TOM has officially joined the resistance.
Toonami may not be an obvious source of overtly political commentary, but it has managed to strike a real chord in fans with a newly-released Black Lives Matter commercial.
Delivering a statement on behalf of Adult Swim’s long-running anime block, cartoon robot host, TOM (voiced by Cowboy Bebop‘s Steve Blum,) met a historic moment and acknowledged the work that still needs to be done in a pitch-perfect interstitial drop. Presumably directing its sentiments towards the block’s white viewers, the minute-long segment targets the language that deflects personal and communal accountability for structural racism. “There’s been a lot of talk about race lately; ‘I don’t see color, ‘racism isn’t real anymore,’ ‘all lives matter’? These words are actually harmful and steer away from the bigger issue,” TOM flatly states.
As clips and inspiring soundbites from the block’s myriad animated programs roll, TOM adds, “Racism still exists. Discrimination towards people of color still exists. It’s up to all of us to recognize that and take action. If you’re thinking ‘maybe but not me’, then you’ve got some truth to uncover.”
In a series of tweets, Toonami co-creator, Jason DeMarco offered some context for the block’s choice to run a Black Live Matter statement. “This piece came together because a group of Toonami staff came to me and asked, ‘are we going to address this clearly?’ I agreed with them that we should. This piece was produced, co-written, and edited by our Black staff members. [They] all did an amazing job,” DeMarco wrote. He adds the mission statement, “Equality, compassion, love and strength are at the core of so much of our programming and at the core of the message we want Toonami to deliver.”
Watch TOM deliver a powerful Black Lives Matter statement in the clip above. Scroll on for fan reactions from Twitter.
Toonami is a huge influence in the black community. In most cases, it was the only way a lot of us started watching anime. Hearing Tom say this is extremely important and I’m just- pic.twitter.com/vrBEK5VIyo
— Your Favorite Anime Podcast! ✨ (@gettinganimated) August 30, 2020
I Grew Up on #Toonami as a kid so seeing this means a lot as a Black Man in today’s world.
— J.D. (@jdwitherspoon) August 30, 2020
Hearing Tom say “Black Lives Matter” made me shed tears. For all of us who grew up watching Toonami and the Black kids watching now, this means so much. https://t.co/auKewPfhWx
— Pretty Brown & Nerdy (@PBNtweets) August 30, 2020
I’m honestly at a loss for words. This means so much to me as a little black kid who would run home everyday after school to watch Toonami. To hear Tom say Black Lives Matter is something I’d never thought I’d hear. https://t.co/Ihvtybj2Pe
— D.J. | BLACK LIVES MATTER (@OhHeyDJ) August 30, 2020