Saban’s Vortexx Bids Farewell to Saturday Mornings on The CW on September 27

June 3, 2014 at 12:18 pm | Posted in Konami, Saban, Yu-Gi-Oh!, ZEXAL | 3 Comments
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Yugi knitting his brow, a little confused and upset by Rebecca's reaction when she draws a card in episode 42

After two years, Saban Brands’ five-hour children’s programming block will say goodbye to Saturday mornings on The CW this fall. Vortexx on The CW will have its final run on September 27, thereafter being replaced with One Magnificent Morning, a new teen-targeted block featuring an assortment of live-action educational and informational (E/I) shows distributed by CBS Television Distribution.

Saban had acquired the five-hour Saturday block and 4Kids’ television broadcast management crew in June 2012, which were components in a larger sale by 4Kids while it was reorganizing in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. As a part of the acquisition, Saban and Konami had inked a deal to broadcast Yu-Gi-Oh! on The CW through at least the summer 2016 season. Their agreement allows for the termination of their relationship in the event that Saban no longer has the rights to program the block for any reason.

The Yu-Gi-Oh! License does not restrict the Yu-Gi-Oh! anime to any specific TV network and leaves the door open for Konami to either license the series’ TV broadcast rights to another broadcast or cable network, or, if unsuccessful in such an endeavor, to syndicate the series.

There’s no word yet on which network new episodes of Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL will premiere come fall 2014. One possibility is Nicktoons, where ZEXAL made its debut in April 2013 and where the series currently airs every Sunday. There’s also no word on what will happen to Vortexx’s programming on Kabillion, or whether the Vortexx brand will still be in use after this summer.

Reps from 4K Media (Konami) and Saban Brands did not reply to inquiries at the time of this writing.

Saban to Launch Vortexx On-Demand Channel on Kabillion

April 29, 2013 at 2:37 pm | Posted in Other Stuff, Saban | 6 Comments
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Kabillion logo

Saban announced today that it is partnering with independent video-on-demand network Kabillion to create a dedicated channel for Vortexx’s programming. The new VOD channel will debut in June with Sonic X and Power Rangers: Lost Galaxy, with Dragon Ball Z Kai joining the line-up in July.

Kabillion’s library of shows include Bobby’s World, Code Lyoko, and Mix Master and is available on-demand on a variety of cable services, including Comcast, Time Warner, Charter, and Blue Ridge. It is also available online at Kabillion.com and on YouTube on KabillionChannel and Cartoonium.

Vortexx’s current programming, which includes the classic Yu-Gi-Oh! and Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal series, can be seen every Saturday morning on The CW and on MyVortexx.com.

Toonzaki.com Updates: The Latest Yu-Gi-Oh! Dubbed, Subbed Episodes, More Anime Shows

April 9, 2013 at 3:05 am | Posted in Duel Monsters, Other Stuff, Saban, Yu-Gi-Oh!, ZEXAL | 2 Comments
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Tristan, Joey, and Tea freaking out after Yugi receives a package from Pegasus in episode 148

After months of stagnation, anime video portal Toonzaki.com has finally updated its Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s and Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal offerings to include the latest episodes. It’s about time! Uploads of new subbed episodes of Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s and dubbed and subbed episodes of Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal had resumed on Hulu back in January, but Toonzaki’s feeds had curiously stopped refreshing to display the latest videos until now.

Toonzaki has also patched up its many missing images and broken links, and has picked up several more shows from Crunchyroll, including Fate/Zero, Polar Bear Cafe, Space Brothers, and Sword Art Online. How many new titles can you spot?

Toonzaki had been heavily neglected since mid-2012 after the Yu-Gi-Oh! lawsuit wound down and 4Kids’ properties were changing hands. The site has even gone completely dark on a few occasions, most recently in late March. On Facebook, the Toonzaki crew remained optimistic and has long talked about improving its services, even mentioning a relaunch. In their most recent posts, they’ve casually discussed a “new Toonzaki” and offering “better functionality and more/new shows.”

With the launch of the Japanese-run anime video portal Daisuki.net right around the corner, the Toonzaki crew has picked a good time to polish their website and make sure it remains in the running to continually draw the attention of casual anime seekers.

