the Manslayer. The story keeps getting better after that until the third season (full of filler), but that was never shown on Toonami. What was shown was a solid show that's not to be missed. It's hard to find any English dub of Kenshin that's not Sony's sub-par "Samurai X", but Viz's translation of the manga is readily available, and a reboot of the manga is currently being released. The action is fast-paced and never boring, and the characters are pretty darn believable. As previously mentioned, it's a must-see (or read).

3 - ReBoot

With a reboot (pun acknowledged, but really terrible) of the show announced in time for its 20th anniversary, ReBoot may soon be a hot topic again among the animation-loving public. Being the first computer-animated half-hour TV cartoon, ReBoot's first two seasons look absolutely atrocious, especially compared to the third and fourth seasons. If you can look past the primitive CG, you will find that ReBoot is a story about computer programs fighting to keep their system, Mainframe, safe from the viruses Megabyte and Hexadecimal, all while having to hold off destruction by the hands of "the user" in his (or her) game-playing. Guardian Bob is the champion of Mainframe who fights against these threats. I like ReBoot because it isn't afraid to break conventions (but really, what conventions were there for CG shows back then?) or satire the highest parts of pop culture. Its plot twists go farther than most shows are willing to go. No character is safe from being taken out of the spotlight, no matter how integral to the plot. I don't want to spoil too much, so go watch it if you haven't!

2 - One Piece

The adventures of Monkey D. Luffy and his crew on the high seas made for an amazing show that I came back to every Saturday from 2005 to 2008, and returned to when it made a triumphant return this past May. If you aren't currently watching it on Toonami or somewhere else, I can only ask if you have issues in the head. I'll give you a pass if you're reading the manga instead, as that is a great example of an amazing work in the medium of comics. The characters are all unique in their design and personality, and the story is always upbeat and often goofy. It may have been the terrible 4Kids dub that was shown, but even that couldn't stop One Piece from shining.

1 - The Dragon Ball Series (Dragon Ball, DBZ, DBGT)

It may be an obvious choice for number one, but I couldn't put anything above Dragon Ball in good conscience. I know that I've said the previous four shows were all must-watches, but if you find yourself to be an anime fan and you haven't seen any Dragon Ball, you are depriving yourself. The adventures of Goku and his friends starts out as a light-hearted comedy, but soon takes a turn into martial arts thriller. While not as deep as other shows, Dragon Ball still has some great themes, notably redemption (most of Goku's allies and friends were originally villains). It does seem archaic compared to later shows like Bleach, Naruto, and One Piece, but it still has a charm that is timeless.

Next time I post (I'm hoping for next week), I think I'd like to another Top 5, this time shows on "modern" Toonami (aka Adult Swim Toonami). I'm looking forward to it, and I hope you are too!
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