After the last few weeks of flux, the Toonami schedule is stabilizing once again, though not for long since a new show is coming in the Saturday after next and very likely a new leadoff show is coming our way next month. Still, we have two new shows premiering last week, so how did they do?
Broadcast: To the Noble, Proud End! Vegeta Falls! (Episode 128 - Rerun)
Synopsis: After Android 17 seemingly self-destructs, Vegeta powers up to try and take down Jiren and win the Tournament of Power. However, no matter how much he throws at Jiren, it’s not enough and he’s soon knocked out the ring, but not before giving the rest of his energy to Goku, re-energizing him. It seems like even that won’t be enough, but with one last prodding from Vegeta, Goku once again activates Ultra Instinct.
Review: It seems a bit weird that Super remains on the lineup, leading off the block even, despite ending last week. However, the fact that they are re-running the last four episodes, as opposed to the beginning of the series or the start of the Tournament of Power, is likely the last final indicator what its replacement will be, which I’ll go over later.
As for the episode itself, the first half is great, with Vegeta’s character development kicking in and surprisingly being knocked out before Frieza (BTW, nitpick, but I hate how the dub spells Freeza as “Frieza”), but it became obvious that the second half just seemed to be wasting time until Goku went Ultra Instinct again as a cliffhanger. That kinda knocks down the episode as a whole, but the fight against Jiren is still pretty damn awesome all the same.
Broadcast: The Return of the Hero (Episode 14 - Season 2 Premiere)
Synopsis: Saitama and Genos are going grocery shopping when they run into the Rank S hero King, who has run afoul of a giant robot who wants him dead. Turns out, King isn’t the badass people think he is, he just happened to be in the area during Saitama’s previous fights and accidentally took the credit. Saitama finds out, but not only doesn’t hold it against King, but is rather happy to find someone else who plays video games. Meanwhile, Genos gets destroyed again, a woman named Blizzard is after Saitama, the Hero Association is trying to recruit villains to help with an impending crisis, only to be rebuked by Speed O’ Sound Sonic, and another man named Garou is excited about the prospect of the heroes being slaughtered.
Review: I had actually skipped watching the subbed version of Season 2 specifically because I wanted to watch it on Toonami, though I had read the manga up until early this year. I had heard about the horror stories regarding Season 2, especially the visuals, but from this episode alone, it didn’t seem that bad to me. True, it was nowhere near the quality of Season 1 by Madhouse, but there were still some really good choreography and visual flair. I will say that the lack of any kind of brief recap or summation of the premise felt a bit off, but that was likely due to a recap special airing in Japan (and Crunchyroll).
As for the episode itself, it was mostly fine, but it felt less like a big season premiere and more like another general episode, which is obviously what the manga version was. The focus on King did perfectly frame both Saitama and Genos’ personalities for returning viewers, and the beginning of the odd friendship he and Saitama have was pretty nice to see, especially given how many of the Pro Heroes dismiss Saitama before this. The scenes with Genos, Sonic, and Garo honestly felt odd with the rest of the episode, like they were all supposed to be in the next episode but was put in here in order to give that “big things are coming” feeling, especially given how much time lapsed in real life between the two seasons.
Viz also did something weird with the opening. Instead of truncating it heavily like in Season 1 or just chopping part of it off like Boruto, they cut the opening out entire and put it as the ending theme. They shrunk down the video and had it occupy the right half of the screen while the traditional Viz Media credits scroll was placed on the left. It kinda reminds me of when Viz would chop up the Bleach and Naruto endings back in the day. I mean, it’s nice that we get a full JAM Project song, but it still feels a bit off.
Broadcast: Stone Road (Episode 8)
Synopsis: Gaining new allies in the warrior maiden Kohaku and the curious Chrome, Senku plans on converting the entire village into his Science Kingdom. The easiest way to do that is to cure the sickness affecting Ruri, the village priestess, using an antibiotic. In order to do that, they need iron, which means lots of manpower. To draw them in, he uses foxtail millet to make that classic Japanese staple: Ramen.
Review: The show has already gotten better with the introduction of Kohaku and Chrome, and this just cements things. Senku’s interactions with the two are hilarious to watch, particularly since they each top each other in different areas. Seeing the rest of the village gives them a bit of life, especially since they actually have their own names as well as personalities. The blending of the foxtail ramen was also pretty funny, especially Chrome & Kohaku’s reactions compared to Senku’s.