Yu-Gi-Oh! on MyVortexx.com

Over on MyVortexx.com, the official website of Saban’s Saturday morning Vortexx block, links to the dedicated pages for Classic Yu-Gi-Oh! and Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal were finally set up in late March. When MyVortexx was revamped back in mid-February, both shows were missing from the website’s “Shows” page.

If you had noted my not-so-subtle hint and snooped around however, you would have discovered that pages for both shows had actually already been set up at the time MyVortexx’s new look was unveiled. The other main MyVortexx pages had simply not linked to them, for whatever reason.

So what’s new? Since then, the pages have seen the addition of the shows’ full episodes — most notably the subbed Japanese Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal videos. While this might not seem like a big deal to longtime Yu-Gi-Oh! fans, by deciding to post these videos, Saban has taken a momentous step forward. Younger Vortexx viewers, or other Vortexx fans who are browsing the website and who might not be as well-versed about what sorts of Yu-Gi-Oh! media are available out there, now have a chance to stumble upon the Japanese episodes and enlighten themselves with a slew of original uncut videos. Although official Japanese Yu-Gi-Oh! episodes have been around for a few years now, they had never previously been included side-by-side with other Saturday morning shows on Toonzai and 4Kids.TV’s websites.

Unfortunately, MyVortexx’s redesign suffers from a usability issue similar to that which plagued 4Kids.TV/Toonzai when that website was revamped in September 2010: its design is simply not suitable for linking to and posting full episodes. The organization of the videos is an absolute mess. Episodes aren’t numbered and aren’t listed in their proper orders, and dubbed and subbed episodes are all jumbled together.

4KidsTV/Toonzai eventually improved its layout to better accommodate its video listings. Will MyVortexx do the same?

The Last Traces of Toonzai Vanish

Speaking of Toonzai, the Facebook page of the former Saturday morning anime block managed by 4Kids was finally shuttered on March 22 — a little over seven months after its final broadcast. The last two wall posts were made on March 11 and directed fans to the official Yu-Gi-Oh! Facebook page and Toonzaki’s Facebook page.

Toonzai’s Facebook page was never very popular or heavily promoted. During its final days, it had a mere 691 Likes. Nevertheless, it was a window to an increasingly disregarded Saturday morning animation haven that many cherished, and it and the lifestyle the block embodied will be missed.

Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal to Premiere on Nicktoons This Friday

Let’s end on a happier note: Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal will be premiering on Nicktoons this Friday, April 12 at 9:00 pm EDT!

The newest series in the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise joins Classic Yu-Gi-Oh!, which premiered on the Viacom-owned cable network on March 11 and now airs seven days a week.

Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal News: Japan Gets ‘Zexal II’ Sequel, U.S. Scraps One Broadcast

October 6, 2012 at 6:02 am | Posted in English dubbed, Japanese, Saban, Yu-Gi-Oh!, ZEXAL | Leave a comment
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Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal II premieres Sunday, October 7 at 5:30 pm on TV Tokyo

This weekend is unusually eventful for Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal fans in both Japan and the United States. On Sunday, October 7, fans in Japan will be treated to Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal II (the “II” is pronounced “second”), a sequel to the first Zexal series, which ended on September 24 after a 73-episode run. Zexal II will continue the story of Yuma Tsukumo, Astral, and their friends following the conclusion of the World Duel Carnival tournament. The second series will air every Sunday at 5:30 pm on TV Tokyo and most of its sister stations.

Since the story is merely continuing without any significant changes, why did the first Zexal series need to “end,” necessitating the creation of Zexal II? That hasn’t happened in any of the previous Yu-Gi-Oh! series before (unless you include the 1998 Yu-Gi-Oh! series by Toei). Maybe fans who follow the series can share their insights.

Vortexx’s Yu-Gi-Oh! Broadcasts Decrease from Three to Two

The news is far less positive in the U.S., where Saban is dropping the 8:30 airing of Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal from its Saturday morning Vortexx lineup. The change begins today, October 6, and leaves fans with two broadcasts of Yu-Gi-Oh! on the block. The change comes just six weeks after Vortexx premiered on The CW.

