Cartoon Sets ‘Big O’ Anime for Late Block

Jun 9, 2003  •  Post A Comment

“The Big O,” a stylized, futuristic Japanese anime series, is joining Cartoon Network’s red-hot “Adult Swim” late-night block this August.
The project is arguably Adult Swim’s boldest stroke yet. “The Big O” is the first anime series for which Cartoon Network has served as co-producer and the first action series created specifically for the three-hour Sunday-through-Thursday block, which competes with late-night shows like “Leno” and “Letterman.”
The franchise already is doing swimmingly in the ratings race, pulling ahead of high-profile broadcast-network competition in the prized men 18 to 24 and 18 to 34 demos, its primary targets.
During the May sweeps, for example, in the 11:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. period, Adult Swim delivered an average of 249,000 young men 18 to 24, compared to the 121,000 and 183,000 that “The Late Show” and “The Tonight Show,” respectively, delivered in the period, according to Cartoon Network’s analysis of Nielsen data.
When it came to men 18 to 34 watching during the sweeps, Adult Swim had 421,000 in its pool, while Dave and Jay had 351,000 and 553,000, respectively.
The name is an obvious play on a sexual reference that might be controversial on network prime time, but here seems like clever marketing.
“The Big O,” which had a brief-and edited-tryout in the network’s afternoon Toonami block, will roll in to late night with 13 new episodes, produced with Japan’s Bandai Visual Co. Those episodes will be joined by the original 13, which will be seen uncut for the first time in the United States.
When the original 13 aired in the afternoon, they were edited mostly for violence, according to Michael Lazzo, senior VP, programming and production, for Cartoon’s Adult Swim block, who was part of the team that launched the Cartoon Network 11 years ago.
“The Big O” has a “Matrix”-like premise and is set four decades after a mysterious occurrence known only as “The Event” nearly destroyed Paradigm City and erased the memories of its citizens. In the present, Paradigm City, partially rebuilt, is a grim police state, and its citizens still question what happened to them 40 years ago.
Roger Smith, also known as “The Negotiator,” solves problems on behalf of his clients, while he struggles with his own mysterious past. In his quest to safeguard Paradigm City, the Negotiator is assisted by Norman, his loyal butler, Dorothy, an android companion, and Big O, a towering robot.
If the series succeeds in the Adult Swim rotation, the network has the option to order 26 more episodes.