Anime Expo - FUNimation Panel -

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Anime Expo - FUNimation Panel

By Jason Yeh     July 08, 2008

Hosts: Adam Sheehan, Gen Fukunaga

Adam introduced himself and then dived into a PowerPoint presentation. The first few slides consisted of "Don't Panic" in all caps and the quote, "Change creates opportunity," from Gen Fukunaga (CEO). These two points seemed very appropriate taking into account the press releases the company issued earlier during the convention. Adam talked about the current state of the market and current and emerging trends. He touched upon newer technologies such as blu-ray and digital downloads. As many anime fans have noticed, Funimation is releasing more new titles in box set format. Adam also mentioned there are more people attending conventions and watching anime on the Internet. There is also the trend of Hollywood licensing anime properties such as Speed Racer and Dragonball.

Funimation continues to expand into digital downloads and Adam announced that they would be selling Aquarion and Witchblade in English dub format on iTunes in late July. He also announced Funimation Mobile, a service they are providing in partnership with AT&T and Sprint. Owners of video capable cell phones can pay $5 a month per title for unlimited access. Gunslinger Girl and Moon Phase are the first titles available, and both include access to Galaxy Railways season 1 for free.

Adam then covered upcoming releases from the company. Here is a rundown of newly announced dvds.

  • One Piece Season 1 box set 2 - episodes 14-26 for $50, out September 23
  • Dragonball Z season 6 - 29 episodes on 6 discs, newly revised English dialogue with Japanese audio, marathon play feature, out September 16
  • Dragonball GT season 1 sometime in late 2008
  • Ouran season 1 box set 1 - episodes 1-13 for $60, out October 28, 2008
  • Ouran season 1 box set 2 - episodes 14-26 for $60, out January 6, 2009
  • Darker than Black vol. 1 out on November 25

    Adam recapped the recent acquisitions the company announced over the past couple months (Romeo x Juliet, Kenichi, Big Windup, etc). He also touched upon the deal Funimation made with Youtube recently. Full length episodes will be available for a limited time with new episodes every week. The initial batch of series on Youtube includes Blue Gender, Slayers, Peach Girl, Mushi-shi and Kiddy Grade.

    At this point during the panel, Adam covered the Geneon and Sojitz deals. Many fans had obviously not heard about the Geneon partnership yet as the audience erupted in applause and cheer when Adam quickly showed 3 slides of titles. The Sojitz announcement seemed puzzling to some audience members, but those in the know were probably nodding their heads. Adam then introduced Gen Fukunaga for help with the Q&A part of the panel. Many people prefaced their questions with compliments and thank you's. There was certainly no shortage of praise for the company.

    An audience member asked about the status of Negima season 2 and OAVs. Adam stated that more Negima is coming soon and didn't have any info on Love Hina. I was slightly surprised that someone actually asked why Navarre's stock price keeps declining. Gen responded that he doesn't understand the trend either since Funimation's earnings keep going up. He stated the market cap for the stock might be too small and unnoticed by investors. The Navarre CEO has actually been making road trips to help spread the word.

    Another person asked why they acquired all the Sojitz titles previously licensed by ADV. Gen answered that Sojitz approached Funimation earlier this year and negotiations were ongoing for a while. When asked about the timeframe for the Geneon and Sojitz titles, Gen replied summer for Geneon and Fall for Sojitz. Other audience members asked more questions about how production would be handled for both sets of titles. Gen explained that Geneon would complete the dvd production on their unfinished titles and Funimation would assist with marketing and distribution. He emphasized that single dvds of unfinished titles would be released first, followed by box sets using Funimation's pricing strategy. The reason for this is to prevent alienating buyers of the older discs. In terms of Sojitz licenses, they are trying to strike a deal with ADV to have them finish the production work on unfinished titles.

    One person asked about the possibility of streaming anime on ANN's video service. Gen answered they are currently focusing on really huge sites that have a track record of selling lots of ads. Once they finish negotiating with a few big sites, they will consider smaller ones. Another audience member asked about the time between One Piece dvd releases. After much discussion between Funimation employees, it sounds like 3 months. They also mentioned the One Piece dvds are selling really well, as are the Shin-chan ones too.


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