Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Day the Fun Ended: The End of Saturday Morning Broadcasting

It is with an extremely heavy heart that I write this.

At noon today, The Vortexx, the very last Saturday Morning children's broadcasted programming block, will air its very last show ever with Yu-Gi-Oh Zexal, and the very last Saturday morning kid's block will be gone.

Ever since I was a kid up to this day I watched Saturday morning shows religiously.  I've seen every incarnation of the two channels over the years: Kids WB, Fox Kids, the Fox Box, 4KidsTV, the CW4Kids, Toonzai and the Vortexx were all some of the biggest things I looked forward to for the weekend.  I even watched the Vortexx from my apartment complex every morning when I went to college.  Said complex even held an event where everyone got together to eat breakfast and watch the Vortexx.

I probably would never be the shonen otaku I am today without Saturday morning shonen like Yu-Gi-Oh, Shaman King and even One Piece.  Hell, I consider the initial dub of One Piece to be far better than Funimation's, and whether it was on 4Kids TV or Toonami I loved every second of it.

As the block continued through the years it had great anime like Yu-Gi-Oh 5Ds, Dinosaur King and Dragon Ball Z Kai.  Even censored, I loved (and still love) the action, the clever thinking and the hammy voice acting from actors who are some of my favorites to this day (where are you David Brimmer?).

And it wasn't all Japanese anime, even though it was always the highlight.  There were a lot of great shows made in the west that I could never forget: Jackie Chan Adventures was a fun martial-arts packed world-traveling action series, Ozzy and Drix expanded on Osmosis Jones, one of my favorite movies at the time, and Xiaolin Showdown was practically based around battles of wit.  There is so much to gush over even to this day.

And you can't forget Batman Beyond, which is one of the very best things currently on Netflix, and it's amazing today to think that it and Batman: the Animated Series were kids shows.  I guess we were just cooler back then.

That's not even going into Animaniacs, The Batman, The Mummy animated series, Cubix, Sonic X, Spider Riders, Justice League, Mucha Lucha, Static Shock, Goosebumps, X-Men Evolution, and one of the best hero adaptations in recent years: Spectacular Spider Man.

I even remembered all the strange quirks and phases both blocks went through.  I remember when Kids WB aired Fosters Home for Imaginary Friends and teen titans, and I especially remember the great many skits the Kids WB used to do with the characters featured in the shows.  You never see stuff like that anymore.

Most importantly, Kids WB introduced me to the single greatest anime ever made based on the single greatest game ever made: Viewtiful Joe!  I looked forward to Viewtiful Joe more than any other show in my life!  I woke up early to watch it when it came on, sleeping schedule be damned!  I only missed an episode when I was forced to!  At one point I went on a trip as part of an organization, and I needed to watch Viewtiful Joe so much I squeezed next to a friend on a tiny little portable TV screen to watch it!  I even remember the episode: episode 15: To Have and Hold Captive.

Gradually over the span of a few years I bought all 8 DVDs of the first season for myself, saving up $15 for each one.  It was worth every penny.

And that highlights what makes losing the Vortexx such a devastating loss.  There are a great many kids in the U.S. whose families can't afford expensive anime box sets or a subscription to Netflix, let alone cable, and even if they can, most of the best anime isn't suitable for kids.  Not even Toonami is friendly toward the average viewer now that it's only on late at night.  There won't be anything to introduce kids to shonen.  Sure, some of these classics are available online, some legally, some not, but how is any kid supposed to know they exist?  And why watch them on a little computer screen?

This is cruel and unfair.  The last remnant of childhood joy for the less fortunate is being eradicated and is being replaced by inferior live-action garbage beginning next week.  A tradition that has been around for several decades is being thrown away with almost no fanfare.  After the death of Nintendo Wi-Fi and Nintendo Power I feel like large parts of my life are being taken away from me one by one.

And like when Nintendo Wi-Fi left us, I'm spending this morning to watch every single program the Vortexx is airing, even Bolts and Blip, a program I never had any interest in seeing.  But even after today I will always remember how much better the world was with Saturday morning kids blocks.

It will not be a magnificent morning anymore!

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