After a tiny bit of shuffling, the 30-minute gap resulting from Zexal’s removal is filled by the perpetually popular Sonic X. The resulting lineup is as follows:

  • 7:00 – Rescue Heroes
  • 7:30 – Rescue Heroes
  • 8:00 – Sonic X
  • 8:30 – Power Rangers: Lost Galaxy
  • 9:00 – Iron Man: Armored Adventures
  • 9:30 – Justice League Unlimited
  • 10:00 – WWE Saturday Morning Slam
  • 10:30 – Dragon Ball Z Kai
  • 11:00 – Yu-Gi-Oh! Classic
  • 11:30 – Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal

There has been no official comment from Saban or Konami regarding Zexal’s removal.

Yu-Gi-Oh! Videos Removed From Toonzaki.com, MyVortexx.com Now Live

August 30, 2012 at 9:15 pm | Posted in 4Kids, Konami, Saban, Yu-Gi-Oh! | 2 Comments
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Screenshot of MyVortexx.com

Konami, Saban, and 4Kids are kicking up some dust as the trio continue to sort through the properties that recently changed hands. All Yu-Gi-Oh! episodes, including videos from the Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, 5D’s, and Zexal series, have been removed from Toonzaki.com, the anime video hub previously managed by 4Kids (and now by Konami). This is especially unfortunate because the Toonzaki crew had worked to build up the website so that it appeared among the top search engine results for queries of Yu-Gi-Oh! videos.

There’s no need to panic though, as all of the Yu-Gi-Oh! videos are still currently available on Hulu. If you can’t find a former 4Kids show that you’re looking for (Yu-Gi-Oh! or otherwise), do a search on Hulu and you’ll likely find it there. It’s yet to be seen whether any Konami or Saban websites will pick up the Yu-Gi-Oh! feeds on Hulu for distribution. I’ll update my Yu-Gi-Oh! and Yu-Gi-Oh! Capsule Monsters streaming video pages with new links once the dust settles.

In more positive news, MyVortexx.com, the official website of Saban’s Vortexx Saturday morning block, went live earlier this afternoon! It’s still looking a tad empty, but a Vortexx rep noted on Facebook that there’s much more to come, so keep your eyes peeled!

Meanwhile, 4Kids.TV (Toonzai.com) and 4KidsTV.com continue to be disassembled, with former 4Kids properties being removed from both websites.

Update (August 31): “We are transitioning the site,” says a Toonzaki rep on Facebook. “[I]t may be spotty the next few days – shows disappearing/reappearing, site being down etc etc but we’ll be back and better than ever in no time!” Hopefully that includes all of the Yu-Gi-Oh! series!

Saban Unveils Vortexx’s Debut Fall 2012 Lineup

August 10, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Posted in 4Kids, Saban, Yu-Gi-Oh!, ZEXAL | Leave a comment
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MyVortexx.com was updated to display characters from Vortexx's lineup of shows

This morning, Saban Brands announced the full lineup for Vortexx, its upcoming Saturday morning kids’ programming block on The CW. The five-hour block makes its debut with the following mix of old and new shows:

  • 7:00 – Cubix
  • 7:30 – Rescue Heroes
  • 8:00 – Power Rangers: Lost Galaxy
  • 8:30 – Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal
  • 9:00 – Iron Man: Armored Adventures
  • 9:30 – Justice League Unlimited
  • 10:00 – WWE Saturday Morning Slam
  • 10:30 – Dragon Ball Z Kai
  • 11:00 – Yu-Gi-Oh! Classic
  • 11:30 – Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal

Vortexx hits the airwaves on Saturday, August 25. As usual, check your local listings for the exact dates and times. And if you haven’t already done so, check out Vortexx on the web at MyVortexx.com, Facebook, and Twitter!

As previously discussed, the number of Yu-Gi-Oh! broadcasts has been trimmed from four episodes on Toonzai, to just three on Vortexx. One of the Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal broadcasts will feature a new episode.

You won’t really need to wait until August 25 to catch a new Zexal episode though! On August 18 — the final broadcast of The CW4Kids Toonzai — a new episode will air at 11:00, wrapping up a three-and-a-half hour Zexal marathon. The last episode of Yu-Gi-Oh! Classic (“The Final Duel, Part 4”) will then follow at 11:30. Way to go, Toonzai! That’s how you sign off with a bang!

Saban Acquires Zombie Farm Creator The Playforge

Earlier this month, Saban Brands revealed that it had acquired The Playforge, the makers of the popular mobile game Zombie Farm.

The acquisition opens The Playforge up to a wealth of new licensing and merchandising opportunities, and also provides Saban with the talent and resources to expand solidly into the digital realm with the development of new mobile and online platforms.

