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A Proposal to Bring Back Sym-Bionic Titan/Draft/3

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A Proposal to Bring Back Sym-Bionic Titan
Draft 03 / Work in Progress

Dear Turner Broadcasting, Cartoon Network, and others that it may concern;

We the community write to you about the cancellation of Sym-Bionic Titan, an action-filled, story-driven show about two teenagers, their bio-cybernetic companion and the ability to stop terrorizing monsters from harming the people of Earth. As we are sure you are aware, this program was a Cartoon Network Studios production co-created by Genndy Tartakovsky, Paul Rudish and Bryan Andrews. The show initially premiered on September 17th, 2010, and abruptly finished its run on April 9th, 2011. It was not until the Fall line-up reveal that the Sym-Bionic Titan fanbase learned that the show would not return for another season. It is the belief of such people that while the show was unfaithfully cancelled despite a clear future in front of it, Sym-Bionic Titan is ready for a full return.

The reactions to the sudden cancellation of Sym-Bionic Titan was a mixed bag of emotions. The community was left crushed and outraged seeing yet another action show receive an unexpected abandonment. Fans were confused as to the reason for Sym-Bionic Titan’s fate, as it was well received among prominent critics and viewers. On various sites the show received an 8.3 out of 10 on IMBD [1], 8.5 out of 10 in MetaCritic [2] and an 8.8 out of 10 on TV.com [3]. The show also received two nominations for Stephen DeStefano's “Character Design in an Animated Television Production” [4] and Scott Wills' “Production Design in an Animated Television Production” [5] at the 38th annual AnnieWards. Sym-Bionic Titan was even surpassing long running Generator Rex and nearing the same viewing numbers of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, two other action shows in the same programming block [6]

Although a show would not meet an end without reason, those causes needed to be justified. The reason most likely stems from the primary issue, the lack of a merchandising partnership. Both Cartoon Network representatives and Genndy Tartakovsky mention this in separate instances. A representatives stated:

Quote1… Titan got competitive ratings with other action shows, but what shut it down was it didn't have enough toys connected to it. If you don't have the, the studios don't want to renew for another season."Quote2
―Cartoon Network Representative [7]

Genndy Tartakovsky also mentioned at a Comic Con panel:

Quote1I was proud of all the work we did on it but... you know, we just couldn’t get a toy line and they did not want to support use… it was just one of those things that got away.Quote2
―Genndy Tartakovsky

The effect of lacking merchandise was most likely its time slot change from Friday nights on the “Night of Action” block to Wednesday nights, and then the “death slot” of Saturday morning became its final resting place. What was strange about this move was the show's unrelenting solid numbers. Was Cartoon Network consequently letting go of Sym-Bionic Titan by doing so? This is just another series to receive the same fate due to the lack of a toy line. Other shows include Young Justice (8.6 / 10 IMBD), Megas XLR (8.3 / 10 IMBD) & Samurai Jack (8.3 / 10 IMBD) who also scored respectable user and critics ratings comparable to Sym-Bionic Titan in the same “action adventure” genre. The real question is if the show had a future in need of a toy line.

When Sym-Bionic first aired it was designed to be a twelve episode season. However, quickly into the first few episodes it was decided to transform that into 20 ~ 26 episodes, and the twenty produced episodes are now considered one season. These first episodes were designed to give rich backdrop for the rest of the show while continuing to engage viewers with plot advancements. It is fair to say that the show was slow moving but it was setting up for a long run. While the demographic for this show was aimed at boys at the age of 8-12, the further the show ran, a more diverse audience started to grow.

Moreover, Sym-Bionic Titan is currently doing very well on its second run on Adult Swim’s Toonami block. For a program airing at 5:30 am, it is getting around 566,000 views as of June 2014[8]. Despite being is a time slot aimed for a more mature audience, and a slight decrease in ratings due to moving later in the night, it is by this assessment that a toy line is irrelevant. Viewers at this targeted age group do not generally care about toys, and their numbers are beginning to rival the viewership back on Cartoon Network [9].

Another factor that exemplifies Sym-Bionic Titan’s performance on the Toonami block is a similar animation medium, anime. Tartakovsky took inspiration from that Japanese genre when directing Sym-Bionic Titan, from moments such as the fight scenes and characters to the way the story advanced. It even helps that he is quite familiar with the idea from previously creating Samurai Jack. Unlike western animation, anime does not have a stigma around it in terms of the viewing age. While there are plenty of titles not necessarily suitable for younger people, most notably a few that currently air on Toonami, anime is expected to appeal to any viewing age. Accordingly, anime production companies that know a show is capable of also targeting an older demographic means they do not generally care about a toy line.

Expecting products to support a show is backwards thinking, if an audience will primarily not care about toys. Unlike Ben 10, or other competing action brands like Ninjago or Transformers, Sym-Bionic Titan was never a show centered around selling toys. Therefore, why does only western animation need them to survive, instead of the viewing numbers and critic scores? If Cartoon Network and its affiliates expect to survive and flourish as much as the Japanese animation scene, they need to change their view from toys sustaining a series, to the large audience.

The major uncertainty lies in if the show can return. Beyond fandom misconceptions about sexism towards several of the characters, the channel’s reputed preference of live-action, and subsequent programs replacing Sym-Bionic Titan, a revival may already be economically feasible, even without Genndy Tartakovsky. Cartoon Network already has the Intellectual Property rights, a story, voice actors, animators, music composers and everything needed to create the show. Even more compelling was when a user asked Mr. Tartakovsky on a Reddit AMA if more episodes had been prepared:

Quote1YES!! We wrote 10 more episodes for Sym-Bionic TITAN that were better than the first 20. It was tragic for me to not have a chance to do that.Quote2
―Genndy Tartakovsky Reddit AMA [10]

With a pre-established fan base, Titan already has people watching and rooting for the show. Those currently watching Sym-Bionic Titan may simply be doing so in order to support the revived Toonami, but provide the show with a convenient time to air and its watchers will only be more compelled to tune in. Cartoon Network is an opportunity waiting in front of them; it might turn out advantageous to pursue the communities’ continued love of Sym-Bionic Titan since its cancellation four years ago. The show might come back wrong, timing is everything, and it is definitely a risky endeavour; however, this does not dismiss the fans' opinions that the show should return. It is all in the amount that Cartoon Network utilizes its assets to renew Sym-Bionic Titan for future production.

CitedEdit

References
  1. IMBD Rating [1]
  2. MetaCritic Rating [2]
  3. TV.com [3]
  4. 38th Annie Awards Program Guide Page 20 File:38thAnnieAwardsProgram.pdf
  5. 38th Annie Awards Program Guide Page 22 File:38thAnnieAwardsProgram.pdf
  6. Zap 2 It Viewership numbers [4], [5], [6]
  7. Cartoon Network Represenative about cancellation about Sym-Bionic Titan [7]
  8. Sym-Bionic Titan on it's 2nd Toonami run getting 566,000 views at 5:30am [8]
  9. Sym-Bionic Titan Ratings for TBS, TNT & Cartoon Network [9]
  10. Reddit AMA [10], Web Archieve.org back-up [11]

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