A visit to the Cartoon Network site reveals that on Saturday, February 23, the 'Adult Swim Block' will include three series that are appearing on the network for the first time. All three of these series have excellent potential. FUNimation, the company behind the mega-hit Dragon Ball Z, has done its usual superlative job in adapting the anime series Yu Yu Hakusho for American TV. This character-driven action series features a teenage protagonist with mega powers (and insecurities). If Yu Yu Hakusho is half as big here in the U.S. as it was in Japan, Funimation may have another hit on its hands (see 'Funimation Seeks Follow-Up to DBZ'). Retailers that deal in anime should pay particular attention to this property since FUNimation will be providing both video products and toys from the series (see 'IF Labs Yu Yu Hakusho Figures Revealed'). The toys should be out in March, which is perfect timing if the series manages to turn some heads.
Pilot Candidate, a popular anime series from 1999 (see 'Cartoon Network Adds 2 New Anime'), is another potential winner. Set in a Top Gun-like Space Academy where teenagers learn how to pilot the major mechas that can save their planet from destruction, Pilot Candidate mixes computer-aided animation with the real thing in a series of white-knuckle combat features that should please fans of anime science fiction. Once again, if this series generates a following, retailers will have both DVDs and toys to sell. The second Pilot Candidate DVD comes out later this month from Bandai Entertainment, and Bandai's toy division has included Pilot Candidate among its upcoming 'Anime Collector Sets' (see 'Bandai To Produce Anime Sets For U.S. Market').
The third new series (for the U.S.) debuting on the Cartoon Network in February is Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memories. Produced in Japan in 1991, this series fills in the gaps in Gundam continuity between Double Zeta and Gundam F91. The 51-episode Stardust Memories series was extremely popular in Japan. This month Bandai is releasing the first MSG 0083: Stardust Memories DVD, so video product will be available by the time the shows first airs on the Cartoon Network.