Could we see social and mobile gaming playing a significant part in Saban’s Vortexx brand?

YuGiOh.com Closes, Redirects to Toonzaki.com

On July 20, YuGiOh.com shut its doors and automatically redirected all traffic to the anime video portal Toonzaki.com. There’s been no official word on what led to this change.

YuGiOh.com launched in January 2011 and was meant to serve as the international hub for all things Yu-Gi-Oh!, from the TCG, to the anime, to the merchandise.

Earlier in mid-July, a Toonzaki rep noted in a comment on Facebook that Konami was now the owner of Toonzaki, having secured the brand as part of 4Kids and Konami’s $15 million deal.

Vortexx: Coming Saturday, August 25 on The CW

July 12, 2012 at 10:33 pm | Posted in Saban, Yu-Gi-Oh! | 9 Comments
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Saban's Vortexx logo

Today at San Diego Comic-Con, Saban Brands introduced the world to Vortexx, its upcoming Saturday morning children’s programming block on The CW. Vortexx promises to light up the network with action, adventure, and comedy programming, including Yu-Gi-Oh! and Power Rangers. Like its predecessors TheCW4Kids and Toonzai, Vortexx will include both a TV broadcast and Internet component.

Vortexx premieres on Saturday, August 25 and will run from 7 am to 12 noon.

In the meantime, head over to Facebook and “Like” Vortexx’s official fan page, then follow it on Twitter! And keep your eye on the official website at MyVortexx.com. If all goes well, that could be where we’ll find our beloved Yu-Gi-Oh! episodes streaming in the near future.

Is that a Power Rangers-esque lightning bolt I see in the Vortexx logo? Oh Saban, you’re so clever. :)

New Yu-Gi-Oh! Episodes Subject to 60-Day Streaming Delay under Konami Management

June 25, 2012 at 6:49 pm | Posted in 4Kids, Konami, Saban, Yu-Gi-Oh!, ZEXAL | 8 Comments
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Seto Kaiba being dealt the finishing blow by Yugi's Exodia in episode 1

If you’re used to waking up on Saturday mornings and catching Yu-Gi-Oh! on The CW, don’t worry, nothing’s going to change as a result of 4Kids’ upcoming transaction with Konami and Saban. From the point Konami and Saban assume control of their respective new businesses until the Fall season begins in September, Saban will broadcast two episodes of Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal and two episodes of classic Yu-Gi-Oh! every Saturday morning, just as 4Kids has been doing. Then, once the Fall season commences, Saban will continue to air two episodes of Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal while only broadcasting one episode from an older Yu-Gi-Oh! anime series.

As of the end of May 2012, 4Kids has purchased the first 41 episodes of Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal, so expect 4Kids, Konami, and Saban to already be preparing these for the Fall season. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, Yu-Gi-Oh! will continue to air on The CW at least through the Summer 2016 season.

The management of the Yu-Gi-Oh! property under Konami and Saban is not all happy news, however. As part of its deal with Saban, Konami will be imposing an exclusivity period on all new Yu-Gi-Oh! episodes, during which an episode will not be allowed to be exhibited on any platform for 60 days after it initially airs on The CW. That’s right, on any platform. Konami explicitly cites streaming on Hulu and Netflix as verboten during this period.

It is not immediately clear whether Konami’s exclusivity period extends to the new Japanese Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal episodes that are the counterparts of the new English-dubbed episodes that will air on The CW. Japanese episodes are not broadcast on The CW, so are they not subject to the restriction? This is assuming, of course, that Konami will even continue streaming subbed Japanese episodes as 4Kids has been doing.

Nevertheless, all of this does mean that Konami intends to seek approval from the Japanese Yu-Gi-Oh! licensors to continue streaming the Yu-Gi-Oh! episodes. If given the okay, the episodes will appear on The CW’s and/or Saban’s websites. Episodes will not be available on download-to-own and subscription video-on-demand services.

Part of the streaming deal requires that the licensors allow Saban to stream footage from the Yu-Gi-Oh! series as part of short promo videos to advertise the streams. In the event that Saban is not granted these rights, streaming Yu-Gi-Oh! episodes will not be available anywhere.

…And you thought a 60-day delay was bad! Let’s hope Konami and Saban pull through and keep Yu-Gi-Oh! episodes on the web!

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