But the standout star is newcomer Suika. A young girl with a watermelon for a head, she is absolutely adorable, enhanced by her dub voice actress Sarah Wiedenheft (who Toonami fans were already familiar with as the voice of Zeno in Dragon Ball Super) giving Suika the cutest voice ever. The little precious ball of adorableness not only adds some new energy to the show, but unlike a lot of other kid characters, she actually helps out the group, first by collecting a lot of iron fillings and then by spying on the village to find something for Senku to rope people in. Suika makes me want to give her a big hug, though my favorite moment with her won’t be for a few episodes yet.
Broadcast: Formation of Special Fire Force Company 8 - The Mightiest Hikeshi (Episode 11)
Synopsis: As Company 8 begins their search for the Evangelists, Hinawa tells the crew how Company 8 came to be. Later on, they suspect they may be hiding out in the area of Company 7 and seek an alliance. However, Benimaru is not interested, as another Infernal pops up. Company 8 sees how Benimaru works and are amazed by his impressive skills.
Review: The two halves of the show feel a bit disjointed, which is honestly nothing new with this series. The flashback to Company 8's formation was actually pretty well done, despite the ridiculous amount of quick jump cuts. Seeing Hinawa and his old friend Tojo interact was fun to see, and despite only knowing him for a few minutes, he’s likable enough that seeing him turn into an Infernal and shot to pieces was heartbreaking. Oh, and it’s revealed that the guns are baptized, which got the expected reaction on Twitter when the live-tweeters saw that, though I found it pretty hilarious. Nothing about this show is timed very well with the outside world, is it?
As for the second half of the episode, that was not as good. Seeing Benimaru and his younger twin sisters passive-aggressively insult the townspeople felt like they were pretty ungrateful and made the Captain look like a jackass. Him dealing with the Infernal didn’t help much. This one was a guy who ran the bar Benimaru frequented, which should lend some sentiment, but it feels a lot more hollow than Hinawa and Tojo since the guy comes off as a lot more callous. And then there’s his way of dealing with the Infernals. While Company 8 tries to minimize damage, Benimaru levels half the street using his showy umbrellas. The townspeople consider this to be sort of a prayer for the dead, but I fail to see how destroying half the town every time an Infernal appears is a good thing.
Broadcast: Metamorphosis (Episode 14)
Synopsis: Having been blindsided by the buffet style, Soma’s egg souffle ends up failing him big time. With only a half hour to serve 190 plates, Soma has to think up a new recipe fast. Luckily, working in a restaurant previously helps him out and he not only comes up with a satisfying recipe, but gives the crowd a show to watch, getting him the required amount just before time runs out. Afterwards, the mysterious white-haired girl appears and reveals herself to be Erina’s cousin, Alice, while the Totsuki staff treat the students to a well-earned dinner (er...lunch) as a reward for passing.
Review: I kinda wonder why Soma took so long to change course. I mean, the exam itself was two hours, and Soma waited until there was only a half-hour left to make his fluffy omelette dish, so what was he doing for the other hour and a half? It should have been pretty obvious from the start that nobody was picking up the souffle dishes. Eh, I guess we needed some tension. There was also a bit of a scale issue. The egg test started at 6am and ended at 8am, and there was a four-hour break until the “final exam,” which ended up being the celebratory dinner... which would make it a celebratory lunch since it happened at noon. They also had the students freak out and get little sleep, which seems really stupid given that these are students, after all. Also, there was mention of hundreds of students passing (I wanna say over 600?), but apparently the anime staff had no sense of scale, because the group presented was 100, 150 tops.
Nitpicks aside, the episode itself was actually really good. Watching Soma cook enough of his omelettes was really fun to see, and while it was obvious he wouldn’t be flunked out this early since he IS the main character, the episode did a good job at creating real tension and leaving the viewer on the edge of their seat. The interactions afterwards were great too, especially since Alice keeps trying to be this mysterious girl but keeps getting thrown off by the others around her. Seeing her and Erina argue was pretty funny, but slightly cringey in the dub thanks to Sentai’s bizarre decision to give Erina an on-again-off-again valley girl accent. Also, I have to once again praise Sentai for their edits to the ending theme. The ending theme started playing during the episode itself and they did a masterful job at blending the music together so that when the credits themselves started, the transition was seamless instead of sharp.
Broadcast: Cruelty (Episode 1 - Series Premiere)
Synopsis: A young boy named Tanjiro is looking after his large family and heads into town to sell charcoal and do odd work. He is so busy he ends up being forced to stay the night near town, where he is told that man-eating demons roam the night. The next morning, Tanjiro returns home to find his family slaughtered except for his sister Nezuko, who has seemingly turned into a feral demon herself. Tanjiro attempts to bring her to a doctor, but is intercepted by a Demon Slayer named Giyu. He attempts to kill Nezuko, but Tanjiro’s spirited defense and Nezuko’s remaining humanity force him to back down. He then tells Tanjiro to take Nezuko to a specific man and to keep his sister out of direct sunlight.
