Thursday, July 10, 2008

FUNimation Lands Geneon & ADV Titles

This past week two announcements hit from FUNimation that confirmed a suspicion I had and also made me very happy. Anyone that reads Anime Insider and PiQ has been privy to a few articles about the decline, possible death of anime in the states. From the shutdown of Geneon in the US to the scaling back at ADV there is a lot of great anime being left untouched, better yet in limbo. When Geneon pulled anchor titles like When They Cry and Law of Ueki were left hanging. ADV Films is still around but I noticed a big time scale back in their website, new titles and of course there was the NewType USA shutdown. This really came to a head when I saw a new release date for Gurren Lagen and a new publisher, Bandai. A shame since I really enjoyed the titles these two companies put out over the years. My sadness is no longer present and my questions have been answered as FUNimation just increased their strength by doing some major acquiring.

FUNimation is strong with titles like Dragonball, xxxHolic and the recently acquired One Piece. They have a great variety of titles, box sets, half season collections and 'best of' collections at great prices. Where ADV and Geneon had issues, FUNimaiton is rolling along with other players such as Viz (Naruto, Bleach, Buso Renkin) and Bandai (Gundam Seed). So first up is Geneon.

The official release reads "FUNimation Entertainment and Geneon Entertainment Sign Exclusive Distribution Agreement for North America." See Geneon did not go out of business, they just shutdown their operations in the states, not surprising due to the cost of anime, competition for shelf space and the fact they had a ton of niche titles. What this acquisition does is allows for a much broader library for FUNimation where they can take those hot titles, revamp them and hook them up proper for fans. What titles are we talking about ... how about Ergo Proxy, Hellsing Ultimate, Black Lagoon, Black Lagoon Second Barrage, Karin, Kyo Kara Maoh Season 2, Lyrical Nanoha, Elemental Gelade, Fate Stay Night, Rozen Maiden, Rozen Maiden Traumend, Shana, Shonen Onmyouji, When They Cry, and The Law of Ueki just to name some of the biggies. I've watched and written about quite a few of these titles but it's going to be great to know their future is secure. Hot announcement, hot titles. Oh, Geneon also has great music, but we shall see more about that in the future ... hopefully.

Now where there is a partnership with Geneon the ADV announcement is more a taking over. The official release reads "FUNimation Entertainment Awarded Rights to Titles Previously Held by AD Vision." So over 30 titles are getting transfered which implies maybe distribution rights were not met? I touched on a few issues with ADV and had suspicion, but this still caught me by surprise. A shame as like I said I worked with these folks and they were top notch. So is life and business I guess. Anyway this agreement is worldwide, not just the states, and since most of these series did see a full run here in the states FUNimation will get stronger with their digital distribution, partnerships and just influence of anime. I believe they hooked up with Apple and I know about YouTube and what it comes down to is FUNimation is in a position to use known anime, published anime, to help build awareness through new avenues. Some of the titles to keep an eye on include 009-1, Ah! My Goddess: Flights of Fancy, Air Gear, Air, Blade of the Phantom Master, Devil May Cry, Guyver: The Bioboosted Armor TV, Jing, King of Bandits: Seventh Heaven, Le Chevalier D'Eon, Sgt. Keroro 1st & 2nd, Tokyo Majin, Welcome to the NHK, and Xenosaga. Gen Fukunaga, President and CEO of FUNimation Entertainment, sums it up best by saying "We are very enthusiastic about these titles. Not only are these excellent series, but they also fuel FUNimation’s major initiatives in social networking, the FUNimation Channel and internet VOD. These new titles cement FUNimation as the leading anime provider for television broadcast and legitimate online content. These shows allow us to increasingly provide the best anime to our fans on their own terms."

Excited, yes. Sad, a bit. I'm excited, and so should every anime fan be, about FUNimation getting hooked up like this. I'm sad to see ADV follow Geneon, but times change. There have been fears that anime is on the decline, I see it as a rebirth. It's like the typical anime hero rising to power then being brought down by a major tragedy just to be reborn with new power, more concentrated power. Hmmm, Gohan obtaining his full power without going Super Saiyan is a good way to look at it. The anime flame was bright and strong, dimmed a bit but is now looking as strong as ever thanks to FUNimations acquisitions. Get excited, the next anime revolution is upon us.

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