Review: I have no idea why this show is at 1:30am. Demon Slayer was announced to be coming to the block months ago, which is unusual for a Toonami acquisition, and the show is very popular on Crunchyroll, so you figure it would get a prime viewing slot. Moreover, it gets slotted in-between Food Wars and Black Clover, two brighter, more light-hearted series, rather than near Fire Force, which is the closest show in tone with Demon Slayer. As far as the actual show goes, this is the one show on the block right now that I have no prior experience in. I didn’t watch the sub and I haven’t read the manga, so I am going into this show completely fresh.
And so far, it’s starting out good. There was just enough time spent with Tanjiro’s family to feel sorry for them dying horribly, though since Genndy Tartakovsky’s Primal aired before Toonami, NOT the most brutal slaughter of a family including young children that night. The show surprisingly packs a lot into its runtime, I was surprised the end credits weren’t rolling by the halfway point. You can really feel and sympathize with Tanjiro’s desire to not see the last member of his family die, even if she is a demon right now. My only real complaint is that the village being in a snowy mountain area makes the backgrounds pretty monotonous, but that might not be an issue for every episode, especially if the opening is any indication. While the dub was overall pretty stellar, I will say that Johnny Young Bosch’s Giyu sounded a bit TOO close to his Ichigo.
Broadcast: Crazy Magic Battle (Episode 90)
Synopsis: Gauche, Grey, and Gordon continue to protect the Black Bulls’ hideout from Valtos, Sally, and Rades when a newcomer appears: Henry, the first Black Bulls’ recruit and the original owner of the house the Black Bulls reside in. He has the ability to control the entire hideout and transforms it into a giant bull man mecha. The Black Bulls combine their might, but Valtos manages to grab the Magic Stone and retreat, leaving the Bulls confused as the Royal Knights continue their attack on the Eye of the Midnight Sun’s headquarters while Licht places the Magic Stone inside the tablet, which is residing in the demon skeleton at Hage Village.
Review: OK, why in the world was the Magic Stone just sitting there? Now, I was forced to drop the manga before the big revelation of the character who was guarding said stone originally, but did it explain why they left the Stone unguarded? I get that the main reason was to showcase Grey, Gordon, and Henry and get the gang starting to get involved with the main fight later on, but still.
Outside of that puzzling moment, the episode was fun. Seeing the hideout transform into essentially a giant mecha was the kind of insane awesomeness we all love shonen stories for, and having Sally make a kaiju for it to fight was hilarious. Having the four remaining members use teamwork despite their personality flaws was also a lot of fun to see, though I do find it annoying that last episode ended Gordon’s subtitles since neither the dub nor sub have him speaking that much louder than normal. The stuff with Licht at Hage Village was rather chilling, since the viewer knows that they have no one there to protect them. Also, for some weird reason, there was a seizure warning before the episode aired and when it came back from commercial, and I’m not sure why. There were no flashing lights or anything, but I suspect it was due to the janky CG used for the Bull Mecha.
Broadcast: Boruto’s Birthday (Episode 51)
Synopsis: It’s Boruto’s birthday, and though Sakura, Sarada, and Mitsuki arrive to celebrate, Naruto doesn’t. Combined with people only thinking of him as the Hokage’s son, his frustrations with his dad are reaching their peak. Running into him later, Boruto makes Naruto promise that he will be there for Himawari’s birthday. Naruto, meanwhile, heads out to find a lead on a new villain with ties with Kaguya while Team 7 ends up running into an enemy from the Fourth Great Shinobi War: A mass of White Zetsu!
Review: It feels deflating that, right when the show is heading towards the movie retell arc, it’s going off the air, which does affect how one views the episode. Not helping is seeing Naruto’s family situation, which continues to degrade because he’s putting so much effort into being the Hokage, yet somehow ending up with more paperwork than his predecessors. It makes you wonder why we never really get an explanation why Naruto doesn’t just use Shadow Clones to do everything faster, especially since the movie implies he has Clones running around the entire village. The birthday scene was fun to see, since we rarely get to see Sakura interact with Boruto as well as Sarada and Mitsuki interact with Himawari and Hinata, though I do find it odd that Shikadai and Inojin didn’t stop over to celebrate.
With the actual mission stuff, there wasn’t much since it was mostly setup, but having the gang face off against a mutated, fused White Zetsu of all things was a great twist. It gives the team a legitimate threat to take care of and actually links back to the original series instead of feeling like an uninspired Part 1-era filler villain like the past few arcs. Plus, the actual reveal of the monster was very well done and drawn to look as scary as possible. Shame that this Saturday is the final episode of the series for a while.
Broadcast: Golden Bonds (Episode 270)
Synopsis: After Ginkaku was trapped in the soul jar, Kinkaku transformed using the Nine-Tails chakra he stole back when he was originally alive. Donning the cloak of the Six-Tailed Form, Kinkaku starts wrecking havoc across the battlefield. Headquarters transports the Kohaku no Johei, a jar that can seal him away, but Darui can’t use it because Kinkaku can avoid its activation. Luckily, Shikamaru, Chouji,and Ino appear just in time, and the Ino-Shika-Cho formation is able to seal Kinkaku. The gang can’t rest easy, however, as Kakuzu soon appears before them, letting them know that Dan and Asuma are also at this battle site.
Synopsis: A rather packed episode in here. The battle against Kinkaku was awesome to see, with some decent animation and a great backdrop. Seeing the rest of the Shinobi Alliance, including TenTen and Chouza, having to deal with the bad guy miles off the shore was pretty exciting to watch. Having Darui and the Ino-Shika-Cho combo take the spotlight was also great, especially since Shikamaru has been on his own lately.
Seeing Kakuzu step up to the fight next, with Asuma not far away, also gave a nice cliffhanger for the viewer, since Ino-Shika-Cho now has two extremely strong enemies to deal with. I was a little surprised that Kakuzu was shown on-screen literally ripping out the one ninja’s heart and ingesting it, partially because they usually censor that stuff in the transition between manga and anime, and partially because this series always airs after Pokémon in Japan, which is decidedly less graphically violent.
Broadcast: Introducing Jim Barnett III (Episode 17)
Synopsis: Lupin is called in an old acquaintance of his, whose husband has been murdered. In return for finding the culprit, she will give him an emerald ring that Lupin has long coveted. During the night, Lupin and the culprits are trapped in the mansion and soon the Countess is murdered. However, Lupin is a genius for a reason and soon figures out who was the killer.
Review: This is the series’ tribute episode to Green Jacket Lupin, but instead of taking more after the first series, where Lupin is more ruthless and selfish, they instead went with Hayao Miyazaki’s gentleman thief portrayal of Lupin, made most famous by the movie Castle of Cagliostro. On one hand, I can understand, since Cagliostro is arguably the most famous Lupin work, especially in the Western markets. On the other, Part V Lupin has killed a lot of people in his various adventures thus far and seeing the more ruthless, amoral Lupin would have fit in a lot better here than in other parts of the franchise, especially given the final arc.
But as for the episode itself, it was a fairly entertaining murder mystery, It felt a bit like a Detective Conan episode (which is the second semi-reference on the block this week, since Suika in Dr. Stone dresses up in Conan’s Sherlock outfit in an imagine spot), which feels right at home since both shows are cornerstones of TMS and have crossed over a couple times already. The murder mystery was interesting and the killer being twin brothers was a fun, soap opera-esque twist. I also appreciate that they took the time to rule out the maid, since it would have been fairly cliché to have her be the killer in the end.
Broadcast: A Talk About Your Quirk (Episode 60)
Synopsis: Deku is delighted to find out he has passed the License Exam, along with most of his classmates. Emphasis on most. Both Bakugo and Todoroki failed their exams, along with Yorashi. Meanwhile, All Might visits the imprisoned All for One to find out what he’s planning. Later that night, Bakugo calls Midoriya out and reveals he’s figured out that he somehow was given All Might’s power and challenges him to a rematch.
When My Hero Season 3 ended, fans were a bit confused when the reruns started from 2/3 of the way through the series rather than Episode 1. Many (including myself) figured out that the reruns would line up to end in November, which likely means Season 4 would air then. However, people were afraid that, due to My Hero being dumped to the end slot after failing to top Family Guy in the ratings, that Season 4 would air in the same spot. Well, with Dragon Ball Super’s reruns starting from four episodes until the end, meaning that both Super’s and Season 3's reruns ending at the same time, it’s all but certain that Season 4 will be taking Super’s slot next month. I guess getting better ratings at 4am than every show between it and the 12:30am slot impressed the execs.
As for the episode itself, it was a bit unfocused, but still interesting. Having both Bakugo and Todoroki fail was rather surprising given that they have long been the two powerhouses of Class 1-A, but it’s not surprising considering what the examiners were looking for. The talk between All Might and All for One felt like it just kinda existed to show the audience where the latter is being held, though I am curious how he is fed and how he goes to the bathroom. While the actual discussion has a lot of foreshadowing, it still feels a bit like padding. The real star of the episode is the end, when Bakugo shows off once again how intelligent he is and put together all the clues as to where Midoriya got his Quirk from. Leaving off with the two ready to fight once again is a great cliffhanger and a fine way to end this week on Toonami.